Playing Politics with Medicine: Alasdair’s Abortion Intervention

The recent comments by the SDLP Leader over the issue of Abortion has caused a stir. Analysing his comments Ulster University academic, Dr. Cillian McGrattan argues that he is playing politics with medicine.

The latest of the series of embarrassing PR-disasters that have characterised his tenure as SDLP leader, Alasdair McDonnell’s ostensible defence of his party’s abortion policy has managed to plumb a new low in what is otherwise an intensely emotionally sensitive debate.

In order to avoid misinterpretation of someone who seems to endure a daily Prescottesque battle with the English language it’s worth quoting McDonnell at length.

Thus, speaking at the weekend about cases of lethal foetal abnormality, McDonnell asserted that ‘The SDLP is unequivocally opposed to abortion, even in those particular circumstances because basically, the predictions in those circumstances are never accurate. Nobody can predict that a foetus is not viable, and that’s the problem, and as a GP, I’m fully aware’.

While it remains uncertain as to exactly what McDonnell is ‘fully aware’, his medical opinion was denounced as ‘worrying, unhelpful and disingenuous’ by Breedagh Hughes from the Royal College of Midwives in Northern Ireland. ‘I think he is going back a number of years ago when he was practising as a GP’, she explained. ‘It is very sophisticated now and highly accurate’.

Janice Smyth, the director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, also challenged McDonnell’s claims: ‘Dr McDonnell may have information that we don’t have but certainly the RCN has no information that would suggest that doctors diagnosing fatal abnormality have been getting it wrong’.

McDonnell’s anecdotal approach (‘I have seen situations…’) has insidious implications that extend beyond disputes over evidence and medical methodology.

By claiming authority based on his position as a GP in order to defend a party policy, McDonnell is playing on our trust in doctors. By seemingly getting the medical and evidential call so wrong he achieves something that is arguably beyond ‘totally irresponsible’ (to quote Audrey Simpson from the Family Planning Association). What McDonnell is doing is simply wrong from both a medical and an ethical position.

He is of course free to air his views on abortion or any other matter – the problem arises when he takes on the guise of a medical expert to reinforce a moral and a political judgment. In so doing, he tarnishes medicine, morality and political transparency with the same cynical taint.

Ultimately, McDonnell then appears to speak neither from morality nor medicine. He uses, instead, what Orwell termed ‘political language’ – namely, that which ‘is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind’.

McDonnell’s clumsy attempt to offer medical experience as policy reveals that he is unable even to use political language to give a semblance of solidity. His framing not only toys with our faith in medical professionals but demonstrates that his condescension towards women and women’s bodies stems from a general arrogance.

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  • mickfealty

    Poor Alasdair. He might have been better saying nothing and hoping no one notices like most of the other folks on the hill.

    You make a very good point about experience acting as (or instead) of policy (a classic idol of the cave, but I would quote Paul Cairney of Stirling Univeristy here (

    There is no single accepted definition of policy. I use the working definition ‘the sum total of government action, from signals of intent to the final outcomes’ to raise important qualifications: (a) it is problematic to conflate what people say they will do with what they actually do; (b) a policy outcome can be very different from the intention; (c) policy is made routinely through cooperation between elected and unelected policymakers and actors with no formal role in the process; (d) policymaking is also about the power not to do something.

    Evidence and scientific evidence. We can define evidence as an argument or assertion backed by information. Scientific evidence therefore describes information produced in a particular way. Some (including me) use ‘scientific’ broadly, to refer to information gathered systematically using recognised methods. Others refer to a specific hierarchy of scientific methods, with randomized control trials (RCTs) and quantitative systematic review/ meta-analysis at the top (see Nutley et al, 2013).

    Also note the difference between two kinds of evidence-based activity relating to: the size of the problem (for example, the number of smokers and the link between smoking and ill health); and, the effectiveness of the solution (for example, the effect of higher taxes and health warnings on consumption).”

    Election campaigns induce all manner hasty nonsense in order to secure shaky bases. All our parties underinvest in policy making (if they have the resources they tend to spend it on attritional election campaigns that keep studiously away from policy (lest they get hung at some point in the future for not doing what they might promise.

  • chrisjones2

    What he betrays however is a complete contempt for the rights of the women. They are mere vessels to carry the child with no rights and in these cases no succour or hope

    What a shameful horrible misogynistic policy

    And how misguided to think that these days this will gain the SDLP votes

  • Korhomme

    Dr McDonnell is extrapolating from his personal experience a view of “expert opinion”. Such opinion was certainly justified in the past when overall statistics were not available. Today, and for the past few decades, such “expert opinion” when compared to “evidence-based medicine” has been shown to be irrational and uncertain. Individual practitioners saw only a very limited part of the entire spectrum of illness and problems, yet their “opinions” were based on, and reinforced by, such a limited viewpoint. Such “expert opinion” was more often than not an expression of a “belief”.

    The SDLP may well hold the view they are “unequivocally opposed” to abortion, a view to which they are, of course, entirely entitled to, but they damage their cause when they try to support it by statements which have no evidential basis.

