Anti-abortion farce takes over Assembly

How sad and how typical it is that local parties are uniting to impose an unnecessary ban on a non-existent threat.

The Marie Stopes clinic has said it will carry out medical, not surgical, procedures only up to nine weeks gestation and only within the existing legal framework of private abortions.

They have made it clear they must operate within the NI legal framework and ” want to be regulated.”

Fiddling while the place is burning  is becoming the Assembly’s speciality.   Like the political responses to the flegs dispute, this piece of cross community cant is no more than a displacement activity for failing to get their heads around real issues like community relations and education.

, , , , , ,

  • Gopher

    Would it be cynical to suggest this is no coincidence before the Mid Ulster by-election that a meaningless morality {sic} amendment is tabled by the DUP and SDLP. Its a cheap shot in the short term at SF, in the long term it is to discomfort Basils project and the Alliance party.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Religions are manipulated in order to serve those who govern society and not the other way around. This is a brand-new thought to most Americans, whether once or twice or never bathed in the Blood of the Lamb.

    At any given moment in a society’s life, there are certain hot buttons that a politician can push in order to get a predictably hot response…. It is good politics to talk against sin–and don’t worry about non sequiturs. In fact, it is positively un-American…to discuss a real issue such as unemployment…..’

    from Sex is Politics, Gore Vidal. 1979

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s a cheap shot, a dirty trick, and bad politics. Why don’t these to men bring a bill before the Assembly to regulate abortion in the manner they desire ? Then we can have a proper debate about it – not waste time with these parlour tricks which are damaging to the credibility and functioning of the Assembly.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Good to see the Assembly legislating for grey areas – perhaps the same should be done to clearly define the grey area in the parading legislation?

    Good to see the assembly legislating instead of ganching

  • sbelfastunionist

    Some of this commentary does make me smile. I agree that the whole flags situation is a mess which requires some long overdue political leadership to move us on. However, tabling amendments on a social issue, no matter how controversial, would happen in a parliament anywhere. Frankly, despite my own views on abortion, I would rather the Assembly is debating an issue like this on which it should legislate (in whatever direction) rather than focusing on flags and symbols. If you oppose what the amendment is trying to achieve fine, and there are equally parliamentary mechanisms to do that, but the Assembly is the proper place for it to be done. After all the coverage there was when Marie Stopes opened its doors, I don’t think its fair to say that this is a non issue which shouldn’t be in front of the Assembly.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Coll Ciotach/sbelfastunionist

    This isn’t legislating. This is springing something on the Assembly at the last minute, a cynical manipulation of both the system and the public for the purposes of yet more pro-life posturing.

    The right way to do this is to introduce a bill dealing with abortion and debate it properly in the committees and on the Assembly floor.

  • Coll Ciotach

    It is an effective and appropriate response to an unforeseen legislative anomaly which needs addressed with the alacrity reflecting the seriousness that a life or death situation deserves.

    As for flegs?

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is an effective and appropriate response to an unforeseen legislative anomaly which needs addressed

    The justice bill started going through the assembly months ago. Why wasn’t this matter brought up in committee or on the assembly floor earlier ?>

    with the alacrity reflecting the seriousness that a life or death situation deserves.

    A life or death situation to be handled by sneaking a clause into a justice bill through the back door rather than debated openly up front ?

    As for flegs?

    The SDLP and DUP make strange bedfellows, that’s for sure.

  • sbelfastunionist

    Comrade Stalin

    Yes you can validly make the point that it would have been better to have something which goes through longer consultation etc. However, I’m sorry to be technical, this is legislating. Bills can be amended (in the US this is how they have the problem of pork barrelling with members tacking all sorts of provisions on to bills) and there obviously is nothing procedurally wrong otherwise the amendment wouldn’t be in front of the Assembly. Every parliament sees cynical tactics but its part of politics. Equally, those in favour of this amendment will also claim that the rumoured petition of concern is a cynical abuse of the system but that is also a valid procedure/ tactic there to be used and I would defend that too.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s less about a social issue and more about asserting control. Less about an attack on SF than a cynical (not to mention stupid) attempt to embarrass them over their rather woolly position (which is actually pro life/anti choice).

    They would be better getting down to writing those long overdue guidelines.

  • Gopher

    If the practice is lawful, which it is, the state has no right to interfere in your choice of public or private practice. We don’t after all live in North Korea. If this passes expect to be taken to the European court and lose.

  • SDLP supporter

    Mick, Sinn Fein pro-life/anti choice? Can you explain.

