Talking to prolifers

Edinburgh abortion rights outside Merchant's Hall - SavitaSavita Halappanavar went to Galway University Hospital on 21st October with severe back pain, to be told she was miscarrying. She was 17 weeks pregnant. For three days of agony she and her husband requested an abortion – the foetus was still alive but had no chance of survival – but the medical staff refused: there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that “this is a Catholic country”. After three days the foetus was dead and the prolife medical team removed it, but too late to save Savita Halappanavar’s life: she died of septicaemia on 28th October.

Edinburgh Abortion Rights protest - outside Merchants Hall

The protest last night outside Merchant’s Hall in Hanover Street had been planned well before Savita Halappanavar died: it was in response to the first meeting of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students.

This is an organisation that intends, in its own words, to “invest in the future”:

Students are the nation’s future leaders and professionals. The next generation of doctors, lawyers, parents, teachers, nurses, politicians, engineers and artists will go on to build a pro-life society with a profound and lasting respect for human life.

By “respect for human life” they mean the ethos that let Savita Halappanavar die in agony.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted wrote, in response to a situation a few years ago at another Catholic hospital, where an abortion was performed in order to save the life of the pregnant woman (and succeeded):

An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother’s life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means.

Every Catholic institution is obliged to defend human life at all its stages; from conception to natural death. This obligation is also placed upon every Catholic individual. If a Catholic formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion, they are automatically excommunicated by that action. The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty.

We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other. A woman is rightly called “mother” upon the moment of conception and throughout her entire pregnancy is considered to be “with child.”

The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic.

But if you read Bishop Olmsted’s views in full – indeed, if you look for prolife arguments against women being allowed to have an abortion – you find there, quite explicitly, the argument that killed Savita: that it’s just wrong, always, to perform an abortion, unless the foetus is already dead. Olmsted is not an outlier, is not some kind of fanatic extremist: he is a Catholic bishop in good standing presenting the theological view that it’s better to let two die than to perfom an abortion and save one.

That’s what happened in that hospital in Galway.

Prochoice: we care about people after they're born, too

Sarah Thomasin calls this “a fatal intersectionality of oppression” – racism, Catholic dogma, institutional misogyny, medical incompetence – in The killing of Savita Halappanavar:

According to Savita’s widower Parveen, his wife’s requests for a termination were met with the response, “This is a Catholic country”. When I read that I went cold. I’ve heard things like that before.

If someone starts telling you what country you’re in, or telling you screamingly obvious facts about that country, it’s time to look at them sideways. If your appearance, name or accent mark you out as foreign, you want to be wary of people who say that.

If those people are making important medical decisions about you, be very, very frightened.

I’ve heard that turn of phrase used in schools to shut down kids from immigrant backgrounds. I’ve heard workers use it to intimidate and undermine colleagues.

People simply do not bring up the country they are in in a context like that unless they are being racist.

Abortion rights protest outside Merchants Hall, Edinburgh

Cameron Rose, the Conservative Councillor for Southside/Newington, was there – he told us it was because “I believe in life”. As was Father Lawrence Lew, the assistant chaplain of the Catholic Students Union. Those were the only two of the prolife meeting that tried to talk to us.

The prolife alliance evening had been planned as a formal-dress fundraiser with “drinks, canapes and a speech from Sister Roseann Reddy” Sr Roseann Reddy is co-founder of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, which runs a crisis pregnancy centre called the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative in Glasgow. Among other useful things, the centre runs an online list of prayer requests for women, identified by their given name, who’ve decided to have an abortion.

Their event was to last from 7:30 to 9:30pm, so we were there from 7 til 10. I asked Father Lawrence – as he was willing to talk to us – how many people had been there, since many of them avoided us by going out a side-door, and he said about two hundred: he added that he was quite impressed we’d stayed the whole evening. We got into a slightly muddled discussion then about human rights, and how prolifers try to avoid using the language of force while being all about force and against consent. He suggested that women should make an “informed choice”, by which I suspect he meant the misleading information provided by the prolife movement, and proposed that women ought to think of it as an acceptable solution to go through pregnancy and childbirth and have the baby adopted – the Banished Babies solution of the Magdalene houses.

I don’t honestly think a prolifer is likely to be convinced by any conversation with one of us. I think the journey away from the prolife movement is more likely to happen as described by Libby Ann, who was once fervently and wholeheartedly prolife and then over several years realised she was wrong:

I have come to the conclusion that I was a dupe.

What I want to share here is how I came to this realization. And if you, reader, are one of those who opposes abortion because you believe it is murder and you want to save the lives of unborn babies, well, I hope to persuade you that the pro-life movement is not actually your ally in this, that you have been misled, and that you would be more effective in decreasing the number of abortions that occur if you were to side with pro-choice progressives. If this is you, please hear me out before shaking your head.

Father Lawrence wanted to go home and have his dinner: he’d attended because the students at the Catholic Students Union had asked him to take photographs of the event, he said. So he left and we continued the vigil. I stopped chanting after a while, because it was beginning to make me feel uncomfortable: we were shouting “Shame on you!” and one man, holding up a big homemade “Remember Savita” sign, was shouting “You’re murderers!

It was uncomfortably like what I imagine it may be like to be part of a prolife crowd outside a health clinic.

Except that the people leaving were comfortably-fed and wined and sure of their own moral standing, rather than the vulnerable patients abused by prolife picketers, I suppose we were.

Praveen Halappanavar told the Irish Times:

“Savita has a lot of doctors in her family, a lot of medical people, her uncle, her aunt, many people who are in medicine and they are all asking, ’How can this happen in the 21st century, when the medical field is so advanced?’ and ‘Why didn’t they abort her?'”

“So I had to explain the whole thing, about the law there [in Ireland] and how [when] the foetus is live… and they were all just, some people even laughed at me. ‘That’s crazy’ they said.

“And I just had to tell them, that’s the way it is, that unfortunately that’s the country we were in at the time.

“People keep asking me, ’How could they leave the womb open for two days? There is a high risk of infection there’

“A common thing I’m asked: ‘The mother’s life is a bigger life. They knew that they couldn’t save the baby. Why didn’t they look at the bigger life?’”

Asked whether, if there had been a termination he thought things could have been different, he said: “Yes of course. She was perfectly alright the day she went in, until Wednesday. I think, and it’s just my take, I think on the Tuesday night things got worse, when she picked up that fever, when she started shivering, I think the infection was already taking hold and taking over her entire body. It was too late then”.

Her parents were still in shock, he continued.

“Her dad is in very bad shape. They are giving him medication to make sure that he gets some sleep. No-one, including me, we can’t believe she’s not with us. She was such a lovely person, full of life. It’s been just so very hard for them, their only daughter.”

At least 1500 people held a vigil last night outside the Dáil in Dublin.

In December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Irish government had to put in place structures and guidelines that would let a woman whose life was endangered by her pregnancy have an abortion, as the law in Ireland requires.

The Irish prolife movement responded to that ruling with angry protests that abortion was never needed to save a life.

The Life Institute produced a video for their project Abortion never saves a life which was uploaded to youtube on 12th October, and makes hard watching now:

Doctor Jen Gunter: Did Irish Catholic law or malpractice kill Savita Halappanavar?

On 10th September a prolife symposium published what they called the “Dublin Declaration on Maternal Healthcare” which stated:

As experienced practitioners and researchers in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.

This is the prolife ethos: this is what the Alliance of Prolife Students want to spread through our professions, through our healthservice, our legal system. This is why we had to be there last night, to stand up for human rights, against this prolife ethos that made a widower in October, that killed a woman who should have lived:

“Savita has a lot of doctors in her family, a lot of medical people, her uncle, her aunt, many people who are in medicine and they are all asking, ’How can this happen in the 21st century, when the medical field is so advanced?’ and ‘Why didn’t they abort her?'”

In Ireland, there will be a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dáil, “where we will hold a candlelight vigil in conjunction with Galway Pro-Choice to grieve Savita’s unnecessary death”: begins at 4pm, vigil at 5:30.

There will be a protest against the needless death of Savita Halappanava outside the Irish consulate in Edinburgh at 4pm on Saturday 17th November.