    “Belief”, surely, is perfectly acceptable in one’s own personal, private sphere, when such influences are, or should be, no matter or concern for third parties. “Belief” may certainly influence one’s personal morality and ethical viewpoint.

    But to extend personal “belief”, particularly when based on an incomplete awareness of all the circumstances, into public policy is at best disingenuous.

    it is perhaps an expectation too far to expect our elected representatives to act in an entirely rational and unbiased way, for they all have views and concepts determined by personal ideology. Even so, it is reasonable to expect them to at least consider factual evidence, examine their consciousnesses, to either accept such evidence, or deny it, and to act appropriately. All too often, it seems, that those “on the hill” put their “belief systems” before any facts, any evidence that may be adduced—or may even refuse to accept that “evidence” is necessary in decision making. Is that not the basis of a theocracy?

  • Ernekid

    Its hard to judge whether McDonnell if a worse politician than he is a doctor or vice versa.

    I hope McDonnell meets his Portillo moment in May, It’d give the SDLP a sorely needed kick up the arse.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    He doesn’t practice medicine when he’s is employed as and MP and leader of the SDLP?

  • BetsyGray

    Alasdair needs to learn to please stop acting so arrogantly and condescending on so many issues….its getting on my wick…!….

  • BetsyGray

    In medical parlance… his Brocas area is not communicating properly with his Wernickes area…this leads to serious voter loss and apathy…and eventual electoral demise.

  • Reader

    Evidence free decision making in a medical topic best left to science. We’ve seen this sort of thing before.

  • aor26

    Anybody else think the Doctor is the best leader of the S.D.L.P that Sinn Fein have ever had ?/

  • Mister_Joe

    Comes close, at least.

  • RitaJoseph

    It is you, chrisjones, who are using derogatory language describing mothers as “mere vessels”.
    A mother carries her child to birth and gives her child every care she is able. She does not commission an abortionist to attack with lethal intent her tiny daughter or son in her womb.
    Her child may be born without hope, but succour and palliative care and love should always there.

  • chrisjones2

    Try and read the piece please. The ‘Mere Vessels’ remark refers to SDLP policy towards women, not my views

    “A mother carries her child to birth” ….but in most of the cases Alistair cites the foetus isnt a child. It has no separate identity or sense of being. It can even be totally dead – yet the woman is to be forced to carry it inside her? It may be the product of rape and carrying it may damage her psychologically – yet i assume you want to victimise her and force her to do so – well the SDLP does anyway

    Shame on them

  • Ian James Parsley

    Dr McGrattan is spot on, of course, backing up my own piece.

    It is time others stopped playing politics and dealt with the fact the SDLP Leader bound his own party to a reprehensible position based on an outright medical lie.

  • Sliothar

    In the same week that the SDLP’s decision to back the NCA’s operation in the North on a mere nod from the Home Office that they (NCA) would abide by Stomont’s accountability, and for which they were warmly applauded by Loyalist Taliban parties, and, in this most recent decision to also back their views against the proposed (modest, imo) change in the abortion law, McDonnell is giving the impression that he and his party have similar right-wing and/or fundamentalist Christian policies. However, I’m not surprised by the latter as they have ‘previous’ on the matter given the manner by which Alban Maginness harrassed Dawn Purvis in a Stormont committee over the Marie Stopes Clinic. It would be interesting to find out, incidentally, how much this policy is accepted by women members of the SDLP given that most of their spokespersons on the subject are men.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Is it not interesting to note that the one thing both ends of our political see-saw can entirely agree over must involve the suppression of rights that people in most civilised polities enjoy?

  • chrisjones2

    Loyalist Taliban parties – mere racist smear ? Havent seen the DUP out murdering schoolchildren

  • carl marks

    but we have seen loyalist’s throw urine filled balloons and blast bombs at primary school kids, Just luck that they didn’t kill anybody!

  • RitaJoseph

    The foetus isn’t a child? Science and reason affirms that the f the foetus is a child with an identifiable mother and father.

    Biology, embryology, fetal surgery, ultrasound technology, and examination of the human remains of a late term abortion all tell us that this is a human being, a child in her/his mother’s womb. belonging to the human family, a human being who can be identified as a daughter or son, a ‘who’ not a generic ‘thing’.

    The fetus is a human being at the fetal stage of life–science can identify that this human being is a daughter or a son, the child of a mother whose relationship to her child can be established scientifically and accurately as the mother of this child, and a father who can also be veriifed through scientific testing as the father of this child.

    To argue anything else is just opinionated anti-scientific nonsense..

    Yet abortionists are ready to be persuaded for a fee to ignore the scientifically supported biological facts establishing the humanity of the unborn child as the second patient in consultations concerning a pregnancy.

    Both patients are human beings entitled to benign health care. Genuine medical treatments must respect the science.

  • RitaJoseph

    Dr McDonnell is right to dismiss prognosis of non-viability as grounds for deliberately attacking and killing the tiny daughter or don in her/his mother’s womb. Genuine medicine does no deliberate harm to either patient–the mother or the little daughter or son in her womb.

