The case for making abortion legal in Northern Ireland

Joanne Dunlop with a spirited account of the pro-choice case on abortion in Northern Ireland. It’s an issue on which there is a conspicuous and almost entirely unanimous consensus amongst all of Northern Ireland’s political parties. It’s a refreshing original analysis that, ironically may find supporters from every side. It’s also a sign that the Balnket is broadening the scope of it writing and its audience! Via Mwk.

  • George

    Why so cryptic? What position did I ascribe? Could you be a bit more specific. I don’t know what you are going on about.

  • trish

    George, I think this is what peteb means by off topic – discussing the exact point at which life begins. We should probably stay on the topic of abortion, assuming it’s early in the pregnancy.

    (And personally I’m really unsure of where the limit should be for abortions. That requires medical knowledge of when a foetus is viable outside the womb and the potential difficulties of premature babies, things I’m not qualified to comment on. As for cases of fetal abnormality, again, I just don’t know what would be the right decision, and prefer to send prayers that the people who have to make such unbelievably tough decisions can make the right choice, whatever that may be.)

  • George

    Trish,
    I think it’s important to remind Joanne that we have moved on from the “Free abortion on demand” as a central tenet of women’s liberation, namely a woman’s need to control her own fertility if she is to participate in society on equal terms with men.

    For me the “pro-choice” or “pro-life” are no longer the parameters of this arguement just as it is no longer left versus right or feminist versus anti-feminist.

    Virtually everyone now accepts that there are circumstances when abortion may be legitimate but there there are fewer and fewer voices like Joanne’s arguing that it is a woman’s absolute right to choose abortion.

    I cite abortion on grounds of abnormality and the belief of many, myself included, that a line must be drawn at a particular gestational limit.

    As you have pointed out, medical advances have now made it possible to save infants at gestations when foetuses can be legally aborted.

    I don’t think Peteb meant I was off topic although I don’t know what he meant.

  • peteb

    George

    What I meant, to spell it out, was that given the way this thread has developed, the ascribing a view to Joanne that an abortion should be available up to the point of birth was neither logical nor helpful.

    The current position is that the legal restrictions here are much stricter than the circumstances you describe and it is in respect to those restrictions that a woman’s right to choose is being denied.

    Let’s keep in mind that the Department of Health fought a 3 year court battle to prevent a clarification of the legal position in the form of guidelines to doctors.. not a change to that legal position.

  • trish

    George, while I’d love to think that it’s true that “virtually everyone” accepts the need for abortion in some circumstances, that doesn’t seem to be the case earlier in this thread. So perhaps discussing details of when abortion is acceptable is premature when so many seem to believe it’s not.

  • Davros

    I think George raised an important point in this debate and would be interested in Joanne’s reply.

    Trish also made important points, 100%b agree with her comments about single parents getting a raw deal , but I don’t see how we can legislate allowing for different criteria depending on status of the mother in respect of being in a stable relationship.

    There are so many different aspects of this debate.
    I accept, as George put is , that here are circumstances when abortion may be legitimate
    and that there needs to be full and open discussion as to what circumstances validate abortion.

    I don’t accept that abortion on demand can be justified as a whole by quoting specific examples when abortion would be accepted by a majority in a democracy as a legitimate alternative any more than quoting specifics where I myself feel that abortion is wrong – eg as a back-up for sloppy contraceptive practices or for convenience – would
    prove that all abortion is wrong.

    In the past few years we have been lucky in that we have developed very effective methods of birth control. They are not 100% and because of that people need to take responsibility for their own actions.They have to accept that IF they choose to have sexual relations there may be, as a consequence, a pregnancy.

    There seems to be a feeling that there are “rights” issues. Rights are decided by society and
    it’s up to society to decide if a woman who has had consensual sexual relationship has a right to
    demand an abortion for reasons of convenience.
    The right to abortion for medical reasons exists.

    Personally I don’t think abortion should be available as a safety-net for poor judgement.

    There is one last issue. If it was decided that abortion at the mother-to-be’s discretion is an inalienable right, then how could we continue to employ medical staff who for religious or ethical reasons, feel unable to provide such a facility?
    Denial of rights is against the law.

  • maca

    “I wasn’t going to jump into this debate because I’m not from Northern Ireland”

    Not all of us are from the North anyway and it’s a world issue.

    You make some very good reasoned points overall but wrt the 3rd paragraph of your 05:36 you seem to be saying that because many of these mechanisms are not in place we should allow abortion until they are in place. Did I read that right?
    But that to me doesn’t make sense. Rather than allow abortion i’d work harder to put these mechanisms in place.

