"What is the value that we give to human life in its first beginnings. Now clearly it's not the same as we would give to another adult sitting next to me."I agree with John that this needs to be corrected and clarified since we do not give a higher value or a lower value to human life on the basis of age, whether before or after birth. John has quite rightly quoted the relevant passages from Donum Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.
It is fair to say that Archbishop Nichols was put under pressure during the programme on BBc 4's World at One yesterday. Most of the time was given to a "catholic" doctor who made a passionate case for a saviour sibling for his own child. After an extensive and entirely unopposed presentation, the Archbishop was immediately dumped right into the mire;
"Very moving to hear that testimony. Does it make you want to think again, make you rethink the argument?"This is the ultimate "dirty trick" of the media, so refined in Britain. Tearful "testimony" then zip straight in with "Right, you swine with your dogmatic, abstract principles, what do you make of that, eh"!?
Archbishop Nichols was keen to emphasise our compassion for hard cases and to avoid any appearance of a lack of charity. I can understand that. He was confronted by the interviewer with the utterly partisan dilemma between "abstract moral and religious arguments" as opposed to the child who "faces death by a thousand knives." He was hectored and interrupted repeatedly, (unlike the doctor advocating "saviour siblings.") He was confronted by the question "...aren't you putting obstacles in the way of families like that?"
As I said, I do agree with John Smeaton that the Archbishop's distinction between the value of human life at different stages needs to be repudiated - and, I hope, formally corrected. At the same time, we should see this outrageously partisan BBC coverage for what it is: an attempt to influence the debate in Parliament rather than simply report it. This was not a question of different people making different things of the same coverage as Mark Thompson claimed in Westminster Cathedral last month (Apologia pro BBC sua). This was the liberal consensus in the BBC doing its best to support their secularist friends in Parliament at the very moment of a crucial debate.