Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The commodification of children

There are times when I really don't understand the modern world, and this is one of them.

We're shaping up for a real showdown between the Catholic Church and the government here in the UK about adoption by homosexuals. Let me paint the situation with a few quotations:
A Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We are absolutely committed to bringing forward proposals that provide effective protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
He said there were strong views on all sides but no decisions had been taken and there was "no question of preferential treatment for an individual faith".

The Equality Act bans discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services [my emphasis] on the basis of sexual orientation in a similar way to rules on sex and race discrimination.

Lord Falconer told BBC One's Sunday AM: ..."We do take the view in this country that you shouldn't be discriminated against on that basis [their sexual orientation] and think that applies to everybody, whatever your religion."

Now some response from the head of the Catholic Church in the UK:
Catholic Church adoption agencies will close if they are not allowed to opt out of new gay rights laws, the head of the church in England and Wales says.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has written to the Cabinet to say church teaching prevented its agencies placing children with homosexual couples...

The cardinal said the closure of the seven agencies would represent a wholly avoidable "tragedy".

Its agencies are said to handle 4% or about 200 of all adoptions a year but about a third of those children judged difficult to place.

It appears that the position that the British state is advocating here is that the provision of children for adoption is a service [or children constitute goods or facilities]. This is why it cannot legitimately be refused to homosexual couples under the new legislation.

I do not propose to go into the recent history of this proposition. It's been coming for a while now. For the past few years, people who sit on adoption panels and object to such adoptions (for principled or pragmatic reasons) have been required to recuse themselves from considering applications for adoption by homosexual couples.

I do not intend to discuss whether I think it's a coherent moral position. I simply want to say that it is of a piece with the `abortion-on-demand' position which subsists in practice (although not in principle) in this country. Together they seem to merit the description in the title of this post.

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