    “we are being judgemental and, I believe, unchristian, in denying women the right to choose”

    Not all of us are christaian. And it can be argues that allowing abortion is unchristian itself. After all we are allowing someone the right to kill, to put it bluntly.

  • Henry94

    Rebecca Black

    quite simply, no I don’t think I could cope with a child at this point in my life, I can barely keep myself organised! I don’t think its fair to force someone to give up all the things she is doing because she had an accident with contraception one day.

    Would you consider adoption as an option?

  • trish

    maca,
    I included the work “unchristian” because I hear religion used so often as a justification for banning abortion entirely. I also (see my 5:48 post) state that I do not belive that abortion is murder, hence I do not agree with your statement that abortion is “allowing someone the right to kill”.

    And no, I don’t think that just working harder to put social services in place means that we can have a ban on abortion. It will take many years to create a society that doesn’t judge single mothers and helps them acheive their goals. What we can do is legalize abortion and then work to make sure that less people need to make that choice. I do believe the choice should be there.

    “Personally I don’t think abortion should be available as a safety-net for poor judgement.”

    This sounds exactly like what I mean when I talk about society’s views on single mothers. Teenage girls are dumb. I was one once. I made decisions that I regret now, but fortunately didn’t have the longterm consequences that an unwanted pregnancy can bring. Your statement here implies that poor judgement on this issue means a woman should have to bear a child, that she’s somehow at fault, or less of a moral person than someone like me who didn’t get knocked up.

    One in four women are raped during their university education. Are 25% of us loose woman that deserve to lose all these options? That 25% likely includes your sisters, your daughters, your mothers. Are they guilty of such poor judgement?
    Most of those women do not report the rape, knowing that reporting a rape has horrible consequences on their lives. They wouldn’t therefore qualify for an abortion if rape provided an exemption. Do they count? What about their rights to education, to respect, to not being judged themselves?

    The laws around abortion are always going to be complicated. I’m pleased that this is turning into a good discussion though and I think that raising awareness is always positive.

  • Davros

    This sounds exactly like what I mean when I talk about society’s views on single mothers. Teenage girls are dumb. I was one once. I made decisions that I regret now, but fortunately didn’t have the longterm consequences that an unwanted pregnancy can bring. Your statement here implies that poor judgement on this issue means a woman should have to bear a child, that she’s somehow at fault, or less of a moral person than someone like me who didn’t get knocked up.

    Not in the least. Are you saying that there should be an IQ and age test to justify abortion provision?

    One in four women are raped during their university education. Are 25% of us loose woman that deserve to lose all these options? That 25% likely includes your sisters, your daughters, your mothers. Are they guilty of such poor judgement?

    “They have to accept that IF they choose to have sexual relations there may be, as a consequence, a pregnancy.”

    Please refrain from playing the rape card in order to try to stifle legitimate concerns.

  • George

    Peteb,
    I don’t believe I ascribed such a view to Joanne’s position and I’m sure Joanne can answer for herself. I also don’t see where you have been given the right you have the absolute authority to know whether a comment is helpful to a debate or not.

    I said the problem I see with the position that a foetus has no rights as long as it is inside a woman’s body (“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body) is that the logical progression of such an arguement is that life begins at birth.

    I would like to hear Joanne’s views on what limits she would put on a woman’s control of her body, if any, when it comes to abortion.

    I ask this in specific relation to abortions due to abnormality and late abortions. In other words, does Joanne have a bottom line and if so where is it?

  • peteb

    George

    That’s not a logical progression.. it’s reductio ad absurdum. There is no logic in leaping to a position whereby “a foetus has no rights”.

    As I pointed out, given the tone of the earlier posts on this thread I think it would be better for the debate if we were all more careful about the wording of our comments.

    Asking whether there is a bottom line, for example, is a less inflamatory way to ask the same question.

    There is, though, still the fundamental position that some posters are ignoring.. the questioning seems more concerned with what limits the pro-choice advocates would be satisfied with without acknowledging the current reality of the situation.. for example, the fact that 7000 Irish women go to Britain for an abortion each year.. (given time I’d hunt down the relevant figures for Northern Ireland too).

    As I pointed out earlier, there has just been a 3 year court battle by the Department fo Health to prevent the publication of guidelines for doctors on when an abortion under the current restrictive legislation is allowed.

    That’s some serious resistance to any kind of discussion on the subject.

