Gaelscéal : Abortion, no question more controversial

Tuairisc le Colm Ó Broin


Ginmilleadh: An cheist is conspóidí


Tá agallamh againn an tseachtain seo le Sinéad Ahern ó Choice Ireland, grúpa atá ag iarraidh ginmhilleadh a dhéanamh dlíthiúil in Éirinn.

Gaelscéal na Seachtaine seo - ar fáil anois ar fud na tíre

Tá sí ag súil go molfaidh an grúpa saineolas ar chás ABC go mbeidh mná in ann ginmhilleadh a fháil má tá a saol i mbaol.

Ní leor seo de réir Choice Ireland, tá siad ag iarraidh ginmhilleadh gan srian gan teorainn téarma a dhéanamh dlíthiúil. Dar leo tá sé dodhéanta an cheist faoin am a thosaíonn beatha a fhreagairt.

Diúltaíonn sí gur ionann ginmhilleadh agus dúnmharú. Luann sí cúpla sampla i dtaobh na hargóna seo – ní chuirtear mná a fhaigheann ginmhilleadh i bpríosún, ní chomhairítear féatais sa daonáireamh agus ní íoctar liúntas leanaí chuig mná atá ag iompar.

An príomhscéal atá againn ná go bhfuil garríodóir i bPáirc Náisiúnta Ghleann Bheatha i nDún na nGall, Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, ag diúltú glacadh le hordú óna fhostóir, an Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta, staonadh ó ráitis phoiblí mar iondadaí de chuid an ghrúpa Guth na Gaeltachta.

I measc na n-ábhar eile atá againn an tseachtain seo tá alt le Conall Ó Móráin a cháineann clár John Bowman, Battle Stations, a mhaígh go raibh comhcheilg ar bun ag ‘Gaeilgeoirs’, athair Chonaill ina measc, ag iarraidh ‘iallach’ a chur ar RTÉ níos mó clár Gaeilge a chraoladh siar sna 1960í.

Tá alt ag Seán Ó Tuairisg faoin gcogadh cathartha sa tSiria agus ceann ag Eoghain Ó Néill faoi léirsithe polaitiúla ag na Cluichí Oilimpeacha chomh maith.


Abortion, no more controversial question

We have an interview this week with Sinéad Ahern from Choice Ireland, a group that wants to make abortion legal in Ireland. She expects the expert group on the ABC case ( to recommend that women be able to have an abortion if their life is in danger.

This doesn’t go far enough according to Choice Ireland, they want abortion to be available without restrictions or term limits.

The groups says that it is impossible to answer the question of when life begins and reject the argument that abortion is murder. She mentioned some examples regarding this position – women who have abortions aren’t put in prison, fetuses aren’t counted in the census and child benefit is not paid to pregnant women.

We have sent requests to several anti-abortion groups for interviews but none have responded so far.

Our main story this week is that a gardener in Glenveagh National Park in Donegal, Dónall Ó Cnáimhsí, has told us that he won’t be obeying an order he got from his employer, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to desist from public activity with the local pressure group Guth na Gaeltachta.

Dónall has spoken on Raidió na Gaeltachta and to Gaelscéal criticising the Gaeltacht Bill, which was rushed through the Dáil recently. The Department is none too pleased with this.

Conall Ó Móráin slams John Bowman’s claims in Battle Station ( that ‘Gaeilgeoirs’, including Conall’s father, conspired to ‘force’ RTÉ to broadcast mór Irish language programming in the 1960s.

We also have analysis on the Syrian conflict from Seán Ó Tuairisg while Eoghan Ó Néill looks at political protests at the Olympic Games.

UPDATE  – le Colm Ó Broin

Ag leanúint ar aghaidh ón agallamh a bhí againn le Choice Ireland le déanaí tá agallamh le Niamh Ní Bhriain ón Life Institute i nGaelscéal inniu.

Phléigh sí moltaí go mbeadh ginmhilleadhar fáil i gcásanna ina raibh saol na mná I mbaol, ina raibh an bhean féinmharfach nó cásanna ina raibh bean ag iompar de bharr éignithe.

Ní raibh freagra cuimsitheach aici ar cheist amháin áfach  – más ionann ginmhilleadh agus dúnmharú cén fáth nach bhfuil gníomhaithe ar son an bheatha ag iarraidh mná a fhaigheann ginmhilleadh a chur i bpríosún?

An féidir le duine ar bith eile atá in éadan ginmhilleadh an cheist seo a fhreagairt?

 Following on from our interview with Choice Ireland we have an interview with Niamh Ní Bhriain of the Life Institute in today’s paper.

 She answers questions about calls for abortion to be legalised where a woman’s health is in danger, where there is a threat of suicide or for women who are pregnant because of rape.

One question to which we did not get a real answer to was: If abortion is murder then why aren’t pro-life campaigners calling for women who have abortions to be jailed?


Can anyone else on the anti-abortion side answer this question?


  • JR


    Deas le cúpla scéal a fheiceail ó Gaelscéal anseo. Bím an irrisleabhar a léamh anois agus sílim gur páipéar iontach é. Coinnigh libh!

