The Citizens’ Assembly has spoken: We must repeal the 8th Amendment.

  Over the past weekend the Citizens’ Assembly in Ireland finished hearing testimony and voted on the issue of abortion. The results were surprisingly and emphatically pro-choice, and they represent a resounding success for this experiment with deliberative democracy. Democracy was meant to be deliberative. The idea was that citizens, motivated not by selfish or sectarian drives but by civic duty, would discuss the issues facing their society with a view to arriving at the best possible outcome for everybody. … Read more

Rights are tricky things, especially when it comes to the ‘right to life of the unborn’ and the ‘equal right to life of the mother’…

I get a distinct feeling of unease when I hear an individual or a group on the media complaining that their ‘rights’ to something have been infringed. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that these people can make any such claim, but they are often vocal in their assertions. A group, for example, may take over a vacant property and ‘squat’ there; when there is an attempt at eviction they will claim that they have ‘squatters’ rights’. Perhaps they do have … Read more

The poor have chosen their poverty, only the lazy are poor, work always pays handsomely and that life is predictable if one applies oneself…

As of last Wednesday, new rules for benefits claimants have come into practice, announced back when George Osborne was Chancellor of the Exchequer. They target the most vulnerable – as per standard Conservative Party practice – including the disabled, the long-term ill and the working poor. Also in characteristic Tory fashion, the changes will hurt women and children most via the new cap on the number of children eligible for child tax credits – and there is an extra sting … Read more

New life in an auld relationship? The Scottish government may pay for Northern Ireland abortions

A tentative move to erode the prohibitive position over abortion in Northern Ireland may become a landmark shift, now that the issue has been raised.  Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is open to the suggestion  as reported by the Guardian, that woman from Northern Ireland could have abortions performed free in Scotland under NHS devolution. I am happy to explore with the NHS what the situation is now in terms of the ability of women from Northern Ireland to access … Read more

Amnesty NI poll displays attitudes of party voters towards abortion laws

An interesting poll conducted by Millward Brown for Amnesty International has surveyed the attitudes of voters of various parties towards abortion legislation in Northern Ireland with some noteworthy statistics Overall the poll found that attitudes in Northern Ireland as whole favour reform. Full details can be found here.   David McCannDavid McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

Poll: Overwhelming support for amending/abolishing Ireland’s strict abortion laws

The changes in the Republic from just a generation ago are profound. Today the Irish Times poll produces some remarkable figures showing support for abolition of the controversial Eight Amendment to the Irish Constitution, added in 1983 to prevent the casual legalisation of abortion in any form. Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the … Read more

“This is not an abortion war, completely not”. Facebook trolls lay off

This is an exclusive interview with an Ulster woman of a very different character. Deborah McAleese’s interview in the Belfast Telegraph with a housemate of the young woman convicted of self aborting  is  searing, very hard to read. Oddly  the impact was less in voice on the Nolan show ( substitute ) because the housemate was  composed two years after the event. In  Nolan style she was pressed repeatedly for her reaction but held her ground. Her line was ” You can’t … Read more

Department of Health announce new guidelines on abortion in N Ireland

Good Friday this year was on March 25. March 25 is also Lady Day, the Feast of the Assumption, when Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she was with child. So you might well think it a strange, tactless, day for the Department of Health to announce new guidelines on abortion in N Ireland. Perhaps they thought it was a a good day to slip out news, perhaps the commemorations of the Rising would overshadow the … Read more

George Monbiot on abortion “The religious conservatives who oppose these measures have blood on their hands.”

The Guardian ran a series of articles about abortion in N Ireland recently (details here). Now, George Monbiot has turned his analytical mind to this issue (here). His article is well worth reading in its entirety. He produced some remarkable information; whether legal or illegal, the incidence of abortion remains constant: Here is the fact that everyone debating abortion should know: there is no association between its legality and its incidence. In other words, banning abortion does not stop the … Read more

High Court rules NI abortion legislation breaches Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights

HIGH COURT rules that abortion legislation in Northern Ireland breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an exception to the prohibition on abortion in cases of a foetal fatal abnormality (at any time during the pregnancy) or where the pregnancy is the result of sexual crime (up to the date when the foetus is capable of existing independently of the mother).

Amnesty launch #RepealThe8th campaign to challenge Ireland’s ban on abortion

My Body My Rights is one of Amnesty’s world wide campaigns. Their European focus [and online petition] is the repeal of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment which equates the right to life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus and is the foundation of the ban on abortion. The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, … Read more

#SluggerSoapbox: “the ban on abortion does not stop abortions from happening…”

Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird is a local activist on the issue of reproductive rights The most famous act of solidarity is probably the proclamation of the famous words “I am Spartacus”, the scene in the eponymous movie in which the defeated slaves are asked to identify their leader, Spartacus, as a reward for doing so their lives will be spared. They respond by claiming that they are all Spartacus. In this case many of us are all the Belfast woman who … Read more

Alliance For Choice – #dropthecharges

In June 2015 a Belfast woman appeared at Belfast Magistrates’ Court facing charges of procuring a poison or other noxious substance. The defendant obtained two different medications, Misoprostol and Mifepristone, which are common drugs used to induce abortions. The World Health Organization added these drugs to their “Essential Medicines List” in 2005, a list defined by the WHO as “those drugs that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population; they should therefore be available at all times … Read more

Life, death and heartbeats…

The diagnosis of death is mostly straightforward; the medical practitioner looks for somatic, cardio-respiratory and neurological features. Clearly, someone with rigor mortis is dead. Someone with no spontaneous breathing, no heartbeat and no pulse, and whose pupils are fixed and dilated presents the classical features of death. This is usually enough to diagnose most cases of ‘death’, though as the Victorians had a morbid dread of being buried alive, the tradition of requesting a surgeon to open an artery persisted … Read more

Bernadette Smyth: conviction and restraining order quashed

Anti abortion campaigner Bernadette Smyth was cleared on appeal yesterday. She had initially been convicted of harassing Dawn Purvis at the end of last year. At the original trail the judge Chris Holmes made a number of interesting comments. He stated: “I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not feel it’s appropriate for anyone to be stopped outside this clinic in any form, shape or fashion and questioned either to their identity, why they are going in … Read more

Another Societal Milestone Passed; What Next for Progressing Ireland?

Last Saturday’s overwhelmingly positive referendum outcome in support of constitutional recognition for same-sex marriage was a great result for progress, equality, liberty, inclusion, rights for everyone and all things good in Ireland. It was a proud and historic moment for Irish society generally and especially for those Irish citizens living in the Republic who had and positively utilised the residential privilege to vote. To think homosexual acts were only decriminalised in the state 22 years ago in 1993… Having found themselves under the repressive moral and … Read more

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 … Read more

New abortion proposals published…

The Department of Justice in N Ireland issued a call for members of the public to discuss whether abortion should be allowed here in cases of ‘lethal’ foetal abnormality or for pregnancy following rape or incest, as I indicated here. The DoJ indicated that they did not wish to open the debate around abortion beyond these limits. The DoJ has now published the findings, and David Ford, the Minister, stated: My department has just completed a consultation exercise on the … Read more

When Manley met Martin: “Peter Robinson and I have never had a bad personal relationship”

Interesting interview in today’s Irish News with John Manley and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness. It appears to be a much more relaxed and happy man than the person who was sitting in front of Manley a year ago. McGuinness spoke of the improvement in the mood between Sinn Fein and the DUP from last year, but he insists his relationship with Peter Robinson has always been solid; People talk about bad personal relationships between Peter Robinson and myself – … Read more