Propagation of patriarchy and restriction of female bodily autonomy is the unifying bridge between Nationalism and Unionism in Northern Ireland.

In October 2013, Sarah Ewart braved the public gauntlet by speaking on the Stephen Nolan show of her experience as a pregnant woman carrying a foetus with fatal abnormalities. Few could find themselves unmoved by Ewart’s tragic story – made worse by archaic laws in Northern Ireland forcing her to travel to England to pay for abortion services.

Speaking to an audience that included an individual who would soon be convicted of harassing Marie Stopes director Dawn Purvis, Ewart argued strongly that other Northern Irish women should not be forced to go through the same healthcare ordeal she had experienced. As a result of the public outrage in response to the horrendous multiple traumas Ewart experienced, she was granted an audience with then Health Minister, Edwin Poots in Stormont. Following that, her story was instrumental in calling Justice Minister David Ford to action and ordering a public consultation on abortion in Northern Ireland.

Now in 2015, we have the results of that Department of Justice consultation on abortion. Minute change has been recommended to ease the suffering of those women who find out they are carrying a foetus with fatal abnormalities. Separately, the Human Rights Commission has been granted leave to pursue a judicial review of abortion law in Northern Ireland in the case of rape, incest or foetal abnormalities.

Compounded by statements of the ‘draconian’ laws in place in Northern Ireland from expert obstetricians such as maternal consultant in foetal medicine Dr Samina Dornan, it is clear that legislation change is the necessary route forward to ease the trauma of those women whose foetus is diagnosed as having fatal abnormalities. Change in law will also give protection to doctors and health workers providing support in these situations.

Hopes were high that these small changes in abortion law could be possible when on 22nd April 2015, First Minister Peter Robinson signalled that the DUP could have a free ‘vote of conscience’ in relation to the proposed law change. However, on 30th April on BBC The View, First Minister Peter Robinson quashed these hopes with his contradictive statement that any attempt to implement changes would be ‘doomed’. Mr Robinson instead advocated for ‘guidelines’ around existing law – an illogical impossibility given that current law does not recognise fatal foetal abnormalities.

On May 1st 2015, Jane Christie, mother of Sarah Ewart telephoned the Stephen Nolan radio show. Her tears and upset reverberated across the country, and the horrendous reality of the words of the First Minister became apparent. Women in Northern Ireland, living in our communities are suffering. Sitting in the BBC television studio on 30th April, did Peter Robinson think of the heartbreaking decisions that no happily expectant mother would ever want to make? Did he think of the packed bags and easyjet flights? Did he think of the lonely hotels where Northern Irish women are forced to stay before and after their abortion? Did he think of migrant women without travel visas? Or women who could not afford to pay for flights, for hotels, for their procedure and are forced to undergo the horrifying trauma of carrying a dying foetus to full term?

Were Peter Robinson’s comments a ploy to gain votes from the conservative, misogynistic voters that make up the backbone of his party? Alongside his ludicrous and bigoted comments regarding homosexuality on BBC The View, it seems that the DUP’s political stance has not evolved from isolating and oppressing women and minority groups. Paradoxically, given the similarities in legislation between the North and Republic of Ireland and the party’s vehement opposition to any suggestion of extending the 1967 Abortion Act, one wonders if the DUP have realised their stance on abortion is not only anti-Union, but befitting of an ultra-Catholic United Ireland?

Robinson and the DUP are not alone in their stance that denies even the most minimal change to existing abortion law. The SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell’s sensationalist claim in January 2015 that, ‘nobody can predict that a foetus is not viable’ not only exposed McDonnell’s callous misogyny but also the arrogant manipulation of his position as G.P (not obstetrician) to impose his own personal views as a man upon women. Indeed, McDonnell’s restrictive views are not exceptional in the SDLP given their ‘total opposition’ to the extension of the 1967 Act. Even new ‘progressive’ faces such as West Tyrone’s MP-hopeful Daniel McCrossan share the belief that the current abortion law in Northern Ireland should remain unchanged.

