Posts by Lucy Telfar Barnard

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  • Speaker: Abortion: morality and health,

    Bart, I understand your concern about placing the limit at “viability”, given ongoing medical advances. What about viability without medical intervention? Or possibly without some particular type of intervention – respirator, perhaps? I realise that will include some full-term babies, so we’d be talking averages here.

    If a reallly late-term “abortion” were induced, and the baby were born alive and continued to live after birth, I don’t think it would be right to expect any doctor or nurse or other person to end that baby’s life, or even to deny it the basic necessities of life (food) when it’s clearly alive. So there is a point where the rights of the woman/mother start to impact on the rights of others. I don’t think that’s so much thinking that the life of the fetus is more important that the freedom of the mother, as that at some point the life of the fetus, and the rights of others, are as important as the freedom of the mother.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Abortion: morality and health, in reply to Craig Young,

    Certainly conservative Catholics don't believe in contraception, but conservative Catholics are only a subset of people who are anti-abortion.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Abortion: morality and health,

    I could be wrong, but I think that was the original idea behind Birthright. But yes, I'd tend to think that anti-abortionists would better serve their cause by helping such organisations, and providers of contraceptive advice, so as to reduce demand for abortion.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Abortion: morality and health, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’ve always assumed that anti-abortion sentiment comes from a place where ignorance, lack of empathy, and a massive sense of entitlement cavort merrily together through the fields.

    I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I know a very good woman, a good Catholic. By good, I mean I think she does all she can to live by all the best bits of the Bible, not to show other people how good she is, but because she believes, modestly and quietly, that it is the right thing to do. She’s by no means virulent about it, but I know she doesn’t like abortion. I am quite sure it’s not out of any desire to punish women for their sexuality, or to make the child suffer or anything like that. She just sees an embryo, or a foetus, as life, and the thought of that life being ended makes her sad.

    She is not ignorant, nor lacking in empathy, and certainly shows no signs of any sense of entitlement. I don’t think she would ever judge a woman for having an abortion (see above about best bits, and thus “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged”). You can feel sad about something happening without judging the people who do it.

    She has worked, over the years, to advance many rights of women, and that work is not diminished just because of her feelings in this area. In any conversation I’ve had with her about women’s rights, we have agreed wholeheartedly. We have not disagreed about abortion because we haven’t had any conversation about abortion, hopefully because we respect each other too much to have any need to convince the other that she is wrong – that’s certainly how I feel about it anyway. I have gathered her feelings about it through observation, and mostly through what she doesn’t say, rather than what she does.

    So while there are plenty of anti-abortionists who fit your description, I wouldn’t like to see all of them described that way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Abortion: morality and health,

    In my teens and early 20s, I didn’t think abortion was a moral issue. I was comfortable with the line being drawn at about 12 weeks, quite possibly later, and with the idea that any woman should be able to end any pregnancy up to then as easily as ordering a pizza, only the pizza should be free.

    Later I had the privilege of discussing abortion with a friend who had worked as an abortion nurse. She said that the only ones she found difficult were the late abortions – the ones performed for medical rather than psychological reasons, between 12 and 16 weeks. The closer they got to 16 weeks, the more the fetuses started looking like very little babies, and she said she sometimes found those tiny bodies distressing. Which is natural. This didn’t shake her pro-choice views, it just meant that she did see it as a moral question. But I think she, and certainly I, would endorse Deborah’s comment that that moral decision is one that women have the right to make for themselves.

    These conversations, and life experience, meant that for me, while it would have been entirely acceptable for me to have ended a pregnancy before my life was financially and economically stable, it would have been a more complex decision after I was married and settled. I think if I had had an unexpected third pregnancy in my 30s, I possibly would have had three children, despite the inconvenience. But possibly not, since I never had to make that decision. Now that I’m in my 40s, and my youngest child is 11, not a chance. A pregnancy would be terminated as swiftly as the current less than ideal laws would allow.

    I don’t think pre-abortion counselling, or at least “checking in” is a bad thing. If a woman’s having an abortion when she doesn’t really want to, that’s not good either. But the counselling should be in the context of support, not a hurdle that must be jumped in order to gain access to an abortion. It could, for example, be checking that your decision is a sane decision, not having to establish that you need to end your pregnancy to get your sanity back.

    As an aside – I was always entertained by McGillicuddy Serious’ abortion policy, which was to allow abortion, but only post-natal abortion, up to the age of 18 years – on the condition that the mother performed the “abortion” herself. They said they’d chosen the policy on the grounds that it would hopefully offend every side in the debate.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Not Uniform,

    Certainly there are warm clothes that aren’t part of a uniform. It’s just that without a uniform, children may not have warm clothes, or may not wear warm clothes, even on the days they need them.