  • joanne dunlop

    I certainly can answer for myself, but I really don’t feel it would make any difference at this point. According to some people here, I have ruined the entire thread and the point of my article by having one minor (and it was minor compared to many of the statements in this thread) outburst that was in response to what I found to be massively offensive attitudes with regards to birth control/the morning-after pill and abortion in the case of rape. I was shocked and pretty horrified by the idea that some people here truly believe that a the life of a foetus is either equal to, or more important than, the life of a woman. Perhaps my one comment would have been better left unsaid, but I think I was perfectly reasonable in all previous comments and do not deserve to be judged and have both my article and all of my beliefs dismissed on the basis of one comment. Though I expect I made it easy for you to do that, and conveniently at the point where you were doing a perfectly good job of hanging yourselves on your own warped opinions. If I could kick myself for that, I would.

    It would take forever to go through this thread and respond to everything I would like to, and unfortunately I have neither the time or the energy to do that. And despite what a few of the pro-lifers here have said, I really don’t believe that you care what I think – or in fact what any women thinks. When a few females here have offered their opinions, you have simply dismissed them and twisted their words, so why bother? I think I made my position and feelings quite clear in my article and many, many times on my blog. I don’t read Slugger on a regular basis (though I both like and respect Mick and Pete), and I don’t intend to start now, but I felt I should say something just because it seems expected. Overall, I’m pretty disappointed by this thread and if I’d known it would get this kind of response, I’m not sure I’d have written the article at all. In fact, if I’m entirely honest, I don’t even know if I want to be involved with pro-choice activism at all anymore. It is depressing and demoralising how much hate mail I have had in the last couple of days and I really don’t know if I can be as much a part of this as I would like to be and still stay sane.

    I will always be pro-choice, but I think I am done with the belief that I can change anything here. I’m sad about that, but there ya go. You win.

    That’s really all I have to say. If anyone has any specific questions or whatever, feel free to email me, but please stop with the spamming and trolling – you’re not going to get a response.

  • trish

    Davros

    “Please refrain from playing the rape card in order to try to stifle legitimate concerns.”

    Since 25% of women are raped during their university experience, I think this is a legitimate concern, rather than a unique circumstance. Sure, some pregancies are the result of irresponsible behaviour, but many aren’t. We can’t simply separate things into nicely defined categories. Sometimes we make bad decisions, sometimes others make bad decisions that affect us, sometimes it’s a combination of the two. We can’t separate these, so we need to come up with viewpoints on abortion that accept that there may be many different reasons for wanting to end a pregnancy, and many different reasons why conception happened in the first place.

  • Davros

    Trish – please play fair in this debate.

    I SPECIFICALLY excluded rape victims from my post.
    Please don’t use my comments about women who had consensual sex OUT OF CONTEXT.

    Incidentally, where did you get the 25% figure ?

  • maca

    Joanne,
    This is a discussion forum, where people discuss. The whole point is to tear apart issues, challenge people on their views and try to get to the root of some of these problems. You seem to expect people to listen to you and agree with what you have to say. Well wake up because we don’t all agree and the fact that we may argue against your point does not mean that we are dismissing your point of view and certainly not your beliefs.

    “but please stop with the spamming and trolling – you’re not going to get a response”

    The only person who “trolls” on Slugger has yet to take part in this discussion. Everyone else is just offering their opinions. Therefore your use of this term here is meant to be offensive.

    If you are receiving spam mail then tell the spammers to stop, it’s not an issue for Slugger.

  • maca

    “Incidentally, where did you get the 25% figure?”

    You got in ahead of me Davros.

  • George

    Joanne,
    I’ve been prayed over and had holy water thrown at me at demonstrations against Youth Defence and the like.

    However, standing alongside me were people who basically disagree with abortion but agree with the fundamental right of a woman to choose.

    Speaking from an Irish perspective, the movement is a much broader church now than it was say in 1983 because people have discussed the issue (ad nauseum sometimes).

    You would be surprised how many rational debates people have nowadays on this issue where people now say where they draw the line, how they feel on the eugenics issue, on late terminations etc.

    It is not a black and white, pro choice pro-life issue.

  • joanne dunlop

    Maca,

    Since my article was posted here, I have been receiving quite extreme hate mail and anti-abortion propaganda to my email account and (to a lesser extent) as comments on my blog. As my URL/email address were never posted on the article, I can only assume that the mail is coming from people who either post or lurk here.

    And I don’t know about you, but in my experience “telling a spammer to stop” has never actually made them stop. Quite the opposite, I find.

    I also don’t believe I mentioned anywhere that I expected people to not discuss my article or disagree with my beliefs. In fact, in my first comment on this post I said:

    I await the bitchfest.

    I never expected anyone to agree with me. I’m too used to people never agreeing with me. However, I don’t feel that the current tone of the thread is conducive to debate or discussion and I certainly don’t see any roots being found.