The upcoming election aside, in Northern Irish politics it has become increasingly clear that a uniting bridge across the Nationalist/Unionist divide is the propagation of patriarchy and restriction of female bodily autonomy. The all-male ‘All Party Pro-Life’ group at Stormont contains MLA’s from the DUP, UUP and SDLP. This group shows how men in Northern Irish politics can be diametrically opposed in regards to the National Question, but can cooperate in solidarity to control women’s bodies. Alban Maginness and Paul Girvan’s joint attempt to outlaw the Marie Stopes centre in March 2013 is another example of Nationalist and Unionist men working together to deny women choice or autonomy.

With female political representation in Northern Ireland one of the lowest in Western Europe and instances of rampant sexism such as the Belfast Telegraph’s recent debasement of female politicians occupying mainstream media, the patriarchy pervades every element of Northern Irish life. Indeed, Malachi O’Doherty’s vociferous rejection of his rating of male and female electoral candidates as sexist suggests he felt his article should be read in isolation from the sexism, violence, unequal representation and treatment of women in the media and in general that pervades every element of every woman’s life. Similarly, Sinn Fein’s support of terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality cannot be examined as without contextualising the patriarchal attitudes espoused by their party line more broadly, especially the response to aspects of rape culture which was evident in their handling to Mairia Cahill’s rape allegations.

Northern Irish women live under a law that was created in 1861, restricts their choices and forbids bodily autonomy. The majority of the overwhelmingly male political representatives in Northern Ireland are happy to maintain this status-quo. How can there ever be abortion law change when women are so easily dismissed, segregated and spoken over? Without increased representation from female politicians, abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities will continue to be seen as a religious or moral question, rather than as an urgent women’s health issue. The majority of our politicians are content to support a law from the nineteenth century that breaks the European Convention of Human Rights. More importantly, these politicians are content to swat aside women like Sarah Ewart who have shown true courage and solidarity with her fellow woman by taking such a brave public stance.

I will not forget the pained tears of a mother’s love heard on the Stephen Nolan show on 1st May 2015 as Jane Christie stood strong to support not only her daughter but the foetus lost to fatal abnormalities. Sarah Ewart and her mother are women to be proud of. Women must be empowered to enter politics, to speak and be heard. The patriarchal attitudes that unite many MLA’s across the political spectrum must be taken to task. Northern Ireland’s septic political arena must be cleaned out. Who better to take on this task than women.

, , , ,

  • Kevin Breslin

    Not sure if I agree, there are small republican and unionist parties who are constitutionally pro-choice, certainly middle ground parties such as Alliance are not so.

  • Barneyt

    How confident would you be in women from the DUP, UUP and SDLP making a change? Would they too not toe the party line? I fully support a woman’s right to control what happens to her body and her life, pregnant or not, however, there are plenty of instances where the sex balance may not make much difference.

    Its time the women, at least within the arguably more moderate SDLP and UUP placed pressure on their members and party leaders to legislate, rather than hide behind “guidelines”

  • chrisjones2

    I believe the NIO should step in here on the grounds of the gross abuse of the rights of women in NI As the sovereign state they cannot just absolve themselves of the responsibility.

    If NI passed a law legalizing slavery London wouldn’t stand for it. Why permit this? There must be minimum standards of humanity and decency and we dont seem to have those here

    Sadly, they wont do that

  • The Plath Diaries

    Yes Barney, this is something that I thought about while writing the piece. Certainly not all women are pro-choice. If there are women who are pro-choice within the DUP and SDLP party ranks, it speaks volumes about how deeply engrained hatred of women is in NI politics that pro-choice women have to have to tie their wagon to such groups.

    Ultimately more women entering politics means that women will be empowered to speak out in support of women’s issues. Abortion is a women’s healthcare issue. Given that Northern Irish women have been so silenced during the Troubles, I think they are in a perfect position to create a new political party that is allied with grassroots organisations and can work towards the creation of a better and more equal society for all. As it stands, I think all the four major Northern Irish political parties are too enmeshed in patriarchy to provide a space for women, let alone advocate for women’s rights.

  • Kevin Breslin

    UUP have the same policy as Alliance on this matter. It’s an individual matter.

  • The Plath Diaries

    #notallunionists #notallnationalists kind of distracts from the seriousness of this situation, don’t you think Kevin?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Sorry Ed, I couldn’t get past the title.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry, Kevin, it is APNI policy to support the proposal to change the law so that a woman faced with fatal fetal abnormality may access an abortion ie not an individual matter.

