18 December 2008

Fr. Philip's comments on Cherie Blair's Angelicum lecture

Below you will find excerpts from Cherie Blair's talk at the Angelicum conference held here last Friday. I have chosen to focus on the more controversial parts.

The Church and Women’s Rights: time for a fresh perspective? (full pdf text)

[. . .]

It is clear that the way Jesus related to women indicates that he did not expect the main role of women to be to enchant or be subjects of admiration for men. Matthew’s Gospel describes, for example, his interaction with the Canaanite woman whose daughter he eventually healed. He first tries to brush off the woman when she asks him to intervene with a brusque “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs.” But the woman was no shrinking violet. Matthew’s describes here reply as a retort as she says: “Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.” Jesus was not all dismayed by her outspokenness but replied instead: “Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.” Scripture reveals that to be a woman of faith is to be a woman confident and assertive of herself, and her female desires and perspectives.

Given the broader context of this passage in the talk, these comments may be a quibble on my part, but I feel bound to point out that this particular interpretation of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman is theologically bankrupt. In order for this reading to be true, we must accept that 1) Jesus is unaware of his mission as universal savior; 2) that Jesus is not who he himself says he is—God; 3) that the man who will later go willingly to the Cross for the salvation of the world is here rejecting one of those he will later die to save; 4) that a human being, one person somehow teaches the Messiah a lesson; and 5) that the woman’s assertiveness is the focus of Jesus’ praise. The text of the meeting between Jesus, his disciples, and the Canaanite woman can be very easily interpreted in a way that makes sense of everything that Jesus has said about himself and everything the Church has subsequently taught based on these revelations. Briefly put, Jesus and the Canaanite woman engage in something like a skit in order to teach the disciples who Jesus is. Jesus knows who he is. So does the Canaanite woman. It is the disciples who appear to be struggling with Jesus’ identity and mission. Jesus takes this opportunity to demonstrate to his disciples who he is by giving the Canaanite woman the opening she needs to point out the universal salvific mission of the Messiah. Imagine Jesus looking at his disciples as the woman pleas with him and giving them a look that says, “Hey! Even she gets it. . .are you listening, blockheads!?” Jesus praises the woman’s faith, her trust, and by extension her love for her daughter. Nowhere in the story does Jesus praise her assertiveness, her confidence, or her desires as Blair asserts. The Canaanite woman is a woman of faith, that’s her power. I have preached about this ridiculous reading of the Canaanite woman several times: here, here, and here.

By drawing on the example of the confident women who have found their rightful place in the church in earlier times, women today can shape their role in the church and help interpret its fundamental truths in a way speaks with relevance to the modern world. What John Paul II wanted to see in Mulieris Dignitatem, the twentieth anniversary of which we also celebrate this year, was that the full human potential of women should be released, for their benefit and for that of the whole of society. For that to happen, along with access to property and to education, the Church has also rightly recognized the need for couples to exercise their fertility responsibly. We know better than ever before now, thanks to modern science, that life begins at conception with the contribution of both man and woman.

The phrase “to exercise their fertility responsibly” makes me nervous. To deny the implicit claim of the phrase would be ridiculous. However, what we mean by “responsible exercise” must be carefully unpacked. I know that there are faithful Catholics who believe that the responsible exercise of fertility means not using NFP because they consider it a form of artificial birth control. And I know Catholics who advocate the immediate sterilization of husband and wife in order to foster zero population growth in defense of Earth. Most Catholics, if the media are to be believed, stand with most Americans in their stalwart support for the moral use of contraception and medical necessity of abortion. All parties, when acting on their moral principles, believe that they are acting “responsibly.” So, the question for Blair at this point needs to be: “What standard are you using to judge the exercise of your fertility as responsible or irresponsible?” This question is answer in part in the following paragraphs. . .

I know that for myself, not least through the wonderful surprise of becoming a mother again for the fourth time at the age of 45. The Church rightly makes a clear distinction between controlling fertility and terminating a life once conception has occurred. I experienced that myself when I refused to have an amniocentesis test which was regarded as automatic for an elderly mother such as myself when I found myself pregnant with my fourth child. Two years later I was more than conscious of a life lost when I miscarried a second late pregnancy.