  • anne warren

    I can’t understand Gaelic, or Welsh or Scots Gallic

    I repect your right to use them as they are our indigenous languages

    As far as regards abortion, legally speaking, a child is considered a separate human being once it has been born – not before

    As far as I am concerned the woman who needs an abortion has the right to decide what happens

    If a legal abortion is not available – an Irish woman’s only option is a backstreet abortion or travel abroad

    Better a legalised set-up than either option

    Best of all proper sex education and contraceptive information

    Please remember – if a woman doesn’t want an abortion, nobody forces her to have one, whatever the law of the land

    End of story

  • BIGK

    Afraid I dont read or speak Irish either but no matter what language is used murder is murder. Dress it up as you may,excuse it as you may call it whatever you may but in the end to take a human life is murder and anyone who does or condones murder is guilty of the worst crime known to mankind. Or maybe it should be humankind. Just read of forced abortions in China,sort of flies in the face of those who spout that nobody forces women to have one. Often wondered how many backstreet abortions were nescessary to save the mothers life?. Or could it be that this “poor mother”crap is just a means of influencing opinion.

  • Mister_Joe


    Using emotive and misleading language does not help your case. Murder is a legal verdict rendered by a Jury or Judge after a trial, and only in those circumstances. That’s why, for example, an Inquest may only report a verdict of unlawful killing, not murder.


    It’s great that you translate for us. I was sometimes too lazy to go to the trouble of using Google Translate.

  • Excuse i mBéarla: it’s 45 years since Leaving Cert; and I certainly couldn’t translate what’s coming up.

    I was addressing something similar elsewhere quite recently.

    I had been reading Professor R.I.Moore’s The War on Heresy, which is sub-titled: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe. Apart from the burnings and massacres, not much has changed. Try this (he is writing about the twelfth to fourteenth centuries):

    The Church was increasingly treating marriage as a sacrament, which meant that it should be performed before the altar and not as was commonly the case, outside in the churchyard, customarily in the forum of the community rather than the domain of the priest. This brought marriage, the most fundamental of social institutions, and therefore the conditions under which it could take place, under the control of the church itself rather than the community.

    The sacrilisation of marriage greatly facilitated the enforcement of another change yet more radical in its consequences. All systems of social organisation are based on rules governing who may or may not sleep with whom, and on what conditions. Changes in these rules are always bitterly contentious and always indicative of profound social or political change. The most important of them determine what constitutes incest — what degrees of kinship are so close as to prohibit marriage. The effect of this change [how the Church changed the rules of consanguinity, making incestuous a relationship of ‘seven steps back from each partner to the common ancestor’] was to multiply the number of people whom one could not marry, on average, by a factor of about twenty. It meant that in a world of small communities, where everybody was related more or less closely to almost everyone else, almost every feasible marriage was incestuous, and therefore could not take place, or, if it had already done so, was invalid … And that was the point. Almost any marriage would indeed be invalid — unless everybody agreed to keep quiet about it, and, in the priest’s words, for ever hold their tongues. A marriage could take place, therefore, only with the agreement of everybody who might possibly be concerned. The restriction provided an immensely powerful instrument for parents to control the marriages of their children, and lords of their serfs. This was critical for many noble and knightly families. Prosperity and its transmission down the generations were now seen more and more to depend on the accumulation and effective management of landed property.

    Got all that?

    We’re still in the same game. The Church is losing/has lost control of “who may or may not sleep with whom, and on what conditions”, so now it’s retreat to the backstop — fertilisation. And let’s pay as little attention as possible to the medics.

    Bottom line: this isn’t anything to do with “the sanctity of human life” (they lost that one in Attorney General v. X), it isn’t about public morality : it now comes down to a desperate struggle to retain some degree of social control.

  • “women who have abortions aren’t put in prison, fetuses aren’t counted in the census and child benefit is not paid to pregnant women.”

    If that’s the best argument they have then they should give up now.

    @anne warren

    “As far as I am concerned the woman who needs an abortion has the right to decide what happens”

    Until what term? Does the father or the child not have a right to life?

  • anne warren

    In reply to Ulick

    Most women choose abortion because they feel like they have no other option.
    Their partners, if around, usually agree and if they don’t it doesn’t matter.
    This argument about the women’s right to choose was taken care of over 40 years ago but here we go again!!

    All men and women are born with equal rights
    Women have innate worth, inalienable rights, and valuable ideas and talents to contribute to society.

    According to Human Rights Watch “Equitable access to safe abortion services is first and foremost a human right. Where abortion is safe and legal, no one is forced to have one. Where abortion is illegal and unsafe, women are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term or suffer serious health consequences and even death. Approximately 13% of maternal deaths worldwide are attributable to unsafe abortion—between 68,000 and 78,000 deaths annually. The denial of a pregnant woman’s right to make an independent decision regarding abortion violates or poses a threat to a wide range of human rights.”

    Without the right to choose women are locked into their role as mothers and forced to succumb to second rate citizenship as a housewife, a single mother, or a mother in poverty on account of pregnancy.
    Men don’t get pregnant, and so aren’t restricted in the same way

    Before abortion was legalised in the UK in 1967 ( over 40 years ago and we are still discussing the pros and cons!!), women had two options: to undergo a backstreetl abortion that put their bodies at risk or to continue their pregnancy, even in situations that were disadvantageous to both the woman and the unborn fetus.