  • Pete

    It is an important issue, but I feel you should adopt a less hysterical tone if you wish to be taken seriously.

    “With female political representation in Northern Ireland one of the lowest in Western Europe and instances of rampant sexism such as the Belfast Telegraph’s recent debasement of female politicians occupying mainstream media, the patriarchy pervades every element of Northern Irish life. Indeed, Malachi O’Doherty’s vociferous rejection of his rating of male and female electoral candidates as sexist suggests he felt his article should be read in isolation from the sexism, violence, unequal representation and treatment of women in the media and in general that pervades every element of every woman’s life.”

    I mean seriously, that is utter nonsense. How on earth can it be sexist when both men and women were included?

    Do men not also suffer from violence? Can men not also suffer from sexism?

    Comments like that will just, in my opinion, turn people away from supporting you, and given this is such an important issue, I feel that’s the wrong approach to take. You’re taking a very important issue such as abortion, and then conflating it with some nonsense about how women’s lives are apparently an eternal struggle, despite men and women having equal rights in modern British and Irish society.

    Saying we need more female politicians to change things is also a questionable assumption. Arlene Foster is one of the most senior politicians in the country. Margaret Ritchie led the SDLP. I don’t recall them trying to introduce change on the matter.

  • Reader

    In reality, both UUP and Alliance MLAs treat the matter as a free vote. The UUP is honest enough to say that they allow this.

  • Reader

    Eh? There are four routes to get change from local politics:
    1) People choose to support parties that support change.
    2) People create parties that support change.
    3) People join parties that oppose change and try to modify the party policy.
    4) People try to change party policy from outside. (almost indistinguishable from #1, I think, unless the electorate is disengaged and the parties are stupid)
    At least Kevin was pointing out the way to #1. I can’t work out what you are proposing.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m not sure David Ford’s stance on the matter will be a matter for the whips, it could be a similar matter to the equal marriage abstentions.

  • Granni Trixie

    Your prejudice us showing .again..the reality is that the subject was debated and policy on fetal fatal abnormality was agreed at APNI Council meeting and I will be very surprised if representatives were to vote against it.

    Now if abortion generally were discussed in Allance I am equally sure that
    no consensus on abortion policy would emerge.

  • Granni Trixie

    DF position is exactly the position as APNI policy with regard to this kind of very narrow case. I will be surprised if this issue produces the same problems as equal marriage for the party.

  • Korhomme

    Do you remember the candidate for West Tyrone and her ‘Biblical manifesto’? The first two points were about abortion. Curiously, there is not a single reference to abortion in the Bible. (There are several bits that might be taken to refer to it.) The ideas around abortion can therefore be seen as a theological construct; much of this was developed by the early doctors of the (catholic) church. Protestants didn’t reinvent Christianity de novo, rather they took on board much of the ‘established’ wisdom. And if true for abortion, it’s equally true for their ideas on the position of women. So, while we might think that the DUP and Catholicism ought to diverge from one another, in reality their ideas curve around to meet.

    Martin Luther said this of women:

    “And if a woman grows weary and at last dies from child-bearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.”

    Not much has changed in some people’s ideas of theology—and when I say ‘theology’ I mean that immense dogmatic construct that has been added by men on top of what otherwise might be called ‘Christianity’. Convincing people that there exist other views, even if they can’t or won’t accept them, is one of the most difficult of human endeavours. Andrew Carnegie supposedly had this as his bookplate:

    He that can not think is a fool,
    He that will not think is a bigot,
    He that dare not think is a slave.

    Are we, in N Ireland, fools, bigots or slaves?

  • jm


    Lovely patronizing tone there. I’m a 45 year old woman and I encounter casual sexism most days in my working life and it does get very tiresome. I believe it is getting worse, not better, for younger women. Women’s reproductive rights are indeed very important ,but do not underestimate the frustration of dealing with sexism in everyday life. Men use it to put women in their place. It does demean and deflate a person, even if you try to not let it get to you.

  • Reader

    Not prejudice, realism. Though Alliance usually gets my vote, I don’t imagine that they are anything other than a local party for local people, with all that is implied. I agree a liberalising vote on fatal fetal abnormality ought to be guaranteed – but then, who would have thought a GP would be against it?
    And in practice, Alliance *does* allow its representatives to get away with a free vote for anything that might pass as a matter of conscience.

