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Issue Fifty Six

Jan 2019

The Guest Editorial by Lisa Beech tells of an abortion decision made by a couple in a context defined by economic hardship. The contemporary rhetoric, that the predicament a person or family find themselves in is a matter of individual responsibility, leaves those in hardship or poverty with a paucity of choice. Those on both sides of the abortion debate can agree that poverty is the worst possible reason to have an abortion.

In late October, the Law Commission published its Ministerial Briefing Paper titled “Alternative Approaches to Abortion Law”. We offer a brief summary of the key recommendations, including the three alternative models that could be adopted if the Government decided to propose a policy shift to treat abortion as solely a health issue.

Lyn Burt was the administrator of The Nathaniel Centre from 2000 to 2013. We feature a tribute to Lyn who died last month after a long illness.

In a thoughtful article, Richard Stith articulates a rarely explored consequence of legalising euthanasia – a person’s decision to continue to live with a disability or illness or pain would come to be seen as selfish. Once assisted suicide becomes freely available, then those who choose to refuse death will be blamed for burdening their caregivers and society, as well as adding to their own suffering. Stith muses that the right to assisted suicide might solve Nietzsche’s ‘problem’ of how to convince the incapacitated to autonomously choose death.

Zach Duke examines how disability was perceived in Catholic thinking prior to and after the Second Vatican Council. This piece highlights St Thomas Aquinas’ reflection; a creature by its very existence gives glory to God. More recent reflections on the ‘dignity’ of all human persons provide a theoretical framework for all persons, including those living with a disability, to be welcomed and respected unconditionally. Pope Francis’ openness and comfort in the presence of those with disabilities shows how the rhetoric of earlier times can be lived out in practice.

Advocating a radical, systemic approach to the current environmental crisis, George Monbiot argues that we need to challenge the corporations that urge us to live in a throwaway society rather than seeking ‘greener’ ways of maintaining the status quo. It is not a case of ‘what should we use’ but ‘how should we live’.

Finally, we provide a summary of The Nathaniel Centre’s submission to ACART regarding the guidelines for posthumous reproduction. To speak of a deceased person becoming a ‘parent’ has a qualitatively different meaning from ‘parenting’, understood as the ability and willingness to enter into an ongoing relationship of care.




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