  • maca

    Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems,
    covering the period 1998 – 2000

    Rape total per 100,000
    Ctry 1998 1999 2000 1998 1999 2000

    Ireland 292 218 7.87 5.81
    Eng/les 7,636 8,409 8,593 14.56 15.96 16.23

  • maca

    Joanne

    “Since my article was posted here, I have been receiving quite extreme hate mail and anti-abortion propaganda to my email account”

    Sorry to hear that.

    “and (to a lesser extent) as comments on my blog.”

    I didn’t see hate mail or propanganga when I visited your site. You have a comment facility on your site so of course can expect comments and of course can expect that people will not agree with you on such a topic.

    “As my URL/email address were never posted on the article, I can only assume that the mail is coming from people who either post or lurk here.”

    A number of sites apart from Slugger link to your blog. Your blog has an email address with an invitation for people to email you.

    “I also don’t believe I mentioned anywhere that I expected people to not discuss my article…….”

    You’re earlier posts give a different impression.

    “I don’t feel that the current tone of the thread is conducive to debate or discussion and I certainly don’t see any roots being found.”

    Well i’ve found it interesting and informative anyway.

  • Henry94

    Joanne

    I think I was perfectly reasonable in all previous comments and do not deserve to be judged and have both my article and all of my beliefs dismissed on the basis of one comment.

    I think we can all accept that. Most of us have made posts in the heat of the moment that, on reflection we would have changed the tone of. I know I have.

  • joanne dunlop

    Maca: I tend to delete the comments that involve calling me a murderer and comparing me to Hitler. I don’t like deleting any comments, but I don’t see why I should tolerate that kind of thing in my own personal, paid-for space. Commenters who insult me to a reasonably acceptable level (such as yourself) I tend to just ignore.

    Obviously my URL is public and linked to, but my article has only be linked to here. While I do already get the occasional nasty email, it’s nothing close to what I’ve gotten since the article has been posted here. So I’m pretty sure that’s where it’s coming from. Not that I mind the article having been posted, and perhaps I ought to have expected such a response, but I didn’t. Guess I asked for it really.

    I don’t see where any of my earlier posts suggested that anyone ought to agree with me. Even in my little hissyfit I never mentioned anything of that nature.

    Henry94: Thank you.

  • maca

    “perhaps I ought to have expected such a response, but I didn’t”

    On just a subject as abortion expect a response and expect it to be extreme 😉

  • PS

    I’m sorry to see my comments have been seen as offensive, they weren’t entended to be so.

    Perhaps the word ‘allow’ wasn’t the exact word I should have used, however I was merely trying to articulate the difference between my own position and my party’s and explain what way they might treat this issue were they to be in government, in response to a question put to me.

  • trish

    Davros and Maca, the rape statistic comes from the United States and refers to women coerced to have sexual intercourse against their will, not to the number of reported rapes. More figures are given at the University of California Santa Cruz site. They state that in the United States 77% of women know their rapists and confirm that:

    ” In a study of 6,000 students at 32 colleges in the US, 1 in 4 women had been the victims of rape or attempted rape. (Warshaw 1994)

    In a study of 6,000 students at 32 colleges in the US, 42% of rape victims told no-one and only 5% reported it to the police. (Warshaw 1994)

    In a survey of college males who committed rape, 84% said what they did was definitely not rape. (Warshaw, Robin 1994 “I Never Called It Rape”)”

    I doubt that Northern Ireland is considerably better.

    My point is simply that you cannot judge that the majority of women with unwanted pregancies made bad or immoral decisions and should have to live with the consequences. If you believe abortion is wrong I can accept that. But I feel I have to speak out when you assume these women somehow deserve their fate and can be judged as has been done here by some of the posters. I am disappointed that this attitude of disrespect for the mother has been expressed.

    I am not able to participate further in this thread because I’m at a conference for work right now but I appreciate everyone listening to my point of view and hope that it’ll at least make a couple people think.

  • Davros

    I hope you will return trish.
    I don’t accept your figures for the UK.
    I would respectfully suggest that some of those women who felt they had been coerced were in fact displacing from “I wish I hadn’t slept with him” – which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

  • Davros

    My point is simply that you cannot judge that the majority of women with unwanted pregancies made bad or immoral decisions and should have to live with the consequences.

    WOW! Ignore what people say and reply to what you HOPED they would say!

  • maca

    Trish
    “deserve their fate” ??
    I don’t think anyone even implied that, disappointing that you would come up with that conclusion.

    Also
    “In a study of 6,000 students at 32 colleges in the US, 1 in 4 women had been the victims of rape or attempted rape.”

    You first said 25% were raped. Either way it’s a shockig figure if true but it is important not to leave out “or attempted rape”. U have to be accurate in a case such as this.