  • eireanne
  • Deke Thornton

    The internet has solved the problem. You can buy fairly cheap ‘morning after’ or even weeks after pills on the web for a few quid. Google will solve what the sandpit assembly cannot. I could link, but let the market decide. Just try and go for before 9 weeks or it becomes slightly more difficult. Otherwise it’s lemon squeazy.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    I think there is a commandment about not killing, that covers abortion…..

  • Sir Rantsalot

    The woman is not faced with an abnormality, the unborn child is. It is likely they would still prefer to live though.

  • Barneyt

    I wouldn’t necessarily translate the dismissive approach towards women as hatred. I feel that is a bit strong. Most of it is informed by religion, tradition and I suspect cocoonment and the ignorance that comes with this.

    There may not be room for another party over here…but there should be a “political party that is allied with grassroots organisations and can work towards the creation of a better and more equal society for all”. If however this is created by women and attached to womens issues, it will be seem immediately as polarised and will do little to break down prejudice. It also runs the risk of creating a party that is considered single issue.

    Some of the parties make noises that appears encouraging regarding general equality and human rights, such as the Alliance and Sinn Fein, but they are contained in some way. If Sinn Fein go as far as I would like on the issue of abortion, I’ve no doubt they will lose an element of their traditional catholic vote, so that will rein them back perhaps.

    In the short term, I would advise those campaigning in this area ( main thrust of this posting) to place pressure on the Alliance and get behind them. It seems logical as you will already have a political vehicle and there will be no immediate association with either tribe as such.

  • Dan

    Personally, I thought Simon Hamilton spoke well on the abortion issue yesterday, injecting a lot of common sense, ie let the medical experts bring forward their proposals for him to act upon.
    I’m prepared to give him a chance to get it right, compared to the pigs ear that Ford made of it.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And war?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Hi jm, I know from empathising with the experiences of women in my family just how difficult it can be to no be crushed by the prevailing misogyny of the wee six. I often wonder just why it is so very important for men to blindside what is actually happening to women on a daily basis here, let alone having to listen yet again to that “men and women are both included in Malachi’s article” red herring. If Pete can’t see the clear difference in the way men and women were described in the article, I do not know here to begin to alert him to the ingrained misogyny in the piece. I know it’s just a variant on the standard response of any bully who claims that it’s not bullying, but just a bit of fun, but it should not go unchallenged.

    It’s not inherent that men will see these things one way and women another. Increasingly most thinking men can recognise the residual sexism for what it is, but I despair when I read such thin defences of sexist “amour propre” as Pete’s, especially when they use the standard silencing of women (“Hysterical”) that has been used as the first line of attack for centuries in his very first words.

  • Korhomme

    How do you square that with what happened to Goliath? Or capital punishment?

  • Cavignac

    ”Given the similarities in legislation between the North and Republic of Ireland and the party’s vehement opposition to any suggestion of extending the 1967 Abortion Act, one wonders if the DUP have realised their stance on abortion is not only anti-Union, but befitting of an ultra-Catholic United Ireland?”

    The Republic of Ireland is not an ”ultra-Catholic” state, so this ‘observation’, is, I’m afraid, sectarian-tinged nonsense.

    The implication that anyone who does not agree with your view is a misogynist is tiresome.

  • Sharpie

    And inequality that kills millions, and whats happening in the med right now.

  • Sharpie

    and gun laws in places like the US?

  • Sharpie


  • Sharpie

    That was interesting but right there I don’t think he was talking as a GP but as a representative of a fairly conservative catholic mainstream. He was speaking to his core voters more than his conscience. This is a really good example of the fault line that exists for catholics in post catholic society. There is no home for catholic liberals or ex catholic liberals, or liberals of any hue except the Green Party but they don;t have the credibility yet to be an alternative in peoples minds. Pity.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Could not agree more Korhomme, and the concurrence of both of our largest parties on the position of women in our society is no surprise. But, as Emma Goldman’s pupil in politics, I have little faith in any of elected representatives to ever even begin rectify this. In the words of St Just:

    “Tous les arts ont produit des merveilles: l’art de gouverner n’a produit que des monsters.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks for the “yet” sharpie. “The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.”

  • Biftergreenthumb

    Agree with your assessment of the backward and sexist nature of NI politics.