This paragraph makes four important points. First, Blair describes her fourth pregnancy at age 45 as a “wonderful surprise.” Not the phrase we would expect for a pro-abortion ideologue. Second, Blair makes a distinction between “controlling fertility” and “terminating a life once conception as occurred.” This is a dodgy distinction where the Catholic faith is concerned. Yes, there is a difference between controlling the use of one’s fertility and aborting a child. However, the question is: what is the responsible use of one’s fertility? Not having sex is one responsible means. Surgical sterilization is an irresponsible means. This distinction is the set up for Blair’s later assertion that the Church makes a grave error when she links contraception and abortion. In other words, it appears that Blair denies any link between “preventing conception” and “terminating conception.” This distinction throws a very suspicious light on her commitment to the Church’s single teaching on the sacredness of life. Third, unspoken but strongly hinted at in her admission of refusing the amniocentesis test is a rejection of any possibility of having an abortion. For a woman of 45 years, a pregnancy can mean giving birth to a child with Downs Syndrome or some other birth defect. As I understand it, it is quite common in the UK to abort children when they show any signs of congenital birth defects. Blair is telling us here that by refusing the test, she never considered abortion as an option. Fourth Blair reports that a fifth pregnancy was lost in a miscarriage and that she is conscious of having lost a human life in that tragic event. Clearly, Blair believes that human life begins at conception and is sacred from that moment on.

The Church’s current teaching on responsible parenthood is summed up in Article 3 of The Charter of the Rights of the Family, It says “The spouses have the inalienable right to found a family and to decide on the spacing of births and the number of children to be born, taking into full consideration their duties towards themselves, their children already born, the family and society, in a just hierarchy of values and in accordance with the objective moral order which excludes recourse to contraception, sterilization and abortion.”

Here Blair freely admits the Church’s teaching against the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion, categorically excluding their use as a means of exercising responsible fertility. However. . .

And while I am on record as having had difficulties with accepting the current teaching on responsible parenthood [. . .]

Here we enter the land of ambiguity. In the paragraph Blair quotes the Church excludes the use of contraception, sterilization and abortion in the development and exercise of responsible parenthood. When she says that she is “on record as having had difficulties with accepting the current teaching on responsible parenthood,” is she saying that she has difficulties with contraception, sterilization, abortion, all three, or some combination of the three? This is unclear. It does not help her pro-life case that she follows this ambiguous admission with the following. . .

[. . .] I do recognize that much of what Paul VI predicted could happen in Humanae Vitae as a result of the wide and indiscriminate use of abortion has been borne out particularly in relation to baby girls as the birth ratios of boys to girls in some countries testify. What those lost girls demonstrate is that across the world we lack widely held sense that the contribution of women is important to society in its own right. The situation of too many women in the developing world shows that we are still so far away from women being regarded as of equal worth to men.

We might want to jump in here and note that a truly pro-life Blair would be horrified at any abortion regardless of the sex of the child or its nationality, socio-economic status, etc. But we must remember that she is presenting at a conference on women and human rights, so she is simply connecting the particular point to the theme of the conference. I doubt very seriously that Blair is only concerned about the aborting of poor Indian girls to the exclusion of all other nationalities, etc.

Here, the overwhelming problems are economic, education and health-related. The British Independent newspaper, commenting on the 1994 UN Population Conference in Cairo singled out the Catholic Church for praise. It persuasively argued that by being one of the leading providers of education to girls across the developing world, the Church was making a powerful contribution to improving the lives of women, to lifting them out of poverty and enabling them to reduce levels of childbirth which can be dangerous to their health. History teaches us that improving the general economic situation and women’s educational levels gives them more power in society and helps them to exercise more responsible fertility.

Taken as it is written, there is nothing objectionable here. Women’s education and access to property rights is a basic human rights issue and one that the Church is right to support. Improved economic conditions, etc. are always a good thing. My sneaking worry here is that Blair is making an Obama-esque move toward the argument that we ought to focus our pro-life attention on improving overall economic conditions as the primary means of reducing the number of abortions. Again, on the surface, what’s objectionable about improved economic conditions and a reduction in the number of abortions? Nothing. The difficulty lies in the priority given to the socio-economic over the juridical. Abortion must be outlawed as an expression of our nation’s horror at the killing of children. If someone argues that the numerical reduction of abortion needs to be our goal and not the outlawing of abortion, ask them: Why do you want to reduce the number of abortion? In other words, why do you consider abortion to be that sort of activity that needs to be reduced? We outlaw rape, slavery, murder, kidnapping, etc. in order to dissuade people from committing these heinous acts. We also outlaw them in order to define who we are as a people who respect human life and freedom. So long as we continue to move toward lifting all legal restrictions on abortion; eliminating all moral and religious objections to abortion; and then making tax dollars available to pay for abortions, we cannot expect to see any reduction in the number of abortions.