    Society has no right to control what happens to a person’s body, and does not try to manage men’s bodies in such a manner, so the right to abortion has equalized women by giving them the right to manage their own bodies. Having the right to choose gave women agency in their reproductive choices

    There is the claim that fetus is a person and, by revoking a woman’s right to chose abortion, society places more value on the fetus. From the pro-choice standpoint, the implication that an unborn fetus, which is unconscious and without thoughts, has rights equal to or superior to a woman’s, serves only to diminish the recognition of women as living, breathing people who are able to consciously make their own decision about their pregnancy

    See also

  • Mister_Joe

    Although I’m a man, I think that men really shouldn’t be allowed to comment on women’s issue threads. There is still a lot of us who think “We’re the boss, and the women should stay in the kitchen. They’re too stupid to have an opinion or make decisions for themselves, poor things”.

  • Irishlassabroad

    In an ideal world abortion would not be an issue – everyone would practice safe sex or abstain until ready for children, no one would rape women, family incest would not exist.

    Unfortunately this is not an ideal world – far from it. And until the day that the above things no longer happen I believe all women should have access to safe, clean, legal medical abortions.

    This will always be an emotive issue, my opinions are unlikey to change anyone’s mind but then again the anti-abortionists are never going to change mine either.

  • JR

    I have to disagree with you there Joe, It is not about being the boss or keeping women in the Kitchen. Abortion is a huge issue for society and Society as a whole needs to be involved in the debate.


    You said in your first comment that you believe that someone is considered a separate human at birth, not before. I disagree. For starters a Baby is fully developed physically and emotionally in the uterus at 37 Weeks. This can be up to 5 Weeks before birth. Most babies being born between 39 and 42 weeks. If someone was to assault that woman Killing her unborn child surely they have killed something that is a legal entity.

  • Old Mortality

    You are to be congratulated and respected for not inventing some preposterous gaelicisation of your family name.

  • I find it difficult to believe anyone in this day and age can seriously believe that a child only becomes a separate “human being” after birth. There was a story in the papers last year about baby born and surviving after 21 weeks even though it’s not that many years ago the pro-choice people were telling us it would be impossible for a child to survive after 28 weeks, then 24 weeks, then 22 weeks. The simple fact is that children can and have survived without their mother at 21 weeks from conception. Are we to dance on the head of a needle to then say that a child born at 21 weeks is a separate “human being” but one still in the mother’s womb at 22 weeks is not because they have the ‘misfortune’ of being part of a normal incubation period? Complete an utter nonsense! With advances in modern medicine, it’ll likely not be very long before we have a child surviving after 20, 19 or 18 weeks. These are separate “human beings” whether we like it or not and should have the same rights and protections we offer to any other person in our society.

    @Anne Warren (just using you as an example Anne) goes on to perpetuate the pro-choice argument that to prevent abortion is to deny equal rights to women or event that more value is placed on the “foetus” (child) than given to the mother. Again, I find that argument atrocious. This is not the right to live without discrimination, equal pay, vote etc we’re discussing, it’s probably the ultimate human right, the right to life, which in my opinion supersedes any other human right. Ensuring everyone in our society has the right to life, does not deny or prohibit the human rights of any other member of society. What this pro-choice equal rights argument is really about is the right of the mother to have an abortion as a life-style choice. Killing a child, a separate “human being”, as a life-style choice to ensure that a woman can use her talents to “contribute to society” lest she should be “locked into their role as mothers”! Surely modern society could come up with some method of ensuring that a child’s life doesn’t have to be taken to ensure a woman isn’t “locked into their role as mothers”? We already have adoption services, so this argument is nonsense.

    The other argument I hear often, one I used to believe in strongly myself is that put forward by Mister_Joe, is that a man has no right to tell a woman what to do with their bodies. This is the one that irks me the most, probably because I used to believe it and probably because it’s the reason why so many left-leaning political Parties are pro-choice. Firstly, any father who has went through miscarriage with their partners, been through full term pregnancies with their partners, been to all the scans and been there at the birth will testify that this isn’t just a question of the woman’s body, there is a child involved and that child is a separate “human being”. I love my wife and would respect her right to do what she wants with her body but I also love my children and I would do anything to protect them whether in their mother’s womb or at the local disco. Just as the woman is “locked into their role as mothers” then so too the man is locked into fatherhood whether they like it or not. Many might fail in that role, I know I do myself at times, there so too will many women, but individual failing of particular people is not a reason to legislate for the killing of a child. In short, that argument is nothing but cowardice. As I said it irks me greatly especially when espoused by the trendy liberal-left who think they’re being all modern and shit by backing a woman’s right to abortion as part of some “equality agenda” without considering where the child fits in on their “equality agenda”. I’ve no problem in saying Sinn Féin is full of these types , feck I was one myself, but so too are all the Parties on this island. The one thing they should stop and ask themselves sometime is why is the pro-Life lobby is so dominated by women?

  • So, Ulick @ 12:35 pm, we now appreciate where you stand on “when life begins” (which is nice for you, because most medics, jurists and moralists have serious issues with that one — good to know that faith trumps logic and science every time).

