Assembly buries head in sand

Before they discussed the AWB, the Assembly had a lengthy debate yesterday on the Department of Health’s draft guidelines on termination of pregnancy. The motion, proposed by the DUP’s Iris Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson both of whom made reference to this petition, opposed “the introduction of the proposed guidelines on the termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland; believes that the guidelines are flawed; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to abandon any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland.” After the second half of the debate the Assembly resolved, without a recorded vote, in favour of the motion. Leaving the Health Minister to re-draft guidelines which took 3 years to draft and which the Department, after a lengthy court battle, had to be instructed by a High Court ruling to produce. However, despite the expressed concerns of various MLAs during the debate, the legislation involved is a reserved matter and, as such, the proposed guidelines do not, as some argued, change the legal position here on this issue.The MLAs resolved the following

Question, That the amendment be made, put and negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved:

That this Assembly opposes the introduction of the proposed guidelines on the termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland; believes that the guidelines are flawed; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to abandon any attempt to make abortion more widely available in Northern Ireland.

Sending the Health Minister back to the drawing board.. [Have the NI Human Rights Commission got anything to say? – Ed]

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  • Granni Trixie

    Abortion is contentious within political parties and voting suicide hence public debate on the subject tends to be stiffled in NI. Whilst acknowledging that morally/politically it is relevant to men and women, I also think that this will remain the case as long as men dominate political parties (and the fourth estate!).

  • Alex Swan

    It seems we are british with british rights only when it suits the DUP

  • There were some truly apalling speeches in the Assembly yesterday; according to Tom Buchanan, women getting an abortion are like Nazis shovelling Jews into the ovens at Auschwitz. Yes, of course Tom, flighty women get abortions for a laugh because they can’t control their base lusts. Nice stereotype.

    It’s a bit like my one that DUP politicians are a shower of semi-literate, self-righteous, hate-filled bigots who are obsessed with shoving their 17th Century morality down other people’s throats… oh, sorry, Tom actually confirms that stereotype.

    It’s a pity that other crises meant this shite didn’t get more coverage in the media, it might make a few people realise that they need to get off their arses and make it clear to their MLAs that many people in this country take a less restrictive pro-life or actively pro-choice position. You would be surprised how many of our elected representatives would change their tune on this subject if they didn’t get 10,000 postcards from the Ustashe and two letters from members of the Family Planning Association every time it came up.

    I’d guess there are maybe 6-10 overtly pro-choice MLAs, and probably the same again who would be against any form of abortion on demand but would favour some expansion of the welfare and health grounds in which abortion is already permitted in Northern Ireland. There might be more as I suspect a fair minority of the SF MLAs take a more liberal approach in private but their party policy currently forces them into voting for the status quo.

    I actually think that a hell of a lot more than 10-18% of the population here would favour either limited or total relaxation of the abortion laws. I therefore don’t buy into the idea that being pro-choice is political suicide. There is a huge gap in the political market for people prepared to stand up and be counted on this issue – although you would have to put up with serious abuse (late night phone calls, pickets on your house, random weirdos hurling abuse at you on the street) from the Gerry McGeough fan club, sorry, I mean Precious Life.

    Then again, maybe as long as Easyjet flights to Glasgow are cheaper than a night out and the NHS pays the abortion bills, people can keep their head down and pretend that they don’t need to take on the Ustashe-Orange coalition. Anything for a quiet life, and it won’t be my daughter who’ll sneak off on her own, terrified, to a clinic in Scotland at the age of 17 anyway.

    Disgusted of BT15.

  • Ahem

    What a boring snob you are Sammy. Oh (Church of Ireland) God (in heaven), will the day ever come when APNI types wake up and understand that people can disagree with them without being monsters, cf the spittle flecked rant above?

    Quite relaxed about abortion being legal of BT49
    [Not Darth, obviously]

  • Ermintrude

    I don’t know if I can even find the energy to keep on being appalled at the gutlessness of our politicians. Maybe that’s how they get away with it.

    We have a situation where a comfortably off couple who get inconveniently pregnant have an abortion, while a homeless teenage rape victim has a baby. No-one, whatever their views on abortion, can possibly think this is a good thing. Abortion on demand, but only for the wealthy and well-organised, is indefensible. And this is what our MLAs are defending when they scurry, shuddering, away from any examination of the issue.

    I think it’s probably true that the public here takes a more nuanced view than it’s given credit for, but I doubt that hypothesis will be tested for a very long time.

  • brendan,belfast

    I thought the ‘right on’ Shinners were pro women / pro choice. they certainly are down south.

    ermintude – good to see you standing up for the homeless teenage rape victim. how about the HTRV’s baby?

  • missfitz

    Actually, I think that they are probably reading the mood of the electorate correctly on this subject.

    Northern Ireland is a very conservative place, and abortion is one of those subjects that makes people very twitchy. I did a few posts here on Slugger some months back following one of the cases in the South, and the vitriol I received personally was incredible, both on and off line. Any time Susan McKay writes about it in the Irish News, there is a deluge of letters declaiming her in the paper as well.

    I was talking about this to someone recently, and I am of the opinion that when we migrate to our less sectarian future, people like Paisley will be appealing to an unimagined audience by virtue of his uber conservative views on sexuality and abortion. I have heard catholics whisper their admiration of their views on abortion, and it will only be a matter of time before we see right and left wings emerging here (hopefully)

    So, while it may look like the same old same old from the Assembly, I reckon they truly speak in the name of the people on this issue.

    We could always test it with a referendum. Look how successful that was down south!

  • OK, as a resident of Northern Ireland, the rights that you would expect from a normal 21st Century democracy can be guaranteed from one source and and one source only….and that’s Westminster. Wake up Sammy.

  • Pete Baker

    miss fitz

    They weren’t discussing changing the law.

    They were just opposing further discussion on draft guidelines that they had been forced by the courts to publish.

  • Even the Alliance shy away from this issue leaving it “as a matter of conscience”. My conscience says that it’s a disgrace for young women to be forced to run off to Liverpool or London in order to have abortions. While I strongly disagree with idiots using abortion as a form of contraception (there are far better and less painful options) the Assembly position on abortion is apallingly backward this is the 21st century.

  • What a boring snob you are Sammy. Oh (Church of Ireland) God (in heaven), will the day ever come when APNI types wake up and understand that people can disagree with them without being monsters, cf the spittle flecked rant above?

    Don’t talk shite.

    People obviously have the right to disagree with me (but it is your form to assume that I think they can’t); and there is an entirely reasonable pro-life case to be made. It was made by (say) John McCallister or Carmel Hanna.

    It wasn’t made by Tom Buchanan badly reading out a speech that said:

    “As we look back, we cringe at the number of Jews who were gassed or murdered by Hitler, and rightly so, yet in today’s so-called civilised society, we witnessed 200,000 abortions across the UK last year, which is 600 a week and 50 to 60 children an hour”

    That’s right, anyone who supports any relaxation of the current abortion law is a Nazi and a mass muderer! And of course, anyone who responds to being called a Nazi and a mass murderer is a ‘snob’.

