Talking about abortion


There was a lot of talk about abortion on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence  this morning, much of it dealing with the case of a woman who came to Ireland claiming she had been raped and that she was suicidal. Fintan O’Toole was on with an anti-abortion woman called Cora (my apologies for missing her surname). Both wanted the law in the south changed, Fintan so that abortion law could be more like that of “other civilised countries”, Cora so that the baby as well as the woman in such cases should be considered. Cora delivered a few sharp blows to Fintan, pointing out how the Irish Times’s covered some cases and ignored other cases or aspects of cases, because they didn’t fit into its line on abortion. Later, in the newspaper review section of the programme, Liz Kennedy and Gerry Miller reported the widespread coverage in southern newspapers of the case of the pregnant woman who claimed to have been raped and wanted an abortion. Liz made the point that the whole matter was very complex, there was no black-and-white to the subject, it was full of grey areas.

I disagree. The issue of abortion, in Ireland or anywhere else, centres surely on just one issue: is the content of the woman’s womb a human being or is it not? If it’s a human being, then clearly it should have the same rights as any other human being, and I would extend that to a child that comes into existence through rape or incest. If on the other hand the content of the woman’s womb is not a human being, it must be a collection of tissue. In which case it can be removed and flushed down the sink with no more thought than you’d give your fingernail clippings or the contents of your handkerchief after a nose-blow.

I made this point in a blog some time ago and one commenter told me that I didn’t understand – the contents of the woman’s womb, when she goes for an abortion, is not a human being but a “potential human being”, There are all sorts of aspects in this notion that I don’t understand. Any couple attracted to each other – even any couple who aren’t attracted, providing they’re a man and woman of child-bearing years – in the presence of any such couple there’s a “potential human being”. And when does the potential human being stop being potential and become a real human being? When our law says they become a human being?

I’d stress that my view on abortion is not the parroting of the Catholic Church’s stand on abortion, nor the parroting of Sinn Féin’s stand on abortion. It’s my own. I don’t get the potential human being thing because I can’t understand the magic moment when a potential human being becomes a real human being, with all a human being’s rights. Likewise I think it cruel and barbaric, in the case of a woman who has been raped or is the victim of incest, for the solution to be the killing of the child. The embryo that comes into being as the result of rape or incest is surely as much a human being as the embryo that comes into existence as a result of the most loving relationship. No one doubts the agonies and horror of the woman carrying such a child, but there must be a better answer than to kill the child.

Final point: “abortion” is one of our trigger words, words  which set people off in an emotional frenzy, hair standing up and eyes popping. If you think this may happen to you, pretend you haven’t read a word of the above and go for a walk in the sun. If you think you can discuss the issue rationally, I’ll be genuinely pleased to hear your views. At present I find most positions on the issue baffling.

57 Responses to Talking about abortion

  1. michael c August 24, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Jude ,abortion is not a black and white issue .An absolutist stance rules out the scenario where a woman may die if an abortion is not carried out.I often wonder what those in “precious life” and other similar organisations would do if a member of their own family was facing death and the only way to save her was for an abortion to be carried out.Also the activities of many of these “pro life ” groups leave a lot to be desired.They can be very intimidating to those who do not share their world view and put out total misinformation about the stances of political parties on the issue.The presence in their ranks of ultra conservative catholics allied to extreme unionists and even fascist BNP types is very offputting.I would be opposed to abortion on demand but I could never support the line taken by those who stand shouting at vulnerable women outside the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast.

  2. seamus August 24, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I agree with your position Jude that the position of abortion /termination/potential life is an emotional and complex terminology..I dont believe that having the ‘shock horror’ term.. ‘abortion on demand’.. will suddenly result in a landslide of irish women (indigenous naturalised or otherwise) demanding abortions/terminations…perhaps the thousands who incur the massive emotional and financial expense of travelling to Britain each year may obviously swell Irish numbers in the demand on our health services…and what of the other options…a return to back street ‘practitioners’… it is as you say full of grey areas… is taking the morning after pill preventing ‘potential life’…it could be argued no doubt…so could taking the pill as it interrupts the natural cycle of potential life one would suppose… and condoms… every sperm is sacred?…these are all valid ethical arguments…as someone who has worked in nhs a good portion of my working life…my argument would be it is a reality of our present existence…better keeping the procedure of ending ‘potential life’ safe clinically..for the potential mother (look at the Galway debacle)…all the situations women find themselves in are complex in unplanned pregnancy…its rarely entered into without personal trauma or psychological detriment…as we know too well in this country ‘rosaries and ovaries’ have proved poor bedfellows..or any born again arguement…pro life or pro choice? … keep it clinically safe.

  3. Declan McGuinness August 24, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    I’m glad to hear someone else express my thoughts, particularly the key phrase: ‘ the magic moment when a potential human being becomes a real human being, with all a human being’s rights’.

  4. Chris August 24, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Spot on, when does life begin? It begins at conception, I too will put my point across as a human rights issue not as a conservative Christian something I am not! Our child is 5 months old I visited the pre natal class every time with my wife at NO point did the medical staff, be they doctor, nurse or other refer to our child as anything else only a BABY.. Now what’s the difference in killing a child in the womb or killing it outside the womb. Its a NO brainer killing babies is wrong why is there even a discussion on it, except for serious instances were another life is directly in danger! Queue the screaming comments berating me for my sexist stance and not knowing what I am talking about because I cant have children!!!

  5. Chris August 24, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    PS… There is a hackneyed expression that we judge our society by how we treat or most Vulnerable, well you don’t get any more vulnerable than an unborn baby.

  6. Réaltán August 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    The core issue around abortion is rather, why do women feel they cannot bear to bring a pregnancy to term? If they feel this way, why do some people want to tell them what to do with their bodies? And what does this say about our society?

    We need to look at the underlying reasons for wanting an abortion and – for those of us who have the money – going to England and having an Irish abortion in an English clinic. Philosophical ramblings about when is a child a child and a foetus a foetus will not add one iota to the reality of all the women packing their bags tonight to take that flight over to London or Liverpool. and every night of every week of the year.