  • RitaJoseph

    Your use of the term ‘force’ is arguable.

    No ‘force’ or violence is required to be exercised against the mother or her child in order to continue the pregnancy. Not so with ending a pregnancy and forcefully exterminating the utterly defenseless tiny unique new daughter or son being nurtured in that pregnancy.

    Indeed. it is the lethal act of abortion perpetrated by the abortionist against her unborn child that introduces a very real and substantial ‘force’ to bring a most violent, most unnatural end to her child’s life in utero.

  • David Arnold

    The SDLP seem to think there’s a market for a nationalist DUP, perhaps forgetting that the DUP mandate is predicated on being the strongest advocates for the union rather than their nasty, small minded little policies.

    With SF long since outflanking them on the border issue, the party of grumpy, out of touch old men appear to have less and less reason to actually exist.

    McDonnell’s arrogant and out-dated abortion comments are nothing less than we should expect. A few months ago, having advocated the criminalisation of NI sex buyers at the behest of the DUPs Lord Morrow, Alban Maginess entertainingly informed us that buyers could be traced via their credit cards, a novel approach for an industry dealing almost entirely in cash. Cluelessness is apparently an attribute in this party.

  • Sliothar

    cj2 – Well, for a start, I was attempting to address the question of fundamentalism per se – and from all quarters in fact. However, in addition to my original post, it is interesting to note that another fundamentalist has entered into the abortion debate in the form of Fr Timothy Bartlett, an RC priest, who has thrown his, and the RC church’s weight, behind the DUP’s stance. A further example of a celibate (allegedly), unmarried male weighing in against the right of a woman to choose what happens to the future of her own life in relation to an incest or rape related pregnancy or fatal foetal abnormality. Apart from the last case, why do all of the above fundamentalists dump the responsibility of others’ criminal actions onto the future life of an innocent woman or, for that matter, a child, as has happened in the past?

    Furthermore and apart from the morality aspect alone, I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the RC church and SDLP are in cahoots on the abortion question. There’s only one target here and, in my humble opinion, it’s those ‘heathen’ Sinn Feiners.

    So, cj2, remind me again, where’s all this racism you’re talking about?

  • New Yorker

    Alasdair McDonnell states “Nobody can predict that a foetus is not viable”. If the viability cannot be predicted with 100% certainty, then that is a sound position for those who oppose abortion. It is a life and death matter and not something lesser where it is reasonable to apply probability. To make a life and death decision without 100% certainty is playing God.

  • carl marks

    Just a pity that both his medicine and science is out of date! but then again the anti choice doesn’t do real science but prefers (as in your post) emotional blackmail.

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Is the Alliance Party and PUP the only political parties who are Pro Choice and advocate an Extension of the 1967 UK Abortion Act to NI ? If so do they include this policy in their Manifesto ?

  • chrisjones2

    Again religiously driven clap trap

    “No ‘force’ or violence is required to be exercised against the mother”

    Tell that to the husband of Savita Halappanavar. She was killed by the refusal of an abortion when her baby was dying and killing her

    “Science and reason” confirms that a foetus with a fatal abnormality is dead or will die. Its incapable of life.

    “a child in her/his mother’s womb. belonging to the human family”

    No ….its not. Its not sentient or capable of survival

    “persuaded for a fee” – disgraceful and utterly unsupported allegation against healthcare professions trying to help women in awful circumstances. But your are fine. If this is a real concern than let the sate health services do it free of charge. Available on demand. No fee. No possibility of profit

    “Both patients are human beings entitled to benign health care”

    Says who? where does this come from? You and your associates have just invented this as it sounds good and reflects your view. But what about when the foetus is dead or will die? What about when there is a clear risk to the heath of the woman?

    Above all what about the rights of the woman? Its her body not yours and her right to choose. You have no rights or say in this matter – its the choice of the woman

  • chrisjones2

    ” that is a sound position for those who oppose abortion.”

    No its not. Nothing is ever 100% certain. The key issue is that its for the patient – in this case the woman – to make an informed decision

  • chrisjones2

    …. and a remarkably foolish comment from a barrister. My credit card was used? Prove that I used it m’laud

  • E19

    Good to see some women on this forum I perhaps mistakenly assumed most of the discussion here emanated from mere males. Perhaps the antiquated and 1970 ish presentation, that the SDLP espouse should be dissected by fresh contemporary lenses.

  • RitaJoseph

    Let’s take an honest look at the anti-scientific dogma peddled by an aging ideology that pretends that pregnancies are childless.

    Pro-abortion ideologues have reinvented the old fairy tale fiction that a Stork (named ‘Reproductive Choice’) brings the baby whose existence is instantaneously affirmed only at the moment of birth.

    The irony is that this fiction has been invented and continues to be propagated at a time in history where we have never had so much detailed scientifically verifiable knowledge of the humanity of each child who is taken to the abortionist to be “terminated”. A mother is able as never before to see her child through an ultrasound window to the womb; she can hear a heartbeat that is not her own.