    My children have been to schools with uniforms, and without. I went to a (all-girls’) secondary school with a uniform for the first 3 1/2 years of high school, and a very liberal (co-ed) boarding school without a uniform for the last 2 years. Despite the fact the co-ed was liberal for the time and place, I still picked up attitudes there towards homosexuality that I had to unlearn later; and which I hadn’t learnt earlier at the girls’ school. My daughter goes to a (all-girls) school with a uniform, and her vocal acceptance of the full range of sexualities makes me both proud (of her) and ashamed (that I was so much less enlightened at her age). So I think all that has far more to do with the culture of the school than the presence or absence of uniform. In the past, lack of uniform has tended to be associated with a certain style of schooling, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a uniformed school with a liberal culture, or a mufti school with a conservative culture.

    Besides which, I think there are two questions here:
    1. Should there be uniforms (boring argument had many times before); and
    2. If there is a uniform, should it be gender neutral (much more interesting discussion).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Not Uniform,

    OK, I fully accept that YMMV on the convenience front.

    I am quite serious about the warmth issue though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Not Uniform,

    It's not about gang colours. It was just really, really convenient. No "I've got nothing to wear" in the morning. No confusion over which clothing item was going to need to be clean the next day. And no (or not much) "I'm not wearing those shoes/other clothing item of uncool brand".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Not Uniform,

    My children wore a uniform at primary school in the UK. The good thing about the uniforms was that they were the same design everywhere, within a range of about 7 “colourways” (light blue, royal blue, dark blue, green, purple, yellow, red; and black or grey). Schools could do their own sweatshirts with the school logo on if they wanted, as well as a school tie. Secondary schools had a similar arrangement. You could buy school uniforms at the bigger supermarkets, as well as Marks & Spencer and some of the larger clothes chains. It was very handy.

    My son said the boys complained about having to wear a tie every day in summer when the girls didn’t have to. The principal said any boy was welcome to go without a tie if he was wearing a dress. Noone took up the offer.

    Girls could wear trousers if they wanted to, and some did. As above, boys could in theory wear a skirt or a dress if they wanted to, but none (in a predominantly RAF town…) did. So while an XX trans (or non-binary, so the children tell me) could dress in something vaguely gender-neutral without too many issues, I imagine it would have been a lot more socially difficult for an XY to do the same.

    So gender neutral uniforms? Hell yes. Of course there will be some children who will say “but I want to wear a skirt!”, but I don’t see why that’s different to any other “but I want to wear item X that isn’t part of the school uniform!” complaint.

    I have a whole other reason for supporting school uniforms that include trousers. They are (or can be, should be) warm. It is important that children stay warm in winter, particularly when they’re attending a virus transmission & incubation centre every day; and clothing is an important part of staying warm.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Stand for... Something,

    ... or the Star-Sprinkled Banner?

    I had a good look through all the flag suggestions at It was really interesting to see the patterns (no pun, honest!) and recurring themes.

    There are the flags that are really just our current flag, with some very minor variation that shows the poster doesn't want the flag to change at all, but has to make a change or it won't be uploaded.

    There are the flags that are silly/irreverent/put up for fun.

    There are the suggestions that are artworks, some of them good or interesting but not (to my mind) suitable as actual flags.

    There are suggestions that I think would work better as some company logo than a flag.

    And then there are the suggestions that you could conceivably imagine seeing as flags. It doesn't mean they'd be great, but they seem to me to have grasped the basics of flag design.

    Common themes? Variations on koru, the silver fern, the southern cross, the pleiades. Plenty that still have the union flag on them. The NZ coat of arms.

    Common colours? Primary red, white, royal and sky blue, black, grass green.

    Far too many flags that fail to grasp what to me should be one of the starting points for flag design: your child should be able to draw it easily. I'd allow a few exceptions to that. The Welsh flag, with its dragon, is awesome, and I remember from having to draw it at school that it was really hard. But it still makes for an excellent flag.

    But on the "hard to draw" basis, I'd exclude the coat of arms. I'd leave out the kiwi (actually a stylised kiwi is easier to draw than a dragon or a silver fern, but I just don't like it, so I'm using this rule as an excuse to exclude it) I'd also exclude the silver fern. It is pretty. But there's not enough geometry to it. When it comes to flags, I believe in geometry. Koru, on the other hand, do follow some basic geometrical rules, so I'll allow them. Ditto stars, though their placement can be problematic.

    That also makes the pleiades challenging. They're a pretty constellation. I like their symbolism But where do I put them on a flag? The Southern Cross can be stylised to a diamond shape, but the pleiades? I guess their arrangement could be stylised too, but current designs including them don't obviously do that.

    My other rule for flag design would be simplicity of colour. Not too many, thanks.

    And then I went hunting on the internet for flags of the world, and discovered that of course there's a whole field that studies the aesthetics and symbolism of flags, called vexillology. I also found some guy who "graded" the world's flags, who came up with [[|a handy list of "don'ts" for flags]. N.B. Our current flag gets a C. It's downgraded for "colonial nonsense" (presumably the inclusion of the Union Jack). I'm not sure I agree with all his aesthetic judgements, but his rules seem pretty spot on to me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

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