  7. Bernie Heery August 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I disagree completely with you on the idea that the main point is whether or not the unborn baby is human or not.
    Of course the unborn baby is human, but it is not entitled to human ‘rights’ until it exits the womb.
    As a mother, who would never have considered abortion for myself, I do not wish to control other women or their bodies.
    I am pro-life, but I would be very unconfortable in a group of ‘pro-lifers’. They seem to value the lives of the unborn above all others. They also seem to be dominated by a right wing, conservative ideology which sees no contradiction in supporting the death penalty.

    Before the baby is born, we must care primarily for the mother and her needs. When the baby is delivered, he or she requires the support and care of family and wider society to ensure that all our children grow up into healthy and productive individuals with a good sense of justice and equality.
    Women must have the right to control their own bodies, for a society to decree otherwise is akin to slavery.

  8. Perkin Warbeck August 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Gratifiying to see that BBC Raidio Uladh / Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence has as one of its Go-to Gurus in the Free Southern State the phenomenally brainy Fintan O’Toole.

    No reason, of course, that they should not. For indeed, Laganside is a place that the Go-to Guru from LIffeyside would feel very much at home. in leaving, as it were, his FOTprints.. For FOT hails from the Dublin suburb of Crumlin (he never lets us forget !), and there is, of course, a Crumlin in Belfast, meaning as they both do in the original Leprechaun, ‘the crooked glen’.

    While Crumlin Road in Belfast is often associated in the public mind with a penitentiary the roads in the Dublin suburb are named, by way of contrast/similarity, after old Irish monasteries, such as Clonard, Clonmacnoise, Armagh, Downpatrick, that sort of thingy which must indeed have felt like some kind of penance to free-thinking folk who had to grow within the oppressive cloisters of the Southern Crumlin. Thankfully, FOT has long since managed to effect a escape from this penitential environment. In short, he is the Steve McQueen of great escapees.

    As is instanced by his call this morning to change the abortion law in the Free Southern State so that it can be like ‘other civilized countries’.. No one can quite manage a tut, tut like FOT of TUT.

    Some innocents will wonder which ‘civilized countries’ he had in mind? For ‘abortion’ in the Leprechaun is ‘gin mhilleadh’, which is pronounced in the McQ’s English as: ‘gin villa’. Odd that Buckingham Palace once had the sobriquet ‘Gin Villa’ when the dear Queen Mum of beloved m. was in residence. It is said there are those, indeed, in the FSS who will not rest easily till Arus an Uachtarain is officially renamed ‘Gin Villa’. Thereby killing two b. with the one stone.

    Fitting that FOT should make this call on the radio station known as ‘Aunty’. For there are those in the FSS who think (affectionately) of FOT as ‘Anticlockwise’. This refers to the naming of the highest mountain in the FSS, Corrauntoohil in honour of he who is in possession of the highest IQ: the Anticlockwise Sickle.

    How pleasant thus for the Laganside listeners to wake up with Sunday morning coming down to hear the slash, swish and swipe of the anticlockwise sickle of FOT, possessor of the sharpest sickle in Christendom.

    Now, there are also those in the FSS who are ‘not best pleased’ (contemporary for ‘unhappy’) with many of FOT’s political stances. These critics diss him as a contemporary ‘Archbishop Laurence O’Toole’, the most famous/infamous of Dublin’s medieval AB’s. But PW is not one of them: methinks they mistake the swish of his sickle with the swish of his (imagined) episcopal robes. For PW, he is a model of consistency.

    Not that FOT is unacquainted with the FSS’s de facto official Cathedral, St. Patrick’s. Certainly more so than most denizens of Crumlin-sur-Poddle.

    Which is coincidental (1). For in yesterday’s The Unionist Times, FOT’s own organ, there was mention of the Dean of the very same St Patrick’s in 1914.

    Knock, knock: who’s there? The Prebendry of Monmohenock.
    Knock, knock: WHO’s there, for J’s sake? The Dean of St. Patrick’s. in 1914.
    (Why couldn’t one have said that in the first place?).
    Knock, knock, who’s there: The Rev. Charles Thomas Ovenden.

    Seems like the wee Reverend (a native of Enniskillen) was promoting his own version of the White Feather campaign with this call to the young women of Dublin at that time (‘howyas’ in contemporary terms) ‘to shun those who would not Volunteer for service, to visit them with severe disapproval, and when they expect a smile, just look them straight in the face and turn away’.

    Now, there are, furthermore, those mischievous folk who would see this as not entirely un-akin to the very primitive practice which ‘little Belgium’ was so gallantly stamping out in the jungles of the Belgian Congo, i.e., ‘human sacrifice’.

    Or, indeed, the very practice of abortion itself.

    But, as PW has already stated, he is NOT one of them.

    Coincidentally (2), a former Dean of St. Patrick’s, one J. Swift, once wrote a M.P. for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burden to their Parents or Country and for Making them Beneficial to the Publick.

    Indeed, FOT himself once put forward the M.P. that he would like to put himself forward as a candidate before the Publick with a view to becoming a M.P. Oops, one almost wrote, TD ! (Modest Proposal, Member of Parliament, respectively).

    Total coincidence.

    Far better that FOT has retained his role in the eyrie that is TUT as a upturner of Ice Buckets of his cool, cool IQ over an over-heated Hibernia, far, far, far, down below..

