Abortion issue resurfaces

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has launched a 13-point plan to have abortion legalised in the Irish Republic, under the motto ‘Safe and Legal in Ireland’.

Strangely, while the 6,000 Irish women who travel to Britain and further afield annually to have abortions are discussed, there is no mention, in the press release at least (it was brought up before), of the supposed growing number of backstreet abortions carried out for those within the new immigrant community, who don’t have the funds to travel or are afraid to leave the jurisdiction for fear of not being allowed back in.

There is also no mention of the illegal sale of the RU486 pill on the streets of Dublin to the Chinese community especially.

the IFPA is calling for the removal of of Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution and says that abortion is a decision that should be made by a woman in consultation with her medical advisor.

Article 40.3.3 states: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

RTE reports that the campaign will include seeking meetings with the leaders of each political party to lobby them to change the current laws.

Also, the Association is supporting three Irish women who have had abortions abroad and who are now taking a case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The women say their human rights were breached by not being allowed have an abortion in Ireland.

Anti-abortion group Youth Defence tried to break into the press conference and IFPA’s Ivana Bacik, who ran for the European Parliament with Labour, said this is just the latest in a series of aggresive tactics against her and the organisation.

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Alan,

    Sorry hadn’t a chance to read your riposte.

    I understand and that there has historically been a distinction between abortion and murder. The Offences against the Person Act refers to it as a misdemeanour and it has never been viewed in the same category as homicide. I think that the distinction is probably merited.

    I accept that the emphasis has differed but there is a pretty strong consensus historically that abortion was wrong.

    In relation to the sciptures, I’m afraid I am not of the school which argues that if it is not in the bible it must be alright.That is a peculiar product of the sola scriptura approach in the Reformation and one of its less welcome legacies.All sorts of difficult issues are not covered in the Bible and one has to understand the end and purpose of the commandments and the moral law to reach a conclusion I think you have to look at a rather wider varity of sources… natural law, the fathers of the Church the historical teaching of the church (or tradition properly understood) as well as medical and other sciences. You appear to have a fairly eclectic approach yourself which is a reasonable start.

    Even if one accepts that a foetus does not completely fulfil the definition of person then one is still dealing with something that is absolutely unique and something that cannot be treated with anything but profound respect.It does not follow that because you dont accept that the foetus is a person then you are free to discard it as a mere amalgamation of cells

  • Alan McDonald

    Rethinking,

    Thanks for the feedback. I think we’ve exhausted the historical background of abortion. Now, let’s go forward from here and now.

    My approach in discussing political issues is to ask “What is it that you want to change?” Here in the US, we have the Roe v. Wade decision that many want to change. In Ireland, there is the constitutional article. In Northern Ireland, I’m not sure what there is, but I’m guessing that normal UK law does not apply based on all the parties being, essentially, anti-abortion.

    The change envisioned in the US must entail re-criminalizing abortion. This would be quite a shock after a generation of legal abortions. It raises the question, how is the crime of abortion handled where it is illegal? Is there criminal legislation in Ireland to enforce the article in the constitution? What do they do in Northern Ireland? What do other countries do to deter abortion through criminal laws?

    Kitty,

    I agree that the Bush administration does not really care about most of the social agenda issues they appear to support and that its all politics. Bush insiders are extremely well off and will always be able to obtain abortions for their wives/children/paramours even if they have to leave the country to do it. Sounds a lot like Ireland!

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Alan,

    Abortion in the North is still handled under the Offence Agfainst the Person Act. As I mentioned previously it is not regarded as homicide. The 1967 Act does not apply and we have our own guidelines for when abortion is legal(the usual exceptions. mothers life etc).In the South the matter is dealt with in the Costitution, but even here following the X case there are exceptions when the mothers physical or mental s health is threatened.

    My big problem with Roe and Wade is that it approaches the issue as one of privacy and esssentially enshrines choice.Abortion therfore becomes simply a differnt form of contraceptuion and the foetus is afforded no protection whatsover If it were repealed there would still need to be laws which governed abortion.

  • Alan McDonald

    Thanks, Rethinking, for filling me in on the legal situation over there. You are right that Roe v. Wade is based on privacy rights. It was a supreme court decision that pre-empted state laws. When it was decided in 1973, some US state permitted abortion while others criminalized it.

    The political climate since then has focused on restricting access to legal abortions (mostly through economic pressures like not funding abortions or even abortion counseling for poor women, and boycotting doctors who provide abortions). As Kitty points out, most of the partisan political posturing around abortion is just for the purpose of getting votes from single-issue voters.

