/F THE international prolife movement had prayed for a visible symbol of affirmation in human life, they could not have had a better answer than Cherie Blair's expected baby. It is the most wonderful news, of course, for the Blairs: but it is also the most wonderful news for the rest of us.
Though I am not a political fan of Tony I could not help but feel thrilled and uplifted by the announcement. The joy of a new life is so contagious; it is such an affirmation in life itself and in the future. Bravo to the Prime Minister is our most natural, spontaneous reaction: and bravissima to Mrs Blair, just for being so radiantly accepting about it all.
It must have crossed a million minds that, sadly, other women in her place reach for the telephone number of the abortionist. But Cherie, as in the story of the Annunciation, has immediately seen her late conception as a great blessing.
It is, moreover, reliably reported that Mrs Blair will not take an amniocentesis test to discover whether her baby could have a handicap. This test is mostly offered with a specific view to abortion: the woman is generally asked to agree to terminate the pregnancy if the test is positive (doctors consider it wasteful to carry out the procedure unless they can terminate should the result be positive). Amniocentesis itself brings some risk of miscarriage. Cherie is apparently ready to accept whatever child the Lord sends. Now there is an example of radiant motherhood.
Throughout the world, many persuasive public figures have preached opposition to abortion — from Mother Teresa to Ronald Reagan. And they have provided important leadership in affirming pro-life views. But one example is worth a thousand theories. Cherie Blair's example in this is the best thing for the prolife movement in years. For it is international news which was instantly transmitted everywhere, and as the pregnancy progresses, it will be parelleled by a swell of goodwill for her safe delivery and for her baby's life and health.
Walter Bagheot, the 19th century constitutionalist, said that a princely marriage was but a brilliant edition of an everyday fact. By the same token, a famous baby is an illumination of a deep truth, which we all know in our hearts to be right: that the conception, development and birth of a child is a most fabulous miracle. And that the orchestrated attack on life in the womb really goes against our most profound feelings for the human and the divine.
There is so much anti-life propaganda, casual, banal, utilitarian, everyday. Every television programme about famine, about resources, about the history of the family or the development of women's, or civil, rights propagates the line that a child is but "another mouth to feed", and that children are the cause of poverty, want and ignorance. Blatantly, or subtly, this message is carried throughout the globalised consumerist world, and it is no coincidence that media moguls like Ted Turner or the influential rich such as George Soros are fanatical birth controllers. Their game is that to sell more of their products, you need fewer babies; though it is a shortterm game because when there is a falling population — as there is now in Europe — there will presently be many fewer customers.
It takes an event like the Blair baby to underline the fact that these anti-life attitudes are completely against our instincts, completely against nature. To feel thrilled about a new child is the way it should be. To have a mother and a father together in happy matrimony, to have other siblings involved in the forthcoming birth — we know that this is the way things ought to be. Married love and its harvest in the transmission of life express our most profound longing for fulfillment. Those who dissent will be shown as the sourpusses they always were.
And if Mrs Blair faces risks in her pregnancy, at 45 years of age — which she does — that only goes to underline the element of heroism and sacrifice that is involved in radiant motherhood. The dangers and problems that a mother faces enhances our respect for motherhood, and makes us think 100 times better of a woman who chooses this route, which involves selflessness. Cherie Blair is a clever lawyer, but it is as a mother she will be internationally honoured, not as an advocate. Clever lawyers are admirable, but mothers are unforgettable.
Mrs Blair's pregnancy should not be used or exploited for any political ends, whether parliamentary or religious. The message does not need to be used as propaganda for any cause: it is universally understood for itself alone. The child in the crib, and the pram in the hall, incarnate the meaning of life itself. What a Millennium event indeed!
Michael Ancram, the Tory Party Chairman, says he is "disappointed" with Jeffrey Archer. He should be disappointed in himself: Lord Ancram is a Catholic who should have understood that it is character, not money or dazzle or energy that matters in a man.
Archer may not be a bad man, but he is a man of unreliable character. And that should have been understood by the Tories before they engaged him as their candidate for London's Mayor.