    • Jude Collins August 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      Why do I always think of a fireworks display after I’ve read one of your comments, Perkin? I’m holding my breath for your comments on the self-outing of the dewy-fresh ROT…

  9. Jim Lynch August 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    “Terms such as zygote, blastocyst, embryo and fetus are simply medical terms used to describe specific stages of development of an unborn child – in no way do they diminish the inherent humanity of the life being described by these terms. The treatment of the medical conditions and diseases associated with elderly human beings is called geriatrics. If we call someone a “geriatric patient” or “aged”, in no way does it imply that the person isn’t a human being; they are simply medical terms used to describe the end stages on the scale of human life and development while an embryo or fetus are medical terms used to refer to human beings at the beginning stages of human life and development.
    The fact of the matter is that medical and biological science proves beyond any doubt that life begins at conception. How do we know this? The short answer is DNA! At conception while the unborn child is still a single cell, that single cell has the complete set of DNA that will define its physical characteristics throughout its life! According to the science of cell biology (from wikipedia and other sources), ‘a cell is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing’. Thus, it is quite clear that the single human cell created at conception is indeed a living thing according to established biology and science”.

    The above document describes the issue with such eloquence I couldn’t resist copying and pasting on this particular blog Jude.

  10. Jim Lynch August 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Addendum to my last post;
    The document on abortion I posted was copied and pasted from a blog named “The Culture Watch”
    The author of the article was Glen James a journalist.

  11. Iolar August 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I was present at the birth of my children. Those were miraculous moments. My partner had a miscarriage along the way. That was a devastating experience. Our first child had breathing difficulties at birth. That was a frightening experience. He is fit, well and has a daughter. No one is properly prepared for the trials and tribulations of being a parent. As a father I subscribe to the view that life begins at the point of conception and that there should be rigorous safeguards to protect unborn children.
    I accept that according to Department of Health statistics thousands of women choose to travel to England in order to terminate pregnancies. I suspect that behind each and every statistic there were complex and difficult issues for the individuals to consider and that begs the question about the availability of appropriate services for people at such a critical time in their lives. It is indeed sad that any woman contemplates suicide during a pregnancy especially if the pregnancy was as a result of rape. The rapist tends to get lost in the discussion and this illustrates an ambivalence in relation to sexual crime in society. Dogmatic statements in relation to being pro or anti abortion tend not to be helpful in the search for a more compassionate response to this issue. There is a challenge to fund and provide services that protect the lives of unborn children. I would also suggest that as yet we do not know enough about the long term implications of abortion.

  12. Ryan August 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I’m completely against abortion, why? because I believe children are a good thing. I completely see the argument pro-abortionists have when they say abortion is right when a woman is raped but surely that is no fault of the child? but I also take into consideration the suffering of the woman involved in a rape situation but there must be other alternatives, such as adoption, etc

    As for this argument of making Ireland like “other civilised countries”? Just because most European countries permit abortion doesn’t mean Ireland has to do the same. Ireland is not France or Germany. Irish people may be similar to Germans and French but there are differences and the majority of Irish people, I would say, oppose abortion.

    And also, in my opinion, I wouldn’t describe killing thousands of babies every year as “civilised”, its barbaric in my opinion and it has great negative aspects for any society, at a time when Europe is in need of a demographic boost, more abortion is the last thing it needs. Ireland should celebrate the fact that abortion isn’t permitted, not be bullied into changing it to “fit in” with other nations.

    We should treasure children, not kill them.

  13. giordanobruno August 24, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    I don’t think there is any magic moment when a foetus becomes a person. It is more like a continuum, where a foetus at 2 days has no sentience while a foetus at 36 weeks is sentient.
    Somewhere in between the law draws a line because it has to.
    Of course if you believe in a soul despite any evidence for such a thing you would argue for no abortion ever.
    What then are we to do with all the pregnant women who do not wish to be pregnant?
    Anyone care to address that? Keep them in chains until the birth perhaps.
    Better education for young people and access to contraception is the best way to eliminate the need for abortion.
    What are your thoughts on contraception Jude?

  14. BaldyBapTheBarber August 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Hi Jude, yes you are right. The issue of abortion is an emotive one. Well how can something like this not be emotive? It surely tugs at the core humanity in every human being given that; well it potentially could have happened to any one of us.

    Even the word abortion to my ears is disgusting. Abortion, abortion, abortion: abort the new baby. TRUELY horrific.

    My opinion is that a human being comes into existence at the moment of conception. Otherwise you are forced to argue over a cell count or when the embryo attaches to the womb etc. With regards to the latter I fail to see how attachment gives it humanity, and with the former, well it’s a little absurd to say that at this stage the baby isn’t human but wait 2seconds till a few more cells divide and we have the magic number for the foetuses human rights to kick in.

    I think there needs to be more education and discussion on this whole issue within our society, as abortion also occurs in many instances outside of the abortion clinics – I read this article recently which highlights the abortifacient function of the Pill and other contraceptive methods. I think it’s fair to say that most men and women are oblivious to these facts. One of the methods by which the pill works is that it thins the lining of the uterus, thereby preventing implantation of any fertilised egg. The food and drugs administration in America (FDA) estimates that the combination Pill allows one to two pregnancies per 100 women per year. The mini-pill, two per 100 women per year. The same abortifacient function occurs with Depo-Provera (the injection), the “morning after pill” and intrauterine devices (The coil).

    Abortion is wrong and it troubles me that we tolerate it at any level. It’s the destruction of life and for me the destruction of a soul. We’ve heard in the media over the summer of the dreadful loss of life in Palestine and the outrage against this throughout the world has been immense. Defenceless men, women and children being killed, yet there is a toleration in our society of the killing of babies. It totally baffles me!!

  15. Pointis August 25, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    I would have to agree with Michael C and Gio on this one, the medical termination of a pregnancy is not a black and white issue. I think that there must be an option of last resort where there are particular extenuating circumstances or where a continuing pregnancy poses a serious potential risk to the physical health of the mother.

    Emotion must be kept outside the argument as it distorts the issue. An example In point, just mention abortion and see how long it takes for someone to raise the issue of rape! Although emotive it is just not a decisive factor as Just about 1% of abortions are sought because of rape or incest. For pregnancies which result from rape 50% of mothers do not opt for a termination.

    In what other sphere of life would we be discussing an issue where the impacts on only 1% of the group being affected are made the primary focus of the debate. Although these victims are important it is irrational to base the discussion solely on them since it affects so many others in society.

