Thursday, 4 October 2012

Real life v "pro life"

Back in 2009 ,12 women a day travelled from Ireland to the UK to have crisis pregnancies terminated.

 4,422 patients gave an Irish address to UK clinics in that year,  with 142,060 women thought to have travelled to Britain for abortions since 1980 overall.

It would be interesting to hear if such people's voices are being heard in Ireland's latest abortion rights "debate".   Somehow I doubt it.

One of the best things I have read on this heated issue appeared in the Irish Times last month.  Well worth a read:

Real life demolishes absolutist stances on abortion


The Irish Times, Thu, Sep 13, 2012

I FIND the debate on abortion in this newspaper fascinating, not least for the personal reasons that I outlined in a previous column.

In line with a basic human inclination, both sides to the argument are guilty of trying to reduce an extremely complex issue to black-and-white absolutes, where principles seem to be of more importance than the people affected.

Yet each decision on whether to terminate a pregnancy is taken in isolation from all others, and is predicated on a human tragedy that has arisen from a particular set of circumstances. Most people on the “pro-life” side argue that abortion is always wrong, irrespective of extenuating circumstances: that such an act may even be on a par with murder.

Within this stricture, one can only presume, fall rape victims (including girls barely out of childhood and victims of incest); women and girls whose mental and/or physical health could be irreparably damaged by giving birth; foetuses so malformed that the baby’s chances of survival outside the womb would be negligible; and children who might survive but have only a short lifespan with little or no quality of life.

I sometimes wonder how a typical fundamentalist’s pro-life position would fare in a head-on collision with personal experience. Would it remain intact even if, for instance, instead of abstract woman it was oneself or a wife, daughter, mother or sister left pregnant by rape, or found to be carrying a hopelessly malformed foetus?

On the other side of the debate is the equally trenchantly held view that a woman alone should have the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, regardless of the wishes of the prospective father. So vocal on this point are some pro-choice advocates, one might easily imagine that if they had their way the first question every just-informed father-to-be would be compelled to ask is, “Are you going to keep it, my love?”

It is worth bearing in mind that, even in countries where abortion is readily available, for the overwhelming majority of pregnant women the issue never arises. Abortion is only ever a last resort. Despite what many anti- campaigners like to suggest, no woman regards abortion as a means of birth control. And no one who has ever been privy to the traumatic after-effects of the termination of a pregnancy could possibly believe otherwise.

Should it be for a woman alone to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy? I would argue that, all things being equal, it shouldn’t be. But that position is rendered meaningless – merely rhetorical – by life’s realities. No woman in a loving, stable relationship would consider not consulting her partner before having an abortion. For those not in a stable relationship the decision falls by default upon the woman alone.

What if loving partners fundamentally disagree on whether an abortion is the least-worst option? Then, I’m afraid, no matter how strong the relationship, it has little hope of enduring, regardless of who finally acquiesces to the wishes of the other, as one partner will be left bitter and resentful.

For me, logic dictates that, in the event of a disagreement, it should be the woman’s wishes that prevail. It will be she, after all, who is left with the baby or the emotional scars.

The above does nothing to address the plight of a youngster or person with learning difficulties who has fallen pregnant. All one can hope in such an instance is that any decision taken by parents or guardians will reflect the wishes of the expectant mother, which might include a desire to carry the baby to full term and/or raise her or him.

Of course, most “pro-life” campaigners are driven by religious conviction and, outside of personal circumstances forcing a change of mind, they are unlikely to be swayed from their position. The churches and believers in general have as much right to their views as anyone else, and are as entitled to try to influence decision-makers as any other members of society.

However, while we all have a right to be heard, no one is under any obligation to act upon what we say. It isn’t even as though the Catholic Church, the most vocal opponent of abortion, is entirely at one on “sanctity of life” issues. Until recently, it was totally opposed to any use of contraceptives. However, this didn’t stop missionary nuns and priests who had to deal daily with the realities of HIV and Aids from distributing condoms in developing countries.

The church’s official position is now confused on the use of condoms, proving that even with religion, nothing is set in stone. As The Book of Mormon, a musical by the creators of South Park apparently puts it (in reference to a change in Mormon teachings that allowed non-white people to be priests): “I believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.”

Perhaps He will change his mind again, in response not to clarion calls, but to the human tragedies that sometimes make abortion the only viable option.

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Dakota said...

Of course GM Abortion in certain circumstances should be permitted, under strict protocol. But the argument put forward by many in the Pro Abortion Lobby, that it's soley a "Womans CHOICE," just doesn't wash. IT'S CONSUMERISM GONE INSANE.

The "Neo Feminist" or opportunistic Feminist ilk, GM, that have now infiltrated mainstream discourse, put forward a profoundly irrational argument. The enduring proposal that it's a "Womans choice 100% of the time" is nuts. It's not purely a Woman's choice, there are three individuals involved.

If the father couldn't be bothered, then it's down to two. If there are extenuating circumstances, and before a sane cut off point, then it's down to one, the Woman. Wanting an abortion like one is choosing a product off a shelf is WRONG.

The Rabid Feminist yoke - and there's a hell of a lot of them in the kip know as Oireland when it suits them - have an INSANE attitude towards all things male...The right to life of an unborn child is nothing more than a play thing for their prejudices. While that'sickening, the equally smug and confused attitude of the Catholic Church is not only archaic it's purely male focused.

Either way GM, if you expect any sanity in Ireland with regards to this issue, you'll be waiting a long time.

The Gombeen Man said...

Just can't help but detect a bit of Irish Catholic hypocrisy on this issue, Dakota, despite them thinking they are all grown up and out of the clutches of mother church.

They pretend that by not providing abortion facilties in this country - therefore forcing women with crisis pregnancies to have late term terminations abroad - that the issue does not exist.

I do think this article by David Adams is one the best I have read on the issue.

Dakota said...

Yes GM a good article. But this is Ireland GM. The legacy of a colonial apparatchik and that of the Catholic Church are the State. Its intention is; if you don't comply you are outside. These women have commited SIN, don't you know, they are not worthy. If you are not IN the CLUB in Oireland then you are STIGMATISED. It's a form of social control not only by the STATE but by individuals (people anywhere else) of any given tribe. But SCCCH it doesn't exist. The Irish, the State, Systems and Structure are stuck in the 19th century. No one gives a toss. If you disagree or buck the trend you are BRANDED.

If you are vulnerable then...well the Irish don't do GENUINE. Your Blog GM, bears testament to what the "Irish" do, to those alone and vulnerable.

DB said...

Forget the Land of the Saints and Scholars. Hellhole of the Hypocrites and Halfwits is more apt.