    If Roe v. Wade is overturned by a new, more conservative supreme court, the issue will move back to the states. Advocates on both sides are already preparing for this, and you will see the checkerboard approach return with the possibility of 50 different abortion laws in the 50 states.

  • Rethinking Uniuonism

    Alan I can understand the desire not to have a patchwork quilt of different laws. I also suspect that overturning Roe will not that be easy as it has been established law for over 30 years. As I said my difficulty is in making abortion a human right ot approaching it in the consumerist language of choice. From afar it does seem that most are uncomfortable in dealing with it from that angle. For all the inadequacies and loopholes of the 1967 Act in England it was predicated on the protection of women and trying to prevent back street abortion. It seems to me that you get into a lot of diffculties from the “choice” angle because it appears like a lifestyle option which most people instinctively recoil from

    I would be interested to here your views on whether the Democrats are going to have to change the framework of their approach to the issue of abortion before they tempt back a fairly sizeable number of key voters in the “fly over” states.

  • Alan McDonald

    This will be a quick answer, Rethinking, with more to come.

    Re: whether the Democrats are going to have to change the framework of their approach to the issue of abortion

    Yes.

  • Colm

    Isn’t abortion in reality a choice now both in the UK and US. Regardless of the wording of the law in the UK I doubt if there are any cases where a woman is denied an abortion where she insists on having one.

  • kitty

    @I would be interested to here your views on whether the Democrats are going to have to change the framework of their approach to the issue of abortion before they tempt back a fairly sizeable number of key voters in the “fly over” states.’

    Hillary Clinton has already changed her discourse on the abortion issue, in anticipation I suppose, of her run for the presidency. That does not necessarily mean she has changed her mind, but she has changed the discourse.
    You will find this trend recently in the US Deomcratic party. It is an obvious decision by the hierarchy of the party – to change the tone of their policy so that it appeals to the red states and the more religious consitituents.
    Again, if I can recommend the book ‘Whats the Matter with Kansas’ to anyone interested in what has happened in US politics, and why these ‘moral issues’ have become the deciding factor in the voting trends.
    Some frightening yet amusing stuff.

  • Rethinking Unionism

    Is the core of the problem not the focus (nay obsession)on choice.? When Clinton stated abortion should be “safe legal and rare” he implicitly undermined the choice concept. Hilary has continued with this theme and sooner or later the edifice on which Roe was built will crumble. You cannot have a serious moral debate within the consumerist langusage of choice.It seems to me that Democrats in making Roe a litmus test for the Supreme Court have done exactly what they accuse Republicans of..single issue politics. Why have they made pro life democrats an oxymoron…there were people like Gov Casey in Pennsylvania who once styled themselves such and yet now it has become an issue on which no card carrying Democrat can have an alternative view.Why are they then surprised when large numbers of voters feel they cannot in conscience vote Democrat despite their sympathy with many Democrat policies.Getting rid of Roe could be the best thing that has happened to the Democratic party in decades.

  • kitty

    ‘there were people like Gov Casey in Pennsylvania who once styled themselves such and yet now it has become an issue on which no card carrying Democrat can have an alternative view.Why are they then surprised when large numbers of voters feel they cannot in conscience vote Democrat despite their sympathy with many Democrat policies.Getting rid of Roe could be the best thing that has happened to the Democratic party in decades.’

    First, great blog Rethinking Unionism.
    I think you have hit the nail on the head about the voters and why they feel they can’t vote dems.
    The bigger point is, that this is because of brilliant political and discursive manipulation by the republican party. The FACT of the matter is, that they are neither interested nor convinced that the overturning of Roe v Wade is going to happen anytime soon- however they have convinced red state constituents that they have it within their power to do so. In addition, even if it is overturned there will be states which will provide abortion and those that will not.
    As for the Democrats, as I said you hit the nail on the head- which is exactly why they appear to be changing their discourse on these matters. Howard Dean( not sure what his title is other than Governor- perhaps Chairman of the party) has made this the priority of the party. Changing the discourse and the image of the party- from an elitist prochoice ‘liberal’ ( which has becoe a dirty word in US politics) party to a party in touch with the common man- a party with varying views on the issue- and that is to appeal to the swing states which have put the Republicans in the White house.
    If you search for recent statements of Hillary Clinton’s on abortion you will see that this new policy has in fact been put into effect.
    As to overall US policies- the tide is turning- see Ohio election result of recent weeks. War is largely unpopular, economy is so- so despite the figures that Wall street pumps out, the Dow has stayed ( with ups and downs) for the past year at the 10,500 mark-confidence in the war and economy will be the big issues in the next mid-terms. I predict big republican loses, but that could be wishful thinking!!
    Cheers.