    And why is this Auschwitz taking place…

    “Virtually none of those abortions are performed on women who become pregnant through rape or incest, or because the babies are unhealthy or handicapped or because those pregnancies may cause a threat to the life or health of the mother.”

    That’s right, flighty little floozies getting abortions for frivolous reasons because of their debased lusts leading them into trouble. They were probably drunk when they did it as well.

    So twats like Buchanan perpetuate a situation where the abortion rate (which no-one really knows) in Northern Ireland seems to be higher than that in some abortion-on-demand countries like Holland and Belgium, and where working-class women are effectively denied reproductive health options that middle-class women get access to (albeit often at great personal cost) by going to Scotland, England or Holland.

    But I’m the snob?

    Oh, and use your normal user name. You never change your writing style anyway.

  • OK, as a resident of Northern Ireland, the rights that you would expect from a normal 21st Century democracy can be guaranteed from one source and and one source only….and that’s Westminster

    So why didn’t they extend the 1967 Act during 26 years of unimpeded direct rule. An Act which, despite the vitriol I’m going to receive, I think is insufficiently restrictive.

    Actually, I think that they are probably reading the mood of the electorate correctly on this subject.

    Do you really think that over four-fifths of the electorate are opposed to any liberalisation of the abortion law?

    As for the abuse people get, that’s a direct result of the propaganda pushed by people like Tom Buchanan going unchallenged. If you spend years telling people their political opponents are Nazis, you’re going to see some fairly unpleasant opinions expressed. Not to mention schools and church groups pushing propaganda like The Silent Scream.

    Some years ago, I got into a little tussle with some of the pro-life lot about the Brook Clinic appearing at a community event. The irony then was that I was at that stage in life opposed to abortion in most circumstances, probably holding a position not terribly different from the current legal position in NI in fact, and the issue was a simple freedom of speech one for me. Over a decade later, one of these loonies still feels he has the right to hurl abuse at me – often quite literally spittle-flecked – on the street.

    But at the end of the day, are you going to roll over and play dead because of this lot?

  • missfitz

    Pete
    Please don’t lecture me in a condescending manner. I am aware of the substance of the debate, and I have made my contribution to the wider context of the issues concerned.

    Thank you

  • Pete Baker

    miss fitz

    Sorry if you thought I was patronising in my comment, that was not the intention.

    I was just attempting to clarify what the actual discussion in the Assembly was about.

    Not the same old same old, but actually a retrograde step from where they had been forced to be by the courts.

  • DC

    The same Iris Robinson who declared that integrated education feeds off sectarianism! Yeah Iris, the same way police feed off crime ffs.

    Jeffrey Donaldson! Number 1 career politician, who knew the UUP boat would sink under the weight of GFA transitions, only for him to jump to the DUP to ensure he wouldn’t lose his seat and the means by which to get his voice heard; only for him to re-operate under the very same form of governance which the DUP and he condemned.

    Political scoundrels the pair of them and if what Pete suggests is true then they are both merely flying in the face of a predetermined policy which is in need of guidelines.

    Such people of great integrity. Feed us more moralism please – aye catch yourselves on.

    Besides, the health service should be accessible to all with each case having the chance to be put to a professional doctor and considered on an individual basis. Where’s the equality in all this, eh? The opportunity to avail of the Health service in itself is hardly an inticement to do as one pleases as it can be a very intrusive enivronment and one likely to encourage better protection next time round.

    And moreover, if the morning after pill wasn’t so damn expensive and itself quite restrictive then this may well help to cut down on state intrusion into people’s sex lives. Those individuals who wish to access the health service have to countenance certain political-cohorts’ moralism in such an overbearing way that disproportionately affects their chances of accessing good medical care and leaves a stigmatism on them in certain quarters even if they get that chance.

    The voting bloc in N Ireland is conservative, that’s agreed; but then it would be the same receptive parties that if politically expedient would wish to castigate homosexuals and bi-sexuals and so on and so forth.

    More state moralism, nah you’re alright, just give us all access to services which other UK citizens seem to be able to get local access to.

  • The Raven

    I had to watch my then-girlfriend get on a plane at the age of 21 to go to England for an abortion about 13 years ago.

    The lies we told. The sneaking around we did to get money to pay for it all. To this day, I don’t know how we “got away with it”…how our respective parents never found out.

    It is with some considerable sadness that I find that the political attitude to this has not changed in that time.

    We can get the Chuckle brothers around a table. Get the guns off the street (mostly).

    But offer abortion to people who frankly (and I talk about herself and I here) were too immature to consider bringing up a baby, at a time when careers were starting, when we had no money, when we would still have been marked out as social pariahs, and when ultimately, we had no idea if we’d still be together as a couple six months hence? That isn’t possible?

    There are those who would take a “did-the-crime-do-the-time” line on this. I don’t want to get into the rights and wrongs of what we did. I probably shouldn’t even be posting this stuff, but hey – the site offers a certain anonymity, and I can bear the slings and arrows of whatever criticism follows from afar.

    But I really wish – right or wrong as it may have been – that we could have done what we did without an 800 mile round trip, and that some form of support other than the Samaritans, bless them, had been there.

    Apologies if I have transgressed any site rules by getting personal about this.

  • Pete Baker

    Not at all, Raven.

    Thank you.

    Your personal testimony is a very welcome intrusion of the reality of the circumstances of individuals who find themselves compromised by this debate.

  • middle-class ****

    Sammy

    “Oh, and use your normal user name. You never change your writing style anyway.”

    Just in case you mean me, despite the uncanny similarity of declared email addresses, Ahem and I are different people. Ahem, I assume no confusion was intended, or was “spittle flecked” an homage to the recent contretemps between Sammy and I. (Feel free to tell me that you’ve got a life and have no interest in our arcane squabbles.)

    From my perspective, I think Ahem’s criticism of you was intermperate, yet understandable. I think the issue is one on which people rarely give of their best, because the tendency is always to see (and, worse, to portray) the other side of the debate as unfeeling monsters – as Mr Buchanan did in the Assembly. Disappointingly, you criticise Buchanan, seemingly without a sense of irony, yet in the same breadth call down your outrageous UstaÅ¡e calumny upon the heads of pro-lifers.

    Personally, I’m pro-life, but certainly not unthinkingly or un-nuancedly so. I have genuine respect for those whose views on this issue are informed by compassion for both lives concerned. I just generally hear those views coming more from the pro-life side of the debate. Not an easy position for a lefty – many close friends think of me as a kind of “one-issue Antichrist”. Some former close friends are no longer close friends due to discussions on this issue.