We are all on a journey here. Just as there has been a journey from hostility to acceptance in relation to the Church’s teachings on human rights. I think we will see the Church continue to develop and refine some of its teachings regarding the specific issues which arise from women’s rights, always on the basis of an ever-deeper entering in to the witness and teaching of Christ and into his love for humanity.

Again, I am struck by the desire to shout Yes! and at the same time Wait! Clarification is needed here. Yes, we are all on a journey. A journey to the perfection that is Christ Jesus. And this journey to Christ Jesus is clearly and carefully defined by objective moral and ethical standards that brook no violation in the honest pursuit of holiness. To say that “we are all on a journey” is true but hardly profound if what is really meant is “all these moral standards are subject to the whims of history and will disappear on our journey soon enough.” Being on a journey in no way excuses the sojourner from his or her responsibility in traveling the narrow way though the eye of the needle. Of course, we will venture off the path, but those moments of getting lost have reasons not excuses. And we must always be on guard against making the short-cuts, the off-trail adventures, the off-road expeditions the norm. It is entirely too easy and too dangerous to excuse one’s moral error with a flippant “well, I’m on a journey.” I don’t think this is what Blair is doing here, but I find it necessary to flash the warning.

Those who predicted the death of religion have been disappointed. In the 21st Century, faith for many hundreds of millions of people remains an integral part of what it is to be human. And the Church has a critical role to play in discussions about what true equality must mean.

So, the question remains: is Blair pro-life or not? Here’s my considered conclusion given this talk, her answers after the talk, and her public associations. The easy conclusion: Blair has no difficulties with artificial contraception. She openly advocates for its use contra Church teaching and argues that the Church makes a serious error when she links contraception to abortion. She holds that the Church’s moral authority in opposing abortion is seriously weakened by its opposition to artificial birth control. On this issue she opposes the Church’s pro-life teachings and fails to understand the intrinsic link between a respect for the dignity of the human person and the proper moral use of our reproductive faculties. Though strictly speaking, contraception is not abortion, the two are inevitably tied to the destruction of the sacred links among love, sex, and procreation. Blair acknowledges that Paul VI was correct in predicting the destructive result of legalized abortion. It is very odd that she fails to see how artificial birth control has de-valued women globally by undermining any legitimate progress for women’s liberation from cultural oppression and leaving women more isolated and alone than every before in human history.

On abortion, I am ready to believe that since Blair admits that life begins at conception, she holds that abortion is the termination of a human life. It seems fairly apparent to me that she is opposed to abortion for the sake of birth control and that she would be happy to see a reduction in the number of overall abortions or even their elimination altogether through improved education, economics, and the liberal use of contraception. Given Blair’s public associations, International Planned Parenthood, for example, it is impossible for me to say that she is categorically opposed to abortion as a form of murder. In other words, I do not believe that she accepts without qualification the Church’s teaching that abortion is the direct killing of innocent life, and because it is so, abortion is always, everywhere, and in all circumstances a morally evil act. The answers she gave to questions after her talk clarified very little of the confusion. She reacted against the accusation that she is not a good Catholic. She asserted again that she follows Church teaching—this is manifestly untrue in the case of contraception. She said that she could not understand how pro-life advocates so misunderstand her own pro-life position and she seemed genuinely upset that she is misunderstood. I am hesitant to call this upsetedness disingenuous, however, it strikes me as odd that she is so puzzled about the opposition when she belongs the Planned Parenthood and supports the UN treaty on the elimination of discrimination against women, a document that clearly and forcefully calls for the establishment of “reproductive rights” as a human right. At the very least, Blair must admit that her critics have something to worry about when they look over her C.V. and see so many national and international groups that vigorously support abortion.

Despite the ambiguity of Blair’s pro-life credentials, I want to say unambiguously that I fully support the decision of Sr. Helen Alford and the Angelicum administration to invite Blair to speak at this conference. Catholics have absolutely nothing to fear from the truth. No one that I know here at the Angelicum came away from this event emotionally scarred, spiritually disenchanted, weakened in the faith, or magically converted to a pro-abortion position. Our job here is to teach the truth. Sometimes the best way to do that is to point to error and say, “See. That’s wrong. And here’s why…” We cannot turn a Dominican university into a Sunday school class. No one at the Angelicum advocates for abortion. There are legitimate disagreements about how best to address the evil of abortion. These are tactical and strategic differences. Not differences with the Church about core teaching.

