Any lawyers out there?

// 31 May 2007

kate smurthwaiteI’m sadly not qualified myself, but I still can’t help thinking that it’s probably against the law in the UK to threaten MPs. If, for instance, I started telling MPs that unless they voted in Parliament the way I wanted them to, I was going to make life difficult for them. I think if I did that, I would be on some pretty thin legal ice. And we have to remember that MPs are supposed to represent their constituents interests, not their own, so to treat their vote as a statement of their personal opinion and attempt retribution against that would be a grave mistake.

But of course that wouldn’t be the sort of thing that would stop someone like Cardinal Keith O’Brie. The BBC reports that Scotland’s top Catholic (according to the pope that is, I’m sure the public would vote for Billy Connolly!) has announced that any MP who votes to defend the legal status of abortion will be thrown out of the church. This is very bad news if:

  1. You are a catholic MP who believes that women have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies.
  2. You are a catholic MP who follows church doctrine yourself but represents an area with a majority atheist/protestant/jewish/muslim/pagan/jedi pro-choice population.
  3. You are an atheist MP from a Catholic background and thus viewed as a Catholic by Cardinal O’Brien and co and likely to cause upset in your family if you are suddenly very publically ex-communicated.

But it begs another, for me, bigger issue. Why all the fuss about abortion? The bible says nothing about abortion. If God meant the “no killing” rule to apply pre-birth, you would think He would mention it. And look at the miscarriage rate – for someone who disapproves of abortion, God sure carries out a lot of them Himself.

But also – why isn’t there a big fuss about blasphemy. Blasphemy is actually in the 10 Commandments – it gets a whole commandement to itself. People across the country commit blasphemy every day (God knows I do!) but I don’t see politicians being threatened with ex-communication if they fail to vote for lengthy prison terms for those who take the Lord’s name in vain.

The truth is that very few people are genuinely anti-abortion out of respect for the “life” of a gnat-sized cluster of cells. The anti-abortion movement should be re-named the “punish women for having sex” movement or just the “anti-women” movement. If they really wanted to cut abortions they would encourage birth control availability and support significant increases in the power of the Child Support Agency and the level of benefits available to make sure that single mums have the means to raise their children if they want to.

And finally – why are we even thinking about taking advice on how to legislate a sex-related issue from a member of an organisation which has repeatedly suffered humiliation as case after case of child sex abuse hits the courts? Why are we taking advice on legislating over women’s bodies from an old unmarried man who has probably never even seen a woman’s body? Why are we taking advice on morality issues from a man who eats what he genuinely believes to be human flesh at least once a week? And why are we giving any media coverage or prestige at all to a man who dresses like an extra from Harry Potter World?

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