    I’m not sure whether I prefer the law here or in the south, but I sure as hell prefer them both to the situation where a 24 week-old British child can be destroyed. I certainly don’t have any definitive answer on how a democratic, yet compassionate and culturally-Christian society should address this issue, but I think that starting from a point where our opponents are, ipso facto, fascists is neither helpful, nor mature.

    As for the argument that we should change our laws because neighbouring countries have different laws affording a lower level of protection to the unborn, I think that’s a staggeringly weak, intellectually lazy and unprincipled position. Pragmatism is not always admirable, particularly where it relates to the taking of children’s lives.

    This is one area where I think our society does better than other societies, and where public policy and law reflect the mood, belief and policy preference of the populace. I can understand why some people are dissatisfied with that. So, organise, campaign, persuade. Don’t just call those who disagree with you fascists and have done with it.

    Raven

    Thanks for sharing. In honesty, I’m not sure that I think our society should have allowed you to take another life, however early on in that life, however traumatic you found the prospect of parenthood and social opprobrium, simply because taking responsibility for that life would have been inconvenient for you from a career perspective, or because you considered yourself insufficiently mature to take such responsibility (a curously mature analysis).

    However, “do the crime, do the time” is, of course, a hopelessly un-compassionate attitude to this issue. Having helped a close friend and her boyfriend through this horror at university (and, I hope, maintaining some measure of both integrity and compassion thoughout), I can only sympathise with what must have been an uncomfortable position. However, sometimes it is the role of the state to take such decisions out of our hands. I don’t think it’s really so bad that there’s one country in Western Europe where the unborn child is afforder at least in-principle protected against those in such positions of discomfort.

    Not an easy one at all….

  • DC

    “However, sometimes it is the role of the state to take such decisions out of our hands.”

    Perhaps out of our hands, but it doesn’t go further, like an all encompassing entity, and bring it up on the individual’s behalf.

    You are describing an end outcome to an input that isn’t commensurate with the belief that you hold around conception in that moralism is the driver behind it when ultimately it is natures curse in the throes of young life or early adulthood where the brain’s development is left in second place to sexual development.

    Christian moralism is not necessarily what drove the desires and to apply it retrospectively upon individuals who themselves have no desire to pursue such thoughts leads to the opinion that it is a battle for Christian supremacy insides the individual’s minds.

  • DC

    And the primacy of the female is the reason for emphasis on the primacy of the individual in providing the reason around the definitive decision.

  • veritas

    I fail to see how it took 3 years to draft these guidelines-given that he is only in post 5 months,they are so vague they could be interpreted to mean anything-constructive ambiguity raising it’s head again.Dr Deeneys contribution to the debate was most informative,the interpretation of guidelines in England have led to de facto abortion on demand.incidently marie stopes had a vision that allowing the poor or uneducated to have children weakened the species, exactly the kind of eugenics that the nazis subscribed to.Watch out Al Gore will be advocating euthanasia and abortion to save our planet from environmental calamity caused by over population.

  • middle-class ****

    DC

    Genuinely, some of that went over my head. I’m not sure what you meant by your first sentence and your second post.

    As regards you second sentence, conception is not a curse for the child conceived. You simply choose to disregard that child’s interests. I cannot respect such a position. I think you are trying to decry my position as one based on moralism – nothing could be further from the truth. I haven’t a moralistic bone in my body. My position is based on a balance of compassion, and a recognition of competing, and difficult-to-reconcile interests.

    As to to your third sentence, again, if you choose to decry and dismiss my position as “moralism”, this cannot be anything other than a sterile, hostile debate; a mere exchange of conclusions. Up to you, but no-one admires the attacker of straw men.

    I’m not seeking to impose any Christian precepts upon the parents of unborn. My view is simply not informed by Christian principles. I’m a big believer in pluralism. Instead, I’m saying that the parents have interests and the child has interests, and the State must protect both those interests to the extent possible. To my mind, it will be in rare occasions that the interests of the parents (financial security, physical well-being, mental health, social standing, ambition, convenience) will outweigh that of the child (existence).

    Is that really such a difficult position to respect that it must alwasy be dismissed as Christian moralism?

  • 0b101010

    Feel compelled to agree with MCT on one point: I genuinely can’t understand what DC is waxing so poetically about in those last few comments. Assuming DC is actually is; about something; whatever that may be.

    Dismissing positions on abortions as moralistic is redundant, because that’s really the bulk of the argument. The fundamental problem is when and why you draw a line during the time between (even) a half-cell and a full kid pushed out into the world.

  • IJP

    ahem

    Nothing to do with APNI.

    I disagree with Sammy‘s comments on the issue, although I agree entirely about the standard of contribution (low from Buchanan, high from Hanna, etc).

    And can we stop this “pro-life”/”pro-choice” rubbish? It’s “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    IJP, the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” descriptions amount to an attempt to try to make the debate more civilized, so that people don’t have to be called “anti-” anything. Otherwise, the pro-choice folks would want to refer to those who disagree with them as “anti-choice” and as such portray their opponents as authoritarian. I appreciate that this probably seems a bit twee, but trying to set parameters for civilized conversation seems to be necessary in this particular debate as it doesn’t take long for the respective sides to become entrenched in a nasty slanging match. Let’s see how far we get with this thread.

    I find the contradictions on the pro-life side of things to be the most interesting part of these discussions. I’m not characterizing anyone on this thread, but the people you hear foaming at the mouth on this matter are the same people foaming at the mouth about single mothers on welfare, supporting the death penalty, etc. I also feel that if people are going to take the view that life is precious and must be preserved from the moment of conception, surely that continues to apply after the child is actually born.

    Personally I tend to slavishly avoid dealing with the question of abortion. I think most people do not agree with a free-for-all abortion on demand situation (as Sammy Morse says, the 1967 act is too liberal here), and as such I’d suggest that the first step is to ensure proper education and availability of support concerning family planning etc, so that people resort to abortion less and less. As a society we also need to look at why teenage pregnancies are occurring at greater frequency, and why there seems to be a correlation between this and poverty/educational underachievement.

    On another note, immediately when anyone compares anything to the Nazis (often the same people who carelessly use phrases like “ethnic cleansing” with no regard to the circumstances where the term was first coined) I switch off, as that person has kindly informed me that they aren’t mature or informed enough to make an intelligent contribution.

  • Dawkins

    Comrade Stalin,

    Well said. I rather prefer the terms pro- and anti-choice for the reasons you outline.

    IJP,

    Your suggestion won’t fly and here’s why. I’ve never met — nor should I wish to meet — anyone who’s pro-abortion. No one actually wants abortion. It’s a distasteful procedure, especially when performed at a late stage of pregnancy.

    Unfortunately it’s necessary at times — as is the shutting down of a life-support system or any number of medical procedures. Yet abortion remains a choice.

    Better I think to go with pro- and anti-choice.

  • DC

    “I’m not sure what you meant by your first sentence and your second post.”

