Crushing dissent is not liberal: Maria Caulfield abortion law controversy

[With the irony of its Balaam-like (cf. Numbers 22:21-38) implication for/application to FrankenPope and his minions’ treatment of critics of Amoris Laetitia! – AQ moderator Tom]

From the editor’s desk [of The Tablet aka The Pill]
18 January 2018

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes and a former senior nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, was appointed a vice chair of her party with special responsibility for women’s issues in the recent ministerial reshuffle. She immediately ran into a hail of criticism from pro-abortion campaigners. Her supposed “heresy” was to speak in the House of Commons last year against a Private Members’ Bill which had been designed to remove all abortion issues from the criminal law. The Abortion Act requires that a woman seeking an abortion should obtain the written consent of two doctors, confirming that the medical criteria were satisfied.

Ms Caulfield thus became victim of the increasingly common phenomenon of “illiberal liberalism”, where campaigners imagine they promote what they think is a progressive cause by trying to deny a voice to anyone who disagrees with them. She was accused of wanting to face women who had an abortion with the prospect of life imprisonment under the Offences Against the Person Act. Although a Catholic, Ms Caulfield did not cite her faith as her reason for opposing the bill, but her fear it would open vulnerable young women to pressure to have an abortion contrary to their wishes. The need for the consent of two doctors was a safeguard against such abuse. There have of course been no such prosecutions, let alone life sentences.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service called her appointment “incredibly disappointing”. Yet there is no consensus in Parliament or elsewhere for this radical reform of the abortion law. Pressurising Ms Caulfield in this way is an attempt to bully politicians who think like her into silence.

The same liberal illiberalism was on display in the case of Tim Farron, who on being elected leader of the Liberal Democrats faced relentless pressure to say what he thought about homosexuality. As a devout Evangelical Christian, this campaign got under his skin to the extent that he eventually declared that “gay sex is not a sin”, contrary to what he later said were his true convictions. He mishandled the whole episode, but that does not absolve his critics.

Liberal intolerance is becoming ever more evident on university campuses. The feminist writer Germaine Greer was banned from speaking at Cardiff University because she has said she does not believe a man who has undergone gender reassignment is “really” a woman. Agree or disagree, the ban shows that the narrow orthodoxies of sexual politics leave little room for dissent.

The Catholic Church has not set a good example in this area. It is only hesitantly coming to realise that the correct response to a bad argument is a better one, not censorship and condemnation.

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