Please attend if you can, and share and invite others.

Also, please consider writing:

Savita Halappanavar died in Galway last month after being refused an emergency abortion; the 17-week old foetus died as well. This comes two years after the European Court of Human Rights instructed Ireland to get its act together to legislate on this issue. If you feel as angry as I do, then you could write to the Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, at taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie, or to the Health Minister, Mr James Reilly, at minister’s_office@health.gov.ie. If they reply, they will say they are waiting for the investigation. Yes, of course there is a need for an investigation into Savita Halappanavar’s death; but that does not stop emergency legislation being passed through the Dail NOW.

Postal addresses:

  • Enda Kenny, The Taoiseach, Department of the Taoiseach, Government Buildings, Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
  • James Reilly, Minister for Health, Department of Health, Hawkins House, Dublin 2, Ireland

110 Comments

Filed under Equality, Human Rights, Justice, Racism, Women

110 responses to “Talking to prolifers

  1. I attended the APS inaugural event, and could not help noticing the demonstrators outside. Perhaps, as one of those demonstrators, you could answer a question for me.

    I noticed many of you were holding up banners and placards making reference to the tragedy of Savita Halappanava. What I would like to know is this: were you doing so to call for clarification of the law in Ireland that permits the termination of pregnancy to save the life of the mother, or were you using that tragedy to call for the unrelated matter of abortion on demand?

    • Hi Michael: Yes, I was one of the human rights demonstrators outside, but we weren’t by any means one unified group, so I don’t say I speak for anyone but myself.

      You seem to be trying to make a clearcut distinction that doesn’t really exist in this case. We know from Praveen Halappanavar’s direct testimony that Savita asked for an abortion several times before she died; as a qualified medical practitioner she may have understood the risks the hospital were running leaving her to miscarry over several days, but either way: once Savita had asked for an abortion, there are only a few countries in the world that would have then denied her, especially under those circumstances.

      Whether the sepsis that follows such a prolonged miscarriage had killed her or not, most hospitals, most places in the world, would have preferred not to risk the inevitable damage to her health, and would have been on legally safe ground once Savita had asked.

      Horribly, Ireland is not one of those countries.

      Because the Irish government has over thirty years steadily refused to legislate so that doctors know they can safely perform abortions when needed, without risking a criminal prosecution and two years penal servitude if a court decides that the abortion wasn’t strictly necessary to save the woman’s life, the medical team at Galway may even have been within their legal right to refuse – the medical inquiry will decide that.

      For us human rights campaigners, the issue is clearcut. Obviously, Ireland should legislate so that sick women don’t have to get on planes to England to have abortions in London or Liverpool, and doctors should be allowed to exercise their medical judgement without a court second-guessing them about whether a girl or a woman whose life was saved really needed the abortion. So much, I imagine, we who support human rights and even you prolifers would agree on.

      Where the situation gets muddled for you prolifers is your wish to be able to force women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will, even if you don’t quite wish to do so to the death: and your preference, if force is not possible, to make abortion as expensive and difficult to access as possible. Ireland fulfils your needs, and you don’t wish it to change and worry that if women’s lives are prioritised over prolife needs, Ireland may eventually stop outsourcing abortions.

      For us human rights campaigners, we don’t need to get muddled: the essential legislation to save women’s lives must be passed for the sake of humanity: but we have no objection at all if this eventually leads to legislation that would ensure Irish patients never again have to travel overseas to get abortions at their own expense.

      • It seems to me that the facts of the case of Praveen Halappanavar still, to this day, have not been fully established, and certainly were not established on the night of the launch of the APS. Yet this tragedy was seized on and exploited in the most cynical way to push a totally unrelated agenda: the total deprivation of all human rights for a certain class of human being.

        There are many egregious aspects to all this, but perhaps one of the worst is the suggestion that the Ireland – a country where both pregnant women and the children in their wombs are safer than most places on the planet – would wilfully or maliciously endanger the lives of pregnant women. That is it impugn a good nation and a medical profession who clearly value and prioritise human life and have a marvellous track record in doing so.

        Incidentally, I am glad that you gave some acknowledgement in your original post to your behaviour on that night. I am a robust-ish, young-ish man, so I could cope with the tirade of insults and abuse. But how did it feel to be directing that to people like Ruth and her guide dog? Or Paul and his wife, who had to leave early because she is very sick? Or Eileen and Teresa, in their late eighties? Modest, humble and good people, heartbroken by the callous waste of human life, by the human degradation of abortion, who were simply assembled there to give what little support they could to those courageous young men and women, gathered there to help build a culture of love, justice and non-violence, in the face of a ruthless and aggressive machine.

        As I crossed Hanover St, a policeman observing all this put his arm around my shoulder, and gave me some words of support and comfort. He told me in no uncertain terms what he thought of you. It meant a lot to me personally on that cold, dark night, but it meant even more to me to think that you may have, inadvertently, won over another human being to the cause of love, life, peace, hope and justice, a cause I hope that you too join one day, as I did myself once.

    • “It seems to me that the facts of the case of Praveen Halappanavar still, to this day, have not been fully established, and certainly were not established on the night of the launch of the APS.”

      That’s not true, but I’m assuming that like most prolifers you don’t know much about gynaecology/childbirth. What happened to Savita Halappanavar was that because she was miscarrying, her cervix was left dilated for a prolonged period, over several days. The interior of the uterus is as susceptible to infection as an open wound. Had Savita had an abortion early in her miscarriage, her cervix would have closed, and she would (probably) not have acquired the infection that eventually killed her. That much is not disputed: these are ordinary medical facts.

      “Yet this tragedy was seized on and exploited in the most cynical way to push a totally unrelated agenda: the total deprivation of all human rights for a certain class of human being.”

      No, Michael. That’s what people like Bryan Kemper do, not what we human rights activists do. The “certain class of human being” for whom he seeks total deprivation of all human rights are women: as one of them, I take this somewhat personally.

      But how did it feel to be directing that to people like Ruth and her guide dog? Or Paul and his wife, who had to leave early because she is very sick? Or Eileen and Teresa, in their late eighties?

      I presume that if they had not wished to confront us, they would have left, as most of you apparently did, through a side door. I assume that anyone who thinks it is not a “callous waste of human life” to let a woman like Savita Halappanavar die in agony because her miscarriage takes too long has very little human feeling for anyone different from them.

      to help build a culture of love, justice and non-violence

      You’re a prolife group. That has nothing to do with love, justice, or non-violence: it’s about the degradation and force of women.

      Incidentally, I noticed from your Facebook page that you’re against preventing abortions – you object to women using contraception to stop unwanted pregnancies. That objection to preventing abortions is so rife in the prolife movement, but it undercuts completely any claim to having sincere objections to abortion.

      • That’s not true…

        It is indeed true that on the night of the APS launch, the story of Savita Halappanavar had only just broken.

        , but I’m assuming that like most prolifers you don’t know much about gynaecology/childbirth.

        Indeed, I wouldn’t claim to be an expert personally (are most pro-choicers?), but coming from a long medical family, including one of the first female doctors to graduate from an Irish university, I incorporate the physiological and medical reality as far as I can. Of course, if pro-lifers didn’t know much about gynaecology or childbirth, Ireland itself -an explicitly pro-life country – would not enjoy a superior infant and maternal mortality rate to most of the developed word.

        Now, in the absence of argument come the baseless insults and lies, which I hope you have the integrity to allow to stand unedited…

        You’re a prolife group. That has nothing to do with love, justice, or non-violence: it’s about the degradation and force of women.

        The “certain class of human being” for whom he seeks total deprivation of all human rights are women: as one of them, I take this somewhat personally.

        As you surely must know, the pro-life movement is led by and predominantly composed of women, who often bemoan the lack of men in it.

        you object to women using contraception to stop unwanted pregnancies.

        Well, if the mass and free availability of contraception was the solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies, then we would have seen a decline in the number of abortions since its inception and prevalence, rather than a tenfold increase, wouldn’t we? That’s because contraception is a technical solution that exacerbates the cultural, behavioural and moral malaise that is, fundamentally, the problem itself.

