Imagine a situation in which a woman - raped, pregnant and harbouring desperate and suicidal feelings as a result - seeks a termination in the country in which she lives. To have any hope of doing so, she has to appear before a panel of doctors and plead her case..
The doctors, drawn from an inherently insular and socially conservative grouping, say "no". Now the woman has seven days to "appeal" their decision, and hope the appeal board take a more sympathetic view of her appalling situation.
This is "modern" Ireland, and this is the new legislation dreamt up by our far-seeing political class to take it forward into the 19th century.
Again, Ireland and the Irish will be a laughing stock.
A mad little rock on the edge of Europe, still informed by theology and Official Ireland bollocksology even as its denizens think they are all-so-modern-and-with-it. A kind of post-theocratic (but still informed by theocratic values) madhouse.
It took Irish politicians - of all brands - 21 years to legislate for the X-Case, when the Irish authorities tried to stop a raped 14-year old from going to Britain for an abortion. And here it is.
The fact remains that thousands of Irish women go to Britain and elsewhere for abortions every year, despite what Official Ireland - ever expert at denying reality's intrusions -choses to believe.
See previous Gombeen Nation post on the subject (May 2010).
12 women travel to UK for abortions every day. We need abortion rights in Ireland
“And what about the rights of the unborn”, I hear them say. “And what if YOU had been aborted”, is another refrain I hear in my mind’s ear. Well, in answer to the first question I’d say I care more about the rights of the born. To the second I can only say, sure, I wouldn’t be here - but nor would those asking the stupid questions. And given a few of the Youth Defence specimens I’ve seen over the years, maybe that would not be a bad thing?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not in favour of using abortion as contraception. Contraceptives are available all over Ireland now, I hope, so there is no excuse in that regard. Unlike in the not-too-distant-past.
But as mentioned in an earlier post of about a year ago, there will always be crisis pregnancies because of economic/emotional circumstances, medical anomalies or complications, incest and rape. What’s more, as a man, I will never be faced with the dilemma, and will never have the State dictating what I should do with my body. But a woman should have choice.
The stark fact too, is that the longer Irish women are denied abortion rights, the more the chances their abortions (when they eventually arrange and procure them) will be later-term ones.
This topic is up again due to figures (Metro, 26th May) indicating that 12 women a day travel to Britain for an abortion, with 4,422 patients giving an Irish address to UK clinics last year. Neil Behan, head of the Irish Family Planning Association, is quoted as saying that at least 142,060 women travelled to Britain for an abortion since 1980.
Remember too, that these figures only account for those who gave Irish addresses. Many will give UK addresses if they have Britain-based friends or relations who are assisting them through what is already a very distressing situation.
There is a great Irish tradition of ignoring reality, I know. But ignoring reality does not make it go away. It’s time that the Irish authorities faced up to this one, and allowed Irish women the abortion rights most of their European counterparts are entitled to.
The Story of Paul and Mandy
The above map originated from a BBC article of 12 February, 2007
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