Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bad for children

Home Front
By Sarah Johnson
10 Nov 2005
Catholic Herald

“Why are you hunting behind the sofa cushions, darling?” I asked the eight year old.
“Blue Peter, of course,” she said in her most crushing you’re-so-stupid voice, emerging with a fistful of lost pennies.
Music to my ears. I am the world’s biggest fan of Blue Peter: this famous children’s magazine shines as a beacon of integrity in the sordid world of children’s programming. Or it would shine, if TV executives allowed it to, instead of merely using the words “Blue Peter” as a spell to ward off accusations of dumbing-down.
“And what are they collecting money for now?”
“Childline.” Immediately, I felt vaguely betrayed. Blue Peter? Raising money for Childline? Blue Peter appeals are usually about helping children in less developed countries (or LEDCs as we say now). It is depressing to find this powerful fund-raising force being mobilised to subsidise Esther Rantzen’s phone-in service, whose most obvious success has been to give children the belief that denouncing one’s parents to complete strangers is a perfectly normal thing to do.
I am being a little too harsh. Childline may have genuinely comforted, even saved some children. But underlying it is the belief that unless they can prove otherwise, parents are essentially bad for children, and must be kept out of the information loop.
On this hypothesis, Sue Axon must be very bad for her children. She is the single mum who is challenging the Department of Health in the High Court this week, by fighting for the right to be informed if her teenage daughter has an abortion.
As Sue says, “If she needs a plaster on her finger at her youth club, one of the youth workers has to phone me for permission – but a doctor can perform an abortion without my knowledge.”
The law is a muddle. You do not need to be a pro-life activist to see that. We have a right to be told if our children are at risk, and only the most fanatic pro-abortionists pretend that abortion is an entirely risk-free procedure: it is not the same as sticking a plaster on a cut finger.
In fact this is not even a particularly pro-life cause. The change in the law which Sue Axon is seeking won’t reduce abortions – at least not at first. For once the prospect of My Little Princess morphing into Someone’s Little Mummy looms, most parents instantly discard any scruples and are driving their daughters off to the abortion clinics with the horn blaring and lights flashing.
But at least we would see some of these parents issued with a much-needed wake-up call concerning their daughter’s sexual activity. I am constantly amazed by the insouciance of pro-abortionists such as Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service at the facts of under-age sex: underage sex is medically risky, emotionally harmful and illegal, needing urgently to be discovered and stopped: yet according to Furedi and her ilk, it “just happens anyway”.
And, chorus the Furedis, what about girls who are being abused? What about Muslim girls who could even be murdered by jealous relatives if their misfortune were discovered?
Well, in the first case, a secret abortion won’t end the abuse. And in the second case, how easy do you think it is anyway, for a girl in a strict Muslim family to conceal the post-operative effects of abortion from her mother?
There should be no difficulty in reframing these mad guidelines so that in special cases doctors could seek permission from the family courts to keep the abortion secret, but would normally be required to inform parents.
But my fear is that the pro-abortion lobby will turn the fact that Sue Axton once had an abortion herself, and regretted it, against her - by accusing her of being a front for the pro-life movement.
Because the pro-life movement has been so successfully (and unscrupulously) discredited in the media (largely thanks to a few idiotic fanatics in the USA), this alone will be enough to influence the minds of the law courts against Sue.
Yet the truth is that this issue is not about abortion. It is about whether we believe parents are essentially good or essentially bad for their children – and in this we have to take a stand.


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