        Anyway, I wish you all the best. I hope you can take the time to research that which you advocate and reflect on what it means to you as a human being to support it. It is always a great source to joy to reflect that many of the most enthusiastic pro-lifers are people who themselves were trapped in the abortion industry, or who have had abortions themselves. I don’t know if you are in that position, but it doesn’t matter if you are – all the better, in fact.

        There is a better way for you, and you must never forget that you are a special and precious human being, created freely out of love, to love and to be loved.

        • It is indeed true that on the night of the APS launch, the story of Savita Halappanavar had only just broken.

          Fair point. Obviously all of us human rights activists outside knew about such a tragic case: equally of course, a woman dying because she had been denied an abortion, wouldn’t have been of any interest to prolifers.

          Indeed, I wouldn’t claim to be an expert personally (are most pro-choicers?)

          *grin* Well, given prochoicers are just the majority of the population, I wouldn’t make a claim like that. But obviously human rights activists with a concern for prolifer campaigns obviously do acquire more information about childbirth/gynaecology just because that’s the area of our concern. But it’s been my general experience (as you seem to confirm) that prolifers specialise in a determined ignorance about gynaecology/childbirth – simply because an informed view tends to run counter to prolifer myths about the dangers of abortion and equally about the medical problems that make abortion an absolute necessity in healthcare.

          Of course, if pro-lifers didn’t know much about gynaecology or childbirth, Ireland itself -an explicitly pro-life country – would not enjoy a superior infant and maternal mortality rate to most of the developed word.

          Yes, according to UNICEF/WHO calculations in 2005, Ireland comes top of the league table in maternal mortality despite/because of outsourcing almost all abortions overseas, but according to Dr Michael O’Hare, the Chair of the Maternal Mortality Joint Working Group the actual incidence of maternal death in Ireland is almost certainly under-reported, perhaps by a factor of 10. The 2005 WHO report acknowledges the difficulties surrounding data collection in some countries, of which Ireland is one. There will be a report on this work out in 2013 which is likely to give a more accurate picture.

          Now, in the absence of argument come the baseless insults and lies, which I hope you have the integrity to allow to stand unedited…

          Oh, I make a point of leaving all baseless insult and lies from my commenters to stand unedited: I edit/delete only abusive comments, and I have a fairly narrow definition of what constitutes abuse. (Thus far, you’re nowhere near trespassing on it.)

          As you surely must know, the pro-life movement is led by and predominantly composed of women, who often bemoan the lack of men in it.

          Well, I didn’t know that prolife women bemoan the lack of men in the prolife movement: but my general impression (John Smeaton, head of SPUC; Doctor Peter Saunders, of Christian Doctors for Life; Stuart Cowie and Robert Graham in LIFE, etc) is that the prolife organisations have men in the lead as their spokespersons, and from looking at the demographics of the trustees and management at LIFE, men are there in at least equal numbers. Also, every prolife demo which I have ever been to has had men in at least equal numbers to women. So what lack of men – or male leadership! – are these prolife women bemoaning? Is that the prolife movement tends to exalt men and make you more conspicuous disproportionate to your actual numbers?

          Well, if the mass and free availability of contraception was the solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancies, then we would have seen a decline in the number of abortions since its inception and prevalence, rather than a tenfold increase, wouldn’t we?

          Yes, exactly. As access to contraception increases, abortion rate diminishes. Which, if you want to prevent abortions, is plain good news. That you just don’t want to believe such good news, suggests strongly you really just don’t care about preventing abortions.

          There is a better way for you, and you must never forget that you are a special and precious human being, created freely out of love, to love and to be loved.

          Thank you! I think everyone who is aware of that must be prochoice – since no one who really believed it could possibly want to use and abuse women as the prolife movement advocates.

          • I’m so very sorry that you have been misinformed about us. I hope I can clear up the record, and then, perhaps, you can think about joining us!

            I’ve never met a pro-lifer who didn’t believe, as I do, that, in the tragic cases where the continuation of a pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother, actions which may end the life of the child to save the mother are justified. If you have met one, I would be very interested to hear about it.

            *grin* Well, given prochoicers are just the majority of the population

            Indeed they are, but there is strong evidence of a shift, particularly amongst the young, to a more pro-life position. I certainly sense this at pro-life vigils and meetings, which grow in numbers every year, a fact quite neatly emblemised by the formation of the APS. It’s quite beautiful to think that most of those young men and women were born many decades after the 1967 Act, and of course the United States is now majority pro-life, in contrast to 80% pro-choice in the 1980s.

            What has helped us here is the internet itself, I think; the ability not only for people to see the reality of abortion, but to hear all the arguments for and against, and to see how both sides characterise themselves in the way they behave and the language they use. It has been a great help, not to us as pro-life activists, of course, but to the unborn child and our shared humanity.

            The 2005 WHO report acknowledges the difficulties surrounding data collection in some countries, of which Ireland is one.

            I think most people would struggle to accept the plausibility of your statement, which is that Irish women are forced to travel abroad to have abortions to save their lives. It seems probable that many such women would have made it to the foreign hospital on time and would have died en route, in which case, we would certainly have heard about it.

            I think everyone who is aware of that must be prochoice – since no one who really believed it could possibly want to use and abuse women as the prolife movement advocates.

            I don’t know who told you this, and I’m sorry you think this. I can assure you that it isn’t true. We just believe that all human rights stem from the right to life, that without that right, all rights are meaningless. That includes your life, of course, and incorporates your right to have medical intervention to save your life in the event that a pregnancy endangers it, even if that means the death of the baby.

            But I suspect that that concern is not your primary motivation, nor is it your chief demand, any more than it is of any relevance to the pro-choice movement in general.

        • Michael, FWIW, I find comments-threads easier to read when it goes into reply/response. Perhaps you’d consider starting a fresh comments thread? My reply to your latest comment below.

    • ” I hope I can clear up the record, and then, perhaps, you can think about joining us!”

      Thus far, Michael, you’re confirming everything I previously supposed about prolifers: fanatical, extremist, misogynists.

      Perhaps you’d like to quit digging?

  2. I’ve never met a pro-lifer who didn’t believe, as I do, that, in the tragic cases where the continuation of a pregnancy will endanger the life of the mother, actions which may end the life of the child to save the mother are justified.

    Excellent. Please write to Enda Kenny and James Reilly telling them that Ireland must legislate, and ask your prolifer comrades to do so too. Letters from people explicitly identifying themselves as prolifers and saying that you believe the law in Ireland must change would, I hope, carry considerable weight.

    Indeed they are, but there is strong evidence of a shift, particularly amongst the young, to a more pro-life position. I certainly sense this at pro-life vigils and meetings, which grow in numbers every year, a fact quite neatly emblemised by the formation of the APS.

    Possibly, and that’s of course worrying. It remains to be seen whether human rights or the prolife movement will win: I naturally hope for a human rights victory, and I do think that we are in general moving towards more respect for human rights and it becomes less and less acceptable to disregard or dehumanise women.

    It’s quite beautiful to think that most of those young men and women were born many decades after the 1967 Act

    Quite, and therefore have no direct memory themselves of the ugliness and death of illegal abortions. Doctors who remember having to care for women after illegal abortions are steadily the most opposed to any prolife restriction of access.

    , and of course the United States is now majority pro-life in contrast to 80% pro-choice in the 1980s.

    I think the language of prolife is winning for the time being in US politics. But as McCain and his prolifer Republicans discovered, there’s a big difference between saying routinely that you are prolife and saying explicitly that you intend to restrict abortion and defund women’s healthcare. There’s no doubt that prochoicers remain in the majority. No woman wants to go back to the days when abortion was illegal – prolifers in the US are as likely to have abortions as any other woman.

    hink most people would struggle to accept the plausibility of your statement, which is that Irish women are forced to travel abroad to have abortions to save their lives.

    I know. That’s why Savita Halappanavar was such a wake-up call. Abortion is such a taboo topic that many Irish people who had not been in that situation themselves, or with someone they were close to – child or wife – had no idea that Ireland’s healthcare system outsources virtually all abortions, and sick or miscarrying women have to get onto a plane to save their lives.

    But that’s precisely what the ECHR, and the UN, and indeed the recent expert report on Ireland’s abortion needs, found. (More here.)