    The balance to be struck is how does society maintain the safeguards for women without opening the floodgates of abortion on demand which occures in England and Wales where in some areas 48% of abortions are repeat abortions and where the average figure across the NHS is 26.6%.

    I don’t envy the people tasked with coming up with a workable solution as they will certainly have earner themselves some very radical enemies!

  16. paddykool August 25, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    There is so much claptrap talked about the sanctity of life in a world brimming to the cribs with blood and violence. Sacred , my arse!. When wee babies are brought into the equation we all go dewy-eyed …Of course we do . We do the very same thing when we lift a wee new born puppy or a a wee kitten .We’re hard-wired to connect to that cuteness and respond and love it. We wouldn’t survive as a species if we were n’t mentally geared that way to suckle our young .It doesn’t always work like that of course , because we are blood and bone animals, so some demented lady or gentleman will sharpen his or her apish teeth and murder one of their young or throw a small baby at a wall …or shake a baby so violently that the child is brain-damaged or killed.
    We are not “sacred” creatures .We might think we are so full of our own pomposity that we are special godspawn…but we are hairless apes who will always enjoy a wee bit of killing. It’s natural, anyway .Every bit as natural as a fox in an open henhouse murdering every wee chicken that cheeps. …Not just his dinner…every one that moves.
    So , we have not a bit of bother killing when we feel like it. We might gloss it up and glamourise it but we go out in wars and slaughter wholesale . We’re doing it currently across our world and there is still a death penalty in many countries ….countries full of people .who think that life is a “sacred adventure”…who think it’s perfectly alright to take life when the notion suits and when the blood is up .That’s not even the psychopaths , the mad suicide bombers and the fixated killer schoolboy who can’t get the girls to love him….. It’s our very own politicians who’ll go to war for economic reasons and greed.

    So let’s just set the “sacred” to one side and talk the real talk about men , women and their own bodies . We know how babies are made.We know how much investment a couple, the child’s parents, …a family put into that initial act of sexual congress in the years following the birth. The baby/child is treated like a puppy or a kitten .We coo and stroke and cuddle that cute little investment in all its swaddled pinkness.It is the most expensive pet we will ever have . …Is it ever?!!!

    That’s what a new-born baby does for us and to us. Most of us….That is a little growing human animal…just like us ..a wee human mammal…that is suckled and cared for. At that moment of full term birth it is fully -formed human. What it is before it breathes and cries is something else .At the moment of conception it is no more a human that the mucous you blow out of your nose. There is nothing sacred about that….if there ever was ..
    .Sure ..there is the potential of a start to a human being but that ‘s all
    .My feeling is that a woman should have the absolute choice to do what she wants with her own body.. No one tells her she can’t have plastic surgery but they are quick to tell her in a very angry way that she can’t rectify a mistake she has made or which has been forced on her by rape. Where do they get the sanctimonious gall to make that choice for her? It’s her own business. It’s her own vessel . You do what you want to do with your body and leave others alone to deal with theirs . They’ll be telling us next what we should do every minute of every day . What we should read .What we should watch. What we should eat.Who we can love…

    Like i say , they have no problem taking up arms to kill the “sacred” grown up human beasts when it suits their agenda.They are not so cuddly then… They’ll readily support soldiers and wars and executions but when it comes to a different kind of killing{ [which is in reality not yet a fully functional sentient being}, they get all full of their own self- importance and religiosity….I would feel the same about choosing to die .It should be a personal choice.Why should it be anyone else’s business,?… the end …..What has it even got to do with morality? … maybe we could talk about that …..whatever that is …..

    • Pointis August 25, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      You are right PK, It is a black and white issue not a complex one!

      It needs to be addressed with emotive issues like crying babies, crying rape victims and issues about double standards in our politicians and society in general!

      Women should should be allowed to do whatever they like because after all it is their own bodies and it is no one else’s business.

      And parents who worked all their lives only to discover that the NHS isn’t going to pay for the cancer drugs for their child so that 53,000 women can have their legal entitlement to have their second or third abortion can just mind their own business!

      It is a complex issue, one that has troubled some of the finest brains of our times!

    • BaldyBapTheBarber August 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      Hi PK, you’ve said before that you are an atheist. You and I have discussed this over on the Politics Free zone on one of the pieces you submitted. What I’d like to pick you up on is that you’re posts recently, I feel, have more than just a tone of condescension and arrogance towards religion; I feel there is almost an agenda with you to belittle those of faith. This type of commenting grates on me a little for it overlooks the following:

      Dr Rachel Lu who teaches at the University of St Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota published an article recently titled “When Athiests get Religion Wrong” Read the full article here

      Dr Lu makes an important point in this article which has direct relevance to my gripe with your comments: “The atheist is defined by his belief that there is no God. This is a metaphysical position, exactly as belief in God is a metaphysical position. Neither one is either more or less directly relevant to the political and empirical questions he raises, and there is no reason to suppose that either theists or atheists have a specially heightened capacity for empirical observation (either of the natural world or of human society). There is no interesting sense in which an argument is “secular” simply because it doesn’t include a direct appeal to divine or scriptural authority. Naturally, everyone seeks common ground with their interlocutors when attempting to persuade them on a given issue, but again, there is no reason to think that either atheists or committed secularists are particularly advantaged in this respect. Atheists and theists both hold controversial metaphysical views that would (in most contexts) unnecessarily complicate an argument on, say, welfare reform, or the most promising way to treat Ebola.”

      So I would appeal to you, and with all due respect, to leave the arrogance and condescension at the keyboard, for it does your case no good.


