Claire Rayner - another view

Claire Rayner, ex-nurse and agony aunt, is dead. May she rest in peace.

The Catholic Herald reports another side to this very public figure.

They report: Amid all the eulogies and panegyrics there is no mention of a much publicised dispute between Claire Rayner and editor and journalist Dominic Lawson in 1995. In that year his wife had given birth to a daughter, Domenica, who has Down’s Syndrome. Lawson, an atheist, had written memorably about his love for her and his hostility towards those in the medical profession who put pressure on pregnant women to take tests and then to abort babies found to have defect. He concluded, “When I look at Domenica I see someone with a vast joy in just being alive and I am indescribably happy that she is.”

Responding to this with an article in the Independent, ex-agony aunt said in her usual fashion that the Lawsons had behaved selfishly in their decision because of the “misery” and cost to society of such children. Entitled “A Duty to Choose Unselfishly”, her response stated: “People who are not yet parents should ask if they have the right to inflict such burdens on others.” At the time she wrote this, Rayner was actually a patron of the Down’s Syndrome Association. Naturally enough, she was instantly asked to step down. This too was overlooked in the obituaries.

In a later article, “Have a Care, Cuddly Claire”, Lawson (of Jewish parentage like Rayner herself) pointed out to her that her hardline approach to the abortion of children with disabilities was nothing else but eugenics – and that this had been practised with deadly intent by the Nazis, even before the war, in their ‘life not worthy of life” euthanasia programme.
Perhaps it is because the Holy Father, like Dominic Lawson, has spoken out strongly in defence of life, including those persons least able to defend themselves, that almost the last public utterance Claire Rayner made, when she was already very ill, was the extraordinarily intemperate and ill-chosen comment against the Pope.

Read the full article here: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2010/10/14/cuddly-claire-raynor-believed-it-was-selfish-to-have-children-with-down%E2%80%99s-syndrome/

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