    It does seem dreadfully implausible in this day and age that any country would suppose it could get away with not providing such a basic part of women’s healthcare as abortion. Ireland got away with it because the UK is so close and so cheap and easy to travel to.

    I don’t know who told you this

    Really? To offer a random sample of the people who told me that the prolife movement is about the use and degradation of women: Bishop Olmsted told me nearly three years ago that the prolife movement thinks it better a woman die of pulmonary hypertension that be allowed to have a lifesaving abortion. Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho (and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re), told me nearly four years ago that the prolife movement thinks it better a raped little girl risk death when her undeveloped uterus bursts with twins than she should be allowed to have an abortion.

    Indeed, SPUC tells me that the prolife movement thinks once a woman is raped she should be forced to continue the pregnancy to term: the prolife movement in general has a disturbing sympathy with rapists and the forced use of women.

    Most recently, Bryan Kemper, whom the CSU intended to invite to speak because of his “inspiring” ideas, tells me that the prolife movement finds it an “inspiring” idea that a woman who wants to have a legal abortion ought not to expect then to get any reproductive healthcare on the NHS.
    Bryan Kemper: “If it is your vagina and you don’t want anyone to legislate it the you might not demand tax payer dollars to pay for its care, contraception or abortions.” Just a thought.”
    That’s the kind of thing you find inspiring, and that’s the kind of thing that tells me the prolife movement is about the abuse and degradation of women.

    • I really must go now, but I should really just say that you seem to be using extreme examples (the rape of children, etc, and certain extreme views) to pursue a general, equally extreme demand: the “right” to conceive and destroy other people. That would seem to be a perversion of authentic rights, which really demeans the noble and important human rights cause in general.

      You bring in the language of healthcare, but really, I suspect, that’s just a smokescreen for what you actually want, which is abortion on demand for whatever reason at all.

      The question is, is a person’s bodily autonomy and integrity better respected by affirming their right to conceive and destroy another human being, or by protecting their life in the first place?

      I would be interested if you would answer that, given that we agree that medical intervention to save the life of the mother that may result in the death of the baby is morally justified.

      • I really must go now, but I should really just say that you seem to be using extreme examples

        Because they’re extreme, does that make them okay? Your basic position – the belief that women ought to be forced through unwanted pregnancies against our will – is the basic ethos of the prolife movement: but forcing women is not okay. Forcing women is the extreme, anti-human position: abuse and degradation of women follow this kind of dehumanisation.

        a general, equally extreme demand: the “right” to conceive and destroy other people

        You’re the only person in this conversation who objects to preventing unwanted conception. I think that’s an extreme position, but one which has actual legal protection in this country.

        Your idea that it’s an “extreme” demand for a woman to be able to decide, for herself, whether she will terminate or continue a pregnancy, shows how far you have moved from the noble and important cause of human rights.

        The question is, is a person’s bodily autonomy and integrity better respected by affirming their right to conceive and destroy another human being, or by protecting their life in the first place?

        Again, you seem to be confused. You are the one objecting to preventing unwanted conceptions, therefore you are the one objecting to preventing abortion. You are also the one objecting to abortion as a part of healthcare, which is – as Savita’s death has made horribly clear to anyone who cares – an essential part of protecting women’s lives and wellbeing. Yet you project all of these attitudes on to me. Why are you doing that?

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to express myself on your blog. As you know there is an aggressive campaign to silence pro-life dissent, something that was articulately explained at the APS launch by students that have tried to set up pro-life groups on campus, even when they have tried to offer practical and emotional support to desperate, pressurised and fundamentally choiceless pregnant women who may otherwise feel there is no option but to lose their baby.

    I’m not sure I can add much to what I’ve said, but I will reiterate my gratitude at your acknowledgement of the way you behaved that night. Take a tip from our pro-life vigils: stand there in a dignified manner, make yourselves approachable, open, welcoming and amenable to discussion and debate. I’m sure that most of you are well meaning people: I was pro-choice myself once, from a pro-choice family, so I know that to be true. But we cannot come to a deeper understanding of the truth if we do not engage constructively and peacefully.

    • I was pro-choice myself once, from a pro-choice family, so I know that to be true.

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost your faith in human rights for women. I hope that eventually you realise you are wrong about this, and return to believing that women are human, with full human rights.

      • Of course, I haven’t lost my faith in human rights for women. I just think that the human rights of women are better protected by defending their right to life, than by defending their right to abortion on demand, two rights that necessarily conflict, and that we, as individuals and a society, have to choose between.

        • Of course, I haven’t lost my faith in human rights for women.

          You believe women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against our will. That’s not a position compatible with faith in human rights for women.

          • You believe women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against our will. That’s not a position compatible with faith in human rights for women.

            So are you saying that until the law changes to allow termination of pregnancy at any stage for any reason at all, women don’t have human rights?

            Are you saying that people who believe in limits on abortion – virtually everyone – don’t believe in human rights for women?

        • Michael, you are saying, quite explicitly, that women shouldn’t have any right to decide when to terminate a pregnancy. That’s a demand to be able to force women through pregnancy against our will. That’s an extreme, anti-human rights demand.

  4. You believe women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against our will. That’s not a position compatible with faith in human rights for women.

    So are you saying that until the law changes to allow termination of pregnancy at any stage for any reason at all, women don’t have human rights?

    Are you saying that people who believe in limits on abortion – virtually everyone – don’t believe in human rights for women?

    And, equally, could it not be said that your belief that women should be killed in the womb is incompatible with faith in the rights of women?

    • So are you saying that until the law changes to allow termination of pregnancy at any stage for any reason at all, women don’t have human rights?

      Do you really dislike and distrust women so much that you believe a woman’s ability to judge for herself whether she can terminate or continue a pregnancy is invariably wrong?

      Terminating a pregnancy after the first trimester carries with it its own biological limitations. A woman who has the decision she doesn’t want to have a baby will – the global and UK statistics tell us – decide to have an abortion early, as early as she can.

      Late term abortions tend to be carried out because (a) raped children weren’t even aware they were pregnant or were afraid to tell anyone – do you want to force raped children to have babies, Michael? (b) serious health problems develop, necessitating an abortion – this decision is rightly between the woman and her doctors – (c) financial problems mean the woman can’t afford to have the abortion earlier, especially the thousands of women who must fly over from Ireland each year to have their abortions here; and (d) serious problems discovered at the 18-20 week scan.

      In which of those groups do you think women ought not to be allowed to make decisions for themselves – or, in the case of raped children, for their daughters?

      And, equally, could it not be said that your belief that women should be killed in the womb is incompatible with faith in the rights of women?

      You seem to have got into a fair muddle there, don’t you? Would you like to either find a direct quote from me supporting your claim that I believe “women should be killed in the womb” or just plain apologise for making such a rashly unfounded statement? The latter would be gracious: the former attempt will at least give you a lot of reading to do.

  5. Michael, you are saying, quite explicitly, that women shouldn’t have any right to decide when to terminate a pregnancy. That’s a demand to be able to force women through pregnancy against our will. That’s an extreme, anti-human rights demand.

    I disagree. Most people think that there should be limits on abortion, either on the grounds of reason or time. We do not say that a pregnancy can be terminated for any reason at any time: in your words, we force women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will, and all civilised societies do.

    Do you want to change that?

  6. “Goodness. You really think, in “all civilised societies”, no woman ever has a wanted pregnancy?”

    No, what I said was, in all civilised societies, we force women to go through pregnancy and labour against their will. Only a tiny, tiny, fringe number of people disagree with that.

    But you’ve said that if I believe that, I don’t believe in human rights for women. Which must mean that, logically, in order to believe in human rights for women, we must believe in abortion at any time for any reason.

    Do you?

    And if not, will you acknowledge that all rights are tempered by responsibilities, in this case, that the right to absolute bodily autonomy is tempered by a responsibility to the conceived child? And will you finally acknowledge what this thread is all about: not the desperate tragedy it purports to be concerned with, but the “right to choose” – an unrelated matter?

    • No, what I said was we force women to go through pregnancy and labour against their will.

      Yes. You’re claiming that women do not want to get pregnant and have babies – that “civilised societies” force women to do this, and that only “a tiny, tiny, fringe number of people disagree”.