  • Davros

    Maca- it’s ‘Dworkin-lite’

    Her published writings abound with anti-male slurs and attempts to blur the difference between forced and consensual sex. Here are a few of the obligatory quotes: “Romance is rape embellished with meaningful looks”; “Male sexuality, drunk on its intrinsic contempt for all life…”; (Letters from a War Zone, 14); “In seduction, the rapist bothers to buy a bottle of wine” (Ibid, 119); “Under patriarchy, every woman’s son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman” (Our Blood, 20). At this point, Dworkin’s defenders usually claim that such phrases are “taken out of context.” One wonders what possible context could justify the assertion that male sexuality is characterized by “intrinsic contempt for all life.” But take a look and decide for yourself whether the phrases I have selected are uncharacteristic of the essays from which they are taken.

    Dworkin is often identified with the view that all heterosexual sex is rape. Given the phrases quoted above, it is not hard to see why. Nonetheless, she has complained that this characterization is a “slander.”

  • peteb

    I’m sure you’ve never been quoted out of context, Davros..

    but let’s be clear here – you’re the only one who’s quoting Dworkin..

    and that’s not the research that Trish referenced.

  • Seamy2602

    Many people say that abortions should be carried out for health risks. The exact wording of the English law is ‘that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated’. In the UK only 6% of Abortions come into line with that law. 1% is due to rape or incest and the other 93% of Abortions are social abortions, abortions that will not have a serous health risk to the mother.

  • Davros

    What’s eating you Pete ? You been like a bear with a sore head past few days and I’m tired of your sniping.

    The Dworkinesque attitude to heterosexual sexual intercourse is relevent in the context of “What constitutes rape? “.

    I’m ALL for equality – and that means women take responsibility for their own actions – sleeping with someone that you regret the next day ? Don’t blame him for seducing you or coercing you – take responsibility for your own actions. Rebecca was a case in point – if she gets pregnant it’s ALL her boyfriend’s fault because HE messed up ?

    RAPE is a MONSTROUS crime. So is crying rape about consensual sex.

  • peteb

    Davros

    I am merely pointing out that when you say “Her published writing abound with anti-male slurs”, after “Maca, it’s [trish’s references] Dworkin-lite”, you are actually refering to Dworkin’s writings and not the research.

    I am sorry if you have a problem with that. But it’s been a recurring theme in this thread that extreme views are being quoted in order to undermine a middle ground position.. it’s not helpful to any case or to the thread in general.

  • Davros

    Pete- “her published writings” is a direct quote.
    If you had followed the link you would have realised
    that I was showing the extreme to put the “lite” into perspective.

  • DCB

    Petab

    Agree that extreme positions are distorting the debate.

    But few comments are more extreme that the claim that 25% of all women have been raped, and the implicit implication that about 25% of all men are rapists.

    They get the figures by re-defining rape as bad sex or as any occasion where you have been pestered for sex.

    Ask yourself this have 1 in 4 of your female freinds been raped?

    And are 1 in 4 of your mates rapists?

    The most dangerous implication of this is that it undermines the seriousness of rape.

  • peteb

    DCB

    The actual report should have been clarified as including rape or attempted rape, as maca pointed out, (and Davros has already questioned the criteria used)…

    But you yourself are distorting those findings if you claim they can be extrapolated across the entire population (the survey explicitly restricts the findings to US colleges) or that the findings imply that 25% of ALL men are rapists – there is no logic in reversing the figures in that way.

  • DCB

    I may have unfairly extrapolated, though I think that’s the impression that the report is trying to make – 1 in 4 women have been raped.

    But having being to uni and basing it on my own experiences I still think that it is total rubbish and the biggest distraction to any sensible debate.

    Not only is it rubbish but it demeans rape

  • Davros

    I agree to a great extent with DCB, just as I think the idea that “contraception should be the man’s job and that abortion should be readily available for when men let women down with contraception” demeans women.

  • joanne dunlop

    Would 1 in 4 of your female friends tell you if she’d been raped? I know it’s not something I would want people to know if it happened to me – not least because of the attitudes displayed here towards women and rape in general. (BTW, I don’t generally pay that much attention to statistics – they are almost always biased and with issues like rape, where so many go unreported, it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate number, so I’m not about to start quoting numbers just to make the situation look worse than it is).

    And this:

    “They get the figures by re-defining rape as bad sex or as any occasion where you have been pestered for sex.”

    Honestly, I don’t even know how to respond to that, other than to say I feel like crying right now.

    You have no idea. You have no, no idea.