    However, this “female bodily autonomy” argument doesn’t really work. It’s popped up on Slugger a few times and seems to me to be used as a magic phrase that somehow negates the need for argument.

    Setting abortion aside for the moment would you not feel that a pregnant woman who was regularly drinking heavily was acting in a callous manner toward her unborn baby? Surely at some point the mother’s ‘bodily autonomy’, which includes her right to drink alcohol, has to be restricted in order to take into consideration the wellbeing of developing child? Or does ‘female bodily autonomy’ give a pregnant woman the right to do whatever they want regardless of the negative consequences for her child? Heavy drinking, smoking, taking drugs, all have the potential to harm the child. Do we just say “Tough luck, kid! Your mother has complete autonomy over her body. You were just along for the ride.” Is the mother never obliged to take the effects of her actions on her unborn child into account? If the mother consistently engages in behaviour that could have long term health implications for her child does her right to “bodily autonomy” mean that society cannot step in to protect the health of her unborn child?

    Because the child is biologically linked to the mother in order to protect the health and wellbeing of the child the mother’s right to bodily autonomy cannot be absolute.

    This also applies to the abortion debate. It seems to me that the phrase “female bodily autonomy” is used to side step the difficult part of the abortion debate i.e. at what point does the foetus have rights and how do we balance the rights of the mother with the rights of the foetus. The “female bodily autonomy” argument seems to just assert, without argument, that the only thing that matters is the woman’s rights.

  • Siún Carden

    Yup! Vote Green 🙂

  • A fetus doesn’t have any rights in any international human rights legislation

  • Meanwhile back at the ranch…. thousands of women worldwide, living in countries with restricted access to abortion use these sites to help themselves without the usual legal, medical and state gatekeepers. or–misoprostol–cytotec

  • Artemis13

    ‘weeks after’ pills are abortifacients and should be available on prescription as they are in the rest of GB not at a cost of £80+. And ordering and taking the pills in NI is punishable by life imprisonment. So no, not really solved. Still have to break the law and pay.

  • Artemis13

    ‘hysterical’…. there’s that word again being used to describe a woman sharing her opinion.

  • Artemis13

    And the Alliance member of the All Party Pro Life Group left.

  • Artemis13

    Problem is the guidelines can only interpret the current law, FFA is outside of scope, as is rape. Medical professionals like Samina Dornan and the RCM have spoken about this, and called for reform. Abortion is a healthcare issue, not a criminal one. I don’t see how Ford made a pigs ear of it – the consultation didn’t go as far as I would have liked. DOJ was constrained by the DUP DOH on this one, who refused to do a joint consultation.

  • Granni Trixie

    But if the baby is not viable that is more than an “abnormality” it is a dead baby and I not thnk it humane to compel a women to carry a dead baby to full term if she doesn’t want to.

  • Granni Trixie

    See above .

  • Granni Trixie

    For years and years the much promised DUP “guidelines” either weren’t produced or did not help the situation hence professionals are loath to intervene even in extreme cases were abortion comes within the law. These professionals have been consulted by DOJ as have families most affected. All agree tha guidelines are not likely to bring us any further ahead – I’m talking here about the views of midwives,consultants, GPs etc.
    if however guidelines prove to be the way forward (after being promised 6 years ago) good but I doubt it. Bear in mind that DF originally asked Dept Health to work with DOJ on the issue which straddles each of their domains. Health would not work with DOJ although DUP leader indicated to the families there was likely to be support For DOJ proposal to help in situations of fatal fetal abnormality.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Interesting that it is not a word one never seems to hear regarding very many men! They tend to get “reasonable” or “reliable”.

    And “men and women having equal rights in modern British and Irish society”, sure they do, and completely equal opportunities for jobs, and equal child care sharing with men, and all the rest, sure……

    Perhaps Pete is writing from California, where this is rather more true, but if he’s living here, it’s in some parallel dimension with internet access to Slugger…….

  • Biftergreenthumb

    That may well be the case but does that mean that a foetus should be given no consideration whatsoever?

    Does the fact that a foetus doesnt have any “rights in any international human rights legislation” mean that it is ok for a pregnant woman to drink and smoke and engage in other activities potentially harmful to the baby?
    My point is that if any of us saw a pregnant woman down a bottle of vodka while smoking you’d think she was a bad person because she was negatively impacting on the health of the foetus. We automatically accept that a woman’s actions should take into consideration the wellbeing of her unborn baby. We intuitively grant moral consideration to the foetus when we make such judgements.
    The argument about bodily autonomy tries to get us to forget about this consideration.