      • paddykool August 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

        Hi BaldyBap …Lovely to hear from you again , me old china.
        Now, come on , I never mentioned god or any of that . You’re reading between the lines because me and thee have had some fun tussling over these issues in the past. I didn’t evoke god because in civic society those who believe and those who don’t should be allowed the same choices in physical life. What I am saying here is ..believe what you want to believe , but don’t tell a female what she can and can’t do .It doesn’t matter what you or I believe , anyway . If we get into theology we can’t prove anything anyway .We’ve talked about this stuff before so we don’t have to delve into the minutae of angels on pinheads or heaven and hell or limbo or purgatory …or any of that good stuff.It is literally “immaterial”
        Your belief makes you believe that humans are more than animals ,whereas mine makes me think that basically that’s all that we are… ..with a few high -faluting ideas about our place in the cosmos. We do what we do to survive and rub along without resorting to killing each other by using tribal laws as best we can…. Fair enough ? When we get down to the blood and bones of biology , though , we know that we are animals, just like all our other fellow creatures .We know what we are , even though we might pretend we don’t. You and I can talk all day about it but it doesn’t change anything we see outside our front doors or in the forests and jungles and cities of the world. We are living , breathing mammalian animals . Blood and bone .That said , my argument is to leave the esoteric debates aside and deal with the things we actually know for sure are happening in front of us. …and not the stuff we are making up and “might” be happening behind the veil, if you like.
        A female human gets pregnant .Her body is fertilised by a man’s sperm. She can think so she should be allowed to make a choice as to what to do next with her body.It’s her’s after all. If you inseminate a cow , there is no esoteric argument as to the morality of breeding the creature and then slaughtering it’s offspring for food. You just do it …unless you are a vegetarian and have a moral code about such things. Many would find that act obscene and in some countries and religious practices , it is frowned upon. We get on with it anyway because it is what human animals do .They are omnivores, not unlike our cousins the little piggies who share many of out omnivorous traits.
        Now we are skilled and intelligent creatures of course, but we live and die like everything else. These things we really do “know”, and like I say that’s good enough for me and many of us . You, BaldyBap , don’t have to believe any of that or you can believe it and add on a bit of “God” to it if you like . I don’t mind at all . I would consider that your personal choice, that’s all. The thing is ,you are assuming you can take that idea and stop a woman doing what she might want to do by neatly changing the rules you have for other creatures .You are saying really , that the person doesn’t own her own body because you believe it belongs to God.
        Now….I never brought any of that up .If someone actually believes in a god and breaks that law within their head, they will have to bear the consequences alone …in their own minds. That still should be their choice…their “free will” …if you like . After all, we’re now talking about the consequences of an esoteric meeting with a god in an afterlife which I don’t actually believ exists….If they do , well surely that is for them to deal with and not me or you. ?Do you see what I mean?
        It is not our choice in any way .It is the individual woman who should have the final say.

    • BaldyBapTheBarber August 25, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

      Hi PK, hope you’re well old bean, sorry for the delay in replying but as you know I’ve 2 little cubs to chase after.

      Forgive me for saying PK but I think you may be doting a little when you say that “I never mentioned god or any of that . You’re reading between the lines… ”

      In your initial post you mention ‘sanctity’ once, ‘scared’ 5 times and you made this remarkable comment that brought to mind the comments of pastor McConnell when he referred to Islam as the “spawn of the devil”. You said “We might think we are so full of our own pomposity that we are special godspawn”. Godspawn is such an unusual way of describing human beings and their relationship with God don’t you think? Furthermore I think the above demonstrates plainly that you did mention God and not only that but that you did so with a dash of dismissive arrogance that’s designed, I feel, to belittle those that believe in God.

      I may be wrong but up until your post I don’t think anyone directly brought God into the discussion, people may have mentioned the Catholic Church or souls but not God. There again I don’t recall anyone who posted before you, who is against abortion, using God or religion as their core argument for the same. Yet those who are pro choice, yourself included, bring religion and God into the argument to beat the prolife camp with. It’s just an observation but an interesting one I think.

      Now here’s the rub, maybe you are an evangelical atheist and can’t resist trying to enlighten your audience at every opportunity, but surely if you want to persuade others to your cause you do it with compassion and understanding and not with what borders on insults at times?

      Take it easy.

      • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 8:26 am #

        Ah …C’mon BaldyBap…the minute you mentioned atheism, you had brought in theism and you were getting the tennis racquets and tennis balls out for a rally.I had no real intent at that moment to bring in any of that but a lot of the argument is based on Judeo- Christian beliefs of a sacred human life. That’s well and good but it’s not everyone’s story. I’m not evangelising atheism like our old friend Dawkins. I believe he has many fine points but he’s lost his sense of humour and comes across as a little intense. A wee bit controlling …
        No , as far as I’m concerned everyone has their own boat to row ..their own life to live ….their own death to die . It’s hard not to point out the holes and hypocrisies in arguments about the rights and wrongs of killing when dealing with a species like homo sapiens who very obviously thrill to the killing. Sure, I mentioned godsspawn…{ you’ll notice the “g” is in lower case too}…I was probably abstractly thinking of sperms, eggs…frogspawn …so the new little word tripped off my tongue… I do write instinctively after all. I’m not carefully parsing every sentence as i go ….hoping that I can still remember to spell the simplest words as my old brain slowly crumbles….
        No..i was really only trying to clear a space in the jungle of emotion and get down to the hard hairy facts of what us humans are doing and what we really are……seeing the wood for the trees and all that. Shaving our hairy beards and legs so that we can see the human skin….
        It’s like the errant apostrophe though,…we still continue to trip over religious beliefs at every step without any irony . How many times have you heard someone say after a death …”.Ach ..I’ll see him when we all get up there”. That’s a total belief system right there .A belief in an afterlife that is going to bleed into everything that person does or believes in the here and now human physical world….whether it’s right or wrong…real or nonsense. As for insulting anyone .That’s not the point .
        Do you not also believe that a person can be insulted equally by the assumption that a religious belief is taken as the only reality, even though it is an unproveable belief -system .I am constantly insulted by Creationism , for example , simply because it is an insult to our very world and everything we know and can prove about it. I am insulted by placards telling me that” Jesus is the Way”…foisted in my face like a tasteless advertisment ..usually I just shrug and laugh to myself. I can shrug off the insult of the idea that we should all be believers in a variety of religions .If a guy is peddling tracts at my door I don’t insult him. I just don’t engage in a whole series of questions and answers .i treat it like an unwanted call from a call centre and say ..”Sorry , and thank you but no thanks”. I am insulted when someone with a megaphone barracks me on the street or starts up on a Sunday afternoon preaching loudly close to my home I would prefer that all of them were private affairs and were kept to church-going and not taught in our schools.That would be my preference.I think a religion of any kind should be robust enough to provide its own debates but should be a private affair.
        Sometimes, that is hard to avoid in conversations, something like abortion where churches have an axe to grind beyond our physical world. i think that if your belief is such then you must abide by your belief , you should do so, but not at the expense of anyone else’s belief. You should have the free choice.
        We’re not all the same either . Many will go through life without taking too much from our Health system . They may have healthy lives which costs the community very little. Others may not be so fortunate and it for them that the Health Service really exists.
        I say, be thankful that you can get through life without too many visits to the hospital. It is a fact of life though that every woman who gets pregnant will have to use the system’s resources whether she wants to or not. A man will possibly, never, ever in his entire life ,have to spend one night in the place. Men are not affected by the same physical changes that occur to a pregnant woman’s body so they really should not pontificate as though they are.

