How do we combat the growing power of the “Pro-Life” movement in Ireland?

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Discussion by: cynicaloptimistrealist
Just when I thought we were finally entering a new era in Ireland, non-belief is at an all time high, the RCC is finally being forced to relax the death grip it had over the education system and the once subservient government had recently launched some blistering attacks on Rome, it appears there is still all to play for.  Another case appeared in the headlines which though an utterly tragic case appeared to bring hope that the one of the last bastions of RCC backed conservatism,  “Pro-Life”, was finally on the ropes.

That other case was of course the tragic story of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died needlessly in the prime of her life because sucessive Irish governments have failed to address the elephant in the room.  The first broadside to the “Pro-Life” movement should have been the X Case where the Irish Government tried to force a 14 year old rape victim to continue with her pregnancy, luckily the Supreme Court saw reason and struck out the injunction barring the child from travelling to the U.K. for an abortion.  The problem is that sucessive governments have failed to legislate on this case and the issue has been swept under the carpet again and again.  Politicians and most of the media live in fear of being branded Pro-Choice, many in the media claim “they see points on both sides”, but try to post an honest pro-choice comment on the issue in any of the national dailies (as I have) and you’ll find that it will not pass the moderators.  The “Pro-Life” movement in Ireland, Youth Defence being the most prominent group, is well funded (most of the funds are reportedly coming from the US) and not adverse to using the same tactics as their counterparts in the US.  Their main tactics are the outing of people in the media who appear to be pro-choice, mounting protests on the homes of politicians and showing large pictures of terminated foeti to the general public in Dublin city centre.

My issues are as follows:
1: As a man I am never going to be faced with an unplanned pregnancy which has the potential to end my studies or the beginning of a career.
2: As a man I am never going to have to endure the product of a rape growing inside me.
3: As a man I am never going to carry a pregnancy where there are complications that could end my life.

Of course there are grey areas, but not for the “Pro-Life” movement there is only black and white, their beliefs are more often formed from the study of scripture and the directives of celibates than any sense of reason or compassion.  Last week there was a rally in Dublin(read the linked article and look at the predominant demographic in the photo), they bussed in people from all over the country to make up the numbers (most of those busses were organised by provincial priests who still hold sway over their ignorant followers). 

In a country where we export thousands of terminations every year to the UK and the Netherlands, a country that only seems to care about its citizens from conception to birth, how can these zealots be made to see sense?  Or even better marginalised as the gospel thumping nutcases that they are?

39 COMMENTS

  1. Prof-Life is using dishonest technology. They will refer to an egg as an “unborn child”.
    They will refer to an abortion at 6 months plus as a “partial birth abortion” as if it referred to killing the child as it was part way out the vagina. Expose our opponents as deceivers. If they lie about basics like that, how can they be trusted on anything else?
    Pro-life calls for some bizarre behaviour — take a rape-child to term even when that would guarantee the death of both the fetus and mother. That is just irrational. There is also the massive hypocrisy of the pro-life movement. Their compassion for children vanishes the instant they are born. On my website, I created some sets of images of human embryos vs other species to emphasize we are discussing the death of very very primitive organisms, that have none of the characteristics of humans. It is just plain silly to pretend they are adult humans. I have written an essay on my website called “Abortion” that summarises all the arguments I can think of.

    I used to be on the fence, but the irrational, dishonest and outright crooked pro-life tactics has tipped me firmly into the pro-choice camp.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      Prof-Life is using dishonest technology. They will refer to an egg as an “unborn child”. They will refer to an abortion at 6 months plus as a “partial birth abortion” as if it referred to killing the child as it was part way out the vagina. Expose our opponents as deceivers.

      They are liars and ignoramuses, using emotive language to spread their pseudo-scientific ignorance! A fertilised egg or a blastocyst is NOT a baby or a human. An early abortion is not “murder”. These are simple facts, regardless of how many loud-mouthed superstitious ignoramuses shout assertively that embryos have the fictitious “human souls” at fertilisation, long before they even have a brain or a nervous system!

      Fetal development – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

      ZYGOTE – When a single sperm enters the mother’s egg cell, the resulting cell is called a zygote. The zygote contains all of the genetic information (DNA) needed to become a baby. Half of the genetic information comes from the mother’s egg and half from the father’s sperm. The zygote spends the next few days traveling down the Fallopian tube and divides to form a ball of cells.

      BLASTOCYST – The zygote continues to divide, creating an inner group of cells with an outer shell. This stage is called a blastocyst. The inner group of cells will become the embryo, while the outer group of cells will become the membranes that nourish and protect it.

      The blastocyst reaches the womb (uterus) around day 5, and implants into the uterine wall on about day 6. At this point in the mother’s menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus has grown and is ready to support a baby. The blastocyst sticks tightly to the lining, where it receives nourishment via the mother’s bloodstream.

      EMBRYO – The cells of the embryo now multiply and begin to take on specific functions. This process is called differentiation. It leads to the various cell types that make up a human being (such as blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells).

      The following list describes specific changes that occur in the womb:

      Week 5 of pregnancy (gestational age)

      • The brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop.
      • The gastrointestinal tract begins to develop.

      Weeks 6 – 7 of pregnancy (gestational age)

      • Arm and leg buds become visible.
      • The brain develops into five areas and some cranial nerves are visible.
      • The eyes and ear structures begin to form.
      • Tissue forms that develops into the vertebra and some other bones.
      • The heart continues to develop and now beats at a regular rhythm.
      • Rudimentary blood moves through the main vessels.

      Week 8 of pregnancy (gestational age)

      • The arms and legs have grown longer, and foot and hand areas can be distinguished.
      • The hands and feet have fingers and toes (digits), but may still be webbed.
      • The brain continues to form.
      • The lungs begin to form.

