By Hilary White
LONDON, September 1, 2009 ( – The Catholic Church's prohibition of artificial contraception is holding back the ambitions of career women, Cherie Blair, the self-declared “good Catholic” wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, told an audience at Edinburgh International Book Festival this week. 
“I feel if you look at what progress women have made in the world,” she said, “one of the reasons is because they have been able to control their fertility.”
Blair, a human rights lawyer, is well known for her opposition to the Church's life and family teachings. She was known to have hosted fundraising parties for British abortion and contraceptive agencies during her husband's tenure at Number 10 Downing St, and promoted International Planned Parenthood, the world's largest abortionist organisation, on her website.
She continued, “I personally don't think there's anything wrong with that, and indeed without that (ability) to control I wouldn't have been able to achieve the things that I've been able to do.”
Blair was speaking in Edinburgh to promote her recently published autobiography, “Speaking for Myself,” in which she infamously admitted that at least one of her children was conceived when she had “forgotten her contraceptive equipment” when on holiday.
Blair's opposition to Catholic teaching on contraception appears to be taking on the tenor of a campaign.
In April, Cherie Blair was quoted by a Maltese newspaper attacking the Pope on condoms. Blair described the Pope's reiteration of Catholic teaching against the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS as “rather sad” and used the occasion to again defend her use of contraceptives, saying “I think it's a matter of personal conscience in the end. I don't feel bad about making those choices and I don't feel the Catholic Church feels bad about me making those choices.”
In May this year, while again describing herself as a “good Catholic girl,” Blair told an interviewer on GMTV, “People seem to be quite shocked that perhaps a Catholic girl even uses contraception. One of the reasons women's lives have changed is that they have been able to control their fertility. It is an important issue.”
In Edinburgh this weekend, she said that the Church should be “more positive” about contraception “because I think there's a lot of difference between preventing a life coming about and actually extinguishing a life when it has come about.”
This was a theme on which Blair elaborated at greater length during her appearance late last year at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome where she had been invited to speak on women's rights. At that appearance, Blair said, “There is a real danger in this debate if we ally contraception and abortion as the same and the Church needs to engage in this issue properly.”
Blair was welcomed warmly at the Angelicum, whose faculty defended the decision to invite her despite having received hundreds of complaints following LSN coverage. Both Blair and some members of the Angelicum faculty accused “some websites” of maliciously and falsely denouncing her for holding anti-Catholic positions.
At that lecture Angelicum faculty praised her for being completely “in line with Catholic teaching,” although she had openly admitted to her opposition to the Church's teachings on contraception.
Although Blair had carefully skirted the abortion issue and declined to renounce abortion as the killing of innocent children, Fr. Bruce Williams OP, a professor of moral theology at the Angelicum, said during the question period, “It was crystal clear to me at least that you see abortion as morally repugnant and that you are in line with the teaching of the Church.”
“The way you came across was decisively contrary to the way you have been pictured recently by a number of websites that describe you as pro-abortion and anti-family and which protested against our university giving you a platform. What you have just said inclines me all the more to think that those accusations were at the very best rash, if not outright calumnious, and I regret that you were subjected to that.”
In a recent interview, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, described by British pro-life advocates as the “architect” of Britain's snowballing Culture of Death, said that it was his wife who had convinced him to join the Catholic Church. Over international protests from Catholics and pro-life advocates, Tony Blair was received into the Catholic Church by his long-time friend Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, then Archbishop of Westminster.

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