    Will you also contend:
    ¶ that Attorney General v. X and A., B. & C. v. Ireland got it wrong?
    ¶ that the people of Ireland were profoundly mistaken in the Referendums of 1992 and 2002 (not to forget 2008, when the abortion issue was made central to ratifying the Lisbon Treaty)?
    ¶ that every recent opinion poll misrepresents public views?
    ¶ that you are not arguing from a position that is generally widely as narrow, chauvinist and bigoted?

  • BIGK

    Ulick,thank you for expressing what I feel.
    Educated literal types may be able to put forward arguments which on the face of it appear very laudable. However I do not fall into this catagory and may at times be emotional in my views. But unlike some I do know the differance between right and wrong which some appear not to. To murder a child is wrong,period. Call it what you may either abortion or the child a fetus. I have no right to take an innocent childs life. I have no right to decide who lives and who dies. These women who decide to murder their children deserve nothing but contempt from society. If society decides to legalise this wanton murder of the innocent then society is no more.
    How many of these liberal thinkers would actually perform an abortion themselves?. Maybe it would be alright if someone elce did the actual act?. Where do you hide your bowl after washing away your guilt? The devil has you firmly within his grip.
    To think this is being discussed actually makes me feel sick.

  • Bemused Southerner

    Dear Malcolm Redfellow,

    I’m curious. Can you explain which particular part of Ulick’s arguing position makes him “narrow, chauvinist and bigoted”?

    Is it simply the fact that he doesn’t agree with abortion, or some other facet of his argument?

  • @Malcolm Redfellow
    “good to know that faith trumps logic and science every time”

    Sorry Malcolm if your trying to brand me as a religious nut you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m a reformed atheist, happily agnostic at present and working in academia as a scientist. Faith played no part in my previous post and plays no part in my pro-life stance. Politically I’m a very left wing republican and as such I don’t necessarily take my steer from opinion polls but from my own sense of equality, morality and experience. If you think that’s “narrow, chauvinist and bigoted” you’re welcome to your opinion and the ‘ad hominem’ angle might go down well with the populists but it’s not exactly going to help win any rational debate.

  • Bemused Southerner @ 2:25 pm:

    We might well start with the assertion: a man has no right to tell a woman what to do with their bodies etc., etc., … that argument is nothing but cowardice.

    See @ 10:43 pm, above, for gloss thereon.

    Note the conflation (twice — so no accident of words) of medical termination with abortion as a life-style choice, which is something of a rhetorical leap, to say the least.

    And I come back to my previous point: did the Irish and European judiciaries get it all so very wrong in Attorney General v. X and A., B. & C. v. Ireland? Before we come over all uncompromising, emotive and tear-stained, can you check out precisely how and why the legal position is as it is, especially in the light of the latter case. Perhaps Paolo Ronchi’s analysis might help.

  • Ulick @ 2:32 pm:

    No: you are disingenuously imputing that “faith” is a precise synonym for “religious nut”. I have great faith in Norwich City, but I don’t unquestionably adulate.

    No: working in academia (as Shania would say) “that don’t impress me very much”. I’ve known and worked with too many academics to be convinced that profession (an ambiguous word, and deliberately so) automatically excludes being three stops beyond Barking. And what relevance has being a very left wing republican? Does it inoculate against opinion polls, somehow?

    You find my arguments ad hominem: I found the second paragraph of your previous post excessively pro hominem and ad feminam; so there, too, we must differ.

    Now, can you respond whether or not you contend the legal decisions I have now twice invoked? If not, why not, and what otherwise?

  • Bemused Southerner

    It’s amazing, this particular debate, because it, almost by definition, forces the camps into apparent extremes. The problem, for me, logically boils down to whether you believe the unborn baby is a human or not.

    If you grant, for the moment, that the person on the anti-abortion side’s viewpoint flows from a belief that the baby is human, which I don’t think is that preposterous, or unreasonable (let’s ignore for the moment that cohort who are simply trying to aid and abet the church’s conspiracy to “retain social control”), then you can start to see why they appear to the proponent of abortion to be uncompromising and extreme, because they tend to use what the other side regard as rather emotive terms, such as ‘kill’.

    For me, this question of whether the unborn child is human or not is quite a binary thing – you believe it or you don’t, and your position on abortion flows logically from that, and then have to deal with the consequences, one of which is the obvious conflict of this human right to life with certain human rights of the pregnant woman.

    At the risk of speaking for Ulick, I’m guessing that his ‘cowardice’ comment, while emotive, is a criticism of those, often men, who cannot or will not make this binary choice, and consequently end up in the ‘pro-choice’ bracket (that hazy middle ground of not necessarily agreeing with abortion, but not wanting to say they would limit a woman’s choices). You will notice that he admits this was a position he held previously, so there was even an element of self-deprecation in it.

  • Comrade Stalin


    I never find those sorts of arguments compelling. You always get the odd story of a person who lived to 100 despite smoking 20 a day. This does not mean that the generally accepted medical evidence is all false; merely that there are exceptions to the rule.