    My view is that there is no onus on private members to put a proposed amendment out to consultation and that David Ford is being his usual pompous self. It’s a legislative assembly after all, and the Assembly is the right place to discuss the proposed amendment.

    Sinn Fein has weasel-worded on the abortion issue for decades. From a pro-life POV, if they had no problem supporting the taking of life outside the womb by their associates in the IRA, why would they have any problem supporting the extinguishing of human life within the womb?

  • Gopher

    @SDLP supporter

    Votes is always a problem and then there is solidarity, abortion is divisive especially if your meant to be a radical socialist party and have a large constituent of of Catholic conservatives. All those wacky little socialist and republican parties that are annoying little gnats for now are just a failed balance of candidate or a few votes away from a couple of seats. So now the SDLP and the DUP have asked SF to stick or twist, capitulation now would be very very embarassing especially when Paisley jnr led the charge.

  • SDLP supporter

    Gopher
    SDLP is what it says, octal democratic and labour. Whatever is ‘radical socialist’? There are people like George Galloway, who most/some people would consider to be ‘radical socialist’who is firmly anti-abortion. There are eminent social democrats, like Jacques Delors, who are convinced Catholics.

    I simply don’t buy your line that to be pro-life is to be conservative. Even determinedly secular organs like the ‘Economist’ have taken a line of opposition to the way that abortion is used for purely social convenience in places like India and China (aborting female foetuses in the womb) and the appalling social problems that are resulting.

  • SDLP supporter

    Sorry ‘social’

  • SDLP Supporter,

    Perhaps you failed geography in school. We don’t live in India or China nor anywhere even close.

  • SDLP supporter

    Mr J
    don ‘t you try to be smart with me. The issue of abortion is a world-wide one.

  • Gopher

    @SDLP

    You might not buy into that line but there are other people that do hence SF’s woolly position. I did not say conservative I said Catholic conservative, which essentially is just like protestant fundy on the issue. I think it some member of SF ‘s (and those wacky socialist and Republican parties) wet dream to be more like Cuban revolutionaries that George Galloway. Whats Cuba’s position on abortion again?

  • sbelfastunionist

    I am interested in the comments linking this as a cleverly timed move to embarrass/ put pressure on Sinn Fein which was not something I had initially considered when I heard of this development. Obviously, the fact that the Mid Ulster campaign is currently ongoing might suggest that. However, if you remember back to the reaction when Marie Stopes first opened, and then the coverage of the Attornery General offering to assist the Justice Committee to examine the practice of Marie Stopes because he had no powers himself, it seems to me obvious that the same voices then would seek a legislative mechanism at the same time. So might it just be coincidence that this is when the Justice Bill is in front of the Assembly and this is their first opportunity to seek a legislative route. I doubt David Ford brought the Justice Bill forward at this time to facilitate this and have a go at Sinn Fein.

  • son of sam

    Comrade Stalin
    “The S. D L P and D U P make strange bedfellows , that’s for sure”
    No stranger than Sinn Fein and D U P most of the time!

  • Mick Fealty

    SDLP,

    I meant within the specific context of this policy debate.

  • SDLP supporter

    Mick
    Thank you for your response. Maybe I’m being particularly slow tonight, but I still don’t follow your argument.

  • Gopher

    Nobody really thought anyone was sick enough to bolt on a fundamentalist amendment to a criminal justice bill for a lawful medical practice. The implied connotation is truly despicable that the medical practice is criminal for those that have it out of necessity. Credit to Ford he has politely said wise up.

  • Some people are what I call ultra-moralists on the abortion issue. They think that only they know what is “right”. Usually they couldn’t care less that some children are born into just a few short months or years of pain and misery and that those children should thank “god” for that misery. Most countries accept that there are some occasions where abortion is the best option.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yes you can validly make the point that it would have been better to have something which goes through longer consultation etc

    That’s not my point.

    Coll Ciaotach up there said that this is a very serious life or death issue. Therefore, why didn’t the SDLP and DUP bring a bill to the floor of the assembly before now ? Both are in government. There would have been no issue securing time in the chamber over this.

    However, I’m sorry to be technical, this is legislating

    You don’t know what you are talking about.

    There is a process, a long and drawn out process, involved in building good law and providing good government that is there to analyze legislation in detail, properly understand all the effects, ensure that all the angles are properly accounted for etc etc.

    Bypassing all of that and sneaking in a clause concerning a major hot button issue is democracy denied. It is interfering with the process we use to make laws.

