Journalists abide by unwritten rules that govern how they view themselves and what they believe to be the primary function of their trade. I’m about to break one of my own: until now, I’ve never backed or signed a petition. They risk undermining a journalist’s freedom to criticise organisations whose aims they might otherwise support.
The petition I signed last week was organised by the Down’s syndrome charity Don’t Screen Us Out in response to comments made by the scientist Richard Dawkins in a recent interview with Brendan O’Connor, the Irish radio presenter. During it, Mr O’Connor asks Professor Dawkins if he stands by advice he once offered to a woman who was unsure of the correct course of action in the event of being pregnant with a Down’s syndrome baby. The professor had told her: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have a choice.”