    My own view is that abortion should be the woman’s choice as long as the fetus is not viable outside the womb (ie within the first trimester, or thereabouts). 20 weeks in my view is too late. If the woman feels that she cannot have an abortion due to her religious (or other) beliefs then that is her choice. Frankly the argument that the father should have some sort of say is pretty ridiculous. It’s seldom the father that has to deal with the short and long term consequences, either way.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bemused Southerner,

    Of course the embryo is human from the point of conception. How could it not be human ? What a stupid argument.

    I’d much rather defend my position myself rather than have to counteract your completely false characterizations of them.

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: Of course the embryo is human from the point of conception. How could it not be human ? What a stupid argument.
    I have seen this one before – it’s either the start of a semantic leap (Human -> Human Rights), or an incoherent attempt to modernise the religious notion of Ensoulment at the moment of conception.
    When Bemused Southerner has clarified which he means, you will know what you are dealing with.

  • This has got to STOP! Once again, I find myself the same side of the barricade as Reader (profile) 3 August 2012 at 4:19 pm.

    I’d like someone to clarify what seems to me to be a bit of a conundrum:

    1. the embryo is human from the point of conception. How could it not be human?. That, at least has the whiff of humanity about it.


    2. Once one extends that to a belief that life begins at conception, it becomes a matter of faith. I see some here would confuse “faith” and “Faith”. I would suggest “faith” is “something in which one believes” rather than “something of which one is convinced on grounds of anything indisputably logical or medical — or even legal”. I’ll try to be clearer in future.

    3. So, there is the “Miss D” problem.

    “Miss D” — have we forgotten, or chosen to forget her sad case?

    “Miss D”, if terrifyingly young, was in a stable relationship, pregnant and happy to be so. On her 17th birthday she went to hospital for a routine scan. The scan showed the baby, now at sixteen weeks of term, was anencephalic — that it was missing a large part of the head, and had no brain. The baby would unquestionably die perinatally.

    When “Miss D” declared she wanted to terminate, the HSE issued an instruction to the Passport Office not to issue her a passport. Her partner began a judicial review, which the HSE opposed because “it couldn’t get involved”. Social workers issued a care order; and even tried to get the Gardai to restrict her movements.

    By that time an abortion was too late. “Miss D” had to be induced, and the child was born with unnecessary additional pain and distress.

    Welcome to Ireland. Fé Mhóid Bheith Saor.

  • Bemused Southerner

    Reader, My position is precisely what you characterize as the ‘semantic leap’ of Human->Human Rights. I have no problem affirming that straight away. I said as much in my first post when I mentioned the “conflict of this human right to life with certain human rights of the pregnant woman”, so there’s no need to wait around for some dramatic reveal.

    And, since you’ve “seen this one before”, maybe you can enlighten me as to what’s invalid or unreasonable about a position which asserts that human rights should attach to a human prior to birth (or even, Comrade Stalin, prior to viability, whenever that occurs).

  • Mister_Joe

    One of my sisters-in-law was told at 5 months into one of her pregnancies that the foetus had died. She was refused an abortion and had to carry the foetus til full term and the dead foetus was then induced.

  • babyface finlayson

    anne warren
    “Their partners, if around, usually agree and if they don’t it doesn’t matter.”
    That seems a liitle harsh.
    Surely in many relationships couples might discuss this decision and consider the options
    A woman unsure of what to do as must occasionally be the case, might be swayed by her partners wishes.

  • Reader

    Bemused Southerner: And, since you’ve “seen this one before”, maybe you can enlighten me as to what’s invalid or unreasonable about a position which asserts that human rights should attach to a human prior to birth (or even, Comrade Stalin, prior to viability, whenever that occurs).
    Just because something is ‘human’ does not mean that it qualifies as ‘A Human’. Starting with my fingernails, moving onto a dead skin cell, a live skin cell (which could be cloned) and then onto a spectrum of scenarios and entities which would be closer and closer to “A Human”. It really is a matter of opinion as to where the boundaries between labelled -> potential -> actual humanity lie.
    I am content to accept that the distinction is forever blurred, and to go with medical opinion as to where the boundary lies right now. I.e. I go with “viability”. But whatever medical miracles lie in our future, I still doubt there will ever come a day when I am forbidden, on human rights grounds, from ex-foliating…

  • Bemused Southerner

    Reader, yes, that’s a clearly stated position. We seem to agree that, at some point, a yet to be born human is ‘a human’, deserving of the full range of human rights.

    I will also agree with you that it is rather hard to pinpoint a ‘line in the sand’, so to speak, as to where this point, when the transition to ‘A Human’ occurs, but I think it’s the case that you and Comrade Stalin share my contention that it’s certainly not at the point of birth (although many believe that it is).

    Where we diverge is that I, far from being ‘content’, am rather leery of depending on some current view of ‘medical science’ of where that line lies.

    The original point I was trying to make, however, was that if you do believe that, at some point, an unborn baby is a human, you would surely want to defend that human’s human rights with the same rigour that you would some other category of human’s rights (in fact more so, since this particular human has no way of defending them him/herself) and, in doing so, you will often appear as an extremist to the ‘other side’.

  • HeinzGuderian

    It’s the womans body.
    If she want to have the baby,all well and good.
    If she doesn’t,I don’t see how any court,or state or knashing of religious teeth has anything to do with it.
    Her body=her right to decide what to do with it.