    Bills can be amended (in the US this is how they have the problem of pork barrelling with members tacking all sorts of provisions on to bills)

    You’re damn right in your use of the word “problem”. This is not the USA and it is not how things are done around here.

    Furthermore, this is not in any way comparable with a “pork barrel” type of issue in American debating chambers. The pork barrel stuff you’re talking about is where sweeteners are added to otherwise difficult bills to secure support from certain legislators. That’s not what this is about.

    and there obviously is nothing procedurally wrong otherwise the amendment wouldn’t be in front of the Assembly.

    The fact that it is technically in line with the rules does not mean it is a flagrant abuse of the processes that are designed to protect us from bad law.

    Every parliament sees cynical tactics but its part of politics.

    I do not accept that, especially over a major issue like this.

    Equally, those in favour of this amendment will also claim that the rumoured petition of concern is a cynical abuse of the system but that is also a valid procedure/ tactic there to be used and I would defend that too.

    I’m opposed to the use of the Petition of Concern over issues like this, and I think the Petition process needs to be replaced, but given that we are witnessing an abuse of process I have less difficulty with its use than I otherwise would.

    As it stands, the Petition of Concern will probably prevent abortion ever being liberalized.

    Mick:

    It’s less about a social issue and more about asserting control. Less about an attack on SF than a cynical (not to mention stupid) attempt to embarrass them over their rather woolly position (which is actually pro life/anti choice).

    They would be better getting down to writing those long overdue guidelines.

    I fear you have been away too long. It’s nothing to do with any of this; it’s religious evangelicals forcing their opinions on everyone and wanting the rest of us to see how pious they are. They believe that their opinion on this is so correct and so beyond reproach that they feel it is appropriate to subvert the normal lawmaking process in order to legislate for it.

    SDLP Supporter:

    SDLP is what it says, octal democratic and labour.

    No it isn’t. The SDLP is a Catholic nationalist centre-right party doing exactly what the fruitcake evangelical parties elsewhere in Europe or the USA do – using sneaky procedural trickery to legislate their preferred interpretation of an essentially religious matter onto the statute book.

    I find it utterly bizarre that the SDLP, after everything that has gone on for the past few months, are jumping into bed with the DUP completely needlessly. Aren’t there other things that need to be sorted out than pursuing certain people’s religious hobby horses ?

  • SDLP supporter

    ‘SDLP is a Catholic nationalist centre right party’ etc.

    No, it isn’t that is your opinion and its status as a full member of the Party of European Socialists has never been questioned by any of its sister parties. So really, your personal prejudice, indeed hatred, of the SDLP has no locus standi.

    As a professed liberal, you are astonishingly illiberal and intolerant. The issue of abortion can quite legitimately be seen as a matter of human rights, quite separate from religious belief or lack of it. Thus people like Jack Nicholson, the actor, who I would surmise does not have Christian beliefs, is firmly pro-life on human rights grounds.

    Mr J, do you acknowledge that up to 200K abortions are carried out annually in the UK, the vast majority on “social”
    grounds, not because any baby born would be in continual pain, etc, as you cite? I don’t know about you, but I find it abhorrent that a foetus can be terminated for something like having a defect like a cleft palate. And I am entitled to that belief.

  • sbelfastunionist

    Comrade Stalin

    Obviously you feel strongly about this which is fine but it is also to the point that you aren’t prepared to accept any reasonable arguments. Whether you like it or not, an amendment which is valid is part of the legislative process so it is legislating. Actually you are wrong to say that there wouldn’t have been any problem for the SDLP or DUP to bring forward legislation on this because they are in government. The SDLP hasn’t been responsible for a relevant department and even if they were, as the DUP are now with Health, Sinn Fein would have to agree the Bill on the executive before it went to the floor. My points here are about the process but on the substance of the issue (as was possible to pick up from my earlier points) I’m against the amendment too. I just don’t believe in denying the right for the amendment to be brought forward.

  • SDLP supporter,

    Since you ask, I would be appalled if a foetus were aborted because of a cleft palate; it is a condition that can be corrected fairly straightforwardly.
    Do you not support abortion in any cases?
    Let me tell you my only experience. 30 years ago, a sister-in-law of mine living in the Republic was pregnant with her first child. At 6 months, the foetus died. She asked that she be terminated, dead foetus be induced. She was told that such a thing would be an abortion and that was illegal and she was refused. She had to carry the dead foetus for 3 months. I consider that to be extreme mental cruelty.

