Italy has recently authorised use of the "morning after pill" RU-486 (it's a bit dubious calling such drugs "abortion pills", as does the article I've linked to).
Predictably, this move was opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which has been successful to date in keeping RU-486 illegal in various countries where the majority are Catholics. This is yet more evidence that religion is not just about culture, ritual, and personal belief. It attempts to influence government policy, impose its dogmas through the coercive power of the state, and control what we can and cannot do with our lives. Furthermore, a religious sect is not innocuous or "moderate" merely because it accepts the reality of biological evolution. There is nothing at all innocuous or moderate about Catholic dogma or the hierarchs of the Vatican. This is why we should never tire of pointing out that religion lacks the epistemic and moral authority it claims.
We will never get rid of religion entirely, and I would not want to suppress it by force. But we can create a political culture in which it is marginalised.
This is incredibly important news, and I'm surprised no one else has commented on it. Indeed, 'religion is not just about culture, ritual, and personal belief.' People, I think, would be surprised at the extent to which churches and their doctrines reach right into the ordinary lives of most people. It doesn't only attempt to influence government policy; it does it time and time again. The story that Jeremy and Ophelia tell, in Does God Hate Women?, about the girl seeking an abortion, and how she was browbeaten by a priest into signing a paper saying that she carry her baby to term, is only the tip of the iceberg. In Britain, the church involves itself directly through bishops in the House of Lords. Elsewhere, politicians hoe to the doctrinal line for bear of excommunication, or from social pressure. For a long time it has been understood that the church would stay out of these things, but more and more the church is involving itself immediately in the making of large legislative decisions, and this is trend that we must see reversed. It is good news that even in Italy the church's inhuman restrictions can be overcome. It provides hope for all of us.
With all this trouble over RU-486, just think of what'll happen when they try to upgrade to RU-Pentium!
Blake, that was damned funny!
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