  • Tomas Gorman

    @Old Mortality

    You are to be congratulated and respected for not inventing some preposterous gaelicisation of your family name.”

    Ciaráns name obviously comes from an older Gaelic name that has in the past been anglicised to the simpler form Dunbar. If Ciarán wished to revert back to an original form, this would hardly be a preposterous invention you simple anti-Irish troll.

    Now back on subject;

    For once, and I hope not for the last time, I agree whole heartedly with Heinz Guderian. The issue of choice around abortion is a matter of choice for women. None of my manly business. Malcolm I feel is on the money; it’s not about the foetus for many, it’s about the control.

  • Tomas Gorman @ 4:09 am: [thanks for the nod]

    Were Ciarán to gaelicize his distinguished surname (Cf: the greatest Medieval maker, the Earls of March, reggae Sly, and John Yossarian’s side-kick) he would end up with Dùn Bàrr. Which is hardly any sort of addition.

    Of course, he might prefer “Dynbaer” (as it seems to have been in Ennius); but even then it was an Anglic settlement in Northumbria, so — assuming his surname is derived from the place— it predates the assumption of surnames.

    Were I to seek agreement with Old Mortality, it would lie in the excesses of Hibernicizing. Anyone speaking up for an Bóthar Atmaisféarach in Dalkey? My impression is that the Scots, Gaelic and Anglic speakers alike, are far less unbending, less “exclusive” in their namings than …. err … others. Perhaps that’s because they are comfortable in their twin tradition, which embraces William Dunbar and Hugh Macdiarmid as much as Gillebríghde Albanach and Somhairle MacGill-Eain.

    Well, it’s off-topic; but more fun-and-games than the rest of this gloomy topic.

    And “exclusive” is the theme of my assumptions here. By setting up what is a complex blame-game the intent (conscious or not) is to exclude, vilify and demonise those who do not accept a particular authoritarian, supra-legal and moralistic shibboleth. It’s no coincidence that opposition to reproduction rights unites both the Catholic (and, in cases self-identifying above, lapsed Catholic) alongside the Tea-Party-type fundies. Both have a dualistic view:

    We are the precious chosen few,
    Let all the rest be damned.
    There’s only room for one or two:
    We can’t have our heaven crammed.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘Ciaráns name obviously comes from an older Gaelic name that has in the past been anglicised to the simpler form Dunbar. If Ciarán wished to revert back to an original form, this would hardly be a preposterous invention you simple anti-Irish troll.’

    That may well be so, in which case it suggests that he is quite comfortable in his nominal skin unlike some other enthusiastic users of Irish language who clearly suffer from Burgess’s Syndrome.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Old Mortality,

    That’s a matter for his own individual reason and conscious. However it remains that if he or any other individual with an anglicised name revert back to an older version they may wish to do so without being preposterous. Your accusation of such or Burgess’s syndrome (whatever the hell that is) betrays a thinly veiled anti irish chauvinism.

  • Tomas Gorman @ 11:52 am:

    Burgess’s syndrome (whatever the hell that is)

    It’s probably derived from Cathal Brugha (born Charles William St John Burgess), who hibernicized his name when he joined the Gaelic League.

    Of course it would even cleverer if it also referred to John Wilson, who is better remembered from his writings under his other given names John Anthony Burgess Wilson

  • Ciarán Dunbar

    Point of Information.

    Whilst I find it utterly bizarre that a conversation on abortion has descended into a conversation surrounding my surname I will offer a point of information in the hope of settling the matter.

    My own surname is a Lowland Scots name of Norman origin taken from the town of Dunbar.

    I am not however a descendant of Scottish settlers in Ulster.

    The name Dunbar is from the Gaelic ‘Dún Barr’, possibly from an earlier Brythonic ‘Din Barr’ of identical meaning.

    Despite its linguistic origin it is not a Gaelic surname as Gaelic surnames are normally patronymics.

    In Gaelic custom, toponymic surnames are normally turned into adjectives, following the logic of naming population groups after places and vice versa.

    Therefore, I am sometimes referred to as Dúnbarrach in speech. I.e ‘person of the high fort’.

    I simply do not use this form as my professional name in writing.

    I of course believe that the individual has the right to call themselves whatever they want, I would hope that this right would someday be generally recognized.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Ta Malcolm,

    As a final morsel to the Troll; Dunbar and Burgess are surely different citil na n-iasc so to speak.

    Back to the matter at hand.

    Isn’t it odd that Unionist MLA’s (besides former MLA Dawn Purvis) seek parity with Dublin on certain issues and London in others.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Bemused Southerner,

    The language you are using suggests that you may be playing games, although then again you may not.

    When a person cuts their hair or toenails, the parts removed are still human, even though they are not a living independent person. This is not, I hasten to add, an attempt to trivialize conception which is a very unique and special event (miraculous maybe?); but an attempt to clarify that it does not fall into a simple argument about what is or is not human.

    The edge of a knife around which the abortion argument falls for me is around the question of where the fetus can be considered to be alive. It is ridiculous to claim that it is alive at conception; it is equally ridiculous to claim that it is not alive until the point of birth; however at the same time it seems unlikely that we will ever be able to identify a transition point. Hence the rather imperfect compromise around viability and other issues such as whether or not the fetus perceives anything – the medical evidence available at this point suggests that no such perception exists during the first three months of pregnancy.