      Week 9 of pregnancy (gestational age)

      • Nipples and hair follicles form.
      • Elbows and toes are visible.
      • All essential organs have begun to form.

      Week 10 of pregnancy (gestational age)

      • The eyelids are more developed.
      • External features of the ear begin to take their final shape.
      • Facial features continue to develop.
      • The intestines rotate.

      The end of the 10th week of pregnancy marks the end of the “embryonic period” and the beginning of the “fetal period.”

      The list of developmental stages continues on the link.

      These RCC people are of course using theist PR “Liar-Speak”! They are not “Pro-Life”.
      They are “Pro-Ignorance-of-Life”!

  2. Fellow Irish atheist here. Fist-bump.

    The real way to bring balance to this debate is to organize and unite, to show solidarity. Currently the pro-lifers have a monopoly on the moral higher ground because the implication is that their opponents are pro-death, and Irish culture has a powerful ethic of “Don’t rock the boat” and no-one is comfortable yet admitting that none of the new generation believe in Iron Age myths. There was a few rallies on that were pro-choice, but it just seems as though they lost momentum because the government was taking so long to legislate.

    It is an illusion that the pro-life movement is gaining any power, it’s just the last few nuts making claims dangerous and outrageous enough to get in the papers. You can safely assume that anyone who is keeping quiet is pro-choice, with many people in the uneasy camp of “I’d never have an abortion but I wouldn’t make someone else not have one”. Over time secular policies will worm their way into legislature.

    To me, that isn’t fast enough or decisive enough at all, and what I hope will happen is a new movement of rational secularists will come together, if something like that worked it could end up as a voting block that would appeal to those disillusioned with our current religions and politicians to vastly speed up the process.

    However, this particular abortion debate is one we are in danger of losing unless we rally now, and Feminism isn’t a flag that many people, especially men, would be comfortable riding out under.

    With regard to the last question, we won’t win against these zealots because their beliefs are not open to question and the justifications are most likely absolutely retarded, all we can do is show that their numbers are roughly equivalent to the number of Irish cricket players.

  3. I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I want women of all ages to be rational and responsible , I do not want to legislate for recklessness. The best society is a society built around strong family values. Nothing to do with God.

    • In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

      I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I want women of all ages to be rational and responsible , I do not want to legislate for recklessness. The best society is a society built around strong family values. Nothing to do with God.

      The right to choose an abortion has nothing to do with behavior. The reason for pregnancy is not relevant; a woman is not required to explain her actions to anyone nor should she be judged on her lifestyle choices because she wants an abortion. Family values, recklessness and acting irresponsible do not belong in the legal/illegal abortion debate.

      • Shell,

        Its not a matter of judgement , I know people how have chosen abortion and I do not judge them. The problem I have is that we now live in the era of education and empowerment and contraception. Getting pregnant is a huge responsibility and women have enough in their armoury to map out a path that is in their best interests.

        Incidentally I would vote for this legislation.

        In reply to #10 by Shell:

        In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

        I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I…

        • In reply to #13 by Pauly01:
          “Its not a matter of judgement , I know people how have chosen abortion and I do not judge them. The problem I have is that we now live in the era of education and empowerment and contraception. Getting pregnant is a huge responsibility and women have enough in their armoury to map out a path that is in their best interests.”

          You’re placing judgment on abortion and the woman by asserting a woman should act responsibly to avoid this procedure through preventative measures. So I ask you, do you feel abortion itself is wrong? Or is it the expectation you have of women to not behave in a manner in which you perceive as reckless that could potentially cause the termination of a pregnancy?

          • I think abortion is sad , do I think its wrong. mmm I think legislators should act in the common good of society. As a mere civilian if I was a female could I envisage circumstances where I would seek abortion. Yes absolutely. As a man would I want a partner to have an abortion if it mean’t too much distress for myself and my partner , yes I would.

            As a human I love to see strong , confident , vibrant people , abortion just seems so negative to me. Why should any woman have to go through this clinical debasement of their spirit (not meant in a religious way) , it just seems to me that it dims the light in all our eyes.

            So

            is it the expectation you have of women to not behave in a manner in which you perceive as reckless that could potentially cause the termination of a pregnancy? This is closer to my position

            A hodge podge of emotions , contradictory in some respects to surmise
            Do I Believe abortion is wrong? No
            Do I support liberalisation of abortion law after the supreme court decision has being legislated for? No
            Do I believe unprotected sex to be reckless when it leads to unwanted pregnancies? In the majority of cases yes , but alas I could see myself easily suffer this faith.
            Do I have a kind of not in my back yard mentality , Yes , If Irish people could not travel to the UK for this procedure I would feel more , uneasy.

            What can I say , its hard to put into words , but my opposition to abortion in Ireland as per the UK has nothing to do with religious dogma.

            My comments are just to let everybody know that anti abortion sentiment in Ireland is not in most cases being driven by the catholic church. They have zero credibility , they are completely on the fringes of the debate , the debate has largely being , IMHO a secular one.

            In reply to #22 by Shell:

            In reply to #13 by Pauly01:
            “Its not a matter of judgement , I know people how have chosen abortion and I do not judge them. The problem I have is that we now live in the era of education and empowerment and contraception. Getting pregnant is a huge responsibility and women have enough in their armo…

          • In reply to #23 by Pauly01:

            As a human I love to see strong , confident , vibrant people , abortion just seems so negative to me. Why should any woman have to go through this clinical debasement of their spirit (not meant in a religious way) , it just seems to me that it dims the light in all our eyes.

            And the world is full of too many sad, weak, negative, brainless parents:) Abortion is a medical procedure similar to removing a cyst on an ovary. Take out the “human life” fallacy and there is no emotion. And there is no such thing as reckless sex leading to pregnancy – only sex, a human acting on her own body’s physical needs and desires. Yes, women can be oblivious to repercussions of intercourse as it just feels too damn good to care. That’s not recklessness, it’s hormones, human contact and intimacy working away.