  • Kevsterino

    That is pretty bizarre, Joe. I have never heard of such a thing, and at this age, that is getting more rare. Awful, just awful.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SDLP Supporter :

    No, it isn’t that is your opinion and its status as a full member of the Party of European Socialists has never been questioned by any of its sister parties. So really, your personal prejudice, indeed hatred, of the SDLP has no locus standi.

    What other parties in the PES have pro-life policies ?

    As a professed liberal,

    I use the word very sparingly and I can’t remember the last time I described myself as such. But anyway…

    you are astonishingly illiberal and intolerant.

    In what way ? Because I disagree with you ?

    The issue of abortion can quite legitimately be seen as a matter of human rights,

    All sections of opinion in the debate about abortion have a legitimate claim to the issue of human rights; the Irish government is facing a potentially quite serious challenge on human rights grounds to its current abortion law. Where are you going with that one ?

    BTW abortion is legal in pretty much every country in the Western world with the exception of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Poland. As far as I’m aware there are no serious attempts

    quite separate from religious belief or lack of it.

    The idea that life begins at conception is a religious belief ie. one which is not informed by science or academic study. And I know committed Christians who are pro-choice.

    I know it’s a religious issue because, typically of those who argue from the pulpit, the proposed amendment will do nothing to actually reduce the occurrence of abortion. All it does is ensure that abortion cannot take place here, permitting people of a certain perspective to feel smug and self-righteous.

    I would support any proposals which would reduce the instance of abortion. The SDLP and DUP would not. That’s the issue that’s really at play here.

    Thus people like Jack Nicholson, the actor, who I would surmise does not have Christian beliefs, is firmly pro-life on human rights grounds.

    A fascinating fact. And ?

    sbelfastunionist:

    Obviously you feel strongly about this which is fine

    The part that I feel strongly about at the moment is the abuse of Assembly process in a sneaky way which is connected with politicians avoiding having a proper debate on abortion.

    If the issue of abortion is brought properly to the Assembly I know I’m going to be on the losing side at the moment. That’s fine. The important part, to me, is that people can see the arguments being made, who is making them and who is on what side. I do not expect my own views on abortion to become law in the short term. It’s up to people to exercise that choice when they’re voting.

    We need to have a public debate about all this and we need to do it right.

    but it is also to the point that you aren’t prepared to accept any reasonable arguments. Whether you like it or not, an amendment which is valid is part of the legislative process so it is legislating.

    If the amendment passes it will be “valid” but it will set a dangerous precedent in terms of local lawmaking. Why shouldn’t we just dispense will all the scrutiny and oversight mechanisms in the Assembly and have ministers and MLAs have private corner huddles and secret deals to decide how the country is run ?

    Actually you are wrong to say that there wouldn’t have been any problem for the SDLP or DUP to bring forward legislation on this because they are in government. The SDLP hasn’t been responsible for a relevant department

    The DUP are responsible and they are co-sponsoring the amendment. Why couldn’t the SDLP work with the DUP health minister to get a bill brought in ?

    and even if they were, as the DUP are now with Health, Sinn Fein would have to agree the Bill on the executive before it went to the floor.

    Sinn Fein’s policy as reaffirmed by their Ard Fheis is to oppose the legalization of abortion so what’s the problem ?

    My points here are about the process but on the substance of the issue (as was possible to pick up from my earlier points) I’m against the amendment too. I just don’t believe in denying the right for the amendment to be brought forward.

    I’m not denying the right for the amendment to be brought forward. You really might want to spend time trying to understand what I’m saying before you respond to it.

  • Banjaxed

    Look on the bright side, folks. This is the shared future we’ve been searching for – or maybe not! Not exactly an edifying sight, is it, a bunch of fundamentalist *male* Mick zealots and fundamentalist *male* Prod zealots sitting down together to steamroller through legislation by which the female of the species will be refused the right to determine what she wishes to do with her own body. As they say, be careful what you wish for.

    A month or so ago I had the misfortune of witnessing on TV a Spanish Inquisition-like interrogation of personnel from the Marie Stopes clinic by a mainly male panel of aggressive bigots on a Stormont committee. It was both appalling and disgusting. The only sympathetic voice on the panel was a SF female member who showed a great deal of sympathy for the sensitivity of the subject – unlike the Holy (male) Warriors of Zealotry. And here we go again with the same political players.