  • Desmond Trellace

    B’fhéidir gurb aisteach an rud é ach i gcomhthéacs na hEorpa sa lá inniu is díospóireacht mhi-aimseartha ar fad í ceist an ghinmhillte. Tá faighte réidh ag mórchuid na dtíortha eile leis an gconspóid le fada an lá agus is cuid den saol laethiúil í ginmhilleadh a bheith ar fáil ar bhonn dlíthiúil.

    B’fhiú, mar sin, forbhreathnú ionraic a dhéanamh ar an taithí atá ag tíortha eile ar an nginmhilleadh agus tagairt a dhéanamh don fhaisnéis seo le linn na díospóireachta.

    Mar shampla, rud amháin a chuireann as dom abhus sa Gearmáin ná go gcuirtear cineál brú ar bhean ar uaireabh ginmhilleadh a bheith acu i gcásanna ina meastar na cúinsí a bheiith míthráthúil.

    Maybe it’s strange but in the context of present day Europe the question of abortion is a completely anachronistic debate. Most of the countries have long since squared away this controversy and having abortion available legally is part of every day life.

    It would be worthwhile then to do an honest survey of the experience of other countres with regard to abortion and to refer to these fiindings during the debate.

    For example, one thing I find disturbing here in Germany is that a sort of pressure is brought to bear sometimes on women to have an abortion when conditonal are considered unfavourable.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Heres a useful addition to the debate

  • orly

    I’ve always found these arguments about it being the “choice” of the woman, or that it’s ok so long as the baby wouldn’t live if born at a particular point in time a bit specious, convenient (for one side) and selfish.

    Where is the choice for the child? The mother, usually, has agreed to the deed that results in the child being created. That was her choice right there. It knows nothing of the situation surrounding it’s conception or birth. It is the innocent. And it would appear, looking at some of the comments, of no consequence. Merely a bit of an inconvenience to be discarded.

    To address the “its ok up to this amount of time crowd”, Would it be ok to “abort” (kill) a child that is too young to be self aware for example? It’s not really “all there” after all. It wouldn’t be aware of it’s own destruction. Or would that just be a bit too messy for our own self awareness and consciousness?

    For me it seems that if you question a woman’s “right” to “choose” you get berated by people of that opinion and told you have no “right” to offer that question. Quite the irony.

    For me, I’d be uncomfortable having to make such choices and if I were ever a party in such a situation I’m not sure what “I” want would trump what I think would be “correct”. I wonder if some women think beyond themselves sometimes. I certainly know of some women who appear not to have done so getting several abortions. Obviously one isn’t horrific enough for some.

    I’m a male of no religion whatsoever, in case there were any people wondering if I fit into a particular stereotype.

  • Mister_Joe

    Where is the choice for the child?

    No child; just for a cetrain period of time, an unthinking, unconscious foetus.

  • Mister_Joe

    To be more specific; a sperm meets up with an egg and they fuse to make one cell. Later, the cell divides and becomes two cells and so on. When does this become a “child”?

  • Mister_Joe

    The mother, usually, has agreed to the deed that results in the child being created.

    So, what if she has been raped? Too bad in your opinion? It was her own fault because, deliberately or undeliberaetly, she got the man aroused? You really need to clarify your thinking.

  • orly

    Mister Joe

    Just seems a rather convenient distinction to me. What about the unthinking baby after it’s born? Only difference is it’s sitting/lying in front of you and it would be a bit messier.

    Alright to get rid until 4 weeks after birth? 8 weeks? more?

    I’d imagine most people would be looking at you a bit funny if you suggested it would be proper order to be killing a baby in the hours after it exits the womb…but from your wording it’s fair game until that point? Or will you further qualify foetus with the “certain period of time” you hinted at. Maybe you’re thinking of the embryonic stage.

  • orly

    You enter into another area of the debate when you start looking at cases of rape or at medical issues related to the child or the mother. You can extend it into the rights of the father too. It’s easy to do whataboutery for myriad situations.

  • orly

    By the way, I’m guessing you’re Canadian/living in Canada.

    Am I right? If so, where?

  • Mister_Joe


    In case you’re misunderstanding, I’m not pro-abortion. I have never met anyone who is.
    I’m not an expert so I defer to the medical profession as to when a foetus becomes a conscious human being.
    Yes I’m a Canadian living in a small town. The Canadian Supreme court has ruled that a foetus only becomes a “person” after birth. I wouldn’t go that far but there you are.

  • orly

    I’m no expert either. It’s a subject I think about sometimes. Occasionally discuss it with others. It’s a complex subject. Personally I’d be of the opinion that I were the father in such a situation I’d man up and care for the child regardless of any perceived difficulties or if it was “accidental”. Then again I view myself as a reasonably sensible person and I’d like to hope I’d be a decent father. I understand not everyone would share my view and that there are some people out there who clearly wouldn’t be interested in a child or their responsibility to it.

    Anywhere close to SW Ontario?

  • Mister_Joe

    Yes, Orly, about 250 km slightly north of west from Toronto. You?

  • orly

    Not far from Guelph.

