Church and State: October 2007 Archives

October 31, 2007

Tony Abbott and the Not So Terribly Good Week

Australia: The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has once again been asked to explain the cosy relations he and his minions have with religious extremists.

This time it's the foaming loon Danny Nalliah, the head of Melbourne-based Catch the Fire Ministries, who was charged in a test case of Victoria's religious vilification laws for comments he made about Muslims in 2002. It seems Nalliah fronted up to the far right-wing League of Rights, despite being warned that they were anti-Jewish.

Pastor Nalliah has been given top-level access in recent months to the Howard Government, which he has endorsed enthusiastically.

The revelation of his speech in 2005 has prompted Labor to call on the Government to cease contact with Pastor Nalliah.

The case ran for five years, during which Mr Costello supported the pastor. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal initially found he had vilified Islam, but the verdict was quashed on appeal. It was eventually resolved at mediation.

Government body listens to scientists shocker!

United Kingdom: A committee considering scientific evidence and making recommendations for change based on scientific evidence has issued its report. Religious groups, who had tried to nobble the enquiry, will not be pleased with the results. No change in the upper limit is suggested, and liberalisation in other areas is proposed. What's more, the committee said that superstitious doctors who object to the procedure should alert their patients well in advance. Ben Goldacre has the press release, which quotes committee member Dr Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP, extensively:

This thorough report - after a rigorous enquiry into a set of very narrow scientific issues - sets out clear conclusions on what the scientific evidence can tell us about abortion law reform.

The medical evidence is stark about how the threshold of viability has not reduced below 24 weeks, and that is why our conclusions are so firm...

The Committee had no alternative - given the medical and scientific facts - but to argue for the end of the 40 year requirement for two doctors signatures, the old-fashioned ban on nurses performing abortions, and the unnecessary restriction of choice for women about where they have early medical abortion.

I am pleased the Committee argues for the GMC to make clear that doctors who conscientiously object must alert their patients in advance and ensure another doctor takes the consultation if abortion is a possibility.

Dr. Harris also left us a tempting tidbit:

The so called minority report is a amusing mish-mash of paranoid conspiracy theories, pseudo-scientific clap-trap and anti-abortion zealotry. The few recognisably scientific arguments it makes are completely dealt with in the Committee's report and rebutted by the totality of the scientific literature.

I think we can all guess which report the Prattle would like to see.

Sense prevailsBad Science, 31st October 2007. See also SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE ABORTION ACT 1967, an account of the committee's remit on the UK Parliamentary website.

October 15, 2007

Fundies caught trying to pervert abortion review before it even begins

United Kingdom: A inquiry reviewing abortion law has warned scientists presenting evidence that they must disclose links to faith groups after it was found that religious organisations were trying to influence the result surreptitiously.

At least eight submissions of written evidence have come from medical professionals who have not disclosed their membership of Christian groups opposed to abortion on faith grounds. Six of the doctors are members or activists with the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation that has given its own evidence to the inquiry.

Suspicion that contributors had not been transparent about their affiliations has led the clerk of the committee to take the unusual step of writing to all those who gave evidence asking them to disclose their links to any relevant organisations...

Some on the committee are worried that unless witnesses are transparent about their affiliation to anti-abortion groups the inquiry will not be able to properly assess their evidence.

Evan Harris MP, the Liberal Democrats' science spokesperson, said: This inquiry is specifically about the scientific evidence not moral or religious arguments and our witnesses need to be evidence-led not ideologically or theologically driven. The CMF risk undermining the inquiry by getting people called as expert scientific witnesses when they are not.

Two witnesses who will give evidence today, Chris Richards, a paediatrician and honorary clinical lecturer at Newcastle University, and John Wyatt, a neonatal paediatrician at University College London, are members of CMF, but did not disclose that on their original submission.

Abortion inquiry asks scientists to disclose links to faith groupsThe Guardian, 15th October 2007.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Church and State category from October 2007.

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