  • RitaJoseph

    You don’t seem to be able to get anything right.

    Regrettably, the original report attributing Savita’s death to a refusal to abort her child was shown to be untrustworthy. In relation to the actual details of Savita’s tragic death, the watchdog Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) issued the true story finally in their official Report, 9th October 2013. Savita died because doctors failed to recognise that she was suffering from an infection and failed to act on signs that she was deteriorating. The Report identified some 13 missed opportunities. Failure to access abortion was not one of them

    Among the listed failures were:
    *General lack of provision of basic, fundamental care, for example, not following up on blood tests as identified in Savita’s case.
    * Failure to provide regular monitoring and recording of a patient’s clinical observations
    *Failure to provide seamless clinical handover of information relating to each patient within and between clinicians and clinical teams;
    *Failure to recognise that Savita was at risk of clinical deterioration.
    *Failure to act or escalate concerns to an appropriately qualified clinician when Savita was showing signs of clinical deterioration.

    The notion that one needs an abortion to correct for medical and clinical negligence of a sepsis infection is not very convincing. One school of expert medical opinion at the time expressed caution in regard to performing an abortion in these circumstances on the grounds that the invasive abortion procedure itself sometimes results in an accelerated proliferation of the sepsis infection.

  • carl marks

    still with the tear jerking, but I notice that you chose to ignore the science and the medical experts.
    and nobody pretends that pregnancies are childless, that is a nonsence.
    this debate is about choice and here is a quote from a thread that points out the evil of refusing women choice,

    One further point; there are often unintended and unwanted effects of criminalising something which many people would prefer to have. Criminalising of abortion drove it underground; it was certainly possible to get one in N Ireland, if you had the money and the contacts. Otherwise, it was the backstreets and knitting needles, and you might be lucky to survive.

    do you really want to go back to those days!

  • chrisjones2

    She died because she was refused an abortion when her foetus was dead. The sepsis arose from the same source,.

    Stop trying to excuse the inexcusable.

    And again you ignore the issue. Women have the right to manage their own bodies and health. You would seek to take that right from them, put them at risk and in some cases cause their deaths

    That is wrong and shameful. The decisions lie with the woman and her alone. Not you or me or some old male politicians grubbing for votes

    Never mind though. Your God will excuse you I am sure

  • chrisjones2

    Not by this one – look at her posts elkewhere. Anti-Abortion fanatic

  • Artemis13

    The Green party is pro choice, as well as the PUP. Also the NI Labour party, interesting as it doesn’t run candidates due to a pact with the SDLP. I think Alliance has a free vote, their only rep on the all party pro life group resigned recently and obviously David Ford is Alliance and has instigated the proposed (limited) reform so maybe they are going that way too- for so called ‘deserving’ cases at least.

  • Artemis13

    No force is required? What about Ms Y who was institutionalised, force fed and then had a forced c section? Not forgetting that the pregnancy itself was forced.

  • babyface finlayson

    Exactly what is the Sinn Fein policy on abortion?
    They support this change in regard to cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormality, I think.
    Do you think they want to go further in regard to access to abortion?

  • chrisjones2

    ts the reference to “Loyalist Taliban parties”. I agree they are backward, homophobic and just plain stupid but for me to use Taliban goes far too far and just implies a casual racists attitude to unionism.

    If I am wrong or have offended you then I apologise – and for what its worth I agree with your last post. Its an unholy alliance of Churches and flat earthers keen to see young women fired off to England for abortions while pretending that they are whiter than white

  • chrisjones2

    To get as many votes as possible from the issue

  • chrisjones2

    Thats not fair. Big Al has his finger on the pulse. Just look at his website

    Where he is

    * representing South Belfast in London Dublin and Washington
    * protecting Aer Lingus’s slots at Heathrow – cant afford not to or he will miss the connecting flights I suppose
    * ensuring retention of the RTE Long Wave signal – so Stoop supporters in NI can tune in on their old Bush Valve Radios and pretend its 1957 they are living in the Republic and a pint of Guinness is still 2s/3d. Que fiddle music.

    Strange theres no mention of poverty, health, welfare reform, defence, tax, etc etc

  • chrisjones2

    I think you will find they threw the bombs at police and army protecting the children but never mind it makes a good narrative

  • Zig70

    Taking a Catholic line is probably good politics but it seems that McDonnell, like the SDLP and the catholic church are out of step and a bit inward. Does anyone believe in the dictats on contraception, sex before marriage or transubstantiation? They aren’t lines you would support if you wanted popularity. Abortion is a tricky one, most Catholics, practicing or not, would believe that a foetus is a human being and not some cell blob from an early stage. There are plenty of arguments to be made. The lack of awareness of McDonnell’s comments is indicative of the party that elected him as leader. It seems to me they don’t look to their electoral support rather than focusing on just the internal party. Couldn’t be that easy though? I’m actually at the point of giving up on the SDLP and would consider supporting FF instead. Especially if FF can find a line that reflects their Pontius Pilate like attitude to northern catholics in the 70’s and which still seems to influence a lecturing down the nose tone on the current cold war.

