There are various reasons why I am disappointed that MPs have approved hybrid embryo research, have rejected the ‘saviour sibling’ ban, have rejected the consideration of the need for a father in consideration of IVF treatment and have rejected the bid to lower the upper limit for abortions.
However, the ethical questions aside, as so often I am most disappointed by the level at which the argumentation seems to take place. Consider the example of ‘the need for a father.’
I understand that there is plenty of evidence that the absence of a father has a significant impact on children in terms of health, education and employment. That is emphatically not the same as saying ‘lesbians will make bad parents’ (the rather obvious, rhetorically effective and yet entirely false spin which oponents would put to those making this claim. Take the following less emotive example to make the point. If I say ‘I think Apples are very good for you’ that does not mean that I therefore think ‘Oranges are bad for you.’).
But, regardless of this, the primary argument against retaining this factor for consideration in the ‘welfare’ test for IVF seemed to be the possibility of discrimination against lesbian couples and against single women.
Although the surface argument (and so most of the media noise) concerns the ‘welfare of the child’ – the reality is this argument boils down to declaring some kind of right to have a child. And this seems argument seems to be absurd. Where do we get the notion of ‘the right to have a child?’
If a woman is physically unable to have a child (due to some medical condition) does ‘the right to have a child’ mean that she can press-gang some kind of surrogate mother into bearing a child for her? If it is an absolute right, then can a 10 year old boy demand ‘the right to have a child’?
A child is not some kind of status symbol or accessory but is a person. In focusing on the ‘rights’ of some person to have a child, and especially in that positive-sounding (but in reality deeply misleading) phrase ‘the right to choose what happens to your body’ we have completely missed this point.
May God have mercy on our nation.
For some well-researched arguments about the science and the ethics of these issues may I recommend the Christian Medical Fellowship site.