    First sentence – was meant to ask how come you would wish for the State, as a service provider, to take a decision ‘out of the hands’ of someone i.e. the woman/couple, yet fail to understand that the State cannont of itself bring the child up on its behalf and in line with good stated ethics.

    The whole ‘State removing the right to medical advice’ is a very high handed approach in an environment where choice should not be restricted based on ethics of certain groups, usually based on moralism, sorry to say that word but heck ah well.

    Second post, the waxing was over the decision resting ultimately with the female in the end, and having the chance to a choice of her wish in the end.

    You pro-lifers seem to want having this choice to abort removed from the woman due to a certain moralism based on Christian ethics.

    “As a society we also need to look at why teenage pregnancies are occurring at greater frequency, and why there seems to be a correlation between this and poverty/educational underachievement.”

    In a society where you can get a bag of Es for less than the morning after pill, is it any wonder why moralism is so out of sync as it is clearly trying to gate a horse that has bolted along time ago. Those that advocate pro-life are oblivious to the complexities in certain areas of society; but they also seem to think that their views are ubiquitous and having a necessity to block other people’s wishes.

    Having the choice to abort will not lead to this upsurge of want-to-abort but will allow those who have decided on this view to take get it taken closer to home.

  • Rory

    As a young man my views on abortion were largely formed by an American blockbuster novel of the 60’s then popular called The Cardinal by, I think, a fellow called Henry Robinson, which chronicles the rise of a lad from a genteel impoverished Irish working class family in Chicago from altar boy to Prince of the Church in Rome.

    An early chapter has the hero as a newly ordained priest visiting his sister in hospital where she is being delivered of a baby. But there are problems – the baby’s head is too big (or somesuch) and it is too late for a Caesarian so if the birth is allowed to continue the mother will certainly die and the child might just survive. The surgeons propose to crush the baby’s skull to ensure the mother’s life but the mother refuses (with her brother’s blessing) reasoning thus: If a decision is taken to crush the baby’s skull it is an act of the wilful taking taking of a human life, but if the mother (and possibly the child also) die as a result of allowing the birth to continue then any resulting death will be as a consequence of God’s Holy Will. And, hey! who knows, miracles can always happen.

    Now this is a wonderful uplifting moral argument and I gladly took it own as my own, my little heart bursting with fervour my mind giddy with my nobility of thought, my eyes no doubt shining with the righteous fervour which I have since come to identify with utter priggishness and not a pretty sight at all.

    Time and exposure to reality have since taught me that if I feel that abortion is wrong then I might in conscience advise a woman against it if she asks, but only if she asks, for my advice. If however my advice is rejected then in conscience and certainly if I am to exercise any of my remaining vestiges of Christian love, it becomes my duty to help her ensure that she is able to exercise her choice to have that termination with the least harm to her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. It is not my job to be the arbiter of someone else’s conscience or attempt to impose my own idea of morality, which is hard enough to live up to, on someone else.

    And of course, believe it or not, I am not a woman. Now while it is fine for me as a social animal to insist that women observe the Highway Code, for example, and don’t run around knocking over old gents like me in their Ford Kas just for fun I may do so because the corolloray is that men obey the same discipline. But pregnancy and childbirth are outside even my renowned renaissance man capabilities so really it’s best I think that I leave it to the women – not to decide for other women – but to choose individually as their circumstances and individual formed conscience allows.

  • Dawkins

    Rory,

    “But pregnancy and childbirth are outside even my renowned renaissance man capabilities so really it’s best I think that I leave it to the women – not to decide for other women – but to choose individually as their circumstances and individual formed conscience allows.”

    Would that all men thought as you do. Too many men don’t trust a grown-up woman to make her own decisions — and they ain’t all Muslims.

  • joeCanuck

    Very well said Rory.

    I saw that movie too and felt somewhat like you did, only to change my mind too.

  • Rory

    “Would that all men thought as you do. Too many men don’t trust a grown-up woman to make her own decisions…”

    Thank you, Dawkins. Very flattering but I think that the judicious application of Herself’s frying-pan round me lug-hole from time to time was perhaps the most influential factor on my education in such matters.

  • Dawkins

    LOL @ Rory :0)

  • Ermintrude

    If public attitudes to abortion here are so different to those across the water, I wonder why. Obviously we’ve got particularly loud religious leaders, but ordinary people don’t seem to be much more bound by religious scruples here than they are in Scotland or England. We act pretty much the same as regards everything else that churches frown upon, don’t we?

    A friend from England came over to study medicine at Queen’s recently. In a tutorial, the class of would-be doctors were asked to raise their hand if they thought women should be able to have an abortion. He was the only one in the group not from these parts. He was really taken aback to find himself the only one raising his hand.

    Local people who hear this story are never at all surprised. That makes it even harder to know what was really going on – at eighteen, I’m not sure if I’d have had the balls to put my hand up, whatever I thought, because I would have known how much hostility it would have exposed me to.

    I think what people say publicly about abortion here often doesn’t bear much relation to what they think and do in private. Most of the time, from my point of view, this is a good thing, because it lets people behave more flexibly than you might expect. When the time comes for politicians to discuss the actual law, though, there must be huge pressure for everyone to say what they think everyone else thinks. Really, who knows? Does anyone know if there has been any reliable information collected on this?

  • Not an easy one at all….

    @MCT

    Now I have absolutely no problem with your own contribution; abortion isn’t an easy issue. Like both Rory and JoeCanuck, I have moved from being pro-life in most circumstances when I was younger to being pro-choice in the first trimester. I accept that people can hold a pro-life position while retaining absolute compassion for women who feel that they need abortions. What pissed me off about the debate was the the demonisation of women who have abortions and the implicit treatment of them as airy, flighty, floozies who had abortions on a whim. Women do not have abortions on a whim.

    Apart from that my own position has changed because of two factors; the socialisation of me and thousands like me into a pro-life position was done my deliberate use of ‘facts’ that turned out to be outright lies; and the deliberate misrepresentation of abortion as a faith issue when Christian teaching only moved against abortion in early pregnancy in the last 200 years or so, the Bible is essentially silent on the issue, and any of the Church fathers who mentioned the issue did not object to first trimester abortion.

    I have to disagree that the policy of neighbouring countries is irrelevant to the debate (although I see why you think it is). In the ’20s and ’30s in Britain, about 15% of maternal death was caused by backstreet abortions going wrong. If this island did not have the safety valve of safe, cheap and legal abortions on the island next door then the knitting needles would come out again and (given that maternal death is now vanishingly rare) would be a massive political issue, and I would guess abortion would be legal as we’d all have a cousin or an aunt who would be dead due to a botched backstreet abortion.

    I agree entirely that 24 weeks is too late for abortion in most circumstances (there are exceptions – I learned recently of a legal abortion in Belfast of an ancephalic baby at 22 weeks and have no problem with that). But just as improvements in medical technology and understanding of foetal development have rightly moved the threshold of viability backwards, so do they clarify issues of when, for example, babies feel pain, which whatever The Silent Scream says, they do not at 12 weeks.