  • RitaJoseph

    “…nobody pretends that pregnancies are childless”?

    Incredibly and quite irrationally, extreme feminist ideologues have attempted to assign to every pregnant woman a totalitarian authority to decide whether she is carrying a child or whether her pregnancy is childless—‘it’s only a bunch of cells’.

    Arkansas abortionist, Dr William F. Harrison, gave succinct expression to this flawed but common defense by doctors who perform abortions:

    “It’s not a baby to me until the mother tells me it’s a baby.”

    Thumbs up, the tiny human being lives; thumbs down, the dehumanized ‘fetus’ is exterminated.

    That’s narcissistic subjectivity taken to its most destructive and inhumane extreme.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    where we have never had so much detailed scientifically verifiable knowledge of the humanity of each child

    Science does not and cannot make determinations on the humanity of a child, unborn or otherwise.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    at what point do you think it’s a baby, and exactly what science do you have that supports your view ?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Alliance do not have an abortion policy.

    Alliance do not advocate an extension of the 1967 Act.

  • RitaJoseph

    The debate is not about ‘choice’. There is no legitimate choice for one human being to deliberately commission the killing of another utterly defenseless human being in her power.

    It is the crazy mixed-up anti-scientific dehumanization of the fetus by an aging ideology that has miscreated elective abortion as “our choice”.

    Women can be educated

    1. to accept their human rights duty towards the daughters or sons being protected and nurtured in their mothers’ wombs;

    2. to understand and accept the rational imperatives to avoid abortions involving “backstreets and knitting needles”

    3. to seek non-violent solutions to their the material and health problems

    You need to examine more honestly the ideological mendacity lurking behind the perennial claim that
    abortion should remain legal and unregulated in order to make all abortions ‘safe’. Candace Crandall’s research published in “The Women’s Quarterly” (Winter 1996), set out the truth that medical advances, not legal changes, were responsible for improved maternal mortality rates: “In fact, it wasn’t Roe v Wade that made abortion safe: it was the availability of antibiotics beginning in the 1940s. She admitted candidly that “the most powerful of the pro-choice arguments was the claim that any infringement of the right to an abortion would return America to the dark ages when thousands of women died because of unsafe, back-alley abortion”.

  • RitaJoseph

    Nonsense. Science does and can make determinations on the humanity of a child, unborn or otherwise. I’s absurd to say it doesn’t. That’s why we have doctors to treat human beings and vets to treat animals–non-human beings.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    SF party policy is that they are opposed to any liberalisation of the abortion regime. As such they are abstaining on any vote held on this issue.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    That’s why we have doctors to treat human beings and vets to treat animals–non-human beings.

    Is it also why in jurisdiction where abortion is illegal that it is not classified as murder ?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    There is no legitimate choice for one human being to deliberately commission the killing of another utterly defenseless human being in her power.

    that depends on whether you classify the pregnancy as a “human being”. Up as far as 10-12 weeks, most of the medical profession do not.

  • New Yorker

    Your statement “Nothing is ever 100% certain” is false. If you do not eat or drink it is 100% certain you will eventually die. Likewise is you kill someone it is 100% certain you cannot restore his life. Informed decisions should be based on the best information and solid logic not some convenient opinion.

  • RitaJoseph

    You will notice that I use the terms ‘human being’ and ‘child” Science can distinguish a human being from other forms of life and can identify both the mother and the father and the child– the small daughter or son in her/his mother’s womb..

    Now once we recognize as ‘carl marks’ has finally done above that pregnancies are not ‘childless’, then the debate is over. We can agree that there are at least two human beings to be recognized in every pregnancy, the mother and her child, and since equal and inalienable human rights are recognized universally to belong to every human being “without exception” i.e. irrespective of size, or age, or dependency or ‘wantedness’, there is no ‘right’ to deliberately terminate the life of the mother or her child.

    In the 1947-8 negotiations of the Universal Declaration, one of the first things agreed by the international community was that the “innocent unborn child” was to be legally protected.

    In the drafting of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the only recorded attempt to introduce abortion as an exception to the right to life occurred in the Working Group’s 2nd Session (1947). It was put to a vote in the Commission on Human Rights and was resoundingly defeated. A principle was adopted in which the only exception to the unlawfulness of deprivation of a life was to be in the execution of the sentence of a court following on conviction of a crime for which the penalty is provided by law.

    The ICCPR drafting history records repeatedly and irrevocably that protection of the law is to be “extended to all unborn children” (See 5th Session (1949), 6th Session (1950), 8th Session (1952) and 12th Session (1957) of the UN Commission on Human Rights).

    At all these sessions, the travaux préparatoires (drafting history) for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights refer specifically to the intention to save the life of the unborn child in recognition of the human rights principle that legal protection should be extended to all unborn children.