      I think that says it all about why you’re in the prolife movement: that you honestly think woman always have to be forced, no woman ever chooses willingly to have a baby. It’s bizarre and strange, but you really need to wake up to the fact that you are part of a tiny, tiny, misogynistic fringe in thinking this.

      Which must mean that, logically, in order to believe in human rights for women, we must believe in abortion at any time for any reason.

      And I guess, since you think all women have to be forced, no woman ever makes a good and valid decision, the idea that a pregnant woman can use her right to decide to have an abortion well and responsibly is just… out of your sphere? You can’t imagine the world the rest of us live in, where healthcare and families and lives and wellbeing are all better when women are not forced, but choose and decide?

      that the right to absolute bodily autonomy is tempered by a responsibility to the conceived child

      But given that you don’t believe women ever choose, that all women must be forced through pregnancy, what responsibility can you possibly be arguing for? If you hold that women must be forced, the forced woman doesn’t have any responsibility: responsibility goes with choice. Someone who is forced to do something doesn’t have any responsibility for being forced.

      And will you finally acknowledge what this thread is all about: not the desperate tragedy it purports to be concerned with, but the “right to choose” – an unrelated matter?

      I find it telling that you keep evading the plain facts of the matter: abortion is an essential part of women’s healthcare, and women die when abortion is denied.

      • Well, as long as you leave our conversation above to stand as for the record, I’m happy.

        • Of course! I think your comments certainly well-illustrate the state of the prolife movement’s thinking, and why human rights activists need to oppose it.

          • Thanks. I hope one day you realise that whatever our social problems, violence is never an answer, and is likely to make matters worse. I hope you realise your own inherent dignity and worth, and then extend that to others.

          • violence is never an answer, and is likely to make matters worse

            I agree.

            I hope you learn to believe that women have inherent dignity and worth, and quit being prolife.

          • I do believe women have dignity and worth, which is why I am pro-life.

          • I do believe women have dignity and worth

            …which is why you advocate forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth against our will? I think you’ll find that’s a very peculiar definition of “dignity” and “worth” that allows you to believe you’re respecting a woman’s dignity by advocating the use of force against her.

  7. Paul Atkin

    Wow, long thread… I was interested in the title – we don’t often talk to each other and, at least here there’s an attempt.

    I was at the APS event with my wife and daughter & for the record, quite a lot of folk said fair play to you for being out there the full night. Also, for the record, I didn’t know there was a side door.

    Can’t let you claim the human rights tag though. Abortion ends human lives. This isn’t theology or ethics, it’s biology and science. Go to Blackwells on South Bridge, find a medical textbook and it is all there – stages of developement of the child: heart beat, sentience etc etc…

    I do know the reasons for abortion are complex and don’t mean to trivialise the prochoice position which is sincerely held. But the facts of life are the facts of life.

    • I was at the APS event with my wife and daughter & for the record, quite a lot of folk said fair play to you for being out there the full night. Also, for the record, I didn’t know there was a side door.

      Fair play – I have no idea. Father Lawrence Lew claimed there had been about two hundred people at the event, mostly students: going in (and out) the front door, we saw maybe forty, not more, most of them older folk, not students. I presume that the Merchants Hall does have a side door for goods deliveries, and either Lew was exaggerating or most of those present on the night avoided the human rights protest outside by using the side door.

      Can’t let you claim the human rights tag though.

      Women are human beings. Denial of safe legal abortion ensures women die. Illegal abortion, the prolifers’ goal, ends about fifty thousand lives each year. This is biology, ethics, and science. The facts of life are the facts of life: prolifers are against human rights and healthcare for women.

      • Paul Atkin

        Unborn girls are human beings too. If they were not, this not would be a such a controversial argument.

        “Illegal abortion… ends about fifty thousand lives each year”

        You have to source this, please

        • Paul Atkin

          Sorry, doubling up as Yoda this morning. Should read “this would not be such a controversial agrument…”

        • “Illegal abortion… ends about fifty thousand lives each year”

          You have to source this, please

          My goodness. You want to make abortion illegal, but you have never troubled yourself to find out what happens where and when abortion is illegal?

          From 2006, “Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic”:

          Ending the silent pandemic of unsafe abortion is an urgent public-health and human-rights imperative. As with other more visible global-health issues, this scourge threatens women throughout the developing world. Every year, about 19–20 million abortions are done by individuals without the requisite skills, or in environments below minimum medical standards, or both. Nearly all unsafe abortions (97%) are in developing countries. An estimated 68 000 women die as a result, and millions more have complications, many permanent. Important causes of death include haemorrhage, infection, and poisoning. Legalisation of abortion on request is a necessary but insufficient step toward improving women’s health; in some countries, such as India, where abortion has been legal for decades, access to competent care remains restricted because of other barriers.

          Abortion rates generally have been going down worldwide as contraceptive access improves. Illegal abortions are becoming safer as more women have access to abortifacient pills via the Internet – most illegal abortions in Ireland are thought to be carried out by this method. This is safer because virtually indistinguishable from a miscarriage: where prolife law forbids a doctor from performing an abortion but medical help is available post-miscarriage, a woman can then go to her doctor after self-administering the pills. Obviously this is not as safe as in countries where women’s human rights are respected.

          Unborn girls are human beings too. If they were not, this would not be such a controversial argrument.

          How are “unborn girls” protected by laws which force girls and women to have illegal abortions? Prolifers never seem to think beyond “Oh, let’s just make abortion illegal/safe abortion expensive/inaccessible! That dehumanises women to baby-making machines and then everything will be all right!” That’s controversial.

          • Paul Atkin

            Thanks. The article which cites the 50,000 / 68,000 figure references this paper by Henshaw, Singh and Haas: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14627053

            The abstract said that the paper used 4 sources – 3 of which were estimated. The other source was based on studies in only 10 countries.

            Also, the work seems to have been sponsored by the Guttmacher Institute which was an offshoot of Planned Parenthood in the US.

            OK, you can’t get an accurate figure for something which may be illegal in many countries but 3 estimates and 10 countries, sponsored by a group with a special interest in the debate, does not seem like a sound basis to confidently state a global figure.

            Certainly mothers die from illegal abortions. And that is tragic, every time. Even 1 is too many. But is the number as large as supporters of abortion suggest? No. The same arguments were advanced in the UK pre-1967 and were untrue. The UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, the world’s longest running clinic audit, showed a steady drop in UK maternal deaths leading up to 1967.

            “Prolifers never seem to think beyond “Oh, let’s just make abortion illegal”

            Honestly, we do. Our family collects baby clothes, toys, prams etc and gets them to Mums and chidren. There are at least 2 pro-life groups in Edinburgh who focus on helping Edinburgh families with practical stuff, long after the baby is born.

        • Hi Paul, it’s easier to follow a comments-thread if it just goes into answer-reply than if it endlessly goes rightward, so I restricted the number of replies. My answer to you is downthread.

          • Paul Atkin

            OK, so don’t click “Reply” under each post? Go to the bottom of the thread and use “Leave a Reply” Is that right?

            I’ve done this for my latest post, cheers.

  8. Anyway, perhaps there’s a certain inevitability that the pro-abortion movement will peter out of its own accord, as those that advocate death as an option walk the walk and have fewer and fewer children, whilst those that don’t have more. Demography is destiny, and all that.

    That’s no less reason to keep fighting the good fight, of course, but it is some comfort, and may, indeed, be partially behind the cultural resurgence of pro-life sentiment.

    • I’m afraid this nicely misogynistic thinking that prolifers get to outbreed prochoicers is stymied by two factors:

      (1) Women who identify as prolife use contraception and have abortions. Whatever your fantasies of force, Michael, no woman wants to return to the bad old prolife days and to be forced against her will to have unwanted children.

      (2) In a world of seven billion, the trend globally is towards increased education of women leading to fewer unwanted conceptions, fewer abortions, fewer children: the prolife worries about fewer babies are absurd in that context.

      Perhaps three: the general trend, I hope and believe, is towards human rights and equality for all. And as women achieve more dignity and worth, one of the first achievements for women is the ability to decide how many children to have and when. Only a prolifer could think that a bad thing! Someday, it will seem as strange that a prolife movement existed as that a pro-slavery movement existed.