          • Can’t agree with anything you said. The fact that you seem to think the whole thing is emotionless , i don’t get.

            In reply to #26 by Shell:

            In reply to #23 by Pauly01:

            As a human I love to see strong , confident , vibrant people , abortion just seems so negative to me. Why should any woman have to go through this clinical debasement of their spirit (not meant in a religious way) , it just seems to me that it dims the light in all our e…

          • In reply to #23 by Pauly01:

            As a human I love to see strong , confident , vibrant people , abortion just seems so negative to me.

            So is contraception! It’s about planning life and NOT having children brought up in unsatisfactory circumstances, rather than children and parents, being long suffering slaves to dogma! Those who are brought up, are then brought up as strong , confident , vibrant people in properly resourced, planned optimum conditions.

            Why should any woman have to go through this clinical debasement of their spirit (not meant in a religious way) ,

            Your cultural Catholicism is showing again. Can you hear yourself? “Clinical debasement of their spirit”(not meant in a religious way)??? What sort of scientific or medical understanding is that?? Classic cognitive dissonance!

            Why don’t you read my quotes and links @ #4 They expose the RCC lies about single cells and small bunches of cells being “human beings”. These cells are no more “human beings” than the skin cells you rinse out of your mouth when you brush your teeth!

            Huge numbers of embryos naturally abort spontaneously without any medical intervention! (Nothing to do with human “spirit”- whatever that is supposed to be?).

            In the early weeks, a woman may not even know she is pregnant and may naturally spontaneously abort without even knowing it!!

            it just seems to me that it dims the light in all our eyes.

            This is classic meaningless RCC emotive backwards thinking! – Eyes sparking from woo-delusion through rosy- blinker-specs, that cannot or will not, see the secular implications or repercussions for those involved in the rational consideration of life in the real world!

            My comments are just to let everybody know that anti abortion sentiment in Ireland is not in most cases being driven by the catholic church.

            I think you fail to recognise the pseudo-science cultural-baggage you have picked up from them.

            They have zero credibility , they are completely on the fringes of the debate , the debate has largely being , IMHO a secular one.

            All you have produced is assertion of RCC generalised emotional arguments! – showing no understanding of details of the scientific, medical, social, or economic implications for those involved, which would be key parts of a secular debate! – followed by your denial of this source of confused emotional arguments!

            I think your problem is that you are conflicted between your dogmatic pseudo-moral assumptions from your cultural background, and those of evidenced rational moral thinking, which are based on consequences for people, rather than the emotional feelings of uninvolved observers with embedded dogmas.

            I am sure because of the earlier RCC dominance in the education system, many in Ireland are similarly conflicted, as a result of medical ignorance and the spreading and inculcation of RCC pseudo-knowledge!

      • Shell,

        Also to make a different point with similar implications there is now a worrying trend emerging in Ireland and the UK. HIV amongst the gay community is rapidly on the rise again. After years of falling , I can only assume with the emergence an anti viral medication it is now viewed as not a death sentence as it once was. The Gay community are not protecting themselves as they should.

        Now I have hit on homosexuality and abortion it wont be long before I’m called a bigot.

        I promise you I am not.

        In reply to #10 by Shell:

        In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

        I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I…

        • In reply to #15 by Pauly01:

          Shell,

          Also to make a different point with similar implications there is now a worrying trend emerging in Ireland and the UK. HIV amongst the gay community is rapidly on the rise again. After years of falling , I can only assume with the emergence an anti viral medication it is now viewed as not a…

          A transmittable disease does not fall under the abortion argument. On that topic, though, the same could be said for someone who knows they carry the CF or Diabetes gene and has a kid. Many people have children despite the health risks of passing defective genes to another human.

    • In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

      I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses.

      It’s “culture” is only starting to get rid of some of its RCC bigotry and ignorance. The loud rantings of the bigoted ignorant minority, should not be confused with “culture”, or rational science based informed choices.

      I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK.

      You seem to be uncritically swallowing theist myths and disinformation! Unrestricted abortion on demand is not available in the UK.

      Abortion in the United Kingdom

      In England and Wales and Scotland, section 1(1) of the Abortion Act 1967 now reads:

      Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under the law relating to abortion when a pregnancy is terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two registered medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith -

      (a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or

      (b) that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or

      (c) that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated

      (d) that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.

      Changes to the Abortion Act 1967 were introduced in Parliament through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The time limits were lowered from 28 to 24 weeks for most cases on the grounds that medical technology had advanced sufficiently to justify the change. Restrictions were removed for late abortions in cases of risk to life, fetal abnormality, or grave physical and mental injury to the woman.

      Since 1967, members of Parliament have introduced a number of private member’s bills to change the abortion law. Four resulted in substantive debate (1975, 1977, 1979 and 1987) but all failed. The Lane Committee investigated the workings of the Act in 1974 and declared its support.

      In May 2008, MPs voted to retain the current legal limit of 24 weeks. Amendments proposing reductions to 22 weeks and 20 weeks were defeated by 304 to 233 votes and 332 to 190 votes respectively.

      You seem to be uncritically picking up theistic propaganda and unevidenced cultural baggage, rather than researching proper information.

      It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I want women of all ages to be rational and responsible , I do not want to legislate for recklessness.

      There is nothing to indicate that those seeking abortions, or UK doctors performing them, are not acting rationally and responsibly, or that UK legislation is “reckless”! This is just an apologist assertion from ignorance copying RCC bigotry-based theist-blinker nonsensical dogmatic claims!

      The best society is a society built around strong family values.

      My humanist “family values” and what the RCC calls “family values” are quite different!

