Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy...to these three snippets from a "Thunderer" comment in today's Times, written by Viv Groskop:
It is surely the job of a responsible society to offer women choices without moral or religious prejudice. And that is exactly what NHS-funded abortion clinics currently do...The first snippet suggests that women should be able to approach a decision about abortion as if it is a decision that has no moral content - the decision is a-moral, that is, without morality. This is not even moral relativism, but a further step, a relativising of moral relativism itself.
... who is better placed to advise on this subject than a counsellor who works in an abortion clinic?....
We can either set up a system that gives a not to the pro-life faction, or one that helps people to reach their own decisions. Currently, the law reflects the pro-choice majority.
The second snippet demonstrates the confusion of "advice" and "counselling" that I posted about yesterday.
And the third snippet demonstrates the fragile process to which Pope Benedict referred in Westminster Hall nearly a year ago.
John Smeaton appears to me to correctly identify the key issues, namely that in any proposals put forward by the Government
No counsellor should be required to be a conduit to abortion services;
and counsellors who refuse on grounds of conscience or other good grounds to refer women to abortion services are not prevented from operating as pregnancy counsellors.