Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fathers made redundant

Last night's votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill were, for me, perhaps the most depressing outcome to a parliamentary debate since Labour MPs went back on their 2001 manifesto pledge not to introduce tuition fees.

I have blogged previously about the hybrid animal-human embryo issue, but to be absolutely honest, what really wound me up about the Bill was not this, but the fact that it effectively denied the importance of fathers in bringing up children.

I did not oppose this simply because I am a Christian, but because it cuts across everything in my own experience both as a father and as a son.

It is blindingly obvious to all sensible people - those not consumed by political correctness - that the absense of fathers and other male role models has been a major contributory factor to social breakdown in some of our most deprived communities.

If MPs - and we are talking all three main parties here - want to deny children the right to grow up with a father, that is their lookout. In one sense it is scarcely surprising, since they also voted last night to deny hundreds of children a year the right to any life at all.

Just don't ever let them tell you again that they are putting "the family" at the heart of policy, or that "the interests of the child" are paramount. Patently, they are not.

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Letters From A Tory said...

Absolutely spot on. Even after creating a benefit system where it is often benefical for the parents to live apart, this change in the law represents the greatest assault on family life in living memory.

Paul Linford said...

Thanks. I also think it's important for lefties such as me who feel this way about these issues to start building a coalition with people on the right who might be in a position to do something about it after the next general election. I am encouraged for instance that Iain Dale, who is not a Christian but who may very well become a Tory MP, thinks the abortion limit should be reduced to 14 weeks.

I am not saying it will necessarily make me vote Tory, but it does suggest that the election of a Cameron government might have a silver lining for some of us!

Anonymous said...

I know you'll be hurting this morning Paul. While I disagree, I do sympathise with those whose arguments were based on faith. The least said about Tory efforts to distort the medical science, the better.
If I can point out one other possible silver lining, it would be Brown's behaviour in all this. His article in Sunday's Observer, defying the Daily Mail on a sensitive issue four days before a vital by-election, finally showed principle, courage, even vision -everything the left was hoping for ten months ago. While you may differ fundamentally with him on this one, perhaps we can now hope Gordon shows similar resolution on other issues.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a tiny bit of hypocrisy involved when we see people who are clearly opposed to any form of abortion at all campaigning or voting to reduce the number of weeks at which it should be allowed?

That's still a vote for abortion, however you dress it up.

So, clearly, anyone holding a sincere belief that the whole procedure is wrong would have to abstain as a matter of principle, and could only use their vote or voice if the proposal was to outlaw abortion entirely.

Anonymous said...

In about 10 years time when our society is even more broken than now,the lefties will finally admit (what all the research says) that kids do better with a mum and a dad.
Unfortunately as we have found with the failed multiculturalism,its only when the train actually hits the buffers that the lefties admit the disater.
The lefties seem to take pride (for whatever reason) to trash anything that has been successful,it started with business being nationalised,then education,immigration and integration and now the family.

Anonymous said...



Paul Linford said...


To answer your first point, yes, I am opposed to all forms of abortion on moral grounds, but I recognise that recriminalising it after 40 years would be impractical, and in some senses inhumane.

A 14-week time limit, similar to what exists in many European countries, would for me be an acceptable compromise.

Anonymous said...

Any figures on successful Lesbian and single mother IVF treatments, Paul? I don't think we need to slap an endangered species badge on us dads just yet.

Paul Linford said...

That's not the point is it Justin? The point is that while the law previously recognised the value of fathers in a child's life, thanks to this baleful piece of legislation it no longer does.

Ben said...

I felt last night that the house of commons was inking in this country's death warrant, as well as consenting to the destruction of many more unborn infants, and consigning untold numbers of children to fatherless insecurity.

Anonymous said...

Come now, Paul. Either you think something's wrong, or you don't.

Can you really compromise your morals like that, or would you really be supporting a 14 week limit in the hope of seeing a further reduction at a later date?

Clearly you were in support of a reduction from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, and your above declaration in favour of 14 weeks would seem to indicate that you would have seen this as a staging-post.

Or have I got it wrong?

Paul Linford said...

Yes, David, you are wrong. I am against abortion, in much the same way that I am against unemployment, but I don't think it would be sensible to outlaw either of them.

There will always be a need to weight the rights of expectant mothers against those of unborn children. My argument is that this has gone way too far in one direction, and that a much lower time-limit would better reflect this balance.

Anonymous said...


Unemployment - unless you mean the elective sort - is a curious choice for comparison here, as it is an economic outcome and not a matter of individual choice.

That aside, I still can't get a clear picture of the principles you're employing.

Either unborn children have rights, or they do not.

For the sake of clarity, it would be useful to identify the point (expressed in weeks, perhaps) at which you would say these rights are acquired, along with the point when the child's rights advance ahead of those of the mother.

Paul Linford said...

The whole business of politics is essentially about balancing competing sets of rights, David, and there is rarely a black-and-white solution, only compromise. Abortion is only one of many issues on which the law has to attempt to strike a balance.

Now stop dancing on the head of a pin and go and do some work ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was trying to get a measure of what you want, rather than what you'd accept as next-best, Paul.

I do wish people would travel forth without their cloak in such matters.

But the head of a pin, you say? We're dancing on the sharp end up here, matey!

David Boothroyd said...

Paul, are you saying that two lesbians together raising children do not constitute a family? Because I think such an attitude is not merely highly insulting and discriminatory, it is also contradicted by all known sociological studies. Of course I hope children will be able to know male 'role models' but in practice almost all of them do. The idea that lesbians in some way "hate men" is pure tabloid invention.

I might pass a law requiring all Catholics to have a gay male role model.

Stephen said...

I've said it on my own blog, and I'll say it here; Children are not a commodity to be owned or traded and those who for selfish reasons set out to make them so should not be encouraged, least of all by the law.

Despite all the research, we've obviously learnt nothing from the wholesale adoption experiment of the 1950s. I've never voted Tory in my life (nor for Blair, who might as well have been a Tory) but I'm seriously thinking of voting Tory at the next election.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I don't think your logic stands up.

You say: The point is that while the law previously recognised the value of fathers in a child's life, thanks to this baleful piece of legislation it no longer does.

Is there any evidence that people will now be more willing to absolve the need for fathers just because the law doesn't recognise their need?

The law may have recognised the need for a father over the last 50 years or so but that hasn't made any difference to growing social/family break-down.

This law is broadly a cosmetic change. Some lesbian couples were given the opportunity to have babies through IVF, others were refused (and then went to other places).

We both recognise the need for a strong, stable family. What evidence is there that it needs a father? One of my cousins sisters is raising a perfectly well-adjusted and brilliant daughter, through IVF), and has the support of the extended family on that. I have no doubt she is surrounded by a loving family and if she needs male figures in the family then she can come to others.

Incidentally, Iain Dale who said nothing on this particular issue on his blog, is in agreement with me on the issue. I'll be blogging about this tomorrow.

The point is, the IVF vote was about ending discrimination against women parents. That is the sort of equality that the left should stand up for, no?

Where kids do badly because of single-mothers and family breakdown, it is likely that the impact is much more to do with poor resources and lack of emotional balance in the family than the explicit lack of a male figure.

And in any case, the number of women this effects is so small that it has no bearing on wider society really.

As for your views on abortion, I disagree of course. I'm still to be convinced why the state should tell women what to do with their ovaries.