    Well, the SDLP have just lost another couple of votes in leafy South Belfast from chez nous as it quite obviously is party policy in that St Albran* hasn’t been silenced.

    *Has the same effect on me as a box of same

  • SDLP supporter

    Mr. J
    I am sorry about your sister-in-law’s situation. My wife, who qualified as a midwife 40+ years ago, and who has not practised her profession for decades, said she did recollect from her textbooks cases where the dead foetus had to stay in the womb full term and be delivered but that medical advances had made this unnecessary today. Maybe that was the case for your sister in law and I am sure there are contributors to Slugger with the requisite obstetric knowledge who can enlighten.

    You ask me if I am in favour of abortion in any circumstances. Yes, where the life of the mother is in danger and there are other grey areas where I would never be dogmatic, as in the case of rape or incest. But, at base, my view is that when conception takes place, another life comes into being and that life acquires rights. Take just two cases recently:

    1. The Savita case in Galway Regional where the mother died because one of the medical staff said ‘this is a Catholic country and we don’t do abortions’. As I understand it, and I haven’t followed it closely, the report highlighted inadequate medical practice, lack of clinical leadership and lack of care, failure to anticipate septicaemia, the mother’s womb opening, which meant the foetus would die anyway. Undoubtedly there should have been no question that the mother should have got a termination. However, what happened was that the usual suspects, Senator Ivana Bacik and others, rushed in to put the boot into the ‘Catholic fundamentalists’ when it seems at this time it was questionable medical treatment which was the core issue.
    2. Take the recent failed Vicky Pryce prosecution, charged with taking the speeding points of her husband, Chris Huhne. Part of the evidence given was that Pryce, the former government Chief Economist, stellar Oxbridge graduate and part of a multi-millionaire marriage partnership was ‘bullied’ by Huhne into having an abortion, even though she would have liked another baby, basically for reasons of convenience. And, again, the on-going case of Mick Philpott, charged with his partner and another guy of with manslaughter of the couple’s six children. Evidence was given that Philpott got some sort of sexual kick from watching his partner have sex with another man and arranged for his partner’s subsequent pregnancy to be aborted.
    Now, in both the Pryce/Huhne and Philpott cases the abortions carried out were perfectly legal under the 1967 Act (social grounds) and carried out on presumably healthy foetuses but, for me, both were immoral abhorrent and, especially in Philpott’s case, sordid. I do not know if anyone could argue that they contributed to societal good in any way and NI would not be a better place in any way if such an Act was applicable here.

    Now to Comrade S (sigh). I have no idea what the individual positions of the PES parties on abortion are, but it is quite irrelevant and a party’s position on the matter doesn’t make anyone more or less social democratic. Outside Europe, I understand that one of world’s biggest democracies, Brazil, has anti abortion laws. CS wants the SDLP to ‘fall in line’ with other parties’ positions. Interestingly, as far as I know, some pretty prominent past and present Alliance Party members were and are pro-life: Seamus Close, David Ford, Oliver Napier, Naomi Long. Has CS taken steps within his party to enforce the conformity which he seems so anxious to foist on SDLP?
    CS has a bit of a ‘pick and mix’ attitude on his party’s core philosophy, liberalism, and uses the word “very sparingly”. Alliance’s site advertises its membership of the Alliance for Liberalism and Democrats in Europe and of the Liberal International but apparently Comrade S wants to be sotto voce about those connections, as presumably about the fact that Alliance’s sister party in the Republic is Fianna Fail.
    I am glad that Comrade S now acknowledges that attitudes to abortion centre around differing attitudes to human rights. Up to now, he has tried to paint prolife people as religious fundamentalists in the manner of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson but I used the example of Jack Nicholson, a world-class libertine by any definition, to underline the fact that opposition to abortion can come from other than religious conviction.
    It is emphatically not true that those who are against abortion on religious grounds ”do nothing to actually reduce the occurrence of abortion”. Has he ever heard of the work of Life NI, Cura and other similar groups which do tremendous work to help women with crisis pregnancies in an entirely non-judgemental way? I am proud to support these bodies in a small way, for they truly do good work. People like Clinton and Obama say they want abortion in the US to be ‘legal, safe and rare’ but I’ve seen little evidence that they do anything practical and, in Clinton’s case, a lot of his ‘reforms’ were inimical to family life.
    Comrade S also says he “know(s) committed Christian who are pro-choice”. How many? Certainly within NI the only one who might be is the Unitarian minister, Chris Hudson, and it is a fact that the three great Abrahamaic faiths (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) are overwhelmingly against abortion.