    And if you want rape to stop being used as some kind of excuse for abortion then you need to STOP RAPE. It is ridiculous how much of a “women’s issue” rape is seen as – it’s not an issue we want. It is YOU who rape us – and each other (and that’s a whole other debate, and probably the most taboo issue in the UK today) and it is YOU who need to stop the culture of support for men who violate women (right from jokingly calling them sluts and whores to domestic violence, and beyond). No amount of rape protection/awareness campaigns are going to make the slightest bit of difference until men, collectively, decide to stop it.

    And before I get the man-hater comments – that could not be further from the truth. I know that all men are not potential rapists, I don’t even think I believe that 25% are (for rapists don’t tend to only rape once, especially if they are getting away with it). So don’t bother accusing me of trying to vilify men. You do that entirely by yourselves.

  • maca

    Ridiculous comments Joanne. “culture of support for men who violate women” – get a grip.

  • joanne dunlop

    Ridiculous how, exactly?

    Are you denying that men use such terms to describe women? Are you denying that domestic violence exists? Are you denying that rape – of men and women – exists?

    But yes, it is me that needs to get a grip. Of course. Silly woman getting all upset and hormonal. Must be the PMS.

  • maca

    There you go again, this total over reaction. I find some of your comments ridiculous and suddenly you’re saying i’m denying rape exists or domestic violence exists??? Yes, get a grip Joanne!

    This is ridiculous:
    “It is YOU who rape us” – No, it is a tiny percentage of men who rape.

    “it is YOU who need to stop the culture of support for men who violate women” – what culture of support?? are you saying WE support men who violate women??? You think we even support people calling women sluts or whores? How dare you! (funny u should use the term ‘man-hater’).

    “until men, collectively, decide to stop it.” Newsflash! We are not the Borg, we are not a ‘collective’ and do not think as one. Rape is the action of a tiny percentage, WE can’t decide for them to stop.

    “I don’t even think I believe that 25% are”

    You don’t think?? You’re not sure?

    Also, why bring domestic violence into it? That’s a different issue. Women are guilty of that too. So by your rationale ‘it is YOU who need to stop the culture of support for women who abuse men’.

  • George

    Joanne,
    do you not agree that just as many women are forced physically, psychologically or socially into sex, equally many women are forced into abortion.

    It is mostly the most vunerable and poorest women in our society who have abortions, the ones least in a position to make a free choice. Abortion as a lifestyle choice is a myth.

    Abortion is as much a tool of oppression for women as it is a procuror of choice.

    People with their backs to the wall don’t always choose the right decision and they certainly aren’t always the ones in control when it comes to making the decision on whether to have an abortion or not. What we have today, to leave the decision solely in the hands of the victim, especially an unprotected one, is not a solution.

    A linear pro-choice, abortion on demand attitude in my view only perpetuates the isolation many women feel over abortion. For them it is a Hobson’s choice, damned if they, damned if the don’t.

    US figures
    Highest rates are with women (?) under 15
    78% of were unmarried
    Married women have 8.1 abortions per 100 live births vs. 75 per 100 for unmarried women.
    Black women are over twice as likely to have an abortion as white women

    P.S.
    I agree with your all men are not potential rapists but all men must realise they have the potential to be rapists and more importantly, every man is a potential rapist for a woman.
    Percentages are neither here nor there.

  • Davros

    Agree with a lot of what you say George.
    Not convinced about your post-script.

  • George

    What I generally mean in my postscript is that for women, every man is a potential rapist. Men have to understand that. They have to understand why they instil that level of fear in women because they do.

    Very simple example: you’re walking home late at night on a lonely dark road and you see a woman walking in your direction. Nobody is around. What should you do?

    You should avoid walking by her at all costs. You should cross the road to the other side to put as much distance as possible between you.
    You should do this just as quickly as if you saw four drunken, shouting lads coming your way and you were in fear for your health.

    I say this because for a woman, every unknown man she comes up against in an unprotected/isolated situation has the automatic ability to instil the same fear as those four drunken lads would in you.

  • Henry94

    George I agree with your post. In fact that is the point I was trying to make with my facetious suggestion about extending the right to choose to include marrying the father.

    Pro-life organisations would be much more impressive if they campaigned for a society where every born child was valued as much as they believe we should value unborn children.

  • Davros

    100% agree with your clarificayion George.

  • joanne dunlop

    Maca: At least attempt to come up with a decent argument before you attempt to dismiss mine. I know it’s awfully difficult for you to respond to a mere female to can string a sentence together, but do try.

    George: Agree entirely with your points about rape, disagree entirely with your points about abortion. I do agree that no woman should feel forced into abortion, but you have to understand that most women really don’t (especially in a country like this, where the vast majority of “advice” is against abortion) – and those that do generally do regret their abortions. I think that that’s a horrible situation for those women to ever be in and I agree that there should be more support for women who feel like they can’t afford to have a child, but don’t want an abortion either. There are a few anti-abortion organizations that do offer support in these cases, but they almost always come with conditions – i.e., the woman has to be against abortion, has to be willing to have religious counselling, the support stops after the baby is born, etc. BTW, none of these organizations advertise any of these conditions.

