The British National Health Service has scrapped the word ‘father.’ That’s right, in response to a single complaint about the f-word’s use in one of its pamphlets, the NHS took the remarkable step of simply deleting ‘father’ altogether. Apparently the complaint was to the effect that ‘father’ wasn’t inclusive of lesbian non-mother parents, so the solution was to remove ‘father’ and replace it with ‘partner.’ Needless to say, the word ‘mother’ appears throughout the pamphlet unchanged. Yes, that word too fails to include male parents in same-sex relationships, but, as the NHS sees it, that’s OK. Read about it here (The Spearhead, 7/31/12).
I’ve written a fair amount about the upcoming changes to British family law. The Cameron/Clegg coalition government has pronounced itself determined to change the law to encourage courts to give children a meaningful relationship with the fathers post-divorce. Recently though, they’ve gotten some push-back from Labour MPs who apparently find the fatherless state of 33% of British kids to be the best of all possible worlds. The government hasn’t actually firmed up what changes it wants Parliament to make, and when it does, you can bet the anti-dad crowd will scream bloody murder, whatever the recommendations may be. As we’ve learned in Australia, Canada and several U.S. states, no reform that seeks to connect fathers and children is too insignificant to excite anti-father zealots to action. Soon we’ll be informed that a single line in the family law timorously pleading for judges to include fathers in the lives of their children constitutes “Abusive Fathers Getting Custody.” I know this from long experience. Those opposed to children having a father are a one-string fiddle; they strike the same note every time.
And why not? After all, it works. Just count the number of family laws that actually afford fathers real rights, real access to their kids. That’s right, there aren’t any. By “real” I mean the type of rights, the type of access that can’t be thwarted by the mother any time she wishes with little more than one or two well-placed lies.
So if you’re wondering what’ll happen with British family law in the near future, I’d urge you to look, not at the government’s various statements of good intentions, but at the doings of the NHS. It’s my bet that the Health Service’s redaction of fathers from its printed matter is a better measure of the elite zeitgeist than the squeaks issuing from 10 Downing Street.
My guess is that most people think mothers and fathers ought to have equal rights and that kids should have a chance at good relationships with both post-divorce. That’s certainly the way it is in Canada as many surveys have consistently shown. But what We the People want, what we think is best for us, matters little to our betters who actually decide what the laws will be and how they’re to be interpreted.
So let’s be clear; in British family courts, fathers are second class citizens. They’re rarely given custody and their visitation rights go almost uniformly unenforced. Now the National Health Service has followed suit, deleting even the concept of ‘father’ from its literature.
It’s a disgrace and one that’s made all the more so for being so common.
Thanks to Tom for the heads-up.