      Nothing to do with God.

      .. . . . . Apart from your claims simply being an echo of RCC god-dogma disinformation, about the situation in the UK and about abortion in general!

      • The loud rantings of the bigoted ignorant minority, should not be confused with “culture”, or rational science based informed choices.

        Your wrong Alan. I agree with this legislation but liberalising the law past these parameters would be overwhelmingly beaten in any referendum. You know little of politics in Ireland

        You seem to be uncritically swallowing theist myths and disinformation! Unrestricted abortion on demand is not available in the UK.

        In response to this in real terms , the only hindrance to an abortion is how far along the pregnancy is and whether you can pay for travel and expenses. Whatever the legislation says. I live in Ireland and women with crisis pregnancies who want an abortion travel to the UK.

        There is nothing to indicate that those seeking abortions, or UK doctors performing them, are not acting rationally and responsibly, or that UK legislation is “reckless”! This is just an apologist assertion from ignorance copying RCC bigotry-based theist-blinker nonsensical dogmatic claims!

        It may be a rational decision to seek an abortion , I agree , but I would argue that it is a decision that is made on the back foot when it would have being far more rational to use contraception. UK doctors are performing rationally , they are acting in accordance with legislation.

        In reply to #11 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

        I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses.

        It’s “culture” is only starting to get rid of some of its RCC bigotry and ignorance. The loud rantings of t…

        • In reply to #14 by Pauly01:

          The loud rantings of the bigoted ignorant minority, should not be confused with “culture”, or rational science based informed choices.

          Your wrong Alan. I agree with this legislation but liberalising the law past these parameters would be overwhelmingly beaten in any referendum.

          Do you have some figures? Some polls seem to support some abortion

          Abortion in the Republic of Ireland

          A January 2013 Sunday Times/Behaviour and Attitudes poll of 916 voters found that 87% would support legislation to provide abortion where the woman’s life was in danger for reasons other than threat of suicide, 80% would support legislation to provide abortion where there was a foetal abnormality meaning the baby could not survive outside of the womb, 74% would support legislation to provide abortion where the pregnancy was a result of rape, and 59% would support legislation to provide abortion where the woman displayed suicidal feelings. Overall, 92% supported allowing abortion in one of these four circumstances, while 51% supported allowing abortion in all four circumstances.[29]

          A February 2013 Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews in all constituencies found that 84% felt that abortion should be allowed when the woman’s life is at risk, 79% felt that abortion should be allowed whenever the foetus cannot survive outside the womb, 78% felt that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, 71% felt that abortion should be allowed where the woman is suicidal as a result of the pregnancy (the X case result), 70% felt that abortion should be allowed when the woman’s health is at risk, and 37% felt that abortion should be provided when a woman deems it to be in her best interest.

          Many Catholics do not have 12 kids, so probably use contraception.

          Is there any reason why a referendum is required? Most legislation is passed without referenda!

          It may be a rational decision to seek an abortion , I agree , but I would argue that it is a decision that is made on the back foot when it would have being far more rational to use contraception.

          Contraception is not 100% reliable, and its use is not the exclusive responsibility of women.

          In any case, the same people who oppose abortion, do all they can to prevent access to contraception, and do all they can to keep children and teens in ignorance of its proper use.

          • Basically any law that went beyond these parameters would be unconstitutional and decided as such by the supreme court. It would have to go out to referendum.

            Aaahhh subjectivity and you won’t like this…
            From speaking with people on this issue from listening to the public debate over the air waves , it is my opinion ( :) ) that this would be resoundingly beaten if politicians were not hiding behind an original supreme court decision that was made 20 odd years ago. They are basically saying we are legislating as per a supreme court decision , if they came out from under this cover and introduced actual abortion law without this excuse , it would not get past parliament , not to talk of referendum.

            I know you want to see some data on this , I’m not going to , I don’t even know if there is data on this. A poster mentioned an irish times pole , I wouldn’t invest much confidence in it to be honest.

            Any other Irish poster think that there is an appetite for abortion law,beyond this legislation that is, in Ireland?

            In reply to #20 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #14 by Pauly01:

            The loud rantings of the bigoted ignorant minority, should not be confused with “culture”, or rational science based informed choices.

            Your wrong Alan. I agree with this legislation but liberalising the law past these parameters would be overwhelmingly beaten in any ref…

          • In reply to #21 by Pauly01:

            Aaahhh subjectivity and you won’t like this… From speaking with people on this issue from listening to the public debate over the air waves , it is my opinion ( :) ) that this would be resoundingly beaten if politicians were not hiding behind an original supreme court decision that was made 20 odd years ago.

            So! opinion, anecdote and some media hype!

            I know you want to see some data on this , I’m not going to ,

            No evidence of substance?

            I don’t even know if there is data on this.

            I just gave you a link to assorted polls @20.

            A poster mentioned an irish times pole , I wouldn’t invest much confidence in it to be honest.

            No comparisons with the other linked polls or comments on the analytical breakdown of different reasons and causes for abortions?? – Just a casual dismissal of the data with no reasons given, the assertion of your own anecdotes and opinions without evidence, and your fuzzy emotional feelings about the subject ! ?

            I gave you a link @4 to the world-leading medical reference data-base used by doctors and medical staff. Did you actually read it?

            There is a distinct lack of any sign of seeking evidence, or of rational thinking-through the issues in your comments.

    • In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

      I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I want women of all ages to be…

      Having an abortion is not being reckless. It is not something taken lightly by women. Do you think cutting finger nails should be regulated by law? Fingernails are full of human DNA. Early term abortions which are the huge majority of abortions are NOT ending a human life. An embryo is not human, it is a tiny ball of cells that might become a human. The rights of a full grown human woman to control her life and body are the only thing that should concern a moral person when it comes to early term abortions. I can see late term abortions being a grey area, but not if the mother’s life is in danger.