  • BarleySinger

    actually is says “don’t murder” not “don’t kill”. If it was “don’t kill” a ton of other bible rules would be impossible to obey (stone to death but do not kill?)

  • BarleySinger

    I grew up in an area of the US where everyone had guns (mostly rifles & shotguns) and a lot of people hunted (for food) and fished (for food) and dug clams (for food) – most people were poor. My dad was a teacher and made less than the lowest paying job at any mill in town… but the mills had cut all the trees down already.

    There were lots of violent red-necks there. Most were angry at the world as there were no jobs any more (they had slowly trickled away). They had been screwed over by the big logging industry companies (who left behind nothing but stumps & then pointed fingers at the EPA). There was a lot of domestic violence, child abuse, etc. Loggers in my home town considered getting drunk and fighting each other to be a fun Saturday night. It was far from a non-violent, loving, wonderland of a child’s paradise.

    There was also only 1 gun crime in my 26 years there.

    Then again welfare (though way too small) had not been gutted into “block grants” yet, the feds still HAD to pay for K-12 education in equal amounts per student (because they made the laws telling kids they had to go), schools did not have to NOT teach sex ed in order to afford books, a university education cost about 1/4 what is does now, there had been no massive shift in wealth to the 1%, and the government was not spying on everything everyone did.

    People knew life was unfair, but they still had some hope. They also had the example of Bambi … gutted & hanging up in the garage, to tell them what a gun REALLY does (they shot the deer, and probably heard is scream… they really do that sometimes).

    What they didn’t have was “info-tainment pseudo-news” so biased it was impossible to know anything. The reporters in Vietnam, were there during the shooting (not after the bodies had been cleaned away).

    Also the worlds first big reality TV show (of edited fragments made to tell a very different story) … had not been running for 20? years … the TV show “cops” making cash by promoting FEAR.

    COPS and the “new version of the news” (with no federal guidance) made cash by making people scared to death… every day, as much as they could. Fear pays well.

    And people slowly became more and more scared of living in their own nation…with every TV news station running after even a tiny chance that a gun might be in some persons hand. Meanwhile (once the government was no longer selling cocaine by the ton to the gangs) … a REAL day in “South Central LA” was often pretty boring. But “boring” does not sell commercial time in your show… and fear does.

    Canada also has a very large number of guns. VERY high. Oddly enough their rate of gun violence has NOT spiralled upward. IN fact it is very low. In Canada people tend to leave their doors unlocked all the time. Their news channels ARE pretty boring; no pitched gun battles, helicopter gun ships over the city, etc… etc… and nobody is there constantly fanning the flames of fear in every way imaginable (just to sell ad space on the news at higher prices). Their people also are not scared to death of living in their own homes… scared & keeping loaded handguns all over the place.

    Then again Canada doesn’t have US style slums either. They have a social safety net. They don’t have a large part of their population about 8 weeks away from living under a bridge and eating out of a dumpster….and a big part of their disabled population living on the street,

    It isn’t the guns. Its the paranoia…. and the poverty.

  • Orlagh Ni Léid

    You might think she’s a bad person but there’s no law controlling what legal substances women can put into their body at any point. By ‘consideration’ I’m assuming you mean legal protection and no, they shouldn’t. You can’t give a foetus legal protections without violating women’s rights.

    “The argument about bodily autonomy tries to get us to forget about this consideration.” No, the argument about bodily autonomy is just that. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs that you have to be reminded that women own their bodies and get to decide how they are used/in what way and for how long.

  • Orlagh Ni Léid

    Does it cover the women who die in childbirth/protracted miscarriage when others force them to stay pregnant?

  • Orlagh Ni Léid

    “you should adopt a less hysterical tone if you wish to be taken seriously.” Sexist from the very first sentence. *claps*. How women have enjoyed being shut down in this way for many a year.

    “How on earth can it be sexist when both men and women were included?” Can’t you read? She quite clearly states that female representation is comparatively low and that women are judged in a way men aren’t.

    “Do men not also suffer from violence? Can men not also suffer from sexism?”