    I agree that abortion is a terrible issue; I would like to think that in the unlikely event that I could be of direct assistance in dissuading someone from having an abortion that I would do so at significant personal cost if necessary. I also know of no women who has had an abortion without giving it the gravest thought and I’m not sure the advice of confirmed gay bachelors like me, or finger wagging Ustashe for that matter, is useful or desirable at that stage.

  • middle-class ****

    Rory, Dawkins, DC, joecanuck

    But you’re all identifying just one life here. The child is simply irrelevant in your assessment. That’s simply dishonest.

    As a lefty, I see through this lefty blather about state responsibility, anti-choice, “removal of the right to medical advice”, moralism, “trusting a grown woman to make her own decisions”.

    The problem with that analysis is that, logically, it leads to the position where we allow abortion until birth and accept that it be used as a form of contraception, because the child’s interests simply don’t enter into the equation. I’m sorry, but that simply, ethically, cannot be right. As a socialist and as a liberal, I am dismayed that the above is what should pass for left-of centre/liberal analysis on this issue.

    Ultimately, the left’s position on this appears to be that women have more votes than aborted fetuses.

    DC, you in particular seem unable to get off your “Christiam moralism” kick, so I’m not sure there’s much point discussing the matter with you further.

    Rory, as regards “Herself”, this is not an issue to be a coward on.

    Sammy

    No sign of Ahem, it seems…

    Thanks for your considered response, although I would urge you to put a leash on your Tourette’s in the last line.

    I think most thoughtful people end up holding nuanced views on this issue, often changing over time. Interestingly, my views have evolved to become more pro-life, as the intellectual paucity of the argument on the other side increasingly revealed itself (see the chain above). You seem to have followed a similar path, in the other direction.

    I think the problem for many people (not you) who end up moving in your direction is that side of the debate is that they take their decisions based on the most difficult cases. Rory’s “crush the baby’s head to save the mother, or leave it to God’s holy will” is a case in point. Modern medicine now allows us to obviate such terrible decisions, but where it doesn’t, most pro-life people I know have no problem with abortion in situations of genuine threat to the mother’s life.

    The idea that we’d all lose a relative to the fishhook gang is, however, a nonsense these days. Contraception and the morning after pill weren’t widely available in the 20s and 30s. In any event, the point is entirely moot. Neighbouring countries do permit these procedures. However, that does not oblige us to follow suit – to my mind that point is just more smokescreen. Our laws say something about who we are. Most people in our society are uncomfortable with the expediency-killing of the unborn (as Ermintrude’s anecdote attests). Our laws should, and rightly do, say that. However, as you rightly say, when we discuss those laws, women who choose abortions should be treated with sensitivity, and not be subjected to the kind of vilification you criticise.

    Oh, and if we’re allowed a Tourette’s moment at the end of a long, civilsed and respectful post, I’d just like to confirm that I despise the Alliance Party, and all it’s members, and everything they fail to stand for.

    God, that feels better…

  • middle-class ****

    Oh, and Comrade Stalin

    I couldn’t agree more that “if people are going to take the view that life is precious and must be preserved from the moment of conception, surely that continues to apply after the child is actually born” and that “the first step is to ensure proper education and availability of support concerning family planning etc, so that people resort to abortion less and less” and that “as a society we also need to look at why teenage pregnancies are occurring at greater frequency”.

    I’m always amazed at how many pro-lifers are also in favour of the death penalty, and for reduced spending on healthcare, welfare and education.

  • Dawkins

    middle class stars,

    Thank you for alerting me to all those subtle meanings and nuances lying buried in my previous post. I must return to it and reread it for myself.

    Tell you what, why don’t you write all my posts from now on? Clearly you know my mind better than I do.

  • middle-class ****

    Dawkins

    If I’ve misrepresented you, clarify your position. If you feel attacked, defend yourself. But give over with your whingeing.

  • joeCanuck

    I had exactly the same thought and was about to respond Dawkins, so thanks for doing it for me.

    Just one point Middle Class, a few cells do not make a “child”. That comes later.

  • joe

    Just how many cells does it take to make a child Joe?

  • middle-class ****

    oops – last one was me!

  • Dawkins — as dictated by middle class stars, my i

    I am a ghastly, horrible, godless chap. I champion abortion and would go so far as to recommend it as the finest way of keeping the population down.

    Ladies, don’t want all that messy birthing stuff? Who does?! Check yourself into your nearest kiddy abattoir and have that pesky little foetus sucked out of you, ground up and flushed away. You’ll feel so much the better for it.

    This is 2007 after all. Va va voom!!!!

  • Dawkins, as dictated by middle class stars, my id

    Hmm, didn’t fit the first time :0)

  • Comrade Stalin

    MCT:

    The problem with that analysis is that, logically, it leads to the position where we allow abortion until birth and accept that it be used as a form of contraception, because the child’s interests simply don’t enter into the equation.

    I do not see how accepting that abortion is a matter of choice for the woman, means that she will be more likely exercise that choice as a first resort. A good friend of mine had an abortion some time ago, and based on her experience I find it hard to believe that there are many women out there who would be willing to go through that nightmare, which like all surgical procedures is not without risk (along with all of the other physiological difficulties therein) .. rather than remember to take a pill or use some other method of preventing conception.

    I’m always amazed at how many pro-lifers are also in favour of the death penalty, and for reduced spending on healthcare, welfare and education.

    Sure. If it seemed like I was implying that all pro-lifers fit that stereotype, that’s not what I meant to suggest.

  • joeCanuck

    Middle Class,

    I essentially asked you first.
    But most “experts” which I am not, put it close to the end of the second trimester.
    You would disagree I expect.
    Where would you put it?

  • Dawkins, channelled by middle-class stars

    joeCanuck,

    I essentially asked you first.

    You’re essentially a minion of Satan and prolly will burn in hell.

  • middle-class ****

    Comrade Stalin

    “I do not see how accepting that abortion is a matter of choice for the woman, means that she will be more likely exercise that choice as a first resort.”

    I would urge you to look again at what I wrote, I absolutely, categorically did not say that.

    A more correct paraphrasing of what I said would be “accepting that abortion is a matter of choice for the woman, means that she should be entitled to exercise that choice without restriction, and without reference to the interests of the child – so that if she wants to use it as a form of contraception, she can.”

    My view is not based on misogyny, or any attempt to restrict women’s freedoms or legal entitlements. Again, while I don’t think it’s what you were suggesting, the “abortion as an engine of female emancipation” gambit (as moronically espoused on today’s CommentIsFree) is another transparent lefty conceit (dear God, listen to me; maybe I should apply for a slot on ATangledWeb).

    Dawkins

    Sad, mucker.

  • Dawkins

    Middle-class stars,

    “I would urge you to look again at what I wrote, I absolutely, categorically did not say that.”