Some will object that Blair was not properly challenged in the question and answer period. I agree. This was not a conspiracy of silence but rather a consequence of our limited time. For those of us who go to conferences regularly, we soon learn that a common feature of these gatherings is the lack of sufficient time for questions and discussions. They are structured occasions for professionals to discuss topics of interest not casual gatherings of friends for debate. Often questioners give long-winded speeches before asking a dull question, or ask a good question that gets lost in the subsequent discussion.

Go read the full texts for yourself and make up your own mind.

On the event itself. I’ve read some very dodgy news reports and blog posts about the reaction of the audience to Blair’s talk. It is obvious from the slant given in these descriptions that the reporters/bloggers need for Blair to be seen as a pro-abortion advocate and anyone who invites her to speak as secret pro-abortion supporters.

Let me say here with all the clarity I can muster:

--there were no standing ovations for Blair as has been reported.
--the applause was polite not enthusiastic.
--the laughter was “yea, we know what you mean” and not appreciative.
--most all of the friars who attended came away noting Blair’s ambiguity.
--none of us were in any way “duped” by Blair’s talk.

No doubt this conversation will continue for a while longer. . .in the meantime, I believe that we are bound to pray for Cherie Blair and her husband, asking God to work overtime in converting their hearts to an unambiguously pro-life stance, propelling them to work as hard for life as they work for other social justice goals supported by the Church.


  1. Anonymous3:10 AM

    Fr. Philip, thank you for correcting the shabby reporting of Lifesitenews! While I applaud their Pro-Life efforts, they went overboard in their dishonest reporting of this story. My fear is that they would give the Pro-Life movement a bad name by a lack of integrity in their reporting only to get a "good story". We must be unified in our efforts!

  2. Anon, it is difficult to fault anyone for passionately defending life...but to the extent that any of us go out of our way to exaggerate or outright deceive in our fight against the evil of abortion, we become the enemy.

  3. Great piece Fr, thank you.

  4. Let me say here with all the clarity I can muster:

    --there were no standing ovations for Blair as has been reported.
    --the applause was polite not enthusiastic.
    --the laughter was “yea, we know what you mean” and not appreciative.
    --most all of the friars who attended came away noting Blair’s ambiguity.
    --none of us were in any way “duped” by Blair’s talk.

    1) name names, please Father. No need to be coy.

    2) the "standing ovation" comment was not written by me, it was added later by someone who did not attend the event but mis-heard me in a conversation. As soon as I saw it, I called the person and asked that it be corrected, which it was.

    3) your subjective experience of the applause and the laughter was your subjective experience. I was there too and had a different one.

    4) If I had been introduced to any of these friars who noted Mrs. Blair's ambiguities, I would have been overjoyed (believe me) to report this.

    5) from your comments here, and judging from my own experience, I cannot agree entirely with the last. Though I am glad to read your more extensive comments.

    To the other commenter (and by extension to Fr. Bruce Williams who accused us of "calumny", I would like to have, precisely, the text in which you think we have been "dishonest". LifeSite, and I personally, stand by what we have published and greatly resent the accusation that we have "become the enemy" or have any intention other than the pursuit of the truth.

    Such accusations are very serious and I am surprised that a responsible person would make them in a public forum.

    Futher communication on this matter might be best directed towards our editors.

    Hilary White

  5. Fr. I have a couple questions.

    1) "artificial birth control has de-valued women globally by undermining any legitimate progress for women’s liberation from cultural oppression and leaving women more isolated and alone than every before in human history." I don't quite get this...care to expound?

    2) is it possible that Blair was at one time not exactly pro-life and is now on her personal journey of moving toward being less not exactly pro-life?

  6. Ms White,

    I have no need to be coy. If I felt it necessary to "name names," I would.

    I am very pleased to hear that you corrected any misinformation.

    [I would note here too that Ms White interviewed me before the talk. I told her the question I would like to ask Ms Blair, but that question was more or less rendered moot by the talk.]

    The anonymous commenter is responsible for his/her own comment. If he/she wishes to "name names," so be it.

    I have engaged in a debate on another site regarding these issues. Yours is not the only one reporting on the conference.