      • I tend to think the opposite. I tend to think we will look back on abortion in exactly the same way we look back on slavery, and for the same reasons: that the notion that one person can own another person as property and a chattel to be be destroyed and disposed of has no place in a civilised society.

        • I tend to think we will look back on abortion in exactly the same way we look back on slavery, and for the same reasons

          Again, you appear to be forgetting that women are not chattel property to be made use of, destroyed and disposed of. That is precisely why the prolife movement will one day be gone with the proslavery movement: we are moving away from the idea that people can be used against their will, and as you yourself have elucidated here, the basis of the prolife movement is the idealisation of using and abusing women against our will.

          • That is precisely why the prolife movement will one day be gone with the proslavery movement: we are moving away from the idea that people can be used against their will

            Presumably you are talking about people who have conceived children in rape. Would you be happy, then to restrict abortion to victims of rape?

  9. …which is why you advocate forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth against our will?

    Do you agree with abortion at any stage and for any reason? Do you think we are a society that denies women their humanity and rights until that becomes a legal reality?

    • Your question is a nonce.

      You’re trying to argue for the right to control and make use of women. There is no such right. Each pregnant woman must decide for herself, in consultation with her doctors, what the right thing is to do for her.

      Your belief that you would make a better decision for her, for any woman, is hopelessly arrogant. But that’s prolife for you!

  10. Michael: Presumably you are talking about people who have conceived children in rape.

    No, I’m talking about prolifers who want to force women through pregnancy against their will. Prolife support for forcing rape victims through pregnancy is particularly vile, but it’s a natural extension of your belief that it’s ever morally right to force women. Your endorsement of force is violence against women, and violence never makes anything better.

    Would you be happy, then to restrict abortion to victims of rape?

    What, force all women through pregnancy except those who have already been forced sexually? No, Michael. I’m against violence: I’m against force.

  11. What does even mean to talk about not performing abortions on demand as force or violence? What does it mean to talk of abortion as non-violence? I presume you don’t consider it to by misandrist force to require men, against their will, to support and provide for the children they conceive through their consensual sexual activity?

    • What does even mean to talk about not performing abortions on demand as force or violence?

      Look up what happened to women in Romania, where your prolife ideas were enforced by Nicolae Ceausescu, if you will. That’s what it means.

      I presume you don’t consider it to by misandrist force to require men, against their will, to support and provide for the children they conceive through their consensual sexual activity?

      Do you think that fathers owe no financial obligation to their children, then? Very Men’s Rights Activist of you.

  12. What, force all women through pregnancy except those who have already been forced sexually? No, Michael. I’m against violence: I’m against force.

    Are you honestly suggesting that, in a civilised society, we should be free to conceive people through our own consensual sexual activity, and then, if we decide they are an inconvenience to us, or we do not want to bear them and give birth to them, be free to destroy them, ending their lives?

    And are you suggesting that that is something that can be described as a “human right”? By what possible conception or construction of human rights is that a “human right”?

    I’m not suggesting for a moment that most women seeking abortions are desperate and vulnerable women, doing so out of the fundamental choicelessness brought about by the pro-abortion culture, but I simply cannot comprehend how such a thing might be understood or promulgated using the language of human rights.

    • Are you honestly suggesting that, in a civilised society, we should be free to conceive people through our own consensual sexual activity, and then, if we decide they are an inconvenience to us, or we do not want to bear them and give birth to them, be free to destroy them, ending their lives?

      Who is the “we” in that statement, Michael? As I understand it – though it’s a delicate point – you are gendered male and unlikely yourself to ever get pregnant.

      But let me break this down.

      In a civilised society:
      -“We should be free to conceive”
      Yes. While I strongly support the use of contraception in any hetero couplings unless the couple themselves have decided they want to engender a child together, I absolutely do not advocate the forced use of contraception. You do?

      -” through our own consensual sexual activity”
      Yes. See above.

      -“and then, if we decide they are an inconvenience to us”
      If a woman gets pregnant and decides she does not want to be, she gets to decide she’s going to have an abortion, yes. Your use of “we” suggests that this is a collective decision in which you might be involved. You might be, if a woman decides to involve you in her decisionmaking, but it’s not a collective decision.
      Your belief that pregnancy and childbirth and the responsibility for bringing up a child are mere “inconveniences” is … noted.

      -“be free to destroy them, ending their lives?”
      There isn’t an alternative compatible with human rights. A fertilised egg can only become a baby if a woman consents to gestate the fertilised egg within her uterus, making use of all of her bodily resources to do so: pregnancy is a difficult, dangerous, physically-altering process to undergo, which carries with it a very real risk of death and injury.
      Either a woman is free to decide to have the fertilised egg physically removed from her uterus or she is forced against her will through nine months of pain, difficulty, and danger. Your belief that it is only right to force her says you do not believe in human rights for women: you do not believe that women have worth and dignity.

      And are you suggesting that that is something that can be described as a “human right”?

      Yes. Because women are human.

      By what possible conception or construction of human rights is that a “human right”?

      As I wrote for last Holocaust Memorial Day:

      “I speak for choice: all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. We are endowed with reason and conscience and we should act towards one another in a spirit of sisterhood. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, no matter who they are or where they live. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with her privacy or her family, nor to attacks upon her honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including her own, and to return to her own country. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. For all of these reasons, and because recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, I am pro-choice.”

      “but I simply cannot comprehend how such a thing might be understood or promulgated using the language of human rights.”

      Because you just don’t understand that forcing a woman against her will, justified however you want to, is somehow a human rights issue?
      That’s how.

  13. “Your question is a nonce.”

    My question is a sex offender?

    Why don’t you answer my question? Do you believe in a woman’s bodily autonomy or not? Do you believe in abortion for any reason at any time or not? Do you believe that abortion on demand at any stage is a prerequisite of gender equality or not?

    • My question is a sex offender?
      “Nonce” in the sense of nonsense word used only once.

      Why don’t you answer my question?

      I have. You just don’t like the answer, I think.

      Do you believe in a woman’s bodily autonomy or not?

      Of course. I’m a human rights activist. I do not believe in forced organ “donation”, forced blood donation, forced sexual use, or forced pregnancy. You do?

      ? Do you believe in abortion for any reason at any time or not?

      Do you believe in forcing women through pregnancy and childbirth if you deem her reason unacceptable to you? If so, how do you reconcile your desire to force women with your claim to oppose violence?

      Do you believe that abortion on demand at any stage is a prerequisite of gender equality or not?

      I think that advocating women should be forced and used while men should not is certainly an aspect of gender inequality. How do you reconcile your desire to have women forced with your claim that being prolife is about ” love, life, peace, hope and justice”? You’re demonstrating no leaning towards love, life, peace, hope, or justice: you’re advocating forcing women.

  14. “There isn’t an alternative compatible with human rights. ”

    You do realise what you are saying, don’t you?

    You are saying that without reliable artificial mechanical and chemical abortion, human rights are physically and literally impossible. Does that actually sound plausible, even to your ears?

    • You do realise what you are saying, don’t you?

      Yes, I wonder if you do.

      You’re arguing that if a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to have a baby, she shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion, correct?

      How do you plan to prevent women from having abortions by means compatible with human rights?

      Think about it for a while. You can deny women safe medical access to abortions by ensuring doctors and nurses are not trained in performing abortions and medical facilities legally forbidden to provide them. That will ensure – as we know from experience – that women will have illegal unsafe abortions, performed by untrained practitioners/profiteers, and women will die as a result. About fifty thousand women a year do die from this prolife strategy.

      By ensuring doctors/nurses are not trained in performing abortions, you also ensure that women suffering from pre-eclampsia or prolonged miscarriage or other medical conditions will die. Most deaths in childbirth are the result of this prolife strategy of ensuring medical access to abortion is limited.

      In Romania, women died. In Ireland, women don’t die because they go to the UK to have abortions. Say you rule Ireland. How do you plan to prevent women from leaving the country to have abortions, by a means compatible with human rights law? How do you plan to prevent women who can’t afford to fly overseas from ordering abortifacient drugs from overseas, and using them, and then telling their doctor they had a miscarriage? You could, of course, treat every miscarriage as a potential crime scene – some prolife countries do – and send the police to interrogate every woman who has a miscarriage. Do you plan to do that?