    LOL! And this from the chap who puts words into other peeps’ mouths. Hilarious.

  • middle-class ****

    joe

    I just don’t see the age of viability (or whatever you want to call it) as a relevant question at all. There are two lives. Our humanity requires compassion for both. In some circumstances, for example, where there is a real threat to the life or fundamental threat to the health of the mother (including where she’s a threat to herself or where her future fertility is seriously endangered), or where the pregnancy is demonstrably a result of rape or child molestation, I think the balance of compassion begins to tilt towards the woman should she wish to terminate.

    However, to answer your question, the only intellectually defensible view, to my mind, is conception. Any other view is a pragmatic view, based on the child’s lack of development, inability to sense pain, etc. There’s no time when the cells magically become a child, having been something else before; no magic threshold which, once crossed, heralds life where previously there was none.

    As I said above, difficult one…

  • middle-class ****

    Dawkins

    What’s your problem?

    You said:

    “Unfortunately [abortion is] necessary at times—as is the shutting down of a life-support system or any number of medical procedures. Yet abortion remains a choice. Better I think to go with pro- and anti-choice.”

    and

    “Would that all men thought as you do. Too many men don’t trust a grown-up woman to make her own decisions—and they ain’t all Muslims.”

    I didn’t put any words in your mouth, You staked your colours to the mast – fly them, take them down again, I don’t really care. But don’t criticise me for addressing them.

  • Dawkins

    Middle-class 4-star petrol,

    If both joeCanuck and I have an issue with your putting words into our mouths, don’t you think there’s the faintest possibility you did just that?

    You didn’t address the words I wrote and which you quote above. You addressed your own inferences.

  • Rory

    middle-class **** says: “Rory, as regards “Herself”, this is not an issue to be a coward on.”

    Coward, moi? and there was I thinking I was simply being disarmingly modest.

    However I remain in total confusion as to what your position is on freedom of choice. Would you or would you not deny in law that choice to terminate a pregnancy which many women would feel constrained to make anyway regardless of law, as in former days. Essentially it seems to me it is a question of whether women are to be criminalised for the social consequences of their being women in today’s society or whether we provide all the necessary health and social care required to help them at times of great crisis in their exercise of their womanhood.

    If you would condemn them in some (or indeed any) circumstances then go ahead but if you do you will have to contend with strong resistance from me and others like me who would not have the woman’s choice denied whatever the priggishness of our personal take on morality.

  • snakebrain

    “And the primacy of the female is the reason for emphasis on the primacy of the individual in providing the reason around the definitive decision.”

    Lacanian structuralism arrives on S O’T

  • Dawkins

    snakebrain,

    “Lacanian structuralism”

    Thanks for the heads up. There I was thinking it was Cardassian imperialism.

  • Turgon

    Abortion.
    I tend to be drawn unwillingly to these debates. I do not like pushing my views down other people’s throats (well except my assorted prodiban views) but I feel a twinge of moral cowardice as a fundamentalist if I do not take up some sort of position.

    Abortion is a most horribly difficult debate. One can, however, hide behind weasel words, something which I try to avoid. I am pro life. I am opposed to the vast majority of abortions. I am well aware that in GB the majority of abortions are performed for reasons which cannot be seen as entirely medical.

    Of course there are exceptions. There are examples (very, very few) where the woman’s life is at risk and in that case I personally see no particular problem with it (incidentally the possibility that the child could be saved if the mother was allowed to die is so rare that I suspect one would struggle to find a genunine exapmle in a western health care system).

    The anencephaly case is a further example. I discussed it with Elenwe. She said she would not have an abortion but to be honest if I were the woman I might well.

    These rare case do not, however, make good law and should be decided on a case by case basis which appears to be the current state of affairs in Northern Ireland.

    I certainly feel that evangelical christians must be extremely careful about condemning those who have abortions.

    I find The Raven’s contribution quite moving and distressing. I would not condemn them for their decision but would condemn our society which looks so askance at young unmarried women having children when we see endless acceptance of premarital sex. On this note, I as a fundamentalist Christian must remember that society looked askance at the Virgin Mary when pregnant with our Lord, and though obviously I believe in the virgin birth, I doubt may in Nazareth would have at the time. I would also condemn our society where having a child makes it extremely difficult for a woman to continue her education and can frequently limit her career advancement.

    On the previous comments, however, a few points.

    In terms of joe canuck’s comments on a foetus feeling pain. I am unsure, until recently we were told that they did not feel pain till quite late. Now the time frame has been rolled back. Will it be rolled back further in the future? I also fail to understand exactly why not feeling pain etc. makes ending a human life acceptable before a certain point? Essentially when does life begin? If we are not allowed to experiment on human embryos after 2 weeks why can we abort them much later?

    The suggestion that very few Northern Irish doctors would perform abortion is also interesting. In the event of abortion being on the same basis as that in GB; this might cause a considerable problem for health authorities here.

    Finally tucked away in Iris Robinson;s comments was the following:-
    “I am also informed that under paragraph 2.13 of the draft guidelines, which mentions forced abortions, in the cases of children who do not really want abortions, health professionals have the overriding right to insist that those children have abortions. It will cause all of us a great deal of concern to know that parents are not to be included in such decisions.”

    The above suggestion is really quite concerning. Any comments?

  • Dawkins

    Turgon,

    Some excellent observations there. A fine contribution. I too believe that each case should be seen individually. Being a fundamentalist you may even hanker after a presentday Solomon. But where to find him or her, eh?

    I’m in two minds about those forced abortions. On the one hand, I feel every person is entitled to her own free choices.

    On the other, I feel that since there are so many unplanned kids born to kids, if the numbers can be cut before birth, it could only be to the benefit of the young and grossly unprepared mothers and to society at large.

  • Turgon

    Dawkins,
    As ever we tend to end up having rather civilised debates. This really should stop. Could you denounce me for soemthing and then I could start to shout about hell fire?

    On the children and forced abortions. I would have thought that unless there is a very significant risk to the life of the girl / young woman and if the mother did not want an abortion but genuninely could not care for the baby then adoption would seem to make a great deal of sense.

  • joeCanuck

    Just for the record Turgon, I didn’t say anything about a foetus experiencing pain.
    At one extreme we have people saying that a person exists from the moment of conception and at the other end, some saying that the foetus only becomes a person at birth. The Canadian Supreme Court adopted the latter position, saying that a foetus had no legal rights.
    I fall somewhere between those two camps but, to be honest, I just don’t know where.
    I consider myself very lucky not to be a woman who has to face that sad decision for whatever reason.

  • On a minor point, I don’t think our understanding of the horizon after which a foetus can feel pain has changed in recent decades; the development of the cortex and central nervous system have been well understood for some time.

    The threshold of viability has come down in recent years thanks to improvements in medical technology; but not to the extent that is sometimes assumed and the whole subject is clouded by politically motivated claims and couterclaims by those on both sides of the abortion debate.