  • SDLP supporter,

    Thank you for your considered reply.

  • The Raven

    No one is forcing you to endure an abortion, SDLP Supporter. And yet you amd others seem very determind to stop others exercising their free right to be able to have one without social and legal and indeed religious and moral pressure.

    I particularly find it distatsteful that this situation arises through a largely male-dominated Assembly, and that of all things, this amendment is tacked on to the end of a Criminal Justice Bill.

    Thus was it ever on this island.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Now to Comrade S (sigh). I have no idea what the individual positions of the PES parties on abortion are, but it is quite irrelevant

    Then why in the name of blazing feck did you bring it up ?

    and a party’s position on the matter doesn’t make anyone more or less social democratic.

    Actually yes it does. None of the other social democratic parties have a pro-life policy; and most social democratic parties tend to be pro-choice de facto, if not de jure. It was the SDLP’s sister party who introduced the 1967 Abortion act.

    Outside Europe, I understand that one of world’s biggest democracies, Brazil, has anti abortion laws.

    Maybe. But anti-abortion laws are highly unusual.

    CS wants the SDLP to ‘fall in line’ with other parties’ positions

    Crazy ideas you have. I have no interest in what the SDLP does with its policies, whichare a matter for its voters and members. The SDLP are entitled to articulate whatever policies they want.

    Interestingly, as far as I know, some pretty prominent past and present Alliance Party members were and are pro-life: Seamus Close, David Ford, Oliver Napier, Naomi Long. Has CS taken steps within his party to enforce the conformity which he seems so anxious to foist on SDLP?

    Alliance, in common with most other political parties in Europe, doesn’t have a policy on abortion. It is a conscience issue for the individual representative and that is the way I’m happy for it to stay.

    I’d disagree with Alliance representatives voting to deny women the same rights that they enjoy elsewhere in the UK and throughout Europe, but provided they did it out in the open and used the proper procedures of the assembly to have a full public debate I could not really complain.

    I am not “foisting” conformity on the SDLP. As I have said in plain English three or four times now, I am pointing out my unhappiness with the SDLP’s abuse of process. What part of that are you having a problem dealing with ?

    CS has a bit of a ‘pick and mix’ attitude on his party’s core philosophy, liberalism, and uses the word “very sparingly”. Alliance’s site advertises its membership of the Alliance for Liberalism and Democrats in Europe and of the Liberal International but apparently Comrade S wants to be sotto voce about those connections,

    Yawn. Can we get back to having a debate about something interesting ?

    as presumably about the fact that Alliance’s sister party in the Republic is Fianna Fail.

    Hey, don’t look at me. I’m not a member of the party which tried to merge with Fianna Fáil at the height of their corruption, decadence and destruction being foisted upon the Irish people.

    Up to now, he has tried to paint prolife people as religious fundamentalists in the manner of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson but I used the example of Jack Nicholson, a world-class libertine by any definition, to underline the fact that opposition to abortion can come from other than religious conviction.

    One swallow does not a summer make.

    It is emphatically not true that those who are against abortion on religious grounds ”do nothing to actually reduce the occurrence of abortion”.

    Well yes it is. Does Alban Maginness and his fundamentalist friends in the DUP support giving out free contraception and family planning advice to young women for example ?

    Has he ever heard of the work of Life NI, Cura and other similar groups which do tremendous work to help women with crisis pregnancies in an entirely non-judgemental way?

    Er, “helping women with crisis pregnancies” isn’t much help if they never wanted a baby in the first place. Less abortions would happen if people became pregnant less often. And while I’m at it, less abortions would happen if more women used the morning after pill. Which people like Alban and presumably your good self oppose because of your religious conviction that a microscopic cluster of human cells has rights.

    I am proud to support these bodies in a small way, for they truly do good work. People like Clinton and Obama say they want abortion in the US to be ‘legal, safe and rare’ but I’ve seen little evidence that they do anything practical and, in Clinton’s case, a lot of his ‘reforms’ were inimical to family life.

    Yes. That’s precisely why you’re a right wing fundamentalist and not a social democrat. Your pious lecturing about family life and disdain for liberal reform around this area marks you out.

    Comrade S also says he “know(s) committed Christian who are pro-choice”. How many?

    Ah, so now you can’t be a Christian if you’re pro-choice. I see.

    Certainly within NI the only one who might be is the Unitarian minister, Chris Hudson, and it is a fact that the three great Abrahamaic faiths (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) are overwhelmingly against abortion.