      • I never said having an abortion was reckless , it maybe a very rational choice indeed. Having unprotected sex in this day and age is something completely different though. See comment 15
        In reply to #17 by canadian_right:

        In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

        I’m a non believer , regardless of a country’s cultural history , if it is free and democratic , then it has a right to express it’s culture in anyway it chooses. I personally do not want abortion on demand as it is in the UK. It’s a matter of society and it’s quality. I…

  4. Another Irish voice here: Having followed the recent hearings of the parliamentary Health Committee pretty closely, I’d suggest that the X case route isn’t a particularly promising one to follow if (as I do, despite some severe moral doubts) one wants to see abortion law liberalised to reflect the reality of 5000 women travelling every year to the UK and other countries.

    1. Regardless of whether you agree with the decision in the X case, there are at least reasonable legal grounds for arguing that it didn’t confirm a constitutional right to abortion. I’m not sure I agree with those arguments, but they’re certainly nor spurious.

    2. The test in the X case depends on 2 criteria: (a) a ‘real and substantial risk’ to the life (not health) of the woman occasioned by her threat of suicide; and (b) that risk being avoidable ONLY by termination of the pregnancy. Every psychiatrist who appeared at the hearings said that while suicide does occur in a very few pregnant women, it can’t be predicted to the extent required by the first criterion. As regards the second part of the test, most of the psychiatrists at the hearings said that termination of a pregnancy was not how they would set about treating a suicidal pregnant woman: they would generally try to remove causes of stress, work out alternatives etc. In short, termination of the pregnancy wouldn’t usually be seen as the only way to avert the risk of suicide, removing almost all cases from the ambit of the X case test.

    3. A third issue that emerged at the hearings arose from the framing of the issue in terms of how to treat suicidality. Obstetricians said that they had to trust psychiatrists on issues of mental health, but so long as termination was being prescribed as a treatment for suicidality, the absence of clinical evidence to support its efficacy created what one obstetrician called ‘an ethical dilemma’. That view seems pretty well (though not universally) supported among obstetricians.

    So if you want to counter the pro-lifers, the entire issue has to be moved away from the X case scenario, which is inherently very restrictive and ultimately a loser, IMHO. However, to shift it to another ground of argument – such as women’s right of autonomy in health decisions – it will still be necessary to get past Art. 40.3.3 of the Constitution. That will require a referendum, for which I see absolutely no appetite onthe pro-choice side.

    One ground that got a brief mention was on the moral status of a foetus suffering from lethal abnormalities. There seems to be some legal opinion that such a foetus may not qualify as ‘unborn’ under Art. 40.3.3. That strikes me as a far better route to argue against the pro-lifers – at least, in the context of Art. 40.3.3. There also was some discussion of the moral status of the foetus and its right to life under the consittution as against that of the woman: frankly, I doubt that those arguments have any hope of getting anywhere until there has been radical change in Irish constitutional law.

    • In reply to #5 by Amadan1:

      As regards the second part of the test, most of the psychiatrists at the hearings said that termination of a pregnancy was not how they would set about treating a suicidal pregnant woman: they would generally try to remove causes of stress, work out alternatives etc.

      To cut to the chase, they could prevent suicide by committing the mother to a mental institution in a padded cell on permanent suicide watch until after the birth.

      You want an abortion? Oh, you must be crazy! Just follow the men in the white coats, they’ll look after you…

      This is not a rational solution.

      • In reply to #7 by Stevehill:

        In reply to #5 by Amadan1:

        As regards the second part of the test, most of the psychiatrists at the hearings said that termination of a pregnancy was not how they would set about treating a suicidal pregnant woman: they would generally try to remove causes of stress, work out alternatives etc.

        To cut to the chase, they could prevent suicide by committing the mother to a mental institution in a padded cell on permanent suicide watch until after the birth.

        You want an abortion? Oh, you must be crazy! Just follow the men in the white coats, they’ll look after you…

        This is not a rational solution.

        I don’t think anyone is suggesting that threats of suicide should be treated by locking people up. The psychiatrists at the hearings (have a read yourself here) accepted that the only time when a person can be ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act 2003 is when they are a danger to themselves or others as a result of mental illness: a threat of suicide is not sufficient grounds of itself.

        The net point I’m making is that the X case by itself gives very little scope for liberalising abortion laws, at least within the scope of current Irish constitutional law. Changing that will require one, possibly several, referenda.

  5. how can these zealots be made to see sense? Or even better marginalised as the gospel thumping nutcases that they are?

    One question people who want to make a difference on this issue have to face is what is most important? Is denigrating religion and its evil effects your main goal? Or is preserving the rights of women to get safe legal abortions your main goal? If its the latter then calling people “gospel thumping nutcases” is not a good strategy. I don’t know what the politics are like in Ireland but I find it hard to believe they are that different from the US. And in the US there are lots of theists who are for abortion rights. Making this issue an atheists vs. Christian one will marginalize some of those potential supporters as will using rhetoric that insults all people of faith.

  6. The Irish Times poll today suggests that while they are shouting very loudly, the anti-choice brigade are convincing no one.
    Here’s the poll.
    A huge majority support not just the current proposed legislation, but far more liberal laws on abortion.

    As an aside, this is also strong and encouraging evidence that the influence of the Catholic Church has waned substantially.

  7. Hi cynicaloptimistrealist,

    My issues are as follows:

    1: As a man I am never going to be faced with an unplanned pregnancy which has the potential to end my studies or the beginning of a career.

    2: As a man I am never going to have to endure the product of a rape growing inside me.

    3: As a man I am never going to carry a pregnancy where there are complications that could end my life.