        • BaldyBapTheBarber August 26, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

          PaddyK (did I just do a Perkin?), I hate having to be pedantic but because you digress so much in your replies I think I must on this occasion allow for it. My first comment to you was made because of a perception I’ve picked up with regards to your posts in general, including your first comment in this blog; it was because I perceived a running theme with your commenting of late, in way of a consistent disparaging tone to religion. Now you may say “so what I’m entitled to write what I please and with any tone I see fit”. This of course is true but I also felt that a gentleman of your caliber, who demonstrates a rational and tempered judgment overall, would possibly consider my POV (Perkin again) and maybe concede that your own metaphysical position is equal to that of mine? And thus reflect when making your own points and ensure that Paddy Kool’s it when it comes to faith?


          • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

            Hi BaldyBap…Let’s not get too sensitive. We’re all grown ups and can all expect to have differing POVs…the Perkin influence spreading like a benign virus as I diverge there…..You believe and why not?I don’t. Our commentaries are both valid .I’m asking women to make up their own minds too.Some may want a free choice and that is what I support.I make no bones about not believing in older superstitions either. you’ll have forgive me if I find some beliefs absurd just as I’ll forgive you for having trouble accepting that this is how I think and write.It is simply who I am, that is all.

  17. Jim Lynch August 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    I am amazed at some of the so-called intelligent posters on here, well I though they were intelligent, until they made these ridicules statements on abortion.

    Someone pointed out that if contraception and education were taught there would be no need
    for abortion. Well there is no legitimate need for abortion, there’s a want and it’s a selfish want!

    Personally I take the view of the Catholic Church not as a Catholic, but as a guide for my morality. Ectopic pregnancies and cancerous wombs are reasons to perform surgical procedures to save the life of the mother. Please read the following;

    “Inasmuch as abortion is the willful taking of the life of the unborn, we are not permitted to do it even to save the life of the mother. Indeed, we are never permitted to commit any sin, for whatever praiseworthy motive. In addition, it is hard to imagine any case in which the death of an unborn child, considered in itself, would save the life of the mother.

    There are instances in which it is legitimate for an expectant mother to undergo certain medical or surgical procedures that will save her life, even if these procedures inevitably involve the death of her unborn child. In these cases it is not a question of intentionally aborting the child. They involve, rather, accepting the loss of the child as an unavoidable consequence of caring for the mother’s health.

    The clearest and surest example is the ectopic pregnancy. As everyone knows, should the fetus become lodged in the oviduct or fallopian tube, its continued growth will result in the death of both child and mother. A normal and proper procedure in this case is the removal of the fallopian tube, from which the death of the unborn child inevitably follows. In this case the death of the child is not sought, nor is the mother’s life saved by the child’s dying.

    This is not an abortion. Quite simply, the mother’s life is saved by the surgical removal of the oviduct, not by the death of her child.”

    The other nonsensical claptrap is, “a woman has a right to do what ever she wants with her own body.”
    Of course she has that is if she has 4 legs, 4 arms 4 eyes, and a set of male chromosomes (XY) if the unborn is a male!

    Funny old world we live in all those in favor of abortion are already born!!!

    Please excuse the rant but I can only copy and paste I am not that good at computers so I can’t post the actual web source of my quotes.

    • Pointis August 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Jim, I hope you are not quoting from my contribution when you say “a woman has a right to do what ever she wants with her own body.”

      That was intended to read as sarcasm!

    • giordanobruno August 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      And for those selfish women who think they need an abortion, how would you deal with them?
      A bit of brainwashing maybe? Or a frontal lobotomy?
      Or maybe just keep it simple and use a straightjacket.

      • Pointis August 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

        Frontal lobotomy? Have you a bottle in front of you?

  18. Jim Lynch August 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Absolutely not Pointis I am glib enough to read your comment as sarcasm.
    My comment was directed at those who used that argument with a straight face.

  19. Jim Lynch August 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Very good Giordanobruno, you conveniently leave out the
    unborn baby, you know the one who’s life is terminated by the actions of the women you mention.

    You ask me how would I deal with it, then you go on to suggest I would possibly resort to;

    “A bit of brainwashing maybe? Or a frontal lobotomy? 
Or maybe just keep it simple and use a straightjacket.”

    You don’t even know me yet you presume to think I’m capable of the above asinine actions.
    Your ad hominem argument is weak.

    • giordanobruno August 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      It is not ad hominem. I am trying to imagine possible solutions those who are anti abortion might offer.
      So please tell me how you would deal with these women?
      As for the unborn baby I do not believe in the early stages there is a sentient being in the womb. The scientific evidence seems to back that belief.
      Is there any evidence for a soul existing from the moment of conception I wonder?