      In slavery days a woman slave who had an abortion was whipped for destroying the property of her owner. Do you plan to do that?

      Your idea that you can somehow force women through pregnancy and childbirth against our will by some means compatible with human rights is just impossible, History says so. Ergo, forcing women as prolifers desire is always wrong: therefore, abortion is a human right.

      You still haven’t explained why you think forcing women is about justice, love, or peace.

  15. But, as Indira Gandhi said, a woman has an abortion like a fox in a trap chews off its own leg. The problem with illegal and unsafe abortions is not the illegality of abortion – which of course should be illegal – it is that women are desperate enough to want to kill their offspring and put their own lives in danger in the process.

    That’s a fact that betrays a much deeper underlying problem which actually needs to be resolved: legalising abortion doesn’t solve the problem, it is merely one deep injustice employed to mitigate another, which deepens and ingrains the social injustice that led to the situation in the first place. It is, in fact, the facilitation and legitimisation of the denial of the basic rights of women and children.

    This is, in fact, just as true in societies where abortion is legal as it is where it is not, if not moreso. If there is one thing the abortion and contraption culture has done, is to objectify women as objects of gratification for the use of men, dehumanised and divorced from their human nature as procreative beings towards whom men owe commitment, fidelity and responsibility, hence the vast array of social problems we see today, with the burden of suffering falling on the women and children.

    The problem with your illegal abortion statistic is that it is one statistic amongst many that has to be taken into account in assessing the overall health of a society. In protecting the unborn by law, for example, does this lead to a culture in which men are more likely to take responsibility for their actions, their wives and their children? Do such cultures have more intact families? Do they have healthier demographics? Would the legalisation of abortion actually lead to a tenfold increase in the abortion rate corresponding with a collapse in the birthrate, as it has in the UK?

    In all these things, there are tradeoffs and consequences. Legalising abortion as a kneejerk response to the very existence of illegal abortions is, apart from basic problem of enshrining violence as a solution, not the axiomatic panacea you posit.

    Unless of course you are using the existence of illegal abortions in your curious shell game of legitimising abortion on demand, as you have done with other unrelated matters.

    • Oh, Michael, are you back again?

      Look, bless your heart, you now seem to have moved on from arguing that women should be forced, to arguing Catholic doctrine against sex and contraception, in a mishmash of fantasy without any admixture of fact.

      In all honesty I prefer the dazed fantasy you present to the sickening arguments for forcing women, but it’s a least of two evils.

      You still haven’t explained why you think forcing women is about justice, love, or peace.

      • “You still haven’t explained why you think forcing women is about justice, love, or peace.”

        Because in choosing between killing innocent people and obliging empowered adults – male or female – to take responsibility for their actions, the latter is the more just, peaceful and loving choice.

        And as I’ve pointed out before, we already do force women to be pregnant and give birth, even against their will. There is nothing in the canon of human rights that says in certain situations people may not be forced to do things against their will, if that is their moral obligation. I am forced by law to support my children, even if that it against my will. That is not a denial of my human rights, nor is it misandry: it is merely a reflection of the responsibility I have to the people I have conceived through my actions. I am forced, against my will, to pay taxes. That is not misanthropy.

        • Because in choosing between killing innocent people and obliging empowered adults – male or female – to take responsibility for their actions, the latter is the more just, peaceful and loving choice.

          So in your view women who have had sex are not “innocent people”, and therefore you can advocate killing them by denying access to safe legal abortion? Hm.

          obliging empowered adults – male or female – to take responsibility for their actions

          But you advocate forcing women through pregnancy/childbirth against our will: you advocate disempowering women and denying women the legal right to take responsibility. So you’re advocating against the just, peaceful, and loving prochoice.

          And as I’ve pointed out before, we already do force women to be pregnant and give birth, even against their will

          More accurately, you’ve repeatedly claimed that all women have to be forced to be pregnant and give birth. That says more about your views and experience of women than anything else.

          There is nothing in the canon of human rights that says in certain situations people may not be forced to do things against their will, if that is their moral obligation. I am forced by law to support my children, even if that it against my will.

          You have children? I’m astonished. You’re under the impression that their mothers had to be forced against their will, and apparently you did too?

          You really are coming across as a thoroughly unpleasant, hates-all-the-world, unhappy person in your arguments. You don’t appear to find fatherhood – or motherhood – a joyful choice. That’s a shame.

          I am forced, against my will, to pay taxes. That is not misanthropy.

          Oh, bless your heart, you’re a wannabe freeloader! Might have known.

          • Ah, I see you’ve run out of road and are reduced to making baseless and self-evidently untrue ad hominem attacks, the surest sign of having lost the argument!

            Adieu for now!

          • Ah, I see you’ve run out of road and are reduced to making baseless and self-evidently untrue ad hominem attacks

            I’m sorry, what part of my comment did you interpret as “ad hom”? No part of it was intended as such. Certainly none of it was baseless, and if you feel it “self-evidently untrue”, well, you clearly are truly unaware of how you’re coming across!

            the surest sign of having lost the argument!

            …bless.

  16. This really must be my last post for now, prompted by what you said earlier, now that I have had time to digest it.

    You seem to suggest in your post that you believe that there is something mutually exclusive about happiness and fulfilling your responsibilities and obligations. You suggest that because I have responsibilities towards my children, and that I think that parents should be obliged to fulfil their obligations towards their children, I cannot possibly be deriving any joy from being a father.

    I think you will find, in life, that the surest path to happiness is not in fulfilling ones whims and desires and the exercising of a nihilistic and self-centred distortion of rights, but it is actually in fulfilling one’s obligations and responsibilities to others.

    It seems that your manifesto, which flies under the banner of concern for women’s health, is really fairly flimsily disguised apologism for nihilism, selfishness, self-gratification, irresponsibility and anarchy.

    I’m only saying this because if you are a deeply unhappy person – and I’m not suggesting you are – it might be because you incorrectly think that you will be made happy by pursuing this philosophy. It doesn’t work though, and will only lead to more unhappiness and frustration, which will grow as you get older, and will manifest itself in more and more ways.

    • You seem to suggest in your post that you believe that there is something mutually exclusive about happiness and fulfilling your responsibilities and obligations.

      No, that’s what you’re conveying to me that you believe – that there is no happiness in fulfilling responsibilities and obligations. You have no concept, it seems, of cheerfully paying your share of taxes because you want to live in the kind of country which benefits from taxes. You have no concept of a father joyfully accepting his obligations towards his children: no idea that women can joyfully choose motherhood: all you know is force.

  17. With all due respect, you’re not making a great deal of sense now. I explained to you why it can be a pleasure to fulfil one’s responsibilities -that was the substance of my post. Why would a belief in a woman’s right to life be incompatible with the view that she cannot also joyfully choose motherhood?

    • . I explained to you why it can be a pleasure to fulfil one’s responsibilities

      No, you didn’t. You explained to me that you think people should be forced to fulfil their responsibilities, and you have persistently asserted that if women can decide for ourselves how many children to have and when, we’ll choose to have none. You believe women have to be forced into motherhood. That’s incompatible with asserting that women want to have babies or find happiness in being mothers. If you really believed that, you’d be prochoice.

      Why would a belief in a woman’s right to life be incompatible with the view that she cannot also joyfully choose motherhood?

      Of course not. But as you have made clear, you do not believe in a woman’s right to life: you believe that women should be denied access to safe legal abortion. You believe, as you have consistently and persistently stated, that women cannot be allowed to choose motherhood, because, apparently, you believe women do not joyfully choose motherhood: women must be forced. That’s prolife.

  18. I sincerely wish you wouldn’t put words into my mouth. It doesn’t help your cause in the slightest.

    I don’t believe that a woman should be forced into motherhood, any more than I think a man should be forced into fatherhood. If people don’t want to marry and start a family, that is their prerogative.

    The only possible way I could believe that women should be forced into motherhood would be if I believed that rape or forcible artificial insemination was moral, and that it should be legal and mandatory.