  • RitaJoseph

    I doubt that “most of the medical profession do not”–I doubt that you have evidence for such a sweeping claim.

    In any case, it is not the first time the medical profession has been widely corrupted.

    The German medical profession’s participation in the Nazi abortion programmes were condemned at Nuremberg as “crimes against humanity–“…unborn children were denied legal protection”.

    The Nazi record of “encouraging abortion” was still fresh in the public perception when the Universal Declaration was drafted. Instructions by Nazi authorities issuing directives to decriminalize abortion were furnished as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials for the count of crimes against humanity.

    Ever since Nazi domestic law removed legal protection from Jewish children in utero, from children with disabilities and from unborn children in Poland and the Eastern Territories, international human rights law has decreed no domestic law can legitimately remove the rights of any group of human beings.

    In the pain-filled honesty of the immediate aftermath of Nazi atrocities, the international community, through the United Nations, the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals and the World Medical Association, issued a clear condemnation of abortion as “a crime against humanity”.

    The medical profession acknowledged that doctors had criminally violated the rights of the unborn children they aborted:

    “…the greatest crime being co-operation in… murder, suicide and abortion” British Medical Association UN submission War Crimes and Medicine (June 1947)

    “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat; I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.” World Medical Association’s Declaration of Geneva (1948)

    “A doctor must always bear in mind the importance of preserving human life from the time of conception until death”. International Code of Medical Ethics (1949)

    Responding to Nazi atrocities, modern international human right law prohibited removal of human rights protection from any group of human beings, including children “before as well as after birth”.

  • RitaJoseph

    It’s always a dangerous tendency to confuse legality with legitimacy. Under international human rights law, domestic jurisdictions which purport to be able to withdraw human rights protection from any group of human beings are in contravention of universal human rights agreements.

    The whole structure of international human rights law is built on the agreed premise that human rights are logically antecedent to the rights enumerated in various systems of positive law and are held independent of the State. It was established that human rights ‘constitute a law anterior and superior to the positive law of civil society’.

    Human rights are by definition inherent and inalienable and thus can never be de-recognized by individual opinions or by individual governments.

    Human rights are universal and apply equally and inalienably by virtue of one’s humanity. International human rights law does not permit the Supreme Courts of individual countries to decide for themselves which groups of human beings they will protect by law and which groups they will consign to selective extermination.

    There is no democratic vote, no government ‘numbers’ and no domestic Court decision that can take away a child’s right, under international human rights law, to “‘special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth”.

    Legalization of abortion was judged and condemned at Nuremberg as “encouraging abortions”. The fact that the Nazi authorities had removed abortion from Polish domestic law did not nullify the fact that abortion was still judged “an inhuman act” and “a crime against humanity” and this criminality pertained “whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”
    So whether abortion is called ‘murder’ in a particular jurisdiction is irrelevant in view of the fact that abortion remains lethal human rights abuse.

    It was Eleanor Roosevelt and her team of brilliant US lawyers who negotiated the framing of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and laid down the principle that localized majorities may not pass laws in violation of universal human rights.

    Decisions by domestic law courts like the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade that sanction the removal of human rights protection from children at risk of abortion have no legitimacy.

  • Mister_Joe

    There was a time, when I had a N.I. vote, when SDLP would have got a high preference from me. Not anymore.

  • chrisjones2

    Doesnt matter ….she’s just a vessel for Gods will

  • Artemis13

    This is where a wee sarcastic smiley would be useful, some anti choice people would actually argue that!

  • carl marks

    right got you, of course it makes a big difference, then can we take it that every time a civilian was hurt during a IRA attack on the police doesn’t count either!
    for god sake wise up CJ2,

  • carl marks

    CJ2 I was so shocked at what you said that I left something out of the post above,
    you state they didn’t throw the bomb at the primary school girl but at the police protecting them as if that made it somehow less evil.
    if the police had not been there to protect the children then no doubt children would have been hurt.
    the Holy cross dispute was carried out by people who would be quite happy in the Taliban, interestedly some of the people involved in that nasty sectarian action are also in the Pride of Ardoyne band of Twaddle fame so maybe you can see why the decent people of Ardoyne have strong objection’s to them going up the road past their house’s.

  • chrisjones2

    You would do so at the risk to the woman. Its her choice not yours to impose on her

  • babyface finlayson

    Thanks for that.

    And yet they have made statements supporting “the right of a woman to obtain a termination in life-threatening circumstances”.

    That to me is a little confusing. Are they just fence sitting?

  • chrisjones2

    “it is 100% certain you will eventually die.”

    Is it?

    Its all observation and opinion

  • Neil

    Following Mick’s advice from post one. Say nothing, annoy no-one.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    No, it’s not confusing at all.

    The legal status quo in Ireland (both parts) is that terminations are legal when the life of the mother is in danger.

    SF are, at the moment, opposed to any change to the status quo. Several attempts to change their party policy on this have been unsuccessful.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Given that abortion is legal in almost every western country and hasn’t been challenged under human rights law or international law more generally, are you sure you’re not engaged in a bit of wishful thinking with your copy-and-paste response above ?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    In any case, it is not the first time the medical profession has been widely corrupted.