    For the record, and I realize this is just my experience and therefore limited, but still – every woman I know that’s had an abortion has been middle-class and in a relationship. Though they had various personal circumstances that affected their decision, abortion was the option they chose because at that point in their lives they just didn’t want a child. You have to accept that. Sometimes women get pregnant and have abortions for no other reason than the fact that they don’t want the baby. That’s it. That would be my reason for having an abortion. I don’t want to be pregnant and I don’t want a baby – now or ever. I intend to take the best precautions I possibly can to ensure that never happens, but at 20, I probably have another three fertile decades ahead of me and that’s a long time to go without ever having an accident. Perhaps mine is a selfish attitude, but it’s my body and I feel I have the right to be selfish with it. Obviously that is directly opposite what you believe therefore we will never come to any kind of resolution on it, but there it is.

    Can’t believe this thread is still going – suppose if nothing else I should be grateful for all the hits, even if I have been de-linked from Slugger…

    😉

  • maca

    Joanne
    “At least attempt to come up with a decent argument before you attempt to dismiss mine.”

    How about a decent argument yourself, any chance of one?

    “I know it’s awfully difficult for you to respond to a mere female to can string a sentence together, but do try.”

    Ahem!

    George
    “for women, every man is a potential rapist”

    I don’t agree at all. You can say that every person is a potential something – mugger, killer, attacker or whatever. Few women I know are so paranoid as to view every man as a potential rapist.

    “You should avoid walking by her at all costs. You should cross the road to the other side to put as much distance as possible between you.”

    Really George. No offence but I think this is ridiculous. If a women is paranoid enough to think I could be a rapist then she can cross the road. I’m not going to put myself out just because I was born male.

  • George

    Joanne,
    firstly, just to make one thing clear, I don’t advocate restricting access to abortion.

    However, what the pro-choice movement wants in Ireland is very basic and addresses the needs of middle-class women in a relationship more than it does the majority of women who actually have abortions – single, in fear, poor.

    Middle-class abortion requirements: Allowed in first trimester or later if the mother’s health is threatened or the foetus is “abnormal”.

    One of the things I don’t like in the pro-choice movement is that if those requirements were met in Ireland, the abortion issue would then be considered “solved”.

    It appears content to settle for an arrangement that continues to leave those women most vulnerable and most threatened completely exposed rather than looking for an arrangement which would ensure the majority of women are protected.

    I don’t know yet what those arrangements would be (because they are rarely discussed) but pro-choice shouldn’t be simply based on abortion access, won by those who have the means and the support to get over the trauma, mostly used by those who have no support and no means.

    To put it crudely, the cancer of abuse, poverty etc. will still be there but the middle classes (male and female) will be able to sip their wine of an evening safe in the knowledge that women now have a choice.

    Belgium and the Netherlands, where there are strong social nets in place, have the lowest rate of abortion, 7 per 1,000 women while Eastern Europe, where there are virtually none, have a rate of 90 per 1,000. Are Eastern European women more free?

    I think the pro-choice movement in Ireland has to move in this direction of argumentation if it is to finally “solve” the abortion problem because the situation as it is today sees thousands of vulnerable women taking the boat to England. If there was no boat there would be backstreet clinics.

    Ireland isn’t alone in this. International Family Planning Perspectives found in 1999 that abortion rates are no lower overall in areas where abortion is generally restricted by law (and where many abortions are performed under unsafe conditions) than in areas where abortion is legally permitted.

    Maca,
    “I’m not going to put myself out just because I was born male.”

    If you believe trying to reduce the level of fear you induce in women puts you out Maca then maybe you should reconsider what is important to you in life.

  • maca

    Thing is George, I don’t believe me or the average male induces fear in the average woman. If so surely i’d be seeing a lot more nervous women about, unwilling to even make eye contact when you meet them on the street. A single woman on a dark empty street I can understand being scared but those are rare enough occassions and also in those cases anyone, male or female, could feel nervous.

  • George

    Maca,
    have you ever been in a situation as an adult with a woman on your own when you have been afraid of her? Honesty rather humour required in your answer. Both if possible.

    I think it’s safe to say that virtually every woman has been in a situation where a man has instilled genuine fear in her, intentional or otherwise.

    This is the type of society we live in and unless men accept that, things will never change.

