Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Make Noise for Free Choice - Abortion Rights Campaign (or The story of Paul and Mandy)

A long time ago, while living in England’s metropolis as an Irish immigrant, I got a phone call from an old school acquaintance. It transpired that Paul had failed to take precautions when fumbling about with his girlfriend, Mandy, and was now telling me she was pregnant.

Funny thing is, my girlfriend and I had seen them only the Christmas before. We had discussed the difficulty of obtaining contraceptives in Ireland at that time, but gave them a few tips on how to get them. Even how to get the morning-after-pill should it ever become necessary.

However, they piously assured us they were not going to have sex until after their big white wedding. “Saving themselves” was the term employed, I think.

Now Paul was on the other end of the phone asking us to us organise an abortion for them.

So, my girlfriend and I – atheists both, who had rejected the Catholic values Paul and Mandy apparently held so dear– found ourselves doing something for them we had ensured we would never have to do for ourselves: phone up an abortion clinic. And all because of their stupidity and hypocrisy.

Over they came, and did the deed. Again we advised them about contraceptives and again we got the same response – as though we were the “immoral” ones. What "happened" to them was a "one-off".

So they went home and we thought no more about it, other than to reflect on the irony of it all. In avoiding contraceptives – but not sex, of course – surely they had committed a greater evil (by their criteria) by plumping for abortion instead? A tough lesson for them, we thought.

Later that week, we were talking to Gary who lived in the flat upstairs. “I heard your mates at it like rabbits in the bathroom”, he said, “you Irish like your bit of the other, don’t you? Eh? Eh?”. “No”, we thought, “Gary’s a shit-stirrer, isn’t he? That can't be true. Can it?"

It was.

A couple of months later the phone rang again. You guessed it: Good old pure-as-the-driven-snow Paul and Mandy looking for another abortion.

“Here’s the number”, we replied.


The above is a true story, and I tell it because I want to put to you my own personal feelings on the subject of abortion – limited as they are by the fact that I am a male. Namely:

I don’t see it as an alternative to contraception. Contraceptives are readily available now even in Ireland. So if there was an excuse for stupid people like Paul and Mandy in the Eighties, there is none now.

However, there will always be crisis pregnancies for all sorts of reasons. And ironically, the lack of termination facilities in Ireland means that those who seek abortions will, as a result, do so at a later stage of pregnancy abroad.

Crisis pregnancies will always exist. Changed circumstances, foetal anomaly, complications in pregnancy, incest or rape. And who, but who, has the right to insist that a raped woman be forced to have a rapist’s baby?

An organisation called Make Noise for Free Choice is campaigning to make the right to choice available to women throughout Europe.

You can sign their online petition at


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Ella said...

Hi GM, an interesting and emotive topic

I too lived in London in the 80s and being a paddy meant that I hosted the occasional abortion tourist. What do these abortion tourists have in common? Well they were always female, catholic and in denial and were quite sure they didn't need contraceptive advice which abortion clinics quite rightly provide.

They were always in a state of distress about what they were doing and generally used false names/address. Having to disappear to London in a hurry and find the cash to do so and the fact that they were not in a position to discuss their situation with family and friends added considerably to their stress. As you correctly noted all of this meant that women travelling from Ireland generally had their abortion later than their British based counterparts.

I recall coming back to Dublin one summer and sighting one of these individuals whom had had an abortion with her SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) sticker on her car. Go figure.

Oh dear, I also seem to recall bumping into a Youth Defence stall at the bottom of Grafton Street on more than one occasion.

"And who, but who, has the right to insist that a raped woman be forced to have a rapist’s baby?"

Well, GM, Pope John Paul's exhortation to Bosnian women not to have abortions after being raped felt he had the right to insist that a raped woman be forced to have a rapist's baby

Anonymous said...



So the doctors and the clinic staff are all working pro bono, and the electricity company have waived their charges as well. Great!!

Matt said...

Well said, as usual.

I just happened upon this: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0717/1224250844850.html (via www.toss140.net). I know it's not directly related to abortion, but it does relate to the influence of Catholicism.

The Gombeen Man said...

I'm not sure that guy is playing with a full deck, Matt. My reading is that he "rejected" his "faith" in his "rebellious" years, and sees his "return" to the Catholic fold - prodigal son style - as a sign of his intellectual superiority, and our stupidity. Rather than confirmation that he never shook off his indoctrination in the first place.

He was giving out about Bruno the other week, after it was screened in Dublin. Something along the lines that it was an insult to the men of 1916!!!

Oh, and he thinks all bloggers are stupid, and that the WWW is primarily composed of pornography.

Is it any wonder young people don't buy newspapers?

And how does he have a column, anyway?