    Basically, they’re grand when they agree with you, and when you disagree with them it’s because they’re corrupt. Got it.

    BTW nice Godwinisms.

  • New Yorker

    Schrodinger and his cat are dead as doornails. That is 100% certain. While playing mindgames, don’t forget to eat and drink!

  • chrisjones2

    No they are not. Quantum mechanics is the underlying reality

  • RitaJoseph

    One human being in a position of power killing another smaller and utterly defenceless human being in a position of dependency is never “her choice”.

  • babyface finlayson

    So when Martin McGuinness said:
    “I think, in the context of my responsibility as a government minister and other government ministers who have a duty to pass legislation, when we’re faced with the case of Sarah Ewart, we have to deal with that in the most compassionate way possible.”
    he was not suggesting that Sinn Fein would support the proposed change in the law?
    They remain opposed to abortion even in cases of fatal foetal abnormality?

  • babyface finlayson

    That is my impression.

  • RitaJoseph

    Warnings in regard to the fragility of medical ethics and the ever present opportunity for progressive corruption is well documented:

    Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1948, Dr. Leo Alexander, consultant to the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal,issued a warning that implication of the German medical profession in the Nazi killing programmes began with a small modification of traditional medical ethics:

    “The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude… that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted…”

    From the Opening Statement in the Doctors’ Trials, Nuremberg, 9th December, 1946:
    “… from leaders of… scientific medicine, with excellent international reputations, down to the dregs of the … medical profession. All of them have in common a callous lack of consideration and human regard for, and an unprincipled willingness to abuse their power over the poor, unfortunate, defenceless creatures who had been deprived of their rights… All of them violated the Hippocratic commandments… including the fundamental principles never to do harm – ‘primum non nocere’… they simply relied on their power over human beings rendered rightless…”.

    Since Roe v. Wade, the abortion cull in the US has amounted to tens of millions of children put down before birth with callous truly neo-Nazi efficiency. These tiny human beings are rendered rightless in an unjust system that utilizes empty forms of legal process to hide their arbitrary extermination.

  • RitaJoseph

    BTW you may need to read once again Godwin’s original research paper. Godwin makes it clear in this and subsequent papers that he does not intend for anyone to be prevented from what he acknowledges is a duty and a right to ensure that Nazi atrocities are not forgotten (Never again!) and that genuine analogies should continue to be drawn between these atrocities and current human rights violations.

    In other words where genuine analogies are drawn and substantiated, Godwin’s law should not be invoked.

  • RitaJoseph

    The age-old cry of naughty little children who yet know in their hearts they are doing something wrong:
    ” But Mom, everybody’s doing it so it must be right”.

  • chrisjones2

    Again you ignoe the rights of the woman and the sitiation if the foetus is not viable

  • chrisjones2

    Now you compare Doctors to Nazis?

    I am afraid there is only one fascist in this

  • chrisjones2

  • chrisjones2

    They are not human beings. You just choose to pretend they are .

  • chrisjones2

    So what? Its all semantics.

  • chrisjones2

    Its her choice what she does with her body and a foetus is a collection of cells not a human being

  • Mister_Joe

    Nonsense. This is a clear violation of the law. Sorry, Madam, you have lost.

  • RitaJoseph

    Let’s have a look at the truth.

    The disturbing truth is that Nazi process of ‘selection’ has chilling similarities to what occurs here today, where each new human being has to qualify as being ‘wanted’ for the individual right to exist, which becomes in the system a tentative right conditional on the pregnant woman’s ‘choice’ all too often based on her own and others’ subjective attitudes and superficial ‘preferences’.

    Abortion law, introduced into Nazi Germany, removed legal protection from all Jewish children in utero and from unborn children in Poland and the Eastern Territories.

    The Nazi record of “encouraging abortion” was still fresh in the public perception when the Universal Declaration was drafted.

    Instructions by Nazi authorities issuing directives to decriminalize abortion were furnished as evidence at the Nuremberg Trials for the count of crimes against humanity.

    Procured abortion constitutes arbitrary deprivation of life in breach of international human rights law, as established via the Nuremberg judgments and their codification in the International Bill of Rights. “…the unborn children were denied legal protection…abortion was encouraged” (Nuremberg Trials Record).

    Under international human rights law, governments have a legal duty to provide protection against arbitrary deprivation of life for all members of the human family, including for every child. “before as well as after birth” . Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has “recognized” that every child is entitled to “legal protection before as well as after birth”. (See UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of the Child)

    Today’s perpetrators of lethal execution of unborn human beings in their mothers’ wombs rely on extreme feminist ideological constructions of the victims of abortion as abusers of their mothers’ ‘rights’ to justify abortion’s lethal abuse and turn our gaze away from asking just what these tiny defenceless victims are guilty of that requires capital punishment.

    The tiny victims are aborted, it appears, “because they deserve it”. This kind of ideologically driven reasoning was condemned at Nuremberg as “criminal impertinence”.