  20. angela August 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    Well It’s good to hear Jim that you can twist any argument around to suit the teachings of the churches. Can you tell me which women are forced to undergo abortion?

    But for those of us who think for ourselves I’d prefer to have the choice.

    Perhaps we should have a high security house were all those who try to travel to England are interred until their baby’s are born then the children could be put up for adoption!
    Or farmed out to the religious orders to rear. that was such a success!

    As a woman I’m heartened to see more and more people are thinking for themselves.

    Paddycool you’re much more eloquent than I.

    Pointis perhaps you should address you argument to the drug companies who set the prices for the cancer drugs. And btw all that money raised for cancer research were does that go?
    The sooner we have a referendum here about abortion the better.

    • Pointis August 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm #


      Yes talk to anyone with an insight into the NHS. There are limited resources within the health service and every procedure has a knock-on effect on all other procedures offered so it may be cancer drugs, or screening for other cancers or conditions such as SAD syndrome or some other life threatening condition. Should these procedures be jeopardised or restricted so that 53,000 women can have their second, third or even fourth abortion?

      I am just saying the issue is not black and white and does not just involve the pregnant women who may be considering an abortion.

  21. paddykool August 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Jim , it’s one thing to have an opinion or a belief but it’s another to force it down someone’s throat. I believe that most of us stumble through life trying to do the best we can .It doesn’t always work out the way we might want though. A marriage might break down. A person can become homeless , get ill ..go broke or whatever . Nothing in life is perfect and none of us are either. Some are really selfish enough to abort several unwanted children. Some abuse their wives or husbands , physically or mentally. Some abuse children , physically or maybe sexually. Some gamble the family’s money away or drink it all and serially two-time their spouses. Some break every law worth breaking . We are not all good , sweet little human beings , although most of us are trying to be. Some cleave to religious beliefs as a moral guide. Some have their own morality inherent.Some do not give a rat’s ass.
    I would say that the number of those people who desire abortion do not take the decision lightly for all of that. For someone living in Ireland, where an effort has to be made to travel away for the operation , I’m sure it is no small matter. It may be for some but I would say most go through with it with a heavy heart and partly in secrecy.. They are the ones who will live with the decision and some will carry that memory easier than others. They may feel that they are fixing a mistake they have stupidly made . I think they should be given the choice and not have it foisted on them or interfered with.
    I have argued that killing per se is not actually the issue. There are many times when we kill easily ….no question. We’ve done it very close to home and we’re doing it daily everywhere. We kill human beings in conflicts and we kill creatures as big as whales , elephants and cattle for greed and food without a second thought.We can debate whether we are killing a sentient being or not after that.In India , for example , the cow is seen as sacred so what do you imagine a Jain would make of one of our tidy little slaughterhouses where the sacred beast is processed into beef patties for McDonalds? There’s morality for one and there’s morality for the other.
    In the past , “fallen women” have been treated terribly by moral society .They have been locked in asylums or convents ..or workhouses. Their choices have been taken away and they have been gifted that position by the sexual appetites of men. I think it’s time they made their own choices….

    • Pointis August 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

      Straight forward question Paddy Kool. Are you in favour of abortion upon demand?
      Yes or No?

      • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 8:25 am #

        Straight forward , Pointis.?.then it’s Yes..I think there could be some safegards built in ..but yes.

        • pointis August 26, 2014 at 10:23 am #

          Abortion on demand but with safeguards?
          But what type of safeguards are you talking about?

          • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

            Safeguards?…Well that might be an education programme for first timers . What the procedure may or may not do to future prospects both mentally and physically. You may not be able to conceive easily in the future when you might want to. Sometimes women can have a harder time conceiving the baby they might actually want later on .Maybe if someone ..and i’m sure they still exist …has no idea how they became pregnant. There is plenty of evidence that sex education is not as universal as we might think or that some women are still not aware what and how getting pregnant means.Some are quite illiterate, or possibly dyslexic , for example and are unable to read about any of this. They might need a little education for their future safety.
            Then there are the responsibilities of raising a child. .Not everyone is up to it. There is the situation when contraception is repeatedly not used and abortion is the fall back. If someone was applying to get multiple abortions , it could be questioned . It’s hardly the best scenario for anyone to find themselves in , so I see no problem in questioning that.It’s a fact though , that at the moment we are brushing a dirty little problem under the carpet and having droves of our womenfolk travel to England to do do something that they obviously feel they have a need to do.

          • Pointis August 26, 2014 at 8:23 pm #


            Educating a woman who is having an abortion, about safe sex or the after effects of an abortion is a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

            A safeguard either protects the woman or else protects the system from being abused!

  22. Jim Lynch August 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    “But for those of us who think for ourselves I’d prefer to have the choice.”

    angela, what choice dose the unborn baby have?

    “Jim , it’s one thing to have an opinion or a belief but it’s another to force it down someone’s throat.”

    paddykool, please point out exactly where I forced my opinion down someone’s throat.

    By the way it’s one thing to have one’s own opinion, it’s a totally different thing to have one’s own facts!

    • giordanobruno August 26, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      It is surprising for someone who quotes the Catholic church as a guide and talks about sin to then talk about facts.
      Sin, God, heaven and hell, these are not facts they are superstition. So while I respect your right to believe in them if you wish I am still allowed to find them ridiculous.
      I am still hoping you or someone will clarify how all these women who want an abortion are going to be treated.
      Do you accept my point that good sex education and availability of contraception is essential to reducing the need for abortions?

    • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      Jim..I don’t think I said that “you” personally forced an opinion down anyone’s throat..We are having a conversation here among ourselves but we are talking about what society outside of our little conversation is doing. For example, pressure groups connected to Christian Churches are pushing their agendas based on their religious beliefs alone.They are not considering those who do not hold their views, or really do not care that those views are equally valid.

  23. Jim Lynch August 26, 2014 at 10:23 am #


    For those who understand what I am saying, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not understand what I am saying, no explanation is possible.