    Fr. Philip

  7. Mom,

    Anything that detaches sex from love and procreation necessarily destroys our proper understanding of what it means to be embodied spirits progressing toward our perfection in Christ Jesus. Artificial birth control (ABC) was supposed to "free" women from the shackles of pregnancy roulette and allow them to have sex w/o worrying about the consequences. ABC has certainly freed women from the probability of pregnancy but it has also freed the men they have sex with from the responsibility of creating loving bonds. How many times have I heard guys say that they will only date women who are on the pill? Why? Because they know that they can get the "goods" w/o worrying about the "bill." I know many women who simply stopped using the pill b/c it became a source of loneliness for them, a kind of permission to engage in meaningless sex that let the guy go without any hint of love or commitment.

    Is it possible that Blair is moving toward being more pro-life? Yes, it's possible. But until she publicly repudiates her pro-abortion associations, it will be difficult for critics to believe that she moving at all. It is a bit strange to argue that a membership in Planned Parenthood is meant to support one plank of their agenda but not another. I don't need to join the National Organization for Women to support the idea that women ought to vote. My membership in NOW would indicate to any reasonable person that I support the political agenda of NOW.

  8. Fr,

    "Catholics have absolutely nothing to fear from the truth" - but of course it was not the truth that Catholics were scared of; rather, the concern was that a Pontifical University was seen to give a platform to what are the cleverly constructed half-truths and ambiguities of Mrs Blair. Would they have been willing to do the same for Dr Goebbels?

    I'm also rather baffled that not all the friars came away convinced of the ambiguity, e.g. Fr Williams "It was crystal clear to me at least, that you see abortion as morally repugnant and that you are in line with the teaching of the Church."

    If this can be said by a learned friar, then are we to think that no student was equally deceived?

    "Sometimes the best way to do that is to point to error and say, “See. That’s wrong. And here’s why…”" But of course this did not happen. This is the shame of it all.

    Mrs Blair supports an abortion provider - her husband (who we can reasonably assume she formed in the Faith) supports abortion. They are pro-choice and not pro-life. They advocate and support the killing of innocents. They publicly dissent from several Church teachings, was there no one better to ask to speak about women's rights? Would a responsible mother ask this sort of person to address her children?

  9. Anonymous8:06 AM

    Thank you Fr.

    This is very interesting.

    Her stance on contraception is very common in my opinion; yes to contraception, no to abortion.
    I believe it was Robert Lock who wrote a piece in This Rock magazine that tried to prove Margaret Sanger did not like abortion/or support it;urban myth I believe is how he called it. But what is not discussed is, like you said, the natural connection between contraception and abortion.

    It is hard, for me as a woman, to be submissive in that regards to not only my husband, but also the Church's teaching (which I know are fully correct). And it isn't just being "submissive" either...in my opinion, after we stopped birth control and learned NFP, I feel we are more "married" also.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

  10. Fr. Powell,

    I think we need to continue this conversation in private, but I see that you have not posted an email address.

    I feel it is necessary to reiterate that having accused us of dishonest intentions and reporting, is a very serious thing.

    You can send me an email at my public address


  11. first off, thank you for the expounding...I honestly never looked at ABC that way. I see your point now.

    I got interrupted in writing out my comment and just posted it as was instead of losing it, my idea was that perhaps as her personal "journey" progresses she will end her membership in PP. Life experience is the best teacher and sometimes life teaches us the hard way the difference between a political stance and a dead baby. That's how I learned anyway.

  12. Father, thank you for the time and trouble you have taken to produce extracts from Blair's talk and for your commentary.

    Given her (and her now "Catholic" husband's) apparent prominence in the Catholic world -- as indicated by her being invited to speak at the Angelicum -- it really should not be a matter of uncertainty or controversy whether she upholds Catholic teaching or a vast range of moral matters: not only contraception and abortion, but also such things as embryonic stem-cell research, so-called therapeutic cloning, same-sex marriage/civil partnerships, assisted dying, etc. Look at her and her husband's record in defending court cases and promoting legislation during the past 10 years, look at the organisations they promote -- all they have done is appalling.

    Beyond this, however, I would like to ask your academic assessment of her talk. Reading the extracts you have posted (and a fuller account on another site) I am astonished by its medioctrity. Where's the academic rigour or insight? Nowhere! Why was Blair chosen to speak on "The Church and Women's Rights" when she is, in nobody's opinion, an expert on ethics, theology, philosophy or social sciences generally. It seems to me that she was asked to speak solely because of her celebrity status -- and I think the reputation of the Angelicum has been damaged in the process.