    Yeah, so why is abortion legal almost everywhere in the Christian world ?

  • Kevsterino

    Comrade,
    I think it is wrong to say that a pro-life position is incompatible with other liberal causes/issues. I think it is entirely possible for someone to regard abortion as anything but the right choice and still oppose its prohibition. I know people, many of them lifelong friends, who are all over the place on this issue. I don’t think it defines a person as conservative to want abortion illegal. In fact, some of my friends who are far more liberal than me on various social issues want an outright ban on abortion.

    Myself, I don’t see much benefit by driving something so dangerous underground. That just introduces a whole new list of horrors. People still have a right to their views, of course. But I don’t think you can pigeon hole people just on one very peculiar issue.

  • Kevsterino,

    It would be tragic if abortion was re-criminalized because, as you say, it would continue underground in anything but hygienic circumstances without immediate proper intervention if something went amiss.

  • BluesJazz

    Abortion is actually legal in NI, as long as you have internet access:
    http://www.zeepharmacy.com/abortion-pill.html

    A collection of cells, or zygote, is just a case of accidents will happen.
    The BMA have thought this through and the neanderthal politicians in the backward cave part of the UK are just posturing.

  • Newman

    For the minute let us leave the hard cases aside.. the issue then is whether the law should permit abortion in all circumstances.The premise that a potential human yet unborn has no right to protection on the basis of someone’s choice is morally and socially corrupt.Getting pregnant is different to choosing what one wears or where one lives and yet we have transposed the consumer argument into the field of neo-natal ethics with consummate ease. The accidents will happen argument is a chilling manifestation of a mentality that closes its eyes to the consequences of one’s actions and treats human beings with potential as something with the moral status of a take away pizza.To then characterise opposition to abortion as the preserve of neanderthals reduces a critical moral issue to puerile ad hominem arguments that contribute nothing

  • cat-ni

    To me the biggest fallacy within this whole debate is that the NHS service within the hallowed confines of the Royal Maternity Hospital is fit for purpose. Repeatedly it has been stated that, in the very limited circumstances that a woman may obtain an abortion in NI, women should be satisfied with NHS therefore removing the need for a private alternative. The male dominated Assembly do not seem to be able to grasp the idea that should a woman find herself in this terrible position she may not want to be subject to the insensitivity and misogyny which is so prevalent in the NHS. I’m thinking of miscarrying women being left on maternity wards surrounded by newborns or sent home to dispose of their babies alone with no advice bar “you’re young, you can have more”. The notion that a procedure could be legal in the Royal and illegal in a private clinic a mile down the road is farcical and in my opinion this is nothing more than a cheap vote winner, panacea for the masses with no greater understanding of the range of issues involved.

  • SDLP supporter

    I don’t like being the subject of a bile-filled, bug-eyed, foam-flecked diatribe from someone who descends to ‘puerile, ad hominem arguments’ [as contributor Newman has noted] but I promise that this is my last response to Comrade Stalin on this matter and just to put the record right.

    1. I didn’t bring up the position of other PES parties on abortion, he did.
    2. It was not the SDLP’s sister party, British Labour, which introduced the 1967 Abortion Act. It was David Steel, the Liberal MP. Fact.
    3. As, I believe, a former senior employee of the Alliance Party [only heard this today, don’t know if it’s true], CS’s avoidance of the core tenet of the party’s espousal of liberalism is interesting, and maybe explains a lot. A bit like a Christian clergyman denying Christ’s divinity or the Resurrection.
    4. CS knows perfectly well that SDLP never tried to merge with Fianna Fail, but peddles the lie anyway. That would require a public vote at Annual Conference, as would be the case with any open, democratic party, like Alliance.
    5. Since he dismisses poor old Jack Nicholson, can I mention someone else who is a world-famous actor, who has been arrested 66 times for acts of civil disobedience, who is anti-war and capital punishment, who is an ardent environmentalist, who is committed to social justice, who supports same-sex marriage, who supports individual pro-choice politicians, who is the very epitome of the ideal liberal US President? Oh, and he is also pro-life, which single fact makes him, like me, “a right-wing fundamentalist”. Step forward, Martin Sheen, aka President Josiah Bartlet, of West Wing global fame. And, yes, I know West Wing is only fiction and, no, I’m not comparing himself to him. It’s just to remind CS that you should never pigeon-hole people glibly.