    The issue of abortion – a word you seem curiously shy of – is a political issue. Would an Irish Woman accept that there is a political issue that she is not competent to discuss and hold an opinion on? Are there Blastocyst Boors who are male? Get over your gender bias.

    Of course there are grey areas …

    There are? Blastocyst Boors call themselves “Pro-Life” because they want to change the definition of life. The definition which is so obvious that humanity the World over has used it for as long as we have records: Life begins at birth.

    Science has advanced. Technology, including medical techniques, have been developed based on that science:

    • Birth has become a more difficult moment to define.

    • Technology has allowed us to right social wrongs.

    The definition of birth may have made it a subject for debate, but it is hardly a taxing debate.

    That social wrongs can be corrected is a only reason to celebrate, and nothing more. There is no moral issue here, there is only the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. Only each Woman, fully supported by those around her (male and female) can decide if the pregnancy in question is sustainable – and they could make a mistake by incorrectly deciding that the potential child is viable, and they could make a mistake by incorrectly deciding that the potential child is not viable.

    Redefining life is a whole other sport. By looking at the issue as ‘Pro-Life’ versus Pro-Choice you are already conceding that the argument is about defining what we mean by life. Abortion does not require a new definition of life, it requires that we think about social wrongs and about birth.

    … but … for the ‘Pro-Life’ movement there is only black and white …

    That’s why they focus on life. They are looking for an easy answer. They’re so afraid of thinking that they run from it. Truth is simple. Applying truth in many lives is nuanced, different and varied. Applying truth is, necessarily, complex and requires us to be sophisticated and to work at solutions. ‘Pro-Lifers’ want it easy; they don’t want to be challenged, they don’t want to confront uncomfortable truths, they don’t want a social fabric based on mutual support and they especially don’t want to have to think ahead.

    ['Pro-Lifers'] … beliefs are more often formed from the study of scripture and the directives of celibates …

    Who are these strange celibates doing the directing? Surely you can’t mean priests? Oh wait, maybe I’m getting confused with chaste … or maybe not …

    ['Pro-Lifers'] … beliefs are [not from] reason or compassion.

    Already covered that.

    Last week there was a rally in Dublin (read the linked article and look at the predominant demographic in the photo), they bussed in people from all over the country to make up the numbers (most of those buses were organised by provincial priests who still hold sway over their ignorant followers).

    Make your mind up: Is the Catholic Church still a force to be reckoned with, or not?

    In a country where we export thousands of terminations every year to the UK and the Netherlands, a country that only seems to care about its citizens from conception to birth, how can these zealots be made to see sense?

    Zealots, by their very nature, cannot be made to see sense. Many so-called ‘pro-life’ supporters are not zealots – though they are pushed along by zealots. Target the Pro-Life-Ravers.

    … how can the … gospel thumping nutcases [be made to see sense]?

    You could try asking where their version of ‘life’ comes from. Where, in the bible, is the word abortion?

    God likes killing kids:
    Psalms 135:8
    [God] Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast

    .. and we are made in his image …

    Also, giving birth is a sin:
    Leviticus 12:1-2
    And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

    … so save the pregnant women now!

    Peace.

  8. The legislation currently proposed is intended only to clarify the present legal position – that an abortion can be carried out if the woman’s life is at risk as a result of the pregnancy. Any further changes to make abortion more accessible would require a referendum.

    Whatever our views on these matters, if we want to influence policy, we must influence the policy-makers. Since the decision on whether to approve the current proposed legislation, and whether to hold referenda in the future, will be made by our TDs (members of the Irish parliament), we should make our views known to them. We should ask them their views. When they seek votes in advance of elections, we should ask them to define their positions on such matters, and vote only for those with whose views we concur.
    The religious conservatives are a minority but they whine loudly. Let us raise our own voices and make our policy-makers aware of our views. Let us become equally vocal, but let’s do so with the dignity and reason so lacking in our opponents.

  9. We have a history in this country of referendum results contradicting opinion polls. Unscientific as that sounds.

    You make an assumption that my opposition to abortion law is born in repressed feelings I have that are inspired by religiosity.
    To be honest the reason I became a non believer is that I wanted to think for myself. The idea that wisdom is imminently discoverable , that someone else has the all encompassing method of how to live life , was something I grew tired of. People bullshit , so the rule of thumb for myself is that I don’t believe anything until I see evidence. However I will still decide on how I feel about something according to my own sensibilities. Evidence does not represent morality in itself. What morality are we to interpret from survival of the fittest , evolution , etc?

    In reply to #30 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #21 by Pauly01:

    Aaahhh subjectivity and you won’t like this… From speaking with people on this issue from listening to the public debate over the air waves , it is my opinion ( :) ) that this would be resoundingly beaten if politicians were not hiding behind an original supreme court…

    • In reply to #31 by Pauly01:

      We have a history in this country of referendum results contradicting opinion polls. Unscientific as that sounds.

      You make no attempt to produce an example of this – or even to discuss the aspects of the polls in question.

      You make an assumption that my opposition to abortion law is born in repressed feelings I have that are inspired by religiosity.

      It is no assumption! It is illustrated in your posts.

      inspired by religiosity.

      Your use of the term ” religiosity”, reflects the Catholic habit of referring to “Catholicism” as “religion” – as if it was the only one in existence.

      To be honest the reason I became a non believer is that I wanted to think for myself.

      I would encourage that, but also encourage seeking out evidence and rationally checking and evaluating it.

      My criticism is that you have shown no sign of examining the issues related to abortions or thinking rationally about the details and the implications for those involved.

      The idea that wisdom is imminently discoverable , that someone else has the all encompassing method of how to live life , was something I grew tired of. People bullshit ,

      Wisdom is discoverable, but we all have to work at it. Allowing yourself to be spoon-fed theist style is a poor, lazy, and unthinking option. We should look for examples of excellence where we can learn from others.

      so the rule of thumb for myself is that I don’t believe anything until I see evidence.