  13. Ms White,

    I've accused you of exactly nothing. No where in my post do I mention you, your site, or any other site by name. If my readers now believe that it my post applies to you and your site, they do so by your confession not my accusation.

    If you take my comments to apply to you and your site, that's your problem not mine.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  14. Thank you Fr. Philip for the excellent dissection of Mrs. Blair's talk.

    I must, however, take exception to your final analysis:

    No one that I know here at the Angelicum came away from this event emotionally scarred, spiritually disenchanted, weakened in the faith, or magically converted to a pro-abortion position.

    Although this may be true - and I am disposed to believe it is true, there is still the very large problem of perception, which is what many in the blogosphere have railed against, albeit at times too harshly.

    Many Catholics - without the theological formation of those at the Angelicum - will learn of Mrs. Blair's speech and assume, because of the venue, that she has the support of the Church, that her heterodox views on abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, and many other life and death issues are perhaps not that heterodox after all.

    In truth, the concern is not with those who heard the speech directly, but those who might read a short and misleading article in a newspaper or see a report on TV.

    Moreover, should Mrs. Blair want to pretend that her views are legitimate (and I am not attributing this intent to her - only the possibility), she could claim - and now rightly so - that she was invited to speak and did speak at a prestigious Catholic institute of higher learning.

    Given her professed and public views, could her speaking at the Angelicum not be an occasion of scandal, if it allows Catholics to believe or continue to believe in anti-life lies?

    Many thanks again for an excellent blog.

    I shall join you in your prayers for Mrs. Blair and her husband.


  15. Jason,

    Scandal is always a possibility in most every situation...that's not to diminish the probability of scandal here.

    We have to remember that each of us is obligated to avoid giving scandal AND each of us is obligated to avoid receiving scandal. In other words, you are the first one responsible for your faith formation, therefore, you are obligated to look the hard work of figuring out what's right and wrong.

    It is simply a matter of logic to figure out that inviting a pro-abortion speaker to a Catholic university for an academic conference in no way signals that that university supports this person's pro-abortion stance. Giving that person a degree or naming an endowed chair after them would!

  16. Just to be clear...

    It has come to my attention that my response to the first anonymous post above has been read to mean that I agree with the poster's assessment that lifesitenews' coverage of the Blair talk was dishonest. My response to this comment was meant to be a more general remark about the dangers of letting our passions for a just cause get the best of us. I do not believe that lifesitenews' coverage of the talk was dishonest. I do believe that the tone of the subjective judgments made by Ms White in the article are exaggerated. Whether the students' laughter and applause were appreciative or just polite is an interpretation of fact.

    Regardless of this bump in the road, I support the work of Lifesitenews.com. There are few willing to do what they do!

    Fr. Philip, OP

  17. Will read this important post later..

  18. Thank you Father, for your note. I hope we can continue to talk.

    H. White

  19. Father, I'm not sure if you noted my question in my previous comment. Leaving aside (if one can) the controversy about Cherie Blair's views on abortion and contraception, did her speech really amount to much? Did her presence provide anything more than a speaker with celebrity status (and controversy)?

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  22. Two points which may be of interest:
    In her speech, Cherie mentions that in the UK we now have many more women MP's, thanks to decisions taken by political parties including the Labour party which her husband led.The rise in the number of women MP's in the Labour party was facilitated by Emily's List- an organisation that provided sponsorship to women candidates, but only if they were pro abortion.
    Secondly,In the UK, the word 'conception' has a medico/legal definition meaning the implantation of an embryo in the womb of it's mother.The R.C. Church teaches that 'conception' occurs at the moment the human egg is fertilised by the human sperm.It's not clear which of these definitions is being used by Cherie.

  23. Cathy,

    Sorry for the delay! I keep forgetting to answer your question...

    It's difficult for me to say b/c this is not my academic area. From the text itself I can't see anything all that intellectually stimulating. Compared to the Matlary talk, the Blair talk is lightweight. I'm not sure what she contributed actually. But again, maybe there's something there I'm missing.

  24. Thank you Father. I wondered if my jaundiced view of Blair was prejudicing my opinion of her talk, but "lightweight" is definitely how I saw it too. Thank you and I wish you a happy Christmas.