    There is no place in modern international human rights law for routine medicalized killing of some 45 million small totally innocent human beings each year. The popularity (based on rampant ideology) and social acceptance of human rights abuse on this scale can never justify it or make it a lesser crime against humanity.

  • RitaJoseph

    Ah, we’re back to the old fairy tale about the baby being brought by the Stork from some cabbage patch and becomes a human being only at birth.

    Biology, embryology, fetal surgery, ultrasound technology, and examination of the human remains of an abortion all tell us that this is a human being, belonging to the human family, a human being who can be identified as a daughter or son, a ‘who’ not a generic ‘thing’.

    To argue anything that the fetus is just ‘”a bunch of cells not a human being” is just opinionated anti-scientific nonsense..

  • RitaJoseph

    Look at the science–the fact that these victims of abortion are human beings is substantiated. No need to pretend as pro-abortion ideologues do that human beings appear instantaneously at birth–a stork called “Reproductive Rights” brings them magically from some cabbage patch.

  • RitaJoseph

    Read my post above on the warning by others who deserve to be listened to on the fragility of medical ethics.

  • chrisjones2

    “Biology, embryology, fetal surgery, ultrasound technology, and examination of the human remains of an abortion ”

    Utter nonsense> You quote alleged science that says nothing of the sort. We know the biology. We can even potentially clone a human from the cells of an individual. So what?

    The fundamental issue is the rights of the woman to manage her bodyand the harm that may be done to her. You just ignore that

  • chrisjones2

    To argue anything that the fetus is not just ‘”a bunch of cells not a human being” is just opinionated anti-scientific nonsense especially when that foetus is non viable or even already ‘dead’

  • chrisjones2

    Its not a human being at that stage

  • RitaJoseph

    At what stage? At 20 weeks? At 39 weeks?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    It’s a politician’s response. “deal with that in the most compassionate way possible” commits him to nothing.

    SF have said they will abstain on this issue when it comes before the assembly.

  • chrisjones2

    If its non viable at ANY stage. And again its not an issue of time …its the womans body and her right to control it

  • babyface finlayson

    They are not so far from the SDLP position really if that is the case.
    But from the same article:
    “The deputy first minister said he disagreed with people who believed a change in the laws would lead to an “opening up of the floodgates”.”

    That appears to me like having ones cake and eating it.
    Stating that women should be able to make this choice in certain circumstances but abstaining from voting for it.

  • RitaJoseph

    Ah, so we’re back again with the old nonsense that there is no other body within the pregnant woman’s body–that all pregnancies are childless.

    It’s the old fairy tale nonsense of children appearing only at birth–like some stork just deposited them there from some cabbage patch.

    It’s the crazy anti-scientific invention of extreme ideological feminists who have been allowed to foster the untruth that a mother’s little daughter or son being nurtured and protected in her womb is not yet a human being with a human right to be protected from lethal medical ‘treatments’. They have reinvented the old fairy tale fiction that a Stork (named ‘Reproductive Choice’) brings the baby whose existence is instantaneously affirmed only at the moment of birth.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    It’s right to say that McGuinness (and others in SF such as Ruane) are straining at the leash in terms of party policy on abortion, but the fact remains that their policy prevents them from supporting liberalisation.

  • babyface finlayson

    I would not argue with that.
    If McGuinness and Ruane are making public statements which strain the leash then how much more contentious must this issue be for them behind closed doors,
    I’ve seen very few if any SF supporters on this thread explaining their position. I don’t know if you are a SF supporter or not but you have at least addressed the known unknowns.

  • babyface finlayson

    Are you making that argument from the moment of conception or from some later point?

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I’m not an SF supporter (or anything like it) but I can remember over the past decade that they’ve tried, and failed, a few times to overturn their abortion policy at their annual conference.

    The SDLP on the other hand don’t seem to even be debating the subject, at least not in public. I imagine it’s a bone of contention internally there too.

  • RitaJoseph

    All articles prohibiting execution of pregnant women in both the UN human rights conventions and the Geneva Conventions acknowledge that, for all practical purposes, the child from the State’s first knowledge of that child’s existence is to be protected.

    The question of the point at which an unborn child is entitled to human rights protection was answered by the Commission on Human Rights while drafting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    In the 5th Session (1949), 6th Session (1950), and 8th Session (1952) of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the travaux préparatoires (drafting history) for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights refer specifically to the intention to save the life of the unborn child in recognition of the human rights principle that protection should be extended to all unborn children.

    “The provisions of paragraph 4(5) of the draft article aimed at the protection of the life of the unborn child whose mother was sentenced to death; that protection should be extended to all unborn children.”

    Again in the 12th Session (1957):
    “The principal reason for providing in paragraph 4 [now Article 6(5)] of the original text that the death sentence should not be carried out on pregnant women was to save the life of an innocent unborn child’.”

  • babyface finlayson

    And is it your own opinion that we are dealing with a person with full human rights from the moment of conception?
    No morning after pill allowed?