      That is fine providing you actually look for, and at, the evidence. Refusing to believe because you will not look, does not count!

      However I will still decide on how I feel about something according to my own sensibilities.

      Beware of cognitive biases! They can easily cloud the judgement of the unwary.

      Evidence does not represent morality in itself.

      Evidence provides the objective view of the situation so as we can make informed moral judgements. People who have no idea what is happening, or how things work, are in no position to make competent moral judgements at all!

      What morality are we to interpret from survival of the fittest , evolution , etc?

      That is a large and complex subject:- including reciprocal altruism, kin-selection, social evolution, and neuro-psychology.

      Unlike the simplistic dogmas, it does have a scientific basis.

      However humanist consideration for others, and the “Golden Rule” of doing to others, as you would have them do to you is a good rational start on building a non-theistic morality.

      BTW: Deleting irrelevant pasted paragraphs, and using > for quotes, with double line spaces between paragraphs, makes comments clearer.

      • In reply to #32 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #31 by Pauly01:

        I may be wrong, but Alan4discussion’s line contention with Pauly01 seems (to me) to imply that atheists, or non-deists would be pro-choice. But is that necessarily the case? Could atheists find reasonable grounds to oppose legalisation of abortion?

        I suspect most atheists would be pro-choice (I am for one) but I’m a little wary of linking atheism so firmly to a particular moral position. It is very likely that atheists will support the scientific project, maybe almost by definition of being atheist, but does that mean there is clear direction from the scientific perspective in this area, which in turn means any atheist would have particular moral stance – ie would inevitably see the scientific evidence as supporting choice?

        I’m not familiar with the field, but I imagine that important evidence here would be psychological and perhaps sociological data that allowed reliable balancing of the advantages or disadvantages of allowing or denying choice – which would in some way need to encompass and capture the range of reactions women would experience from allowing or not allowing abortion (*). I am very unsure such evidence exists beyond the most generalised, in which case it would seems science has little to offer in terms of moral guidance. Of course, science does offer much concerning the nature and capacity of embryos etc, but I feel those are not the sole issues.

        If it is the case that either science is not relevant to deciding the pro-choice issue, or that it might be relevant but we do not have good enough data as yet, then it seems atheists must look to other guidance. Surely, in end, that comes down to personal conviction, albeit informed as much as possible by what evidence there is? In which case, maybe Pauly01 has a defensible position as an atheist and so not being pro-choice does not infer deistic thinking, but atheism that just does not agree with all other atheists?

        Out another way, are atheists, in referring to objective science, which assumes a single view of reality, inevitably drawn to the same morality – indeed, the same politics, as all other atheists? Is there an atheist orthodoxy, from which deviation implies the lack of being a true atheist (the lack of true lack of faith)?

        (* Some might want to consider the impacts of choice or non-choice on others, but that probably pre-judges the choice question as to being a matter for only the woman, or if others eg fathers should have a say. Personally, but then I am pro-choice, I’d say it was the woman’s decision alone. Yet, would every atheist agree with me there? And what kind of scientific evidence would help decide that question?).

        • In reply to #33 by steve_hopker:

          I may be wrong, but Alan4discussion’s line contention with Pauly01 seems (to me) to imply that atheists, or non-deists would be pro-choice. But is that necessarily the case?

          Could atheists find reasonable grounds to oppose legalisation of abortion?

          I am sure they could – say late term abortions of normal babies for example, but that is not the issue. The issue is looking at the specific evidence rather than making vague blanket generalisations where “one size fits all”.

          I suspect most atheists would be pro-choice (I am for one) but I’m a little wary of linking atheism so firmly to a particular moral position. It is very likely that atheists will support the scientific project, maybe almost by definition of being atheist, but does that mean there is clear direction from the scientific perspective in this area, which in turn means any atheist would have particular moral stance – ie would inevitably see the scientific evidence as supporting choice?

          The science would not in itself imply a moral stance, but I would suggest that anyone who has not bothered to look at the science, is in no position to take a moral stance or have an informed opinion on the subject. My link to “Medline” @4 provided a lot of detailed expert information on the progression of pregnancy, so I would expect anyone claiming to be making rational pronouncements, or forming moral judgements on this subject to have bothered to read it.

          I’m not familiar with the field, but I imagine that important evidence here would be psychological and perhaps sociological data that allowed reliable balancing of the advantages or disadvantages of allowing or denying choice – which would in some way need to encompass and capture the range of reactions women would experience from allowing or not allowing abortion (*).

          Abortions have been legal and monitored in many countries for many years. There are psychological and sociological studies .

          Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study.

          Abortion and depression: a population-based longitudinal study of young women.

          I am very unsure such evidence exists beyond the most generalised, in which case it would seems science has little to offer in terms of moral guidance.

          It seems there is an increased risk of depression in young adult women, but not in teenagers. Those involved in choices, would be counselled by their doctors or medics.

          Of course, science does offer much concerning the nature and capacity of embryos etc, but I feel those are not the sole issues.

          They are not sole issues, but it is very important that they are understood, rather than dogmatic pseudo-knowledge being used as a basis for decisions.

          If it is the case that either science is not relevant to deciding the pro-choice issue, or that it might be relevant but we do not have good enough data as yet,

          There is much data and high quality information on the medical side, although the social issues are less clear.

          Morally we should be recognising the interested parties who merit consideration.

          Essentially the woman, partner, family, and beyond a certain stage the potential infant, (and possibly the medical funding system) are interested parties to varying extents. What should be clear is that meddling dogmatists are NOT interested parties in other people’s medical conditions or social situations.

          then it seems atheists must look to other guidance.