    • paddykool August 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      I have to say Jim ..that that answer is a bit of a cop -out. You’d still need to explain what you mean or it will never communicate anything.

    • giordanobruno August 26, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

      Come on now. You must have considered the questions I raised before and surely must have an answer.
      In the interest of open debate I ask for an open answer.
      I know it is a difficult issue and sometimes it is fine to say “I don’t know”

  24. paddykool August 26, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    Okay. Pointis: A woman wants to have an abortion. What do you do?She’s going to have it one way or another.Is it better to close our eyes or accept that it is her choice to make and give her the best advice and info available.Now…as we’re all having our opinions aired , what would you propose?

    • Pointis August 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Hi PaddyK,

      You will notice that I did not propose a solution at the outset nor did I knock anyone who was an advocate for abortion or anyone who is opposed to it.

      I said that I believed that it was a very complex issue which some of the finest brains of our time have troubled over.

      The system in England is not designed to be one which facilitated abortion upon demand and there were medical criteria as well as the 24 week limit after which abortion is not allowed regardless of the circumstances (except of course if the foetus shows signs of serious disability in which case it does not benefit of the protection offered to other 24+ week foetus). There is scarce evidence which would suggest that anyone requesting an abortion within the 24 week time frame is not accommodated.

      Concerns still prevail in England over the use of abortion in for example gender selection. As I said before it is anything but a black and white issue!

  25. Réaltán August 27, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    12 women with addresses in the South packed their bags last night to travel over to the UK on Aer Lingus or Ryanair to go to English abortion clinics this morning. 12 more will do so today. And tomorrow. and the day after that…. Never mind the nordies.
    So, do we leave abortion to those with the money and access to routing to England? The abortifacient pill used commonly in France is now being advertised in the South. Where there’s a will…
    I support the 12 women packing their bags today. And all those who cannot get referred to a clinic because they don’t know where to go, or cannot get there for various reasons, or who don’t have the money.

    • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 10:48 am #

      Hello Réaltán – thanks for your thoughts. I must say I get a bit miffed when people argue that hundreds of women from here travel to England for abortion, and offer that as evidence that abortion should be available here. (I don’t know if you’re saying that, but anyway…) To say that the man next door is doing something, or the whole street is doing something, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. There’s a great little poster at the beginning of the TV series ‘Fargo’ which shows a shoal of fish swimming one way and a single fish swimming the opposite way, and the caption: ‘What if you are right?’ Makes sense.

      • Réaltán August 27, 2014 at 11:30 am #

        To be clear, Jude. Crystal. Yes. I am saying that abortion should be freely available to women on this island. And available actually on this island. Yes.
        And don’t worry, the man next door that you quote will not be doing it. He doesn’t have a womb so present legislation doesn’t affect him.

        • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 11:45 am #

          Well thanks Réaltán – I now know your views fully on the matter. I’m not at all worried and you’re entitled, as is the man next door and behind every door, and every woman too, to have her own opinion on the matter. I hope you’ll be impressed if I tell you that I’ve known for some time that the man next door doesn’t have a womb. But “so present legislation doesn’t affect him” sounds very isolationist to me. What if he were father to the child? Or potential grandfather? Or a concerned friend? We don’t live in a uni-bubble, or as John Donne said ‘No man is an island’. (Yes, I know – shockingly sexist. Although I suspect the same man if you’d asked him would have said of course he included women. )

          • giordanobruno August 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

            There you are!
            I’m still wondering about your views on contraception. Better education and availabilty would be the best way to reduce the number of women looking for abortions. What do you think?
            Also what would be done with the women wanting abortions to ensure they give birth?

          • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

            Yes, here I am, gio – but sometimes I have to do other things than talk to you, pleasant though that usually is…I used to have a class where one particular kid…Oh, sorry – mustn’t stray off the subject. What are my views on…contraception? Well, it doesn’t involve killing anyone, usually. I guess it might fall into the ‘potential human being’ category which has baffled me up until now. As to what to do with a woman wanting an abortion ‘to ensure they give birth’? Not sure, really. Maybe talk to her, give her your view if it’s different from hers. My daughter-in-law is pregnant at the moment – due to give birth inside the next month. Supposing she declared she wanted to abort the baby – what should I do?

          • Réaltán August 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

            And you left out – the guy who walked away and washed his hands of the pregnancy. The guy who told her ‘it’s your problem, deal with it’. The guy who beat her up and landed her in A&E for being a stupid b**ch for being so careless. The guy who raped . The guy who abused a daughter/niece/cousin.
            He’s not the one pregnant, Jude. She is. Her body, her choice. It is a foetus.
            But good to see you finally climbed off the fence.

          • Jude Collins August 27, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

            As the owner of Liverpool wondered about the Arsenal people when they tried to buy Suarez by adding one extra pound: what are they smoking over there? Beating up, stupid bitch (why not say it if that’s the word?), rapists, family abusers… My wife and I have had four children and none of the above featured at all. And my God – I never thought the guy next door to me was like THAT…

  26. Pointis August 27, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    Sounds like the man next door should be facing charges or if found guilty be in prison for an extended period. There is little likelihood that any woman would be able to make reasoned choices under those circumstances!

  27. giordanobruno August 27, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Thanks for the reply as always. I have been told that talking to me is both a joyful and spiritual experience. Like receiving confession from Eric Morecambe.
    So anyway you are not in favour of compelling people to go through with a pregnancy against their will. But if the law prevented any abortion, how would that work in practice? Should women who succeed in getting an abortion be prosecuted for murder? That would seem to be the logical outworking of such a position.
    I’m not yet clear if you think contraception (or indeed sex education) is a good thing or not,but I think you are saying as it doesn’t involve killing anyone that it is a good thing? Something we agree on.
    Congratulations to you and your daughter in law.Thankfully it is very rare for someone to seek an abortion so late on in the pregnancy. I have no idea what you should do if you found yourself in that position.