  • BluesJazz

    just for the record:

    http://www.zeepharmacy.com/abortion-pill.html

    You can get cheaper under google.
    know many people just got the boat to Liverpool.

    It’s only a zygote, a collection of cells.

    No big deal. Within a few years you’ll be able to get the ‘morning after’ (48 hours) pill by vending machine.

    The neanderthals are lost in a stone age mentality.
    But sure just pretend you did the right thing and all that jazz…

  • cat-ni

    There are very few people who are genuinely pro-life or pro-choice. Most people who consider themselves pro-life provide a caveat for cases where the mother’s life is in danger and a lot would allow for cases of rape especially when the victim is a child. Most people who are pro-choice don’t agree with extremely late term abortion. The grey areas are what prevent this issue being easily solved and it is why the Assembly are taking this cheap shot, proclaiming themselves pro-life but not actually addressing the difficult questions. I’m no great fan of Sinn Fein but they seem to be the only party questioning the hypocrisy of this move.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The idea that life begins at conception is a religious belief ie. one which is not informed by science or academic study. And I know committed Christians who are pro-choice.

    ——————————————

    Lol. The whole life begins at birth is very scientific isn’t it?

    I always wonder though why people who are “pro-choice” would never blink an eye if the woman aborted a child on grounds of autonomy, yet I would bet they wouldn’t want crimes related to child neglect off the statute book?

    I find that so strange. Whats the difference? I dare say that the the 9 months of a pregnancy are not as demanding as the 9 months after but if the mother left a baby to starve in her house, I suspect most have a difficulty with it.

  • As, I believe, a former senior employee of the Alliance Party [only heard this today, don’t know if it’s true]

    You heard wrong. That’s me and I post under my own name. But I basically agree with him.

    As it stands, NI law (still governed by the 1938 English criminal case R v Bourne) only permits termination in very restrictive circumstances in which there is a clear risk to the health of the mother. Marie Stopes has made it clear that it operates within these guidelines. If it is not operating within these guidelines, a criminal prosecution under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 could be pursued. But noone, even the Catholic/Protestant Coalition to Stop Brazen Strumpets Murdering Their Babies, has suggested that Stopes is doing anything other than acting legally.

    The only reason, in that context, for legislating their clinic out of existence is if the NHS is or could be persuaded to not give women access to abortions they are absolutely entitled to in law. In my own opinion, that’s the real agenda behind the Maginness/Givan amendment.

    This sort of thing happens in real life, especially when there is a medical culture of anti-abortion extremism. The founding director of the maternity unit where Savita Halvanappar was left to die, for example, is on record as claiming he had never once seen a case where an abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. That it is transparently false did not prevent Professor Eamon O’Dwyer saying so.

    Now, I may be being paranoid here, but in that context I note, for example, the vastly lower level of terminations in what was the Western Board area compared with Belfast. Seems to me maybe women with serious health problems aren’t getting abortions they desperately need on the NHS in NI where, let’s face it, people with a worldview like Professor O’Dwyer are thick on the ground. We need the Stopes clinic in operation if women are to get abortions they need for the sake of their health. Remember this is under what is, after the Republic and Poland, the 3rd most restrictive abortion law in Europe.

    As I said, if Stopes is breaking the law, prosecutions can be brought. If it isn’t breaking the law, why is there an attempt to legislate it out of existence, unless politicians want to stop women getting healthcare the law entitles them to?

  • Lionel Hutz

    Gerry,

    Isn’t the the real motivation behind this that they do not have confidence that Marie Stopes will act within the law or at least that they would exploit what ambiguity there is in the law. Their answers to the justice committee were seen by the MLAs as unsatisfactory.

    Now I am not saying that the MLAs are correct but my sense is that they are genuinly about whether the clinic will provide abortions in cases were the mother’s life is not at risk. In fact, if you cast your mind back to when assembly questions were tabled relating to the numbers of abortions within the NHS, there appear to be doubt among some MLAs as to whether the law was being broken their too.

    This is a very difficult to police one would have thought, and it is a justice issue as much as a health issue as things stand in the NI.

    But sure its all about those religious nuts isn’t it. Its so easy to dismiss a point of view if the people that hold it also happen to be religious. Never mind that this might be the single most complex moral and ethical issue we face today.

  • The SDLP and the DUP and now the UUP must think that we are all stupid. They say that their concern is that only the NHS can provide an adequate level of care and that that is the only reason they are proposing their amendment. I have access to selling some swampland beautiful property in Florida if anyone is interested.