    I appreciate the fact that any cut-off point is imprecise, but I also have enormous difficulties seeing an embryo as a human (let alone, to be more metaphysical, being in posession of a soul).

    To use a post-natal parallel – there are difficulties in defining any sensible cut off point between childhood and adulthood, but that doesn’t mean that we should say that children of three should be allowed to buy cigarettes, children of five be allowed to vote or even 15 year-olds be allowed to drive.

  • Dawkins

    Turgon,

    “As ever we tend to end up having rather civilised debates. This really should stop. Could you denounce me for soemthing and then I could start to shout about hell fire?”

    Chortle!

    “On the children and forced abortions. I would have thought that unless there is a very significant risk to the life of the girl / young woman and if the mother did not want an abortion but genuninely could not care for the baby then adoption would seem to make a great deal of sense.

    I hear what you’re saying of course. Call me a callous bastard if you wish, but my feeling is that every kid should have a reasonable start in life and not be put up for adoption. I mean: the poor child could end up with Madonna or worse.

    I feel there are too many unwanted and unloved children in the world as it is, and if it’s in our power to prevent more of them, why not make this decision? I could argue that in my testicles there reside a couple of million potential little Dawkinses (excuse the crude biology) but I see no good reason why most of them should be born.

    Indeed, it would be most irresponsible of me to try to realize my FULL potential as a father. I leave that kind of thing to the Saudi princes.

  • kensei

    “That’s right, anyone who supports any relaxation of the current abortion law is a Nazi and a mass muderer! And of course, anyone who responds to being called a Nazi and a mass murderer is a ‘snob’.

    And why is this Auschwitz taking place…”

    If you start from the position that a foetus is as human as a grown person from the moment of conception, then 200,000 killings a year is about as horrifying as you can get. I don’t think the language is helpful, or the context comparable, but I can certainly understand the anger and horror behind the words.

    “That’s right, flighty little floozies getting abortions for frivolous reasons because of their debased lusts leading them into trouble. They were probably drunk when they did it as well.”

    The numbers don’t lie, Sammy. There simply aren’t 200,000 women that have abortions because of rape, or incest or health issues. The fact is that for many, it’s an abortion of convenience – either for personal or career reasons, or because abortion is being treated as a stand in for contraception. More abortions are happening because it’s easy to get them, and the morality behind rejecting them has collapsed in the UK.

    Are there a lot of tough cases and moral dilemmas in this issue? Yes. Is this an easy topic? No. But let’s address the issue honestly – there are a lot of abortions of convenience.

    I am strongly pro-life. From a Christian perspective, its inarguable – the foetus is human, it has a soul: I’ll avoid commenting on the state of Anglicanism as evidenced by Sammy as it should be self evident. But even from a strictly humanist approach there are still a lot of reasons, most of them covered before. The one that bugs me though, is that as a father I have responsibilities towards supporting the child, but I have no say in whether the child gets to live or not?

    The only thing that pulls me back a bit is that 1. there are a lot of tough cases and there should be
    a lot of compassion for the mother as well and 2. abortion doesn’t begin and end when the state allows it. Banning it can lead to a lot of nasty, back street abortion and desperate cases. I am interested in lowering the number of abortions overall, and this can mean, perversely, some amount of liberalisation and a lot of education, alternatives and cultivating a sense of responsibility. However, with the easy access in GB, I’m not sure that would help so much here.

  • middle-class ****

    Rory

    “I remain in total confusion as to what your position is on freedom of choice.”

    I would constrain it to strictly limited circumstances, as described above.

    “Essentially it seems to me it is a question of whether women are to be criminalised for the social consequences of their being women in today’s society.”

    Lobotomised pseudo-progressive dribble. If we’re honest, and strip out that nonsense, it’s a question of whether women should be allowed to have an unborn child killed on grounds of expediency or convenience. In my view, they should not. The threshold should be set much higher than that.

    “If you would condemn them in some (or indeed any) circumstances”

    You haven’t listened to a thing I’ve said. I would never condemn a woman who choses a termination, but I wouldn’t permit the choice as broadly as GB does.

    “you will have to contend with strong resistance from me and others like me who would not have the woman’s choice denied whatever the priggishness of our personal take on morality.”

    In this society, that choice is broadly denied; or are you talking about women other than Irish women?

    Again, with your boring “morality” nonsense. I think I’ve explained in detail that my position has no basis whatsoever in “morality”. Why don’t you try another argument? That one’s so weak it’s embarrassing.

  • Turgon

    joe Canuck,
    Sorry for misquoting you. I think the comment about not being a woman is very fair. People regard it as trite but men do not have to face the consequences of sex (children) in the same way as women have to.

    Sammy Morse,
    Like kensei I have some problems with this comment “I also have enormous difficulties seeing an embryo as a human (let alone, to be more metaphysical, being in posession of a soul).”

    If you believe in a soul then clearly the provision or not of a soul is in the gift of God. As such why should the a soul not be created at conception? My first child was four weeks premature. Does that affect when he was given a soul?

    Your parallel regarding driving etc. is a completely straw man. Driving, buying alcohol etc. is completely different from decisions regarding abortion.

  • DC

    The pro-life group seems to be keen to take advantage of someone else’s poor family planning.

    The reasoning for abortion is that it is unwanted and possibly if they had had better planning in terms of contraception, whether it failed?, or perhaps the morning after pill or male pill, then the vast lot of the dabate would be focused on more complex issues, as those with better foresight and education would have reached for the pill and cut out all this talk raised above.

    I don’t see why people’s carelessness and lack of education should be turned into someone else’s advantage in the form of stated right-to-life over that of their own, which is that such development would or should have been pilled-out a few more months ago, or stopped with better protection.

    Contraception is legal, you are talking many many potential opportunities to have children cancelled out as a result of this. As Dawkins says people’s full potential remain unachieved through many ways.

  • middle-class ****

    DC

    “keen to take advantage of someone else’s poor family planning”

    Do you really think we’re “keen to take advantage” of others’ misfortune? Do you really think I walk past a pregnant 4th-former in Lenadoon and offer up a silent prayer for all the babies saved in Holy Catholic Ireland. Wise up.

    Why is there such a need to demonise the intentions of people on the other side of the argument? You don’t see me casting you as some slaughterer of the innocents, do you?

    “I don’t see why people’s carelessness and lack of education should be turned into someone else’s advantage in the form of stated right-to-life over that of their own”

    It shouldn’t. But that’s not what’s happening. We’re not saying the child’s right to life should take precedence over the mother’s. We’re saying the child’s right to life should be taken into account alongside the mother’s.

    In fact, what you’re saying is that person A’s right to life should be entirely defeasible, at the complete discretion of Person B, by virtue of the inconvenience person A’s life would cause to person B.

    If you want to talk about rights, take into account the rights of all concerned.

