It's about time that we did a bit of cross promotion in this spot for BioEdge, a newsletter about bioethics which is also published by New Media Foundation. This comes out once a week and covers issues like reproductive technology, euthanasia, surrogacy, transhumanism, organ donation and so on. Its focus is more news than commentary and it is aimed at health professionals, bioethicists and policy makers.
The editor of the journal Bioethics once said that BioEdge has “a larger real-world impact than most bioethics journals could dream of”. And like MercatorNet, its editorial philosophy revolves around the notion of human dignity.
The recent UK election brought some surprising results. But one which was widely reported was the news that a 20-year-old in Scotland had defeated a star Labour candidate. In fact, she was only 2 years old when he was first elected to the House of Commons. Mhairi Black is said to be the youngest Parliamentarian in 350 years. However, Marcus Roberts has gone to the trouble to unearth who was elected in 1667. (See his article below.)
It turns out that Christopher Monck's record will probably stand for a good deal longer, as he was only 13 when he took his seat in the House of Commons. He married when he was 16, entered the House of Lords when he was 17, organised England's first public boxing match when he was 29, became Chancellor of the University of Cambridge when he was 31, became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica when he was 34, and died of over-achievement when he was 35. Mhairi Black has big shoes to fill.
We're still celebrating Mother's Day, it seems, on MercatorNet. Tamara Rajakariar, the soon-to-be-married editor of Family Edge, explains below why she wants to be a mother: because she wants to be like her own Mum. It's one of the best Mother's Day tributes I've ever read.
And Shannon Roberts, who edits Demography Is Destiny with her husband Marcus, has discovered one of the best-ever YouTube videos about the joys of motherhood: a blind Brazilian woman whose radiographer gives her an amazing present. Spoiler alert: box of tissues required.
Children and mothers are the theme of today's stories, one theme because they belong together. There should not be young children without mothers unless death has separated them. There should not be children who have been deliberately separated from their mothers because an adult or a couple of adults wants a child to call their own. Sadly this is happening, and will happen more and more. In an article I have quoted in my piece on Mother's Day a gay man describes how he and his partner had to prevent the infant they adopted saying "the M-word". It wrung my heart to read this.
Somehow we have to stop the movement to make children the chattels of adults who are too self-absorbed or confused to understand the harm they are doing. In the spirit of the mothers who volunteered their thoughts after many years of raising their families, let's take renenewed ownership of the public celebrations dedicated to mothers and fathers -- so this Mother's Day is not the last, for anyone, by a long chalk.
We have several articles to whet, or perhaps blunt your appetite today, starting with Zac Alstin’s piece on the real price of cheap food. I am very much in sympathy with his perspective on the problems of waste and exploitation that he highlights.
But for sheer urgency you can't go past Bruce Arnold’s open letter to the Irish Prime Minister about the referendum on same-sex marriage to take place later this month. It is a powerful appeal by a leading Irish journalist to a politician he knows well and has supported, but who is now leading an hysterical “Yes” campaign to change the Irish Constitution, apparently oblivious to its effects on the family and on principles Ireland fought for only a few years ago in a EU treaty. Americans who think the democratic process is at risk in their country because of this issue, may be shocked at what is happening in Ireland.
Ten years ago this month, MercatorNet was officially launched. Perhaps this is the moment to cite a couple of paragraphs from our first issue:
What we have to offer is idealism and professionalism. The articles and features in MercatorNet will speak to everyone who believes that ethics is more than opinions, that there is a transcendent dimension to our lives, and that facts are sturdier than ideology. We welcome a diverse range of opinions on politics, international affairs and economics as long as they support the unalterable dignity of the human person.
MercatorNet is an ambitious project. We’d like to become an internet portal which will create a more balanced and positive agenda for the media. We intend to publish views you can use. We’d like our readers to use the facts and figures and arguments they find here to influence public opinion.
Have we stuck to this? I believe we have. Can we do better? I believe we can. We're making plans now for improving the site. We'd love to get input from you, our readers.
The New York Times has finally got around to taking the debate over the personhood of the embryo seriously. Last week it published an op-ed by Nick Loeb (who is rich and famous and unknown to me) arguing that his ex-fiancee Sophia Vergara (who is much richer and more famous and unknown to me) should give him permission to implant their two frozen embryos into a surrogate mother. (Read the story below.)
The Times was roundly criticised for publishing an article which asserted that frozen embryos have rights and that questioned a woman's reproductive decisions. But the editor of the op-ed page defended it. "It is jarring, perhaps, for Times readers to see such a strong “pro life” article on our pages ... This, frankly, makes such articles all the more valuable," he wrote. Quite often the NY Times comes in for a shellacking in MercatorNet. It's gratifying to see that sometimes the Times gets it right.
The new British princess is now 48 hours old but it is not too late, I hope, to offer my own congratulations to her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is nice to hear general rejoicing over the birth of a baby when, in the normal course of events, there is so much hand-wringing over the (mythical) population explosion.
The interesting question is whether Kate and William will go beyond the “heir and a spare” royal family model and have another child. At 33, Kate still has time for more and it would set a very patriotic example if she managed three. On average, British women today are having less than two children and more than a fifth are ending up childless. Britannia can hardly rule the wave with a declining population – and she might even find it hard to support a royal family.
One has to admit, though, that it’s still not a great world for women. The fact that young girls are now routinely vaccinated against an STD that can lead to cervical cancer shows that. People whose opinion I respect disagree with me, but I have always thought the vaccination approach to what is essentially a behavioural problem was the wrong one. Cases of menopause among vaccinated teenage girls documented by Australian doctor Deirdre Little – the subject of my article today – and her research on the safety studies for the vaccine Gardasil, give me another reason to distrust the programme. But see what you think – and give us your comments.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott often gets a bad rap from local media, so I was struck by a glowing testimonial to Abbott from Kathy Gyngell, editor of the take-no-prisoners Conservative Woman website in the UK. Whatever the Aussies think of him, Tony is ten times better than Dave when it comes to heart and principles, according to Kathy, who was moved by his speech at Gallipoli last weekend. I've cross-posted her piece on our site today. I don't hear enough of Mr Abbott to know how well he has earned this accolade, but I am familiar with the feeling that there are no, or few, politicians with moral backbone around these days. Of course, if I am not prepared to be one myself, which I am not, I can hardly complain, can I? Anyway, good on Tony Abbott for impressing a staunch conservative Brit.
The second most popular item on our "Most Read" list this week is a feel-good video discovered by Family Edge editor Tamara Rajakariar and featuring parents in love with their job and their kids. Like so many great family videos it's from a commercial source -- this time Extra Space Storage. I wonder what Extra Space would do with the subject of another piece Tamara put up today -- about the 74 percent of young adults (18 to 34) in Slovakia who still live with their parents. It sounds as though they could do a lot of business there, and talk up the bright side of having kids who never leave home.