  • Davros

    George writes : “However, what the pro-choice movement wants in Ireland is very basic and addresses the needs of middle-class women in a relationship more than it does the majority of women who actually have abortions – single, in fear, poor.”

    Good point and one savagely made by the Late Spike Milligan in this poem, Unto Us…

  • trish

    Thanks George for saying things more eloquently than I was managing!

    And jumping back a few posts, of course 90% of men are lovely human beings that’d never hurt a woman, and I get upset with feminist messages that suggest otherwise. It’s the small percentage that get around that cause trouble.

  • maca

    George
    “I think it’s safe to say that virtually every woman has been in a situation where a man has instilled genuine fear in her, intentional or otherwise.”

    Bit of an exaggeration I think but just my own opinion.
    I’m sure it’s also the case where many men have been in a situation where they feared another man, naturally considering the amount of scum bags and druggies you can find about town on any given weekend. It’s also the fact that there are many men who are abused either physically or emotionally by women.
    So do we all go around fearing each other? Do we all cross the street when we meet another human being?

  • joanne dunlop

    Ah, I’ve figured it out now. Everything that anyone says that Maca doesn’t agree with is “ridiculous”. Got it.

    George, thanks for clarifying. Definitely some interesting points – and indeed my own experiences with abortion have mostly been among middle-class women, so I guess I need to remind myself of that. Not that I only know middle-class women, but somehow abortion seems more of an acceptable option in those circles.

  • joanne dunlop

    Oh, and this:

    “I think it’s safe to say that virtually every woman has been in a situation where a man has instilled genuine fear in her, intentional or otherwise.”

    is no exaggeration at all. Not that I walk around thinking that every man I pass on the street is going to try to rape me, and I certainly don’t like admitting it, but yes, men have scared the shit out of me on occasion.

  • Davros
  • maca

    “Ah, I’ve figured it out now. Everything that anyone says that Maca doesn’t agree with is “ridiculous”. Got it.”

    You obviously have NOT figured it out Joanne if that’s your conclusion. And I suspect you never will figure it out.
    I notice that rather than actually tackle the points raised you prefer to have a go at me. Says a lot.

  • maca

    Thanks for the link Davros. *Interesting* read although there’s much that a disagree with.

  • Davros

    You might not think so Maca, but Colonel Blink, disgusted of Tunbridge Wells is considering a letter to the Daily Telegraph!

  • maca

    I’ll be looking out for that 😉

  • joanne dunlop

    “I notice that rather than actually tackle the points raised you prefer to have a go at me. Says a lot.”

    I notice that you completely ignore the fact that I’ve spent the entire thread addressing your points more than anyone elses and having my responses dismissed or picked apart and used as petty insults against me. Says a lot.

  • maca

    “I notice that you completely ignore the fact that I’ve spent the entire thread addressing your points”

    Then re-read the thread.
    And you complain about petty insults!

    I’m not interested in a bickering match. Back on topic if you want to continue the discussion.

  • DCB

    Joanne – I would not assume that at 20 you have 3 decades of fertility.

    I’ve a mate who had an abortion at 19 and is at 30 having serious dificulties getting pregnant, the two are most probably not connected. But it still is a very open wound

  • DCB

    Plus, this isn’t the talkback board, maybe I’m just blind but I can’t see any fundementalist christains here

  • joanne dunlop

    DCB – I don’t assume that I have 30 years fertility, just that’s it’s possible, and quite probable, that I do. I’d prefer if I didn’t since I don’t want to have children anyway, so infertility would not be a big concern for me unless it was a part of a more serious medical condition (which it probably would be). (Oh, and that is not an invitation for anyone to question why I don’t want children. That’s no one’s business but mine. And no, I don’t hate children either. I know no one’s said anything, but I’ve had this debate so many times and I’m not having it again here.)

    Maca, I’d rather not continue a discussion with you as you’re not actually discussing anything, are you? Even the other pro-lifers are attempting to say something interesting.

  • maca

    Broken record, Joanne.

  • Ged

    One of the reasons I am so strongly opposed to abortion is because it is a form of sexual violence- and therefore similar in some important ways to rape and child molestation.

    Abortion is a form of violence because it involves hurting an innocent fetus. Here is a definition of violence from http://www.dictionary.com: “Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing.”

    Abortion is sexual because the support for it is driven by a desire to engage in sexual intercourse without concern for the possible procreative consequences of the action. Studies show that the vast majority of abortions are done on unborn babies who were created as a result of sexual intercourse that was engaged in despite the fact that at least one of the two participants was not ready for the birth of a child. In other words, the willing participants put their own interest in engaging in sexual intercourse above the fetus’ right to bodily autonomy.

  • Jim

    Abortion is murder, FACT!

    http://www.abortionismurder.co.uk