    You towards Sudbury direction or not quite as far?

  • Comrade Stalin


    Where is the choice for the child?

    It isn’t a child yet.

    Merely a bit of an inconvenience to be discarded.

    On the contrary, I think pro-choicers are more realistic than anyone else when it comes to taking seriously the responsibility of raising a child, especially when the circumstances for a variety of reasons may not be right. I much prefer the pragmatism of this perspective than allowing the pregnancy to go ahead on the basis that it doesn’t matter if you’re too young or too poor, God will sort it out.

    Personally I’d be of the opinion that I were the father in such a situation I’d man up and care for the child regardless of any perceived difficulties or if it was “accidental”.

    I fear you are somewhat naive and are not aware of the tremendous difficulties encountered in persuading fathers to lift their end of the log; there are entire government bodies that exist for this precise purpose. That’s before we even get to the question of whether the fathers have the capability or the resources in the first place.

  • The “life begins at ?” brigade have to recognise that, in their terms, we have a severe, fundamental even catastrophic design fault problem:

    It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among those women who know they are pregnant, the miscarriage rate is about 15-20%. Most miscarriages occur during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy. The rate of miscarriage drops after the baby’s heart beat is detected.

    The extraneous reasons given for spontaneous abortion include: smoking, drugs, alcohol, toxic environments, hormones, infections and systemic disease, weight problems, age … Which begs the question: what do the “right-to-lifers” intend to do about any, or all of those?

  • Greenflag

    Perhaps if people had to apply for a ‘license ‘ to have a child and had to pass an elementary child caring and development state sponsored course it might reduce the number of ‘abused’ children in our societies ? On the other hand I can just imagine a Catholic priest taking care of 10 children with the aid of his unpaid housekeeper .?

    Women should be able to get an ‘abortion ‘ in Ireland and should not have to cross the water to take advantage of the UK taxpayer’s munificence . On the other hand I personally am against late term abortions which are in essence infanticide . A humane society would ensure that if abortion is to be a woman’s choice only then it should be availed of as early as possible .

    We are all extremely lucky to be here at all at all . after all it was a million to one chance that our father’s sperm made it to the ovum before the other 999,999 .

    Not only that but all our maternal and patrilineal ancestors going back millions of years to the first life forms were all lucky enough to make it to the reproduction stage without being devoured , killed or dying of natural or unnatural causes .

    I don’t believe any European country today is replacing and or increasing it’s current population bar Ireland (the Republic ) and even there that’s only happening because of the contribution of mothers born outside the Republic who produced 20% plus of all births .

    Western societies seem to have a ‘death wish ‘ which started circa 1914 and seems to have continued apace since then .

    For comparison purposes the Japanese underwent a similar phase in their history at one point when the population reached 30 million or so and agricultural production had peaked with the then technology . Infanticide became the order of the day and iirc the population stagnated for a century or so.

    Sic transit gloria mundae .

  • Newman what point does abortion become infanticide and on what basis does science make the judgment?

  • Newman @ 4:10 pm

    It doesn’t and it doesn’t.

    One is a process (and — see @ 9:44 am — most commonly a natural one); the other is a crime.

    Science is (or should be) non-judgemental: criminal law can’t be.

  • Greenflag

    @ Newman ,

    ‘at what point does abortion become infanticide and on what basis does science make the judgment?’

    That depends on your ‘culture ‘ specifically religious culture . For practising Catholics and many evangelical Protestants -abortion’ is infanticide at any stage in the process .For Jews abortion is not infanticide at any stage and only when the child is actually born does it become a ‘person’ with all the rights that such a status conveys . Other major religions I’m unaware of their specific beliefs in this area .

    As one ‘without ‘ religion I take a pragmatic view to the problem which would permit abortion in cases where the mother’s health is at major risk and in cases where the foetus is severely handicapped . Science or specifically medical science can determine when the ‘unborn ‘ becomes a viable entity .

    Ideally every child coming into the world should be ‘wanted’ but as we know that is not always the case and thus given a shortage of adoptive infants in western societies unless imported form elsewhere it seems only common sense that any ‘unwanted ‘ child would have several prospective childless couples to choose from if they could but choose .

    My sympathies lie with those who are against late term abortions and I happen to believe that ‘prevention ‘ as in contraception is the humane way to practice sensible family planning .

  • Mister_Joe

    ..and only when the child is actually born does it become a ‘person’ with all the rights that such a status conveys .

    That’s the legal status in Canada as decided by our Supreme Court. The case went to the Supreme Court after the police charged with murder a man who shot a pregnant woman (maybe his wife) and killed the foetus.

  • Bemused Southerner

    Oh Slugger, please tell me am I the only one who, upon clicking “Older Comments” to see all, in this case, 57 comments, rather than the 5 or 6 newest ones, instead is greeted with “Archive”, “No results found”!

  • Mister_Joe

    Bemused Southerner,

    That’s a little quirk that has crept in recently. Log out, then log in again, and all will be well.

  • Ciarán Dunbar

    Uasdátaiste / updated

  • oakleaf

    With so many types of contraception and the ease of access to it the all time high number of abortions in Britain is a disgrace.

    We’re the best educated generation regarding sex and yet the most feckless.