Divorce Law Reform (8 may 1920)
Divorce Law Reform
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, — It is reported that members of both Houses are receiving a mass of literature which is intended to convey the impression that there is a strong feeling in the country against a change in our divorce laws as recommended by the Majority Report of the Royal Commission. It is to be hoped that these tactics of the opponents of the Bill will not prevail, for they represent the old fable of the frogs and the oxen. Nearly every lay paper in the country is in favour of reasonable reform, and the public, outside the narrow cliques of the theologians, are, I think, upon the same side. I had the experience of addressing two large open meetings upon the subject in Birmingham and in Manchester. In Birmingham there could not have been more than a dozen dissentients in an audience which filled the Town Hall. In Manchester the only opposition in an enormous assembly came from an organized body, mostly very young women and girls, who sat together, voted together, and marched off singing "Faith of my fathers." The independent public appeared to be unanimous for reform.
Women who are alarmed lest their interests should suffer in the new dispensation must bear in mind that the only two women on the Commission, Lady Balfour and Mrs. Tennant, were both in favour of reform. Of the piteous letters which reach us, the greater proportion come from women who have been deserted by their husbands, and earnestly desire their freedom. Let it be remembered that even when the Bill has passed our laws will not be more liberal than those which have been long established in most of the other Protestant countries of the world, or in such Catholic countries as Bavaria or Belgium. Every argument which was valid at the time of the Commission is far more urgent now, when we are in need of an increased birth-rate and are burdened by several hundred thousand people who are sterilized by the law.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE (President, Divorce Law Reform Union).
Windlesham, Crowborough. Sussex.