          Medical science has plenty of good advice and data on risks and outcomes. (You should bear in mind that there are risks with normal pregnancies spontaneous natural abortions and miscarriages.) Many unexpected outcomes can impact lives – (Such as me being a father of twins!)

          Dogma-bots only have lies about single cells being human beings with souls! They have nothing of merit to offer.

          In which case, maybe Pauly01 has a defensible position as an atheist and so not being pro-choice does not infer deistic thinking,

          He could have if he made one based on analysis of medical evidence or the analysis of the linked polls, but his comments indicate a choice in line with RCC emotive thinking, rather than objective consideration of evidence or responsible choices made by interested parties.

          Pauly01 @23 – Why should any woman have to go through this clinical debasement of their spirit (not meant in a religious way) , it just seems to me that it dims the light in all our eyes.

          • In reply to #35 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #33 by stevehopker:_

            I agree with Alan4discussions points here, in that it is vital to refer properly to the science that is there. I am afraid the ‘pro-life’ lobby often seem to obscure this, although it has to be noted there are many trained and presumably informed doctors who would be performing abortions but who opt out on religious / moral grounds (here in the UK, the Abortion Act allows them to do that).

            Having been medically trained myself – and before that studied Biology at school (as many will have done), the only way I can see an embryo as being seen as human would be to believe in a soul or similar entering at conception. Thus, supernaturalism is arguably a central point, although (as Alan points out) one can see ethical objections to late abortions. In the way that conception is an arbitrary moment, biologically to say life began, when you have nothing more than a cell, it is also arbitrary to say life and rights only begin at birth, as clearly (from a biological rather than legal view) towards the end of pregnancy pain and other awareness in near term foetuses has little or no difference from that of new born infants. To me this implies debates about upper limits on the length of pregnancies that can be ethically aborted must be largely informed by science.

            However, I hope (and now think) Alan does accept there is valid atheist dissent on this issue – on the basis of what evidence there is, rather than generalisations.

          • In reply to #36 by steve_hopker:

            However, I hope (and now think) Alan does accept there is valid atheist dissent on this issue – on the basis of what evidence there is, rather than generalisations.

            We can agree on that.

  10. We have certainly entered a new era in Ireland, when the leader of our government publicly and stridently denounced the Vatican; something no other leader in the West has dared to do in such an open and direct fashion before.

    And this week the Taoiseach has again reacted strongly and appropriately to the Catholic Churches attempts to undermine the Government and the State, with the public declaration and reminder that he is a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, and not a Catholic Taoiseach.

    The Vatican is playing every card it has in its battle to remain relevant in modern Ireland. Everything from the PR Circus last summer in Dublin that was titled the Eucharistic Congress, to last months threats from incoming Archbishop of excommunication for any politicians supporting the new legislation on abortion. And lately they have moved to calling for anti-government rallies to counter new legislation proposals; riding roughshod over any concept of separation of Church and State.

    So what can we do to combat the pro-life crowd? In part I say let’s give the Church an even bigger microphone to help our cause. Their attempts to hijack this public issue in Ireland has saddled the pro-life side with the most corrupt and immoral institution in the country. Every time Archbishop Sean Brady comes out railing for the protection of the “unborn”, who in Ireland can fail to recall the irony that this is the Clergyman who swore child victims of rape to secrecy under pain of excommunication, allowing the monster Father Brendan Smyth the opportunity for further decades of rape.

    We also need to stay on point, and not be deflected by aggressive, emotive language of the pro-life side. All pregnant girls and women have a fundamental right to bodily integrity that is not superseded by assertions of “potential personhood” of a fetus. Our point is to protect the rights of girls and women to make decisions about the health of their own bodies. If the pro-life side are so adamantly set against the abortion option, let them go spend their time running education programs on contraception (uhh, might have a problem with their Church on that one too though).

    And we need to be vocal in backing our politicians who stand up to the arrogance of the Church and the terror tactics of the pro-life extremists. They need to know that there’s a much larger pool of voters on the pro-choice side listening to their stance on these issues.

    Ultimately though I think this latest legislation is a total Red Herring. The best one can hope for is that this whole episode exposes to the general public the abhorrent views both the Church and the pro-life crowd have towards women in Ireland, so that when we do get around to making some real changes on abortion in the country, to provide for example a reasonable option for rape victims and women with health concerns that may not be life-threatening, that the extremists and their tactics will be marginalized, allowing the plight of the pregnant girl to be the focus of any referendum.

  11. I was greatly offended by exibition in the centre of Riga (capital of Latvia) organized by Pro-life movevent – it was assortment of plastice fetuses (picturing the stage of development long past the 12th week) and each of them was supplied with explanation of why mom has done abortion. And I was offended because the only explanation not blaming women was (daddy kept beating mommy), no mention of rape or situations when woman, for example, discovers that she is both pregnant and has cancer. O yes, that is not important, because opinion is growing that one must just pray, and will be cured of cancer without any drugs that will certainly harm fetus. The government also still wants to introduce compulsory cycle of lectures that must be attended before abortion and about month long compulsory waiting time, allthough doctors keep warning that makes it very probable that many then will miss the 12 week period and end either with unvanted baby (whom she may not be able to sustain) or doing criminal abortion, or in the psychiatric ward (after compulsory horror stories).

  12. As to the actions – well try to make these pro-life look ridiculous. After all child is not a weed and certainly will require lots and lots of resourses, so, unless these people stop talking that justs giving birth is enough and care will be taken about the rest…. Especially if woman is very young, single or already can barely stand on her legs because of having spent 15 years either being pregnant or nursing. They must answer whether there are enough educational establishments, education opportunities for young mothers, support for woment that had lost their husbands etc. But these people often has no idea even about the price of basic foods…..Not to say about the purchase capacity of, for example, single mother living on benefits, that will not last forever.

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