    “As Dawkins says [A WORRYING START] people’s full potential remain unachieved through many ways.”

    In terms of being prevented from achieving your full potential, I don’t think failing the qualifying, getting injured before a big sport’s competition or being turned down for promotion are really comparable with being killed in utero.

    Sammy

    “I appreciate the fact that any cut-off point is imprecise, but I also have enormous difficulties seeing an embryo as a human (let alone, to be more metaphysical, being in posession of a soul).”

    Why do you think the child’s stage of development is even a relevant consideration? Scientifically, it cannot possibly be anything other than human. As such, why should it be afforded some measure of protection for its human rights?

  • DC

    “In fact, what you’re saying is that person A’s right to life should be entirely defeasible, at the complete discretion of Person B, by virtue of the inconvenience person A’s life would cause to person B.”

    No it’s a case of understanding person A’s life, along with many others, are subject to contraception and belated-contraception in the form of abortion, which is to say that unintentional conception is subject to the conceivers as it is they who submitted to the act for other purposes than to have children.

    Some conceivers would opt to keep on their conscience, others do not, those that do they do, and those that don’t should be supported in their decision in line with those that want to.

    Sometimes it’s easy to think that a noble act is being done but to rationalise it, it should never happened in the first place, unless you want to piggy-back on irresponsible people’s misfortunes through lack of education and understanding of one’s body.

    And that’s the high handedness approach, retrospectively applying your views on conception to others who do not follow your train of thought and can accept the need to abort without drowning in a moral sea of guilt by rationalising thought on the fact that it should never have came about.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If you believe in a soul then clearly the provision or not of a soul is in the gift of God. As such why should the a soul not be created at conception? My first child was four weeks premature. Does that affect when he was given a soul?

    Isn’t it wonderful how religion makes people twist themselves into confusion ?

    Your parallel regarding driving etc. is a completely straw man. Driving, buying alcohol etc. is completely different from decisions regarding abortion.

    Not at all. Sammy’s point was that describing a foetus at a child is like describing a child as an adult. Is pulling up a sapling the same as cutting down a tree ?

  • kensei

    “Not at all. Sammy’s point was that describing a foetus at a child is like describing a child as an adult. Is pulling up a sapling the same as cutting down a tree ?”

    In terms of the life of the tree, yes. In terms of how easy it is – no the tree is much harder.

    How about that?

  • Turgon

    Comrade Stalin
    “Is pulling up a sapling the same as cutting down a tree? ”

    It ends the life of the plant, just as aborting a foetus ends its life.

  • Rory

    “I would never condemn a woman who choses a termination, but I wouldn’t permit the choice” says “middle-class **** ”

    You may have a right to condemn or praise as you wish, “middle-class ****”, as has anyone the right to take any notice or not of your condemnation but what you do not have is a right to give or withold permission to any woman over control of her body and a foetus in her womb is inseparable from the woman’s own body until it is delivered, miscarried or aborted.

    ” If we’re honest, and strip out that nonsense, it’s a question of whether women should be allowed to have an unborn child killed….. “

    See, you’re at it again, “…whether women should be allowed…”. Allowed by whom? Allowed by you? How many women do you own and how much total control over them do you have that you can tell them what they will be allowed or not allowed to do with their own bodies.

    Sometimes I begin to wonder whether this kind of thinking of imagined control over the rights of womens’ bodies so prevalent in many men is not a reaction to their resentment at having been caught masturbating by their mummies in the night and told that they must stop doing this wicked thing or they would go to Hell.

    I do hope this wasn’t the case for you.

  • middle-class ****

    Rory

    “what you do not have is a right to give or withold permission to any woman over control of her body”

    Indeed. The State has that right. Here, the State exercises considerable such control.

    “and a foetus in her womb is inseparable from the woman’s own body until it is delivered, miscarried or aborted.”

    That’s simply, scientifically incorrect. Many children are separable for half of their time in the womb.

    “See, you’re at it again, “…whether women should be allowed…”. Allowed by whom? Allowed by you?”

    No, not by me: by the State; by the law.

    “How many women do you own and how much total control over them do you have that you can tell them what they will be allowed or not allowed to do with their own bodies.”

    I don’t own any women. I can’t tell them what to do. But the State can, through law. The State gives me a vote, and by that vote I can influence who makes the laws. And as a result of the exercise of my vote and many others’ votes we have governments in this country which have placed strict (or maintained) limits on what women can do with their own bodies and other bodies within them.

    What part of this don’t you understand?

    Jesus, I just read the rest of your post …

    You just told me everything I need to know about you. And all because you haven’t been able to defend your position intellectually. I’ll not be responding further to any more of your bigotted tripe.

    Sammy, is that what you mean by “spittle-flecked”?

  • Pete Baker

    It might help to re-focus the conversation if I point out that the actual topic is the Assembly’s rejection of guidelines to health professionals on the existing law.

    Guidelines they had to be forced to consider in the first place.

  • joeCanuck

    Pete,
    Any idea of what,if any, steps are open to the Judge, now that the Assembly has more or less told him to stuff it.

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    The ruling hasn’t been over-turned.

    The NI Health Department is still bound by it.

  • joeCanuck

    And they can take forever, bringing revised guidelines which the Assembly keeps rejecting?

  • Pete Baker

    I’d suspect there’d be a contempt of court ruling at some point.

    But I’d need to consult with my legal advisors on any more detail.

  • DC

    “It might help to re-focus the conversation if I point out that the actual topic is the Assembly’s rejection of guidelines to health professionals on the existing law.”

    Because you said might would it be okay to drive home a few more derogatory comments before returning to Axis of Evil Robinson and Jesus Jeffrey’s comments?

    It’s just MCT is a part of the heads in the sand brigade in terms of denying the reality that people go elsewhere after having reached their ultimate decision.

  • Rory

    So, Middle Class ****, now we have it. You won’t control any women yourself but you will elect those of like mind to legislate so that the state can control them on your behalf by proxy.
    That still indicates to me an irrational Freudian fear of women having individual control over their own bodies and completely ignores the fact that women, as the sorry history of back-street and self-induced abortion has shown, will take back that control in any case, whatever the state dictates when their plight becomes intolerable.

    I prefer compassion before control.

  • kensei

    “So, Middle Class ****, now we have it. You won’t control any women yourself but you will elect those of like mind to legislate so that the state can control them on your behalf by proxy. ”

    That’s a pretty succinct encapsulation of democracy, there.

  • Eddie

    If anyone wants to actually see what the Assembly members said they only have to go to

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports2007/071022.htm

    where they can see the exellent speeches in full, without the left wing facist twist put in by some of the posters here.

    Also there were well publisized legal flaws with the guidelines, IE: they got the LAW WRONG.

    How could anyone defend them when they actually MISSED OUT half of the 1945 statute by MISTAKE and then gave the OPPOSITE advise.

    Doctors could be prosecuted if the law is improperly stated, or does that not bother anyone?