    Not sure how that’s relevant to this article- why are you trying to make it about men?
    You are truly an idiot.

  • Korhomme

    That commandment is one of many verses which don’t quite square up. Plenty of baddies got killed in the OT by the Israelites with YHWH’s help; baddies and other tribes are OK, but don’t kill/murder the ‘chosen one’.

  • DisparityNI


  • babyface finlayson

    Would you be in any way concerned if you knew a woman was smoking heavily all the way through pregnancy?
    I am not suggesting there is an easy intervention in such a case,but would you accept that it would be a problem, not least for the father to be.?
    Perhaps that is what Bittergreenthumb is getting at.

  • Reader

    Orlagh Ni Léid: You can’t give a foetus legal protections without violating women’s rights.
    I was concerned about the direction in which Biftergreenthumb was going with this, but I would reject both his apparent approach to an absolute position and your own explicit approach to an exactly contrary position. At present, across most of the UK, abortion is allowed up to 20 weeks or so as a matter of choice, and beyond that point the law asserts that the foetus *does* have legal protections.
    Do you insist, as an outcome of your logic, that abortion should be permitted right up to the moment of natural birth? Because, if so, your slogan sure as hell won’t win any support at all for the pro-choice movement.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    “You can’t give a foetus legal protections without violating women’s rights.”

    Our freedoms and rights don’t extend to the freedom or right to hurt others. The fact that a foetus will one day become a person means that it is perfectly legitimate to ask questions as to whether a woman has the right to engage in activities that impact the long term health of the child.

    “It’s a pretty sad state of affairs that you have to be reminded that
    women own their bodies and get to decide how they are used/in what way
    and for how long.”

    Are you are implying that because a woman has ownership of her body it doesn’t matter what harm she does to her unborn child?

    The abortion debate is such a difficult one because we are talking about a cluster of cells which slowly develops into a person. At the start of the process it definitely isn’t a person. At the end of the process it is. Morally requires us to take other people’s interests into account. So the difficult question is when should we take the growing foetus’s interests into account? How do we balance the interests of the growing foetus with the mother interests?

    The “female bodily autonomy” argument seems to just ignore the question as to when a foetus becomes a being whose interests are morally valuable and states that only the woman’s interests matter.

  • Dan

    It’s a wait and see situation.
    Hamilton doesn’t strike me as a religious fanatic like some of the others who were patently doing everything in their power to obstruct and delay.
    I hope he is as good as his words. Might be the new face the DUP could do with.

  • The Plath Diaries

    Hardly sectarian when I’m talking about a hypothetical United Ireland…

    Misogyny is indeed tiresome. I hope my post has given you an inkling into the experiences of women in NI who wade through it every day.

  • Gaygael

    The deputy leader led a three month consultation to decide policy on equal marriage…….
    Alliance MLAs did as they pleased with no sanction. Why would this be different?

  • Granni Trixie

    A ‘new face’ for the DUP is unlikely to improve their image,I’m afraid – the mask has slipped too often. Where was Nice Mr Hamilton when when homophobic and anti Muslim remarks were passed by members of his leadership?

  • ruhah

    Have you got anything more than just an appeal to subjective preference?

  • Barneyt

    Now I wouldn’t normally stand behind something like this, as it does create an unnecessary and additional separation between the sexes…but on the matter of abortion (including the whys, when and how), should this not be a matter for the “carrier” to decide?

    Many would argue that men should have a say, however that’s seeking a balance where it simply does not belong.

    Is it workable to have a women’s only referendum on this matter. 16 and up?

    The question would have to focus on bringing the 1967 act into NI or not, with existing parameters of course.

  • Dan

    I suppose he wasn’t interested in jumping onto the bandwagon of outrage.

  • Granni Trixie

    What you refer to disparagningly as a “bandwagon of outrage” is what to many is standing up for your fellow man ie ” they came for the Jews”. It wouldn’t say much about the people of Ni if the FM could say what he liked about Muslims or the Health Minister about gay people and there be no outrage.
    But then maybe you want to live in a Stepford Wives world?

  • Dan

    A lot of it was contrived controversy and outrage though.

  • Granni Trixie

    Can you give examples as this does not seem evident to me?

  • Dan

    The blood issue, for a start

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry – can you expand – I just don’t get it.