Writing for the Iona Institute’s blog on Friday Ben Conroy gave a summation of his own take on the arguments of the Yes campaign (Does the Yes side believe in the ‘Irish mammy’ or not?, 10 April 2015). Taking Joan Burton’s story of the Irish mother who wants the best for her children whether they are gay or straight, he suggests that those seeking marriage equality are content to have the idea of motherhood removed altogether:

What’s wrong is that in this campaign it’s the Yes side who are arguing, emphatically and repeatedly, that children do not benefit especially from a mother’s love: any sufficiently loving adult can be swapped in and nothing lost.

It is perhaps possible that Mr. Conroy is wholly unaware that today there are some 5,000 children in Ireland who are in the care of the state, and that many of these children and young people are already without a mother’s love. He may also be unaware that by legislating for same-sex couples to marry and legally adopt Irish children in Ireland that the number of motherless children will not magically increase. The Marriage Equality referendum is not seeking the employment of a national child catcher to steal children from mothers, but rather to find loving homes for children already deprived of the love and care of their natural parents.

Let’s be honest, Ben Conroy is not a silly man, and we can safely assume that he is perfectly cognisant of these facts. With this in mind I will place the further charge against him that, in appealing to a certain constituency of people who have not fully thought this through and who are conditioned to accept the party line, he is deliberately misusing the facts in order to manipulate people. When such a distortion of the truth comes from a Catholic organisation we are duty bound to remind the author that “the deliberate intention of leading a neighbour into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2485).” There is not a single voice on the side of Marriage Equality in Ireland asking for the removal of children from loving mothers and fathers, but Mr. Conroy knows his audience well. Many of the voters he is addressing do not have access to all of the information, and he is playing on their fears by telling what amounts to a pack of lies.


Ùr-Fhàsaidh is a Christian social justice blogger who is committed to a Yes vote in the upcoming Marriage Equality referendum, and to helping other Christians see the good sense in a Yes vote. Please take the time to sign up to his social media feeds and share his work.

    

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3 thoughts on “Children, Marriage Equality, Distortions, and Lies

  1. DAHR much? And before you say “but that has nothing do with the referendum” (which I disagree with strongly), note that I was writing about the CFR Bill *and* the referendum. Let’s take that issue first: do you think that egg donation and surrogacy separate a child from their natural mother? If not, what is the material difference between egg donation and forced adoption, from the child’s perspective?

    You also seem confused on a couple of points: I am talking about children conceived through DAHR, and children being adopted. I didn’t actually reference natural motherhood in this particular blog, just motherhood per se, the unique maternal influence. You seem to have thought of neither of these things before jumping right into libel.

    I’d like you to retract your allegation that I’m lying – I am 100% sincere, I promise you that. If you think I’m mistaken I’d be happy to argue the point.

    Jason, there’s a discussion to be had here, and I’d be happy to have it, but it looks to me like you’ve already decided not to listen to a word I say. I don’t go around calling people who disagree with me and attacking their good faith: I’d love if you could extend the same charity back.

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    1. Ben, welcome to the Tuppence Worth blog! Had I already decided not to listen to what you say your comment would not be here, and I would not be taking the time to reply. I stand by my charge that you are wilfully manipulating the facts in order to confuse people, and with the blunderbuss shot of tangential and peripheral issues both in your article, elsewhere and here, I do believe (also sincerely) that you are misleading people rather than challenging your own prejudices. Yet I am open to this discussion.

      Now allow me to address your latest point on DAHR (Donor Assisted Human Reproduction) and the Marriage Equality referendum. At present this is an issue wrapped up in the Child and Family Relationships Bill, and is yet to be fully worked out. As far as I am concerned couples have the right to seek assistance to conceive children, and the implication that the “unique maternal influence” is determined by cellular biology flies in the face of modern scientific and psychological research. On these points I am not in the least confused.

      Then to answer your question – Do I believe that donor assisted reproduction and surrogacy “separate a child from their [sic] natural mother?” No, I do not believe it. Human beings, unlike most animals, have long since by-passed strict natural determination. We made it to the moon, and that was never part of our physical make-up. We have a relationship with our biological nature, but our higher faculties have allowed us to escape any strict biological determination. I do know that it separates a child from its biological parents, but your question is on nature and not biology. As creatures wrought in the Imago Dei we have gained for ourselves some considerable leverage in determining our own nature, however much we are tied to our biology.

      I do understand your ethical concerns. We are both Christians and so I trust that we have both been shaped by the ethical discussion of the Christian tradition. We have to remember that ethics is an ongoing ‘discussion’ and not a matter settled by dogma. Yet on the ethics we are not singing from the same hymn sheet. The fact that so many children are adopted, conceived artificially (Humanae Vitae has largely been ignored by most Catholics worldwide raising questions of its authority apropos the Sensus Fidelium), and raised in single parent families leads me to believe that the ethic of the religious right has not caught up with human reality.

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  2. Ben, if the maternal influence is so uniquely beneficial and an essential right of a child why not advocate the adoption of children by same sex female couples?

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