    Obviously.

    • I don’t believe that a woman should be forced into motherhood

      Really, that’s a quick turnaround! You’ve changed your mind, and you believe that every woman who discovers she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be, should be able to have a safe, legal abortion?

      Somehow I doubt it. You just don’t like to see your beliefs explicitly put into clear language.

  19. Paul: OK, you can’t get an accurate figure for something which may be illegal in many countries but 3 estimates and 10 countries, sponsored by a group with a special interest in the debate, does not seem like a sound basis to confidently state a global figure.

    You don’t like science. Okay.

    Certainly mothers die from illegal abortions. And that is tragic, every time. Even 1 is too many.

    I can hear a but coming. It’s the attitude to life that makes “prolife” such an ironic name…

    But is the number as large as supporters of abortion suggest? No.

    And you know this… how? What research can you point to that disproves this?

    The same arguments were advanced in the UK pre-1967 and were untrue.

    Right, the doctors who dealt with illegal abortions and the aftermath were just making that stuff about women dying up. Goodness.

    The UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, the world’s longest running clinic audit, showed a steady drop in UK maternal deaths leading up to 1967.

    Abortion got safer even when it was illegal, though at a cost. It is always the poorest and most vulnerable women who suffer most where prolife ideology takes hold. The better-off a woman is, the more likely she is to be able to purchase a safer abortion. From women who had illegal abortions prior 1967, their experience was that after their illegal abortion had been induced, they were fairly safe then going to an NHS hospital for help – a policeman would be sent to interrogate them, but if they denied everything, no harm would come to them.

    “Prolifers never seem to think beyond “Oh, let’s just make abortion illegal”

    Honestly, we do.

    Honestly, you don’t. As you just demonstrated, You don’t want to think about the women who will suffer and die if you succeeded in making abortions illegal.

    Our family collects baby clothes, toys, prams etc and gets them to Mums and chidren. There are at least 2 pro-life groups in Edinburgh who focus on helping Edinburgh families with practical stuff, long after the baby is born.

    And this has what to do with dead women and orphaned children from prolife ideology? What do you do for women who have to come to the UK from Ireland if they want to get a legal abortion in the UK? What do you do for women in Ireland who can’t afford the trip and have to risk an illegal abortion there?

  20. Really, that’s a quick turnaround! You’ve changed your mind, and you believe that every woman who discovers she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be, should be able to have a safe, legal abortion?

    It’s not a turnaround at all. No, I don’t think abortion should be legal. No, I don’t think women should be forcibly impregnated. Why are those two positions mutually incompatible?

    • No, I don’t think abortion should be legal.

      So you do think that women should be forced through pregnancy and childbirth against our will, regardless of what damage this does to a woman’s health and wellbeing.

      No, I don’t think women should be forcibly impregnated.

      Now, there’s a question I haven’t asked yet. If a woman is made pregnant through rape, do you support her right to have an abortion, or do you stand with the rapist and maintain she should be forced to have the baby?

      Why are those two positions mutually incompatible?

      You’re arguing for forcing women, Michael: you tell me.

  21. “What do you do for women in Ireland who can’t afford the trip and have to risk an illegal abortion there?”

    Good question, and very much a case of the curious incident of the dog that barked in the night time.

    Where are these women? Where are the thousands of Irish women who have died from illegal abortions because they could not afford the costs of travel to the UK and the cost of the abortion itself? I mean, it was only a couple of years ago that cheap flights became available to the UK. The unborn have always been protected by Irish and Northern Irish law. If your assertions are correct, there would be mountains of cadavers by now.

    Where are they?

    • Good question, and very much a case of the curious incident of the dog that barked in the night time. Where are these women?

      In Ireland, Michael.

      Where are the thousands of Irish women who have died from illegal abortions because they could not afford the costs of travel to the UK and the cost of the abortion itself?

      What a straw man, Michael!

      Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, there is a relatively safe way to have an illegal abortion in Ireland, providing women make up their minds fast and get the pills quickly: AllianceForChoiceNI

      “We are aware that many women now go onto the internet to get the abortion pill but you don’t know what kind of drugs you’re getting from these sites. If you insist on doing this, please use the Women on Web site which we know is safe and reputable. http://www.womenonweb.org has a doctor who will consult and send out the abortion pill to women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant. The package with the pills arrives by courier so, if you determined to go down this route, do be sure to have it sent to an address where there will be someone you trust who can receive it.

      Also, when you go to your doctor or hospital afterwards to check that the ‘miscarriage’ is complete, do remember that abortion is illegal here. So anyone who wanted to avoid unnecessary suspicion would need to be consistent in stating that it was a miscarriage. For the same reason, they would also need to follow the instructions that are given with the pills about taking the pill ‘buccally’ i.e. letting it dissolve in the space between your gum and your cheek. In that case it is unlikely to be detected in the patient’s urine.”

      Take abortion pills: wait for abortion to take place: then go to hospital and report having had a miscarriage.

      I mean, it was only a couple of years ago that cheap flights became available to the UK.

      Travel from Ireland to the UK has always been relatively cheap: the slang term for having an abortion in Northern Ireland is “getting on the boat”. Travelling by ferry used to be cheaper than going by plane. Human rights activists have always helped women travelling from Ireland.

      You sound positively disappointed that women have managed to get illegal abortions safely and there aren’t “mountains of cadavers”.

    • Oh, and since your question seems to be the result of some doubt that women travel from Ireland to get abortions

      Irish Examiner, Tuesday, July 24, 2012

      Since 1980, when records began to be collated, in the region of 150,000 women — about 12 every day — have travelled from the Republic for abortion services in England and Wales.

      Last year, the total for the 12 months amounted to 4,149 — among them 148 who were under the age of 17.

      That is likely to be an underestimation of the true figure, as it only accounts for those who gave addresses in the Republic and does not include those who gave British addresses, either to mask their identity or to avail of free abortions under Britain’s National Health Service.

      That works out at 55.57 abortions per 1000 live births, which is above average for the EU as a whole but not unusual given Ireland’s long antipathy to contraception.

  22. Paul Atkin

    “You don’t like science. Okay”

    Science is good. As i said in my first post – go to Blackwells, in the science section, and read about the humanity of the child as she develops in the womb. The point about the article is that it can’t taken seriously as science. Science = research, replicated results and clear method. Estimating (guessing) is not science.

    “I can hear a but coming…”

    No buts, honest. It is tragic.

    Re the illegal abortions. I did a search but can’t find the CEMD figures (anyone help with this – say 1900 – 1967?). I have seen them and they were much lower than anyone generally thinks. Certainly nothing like the numbers which were put about in 1967 (and since), to justify unrestricted abortion. And, the CEMD figures cover maternal deaths from all causes, not just those related to abortion.

    I did find this info relating to British Columbia, Canada, which we might regard as comparable to UK: http://www.bcmj.org/article/maternal-mortality-british-columbia-1987-2004 Scroll down a bit to Table 1.

    Abortion was legalised in Canada in 1968. The figures show a steady decline in maternal deaths from all causes from well before that and nothing significant happens around 1968.

    The highest Canadian figures are 129 maternal deaths between 1955 and 1962, an average of 16 per year, from all possible causes. I am sure that Canadian pro-choicers were claiming that hundreds or thousands of mothers were dying from illegal abortion but the facts don’t support this. It was the same in the UK.

    • Interesting points, Paul. You are correct: one would expect to have seen a dramatic drop in maternal deaths on the legalisation of abortion.

      I believe that many people who were abortion activists in the 1960s and have since rescinded have admitted that the pro-abortion movement basically made up statistics out of thin air to justify their case.

    • Science is good.

      But not good enough for you to pay attention to the known consequences, established by scientific research, of banning safe legal abortion?

      No buts, honest. It is tragic.

      Just not tragic enough for you to want to prevent it?

      go to Blackwells, in the science section, and read about the humanity of the child as she develops in the womb.

      Oh, Paul. The point of being prochoice is that women are human. “The womb” is not, as you suggest, a disembodied thing, a utensil, but a organ in a human body. Humans are not animals or machines to be used. Prolifers do not value human life: we do.

      I have seen them and they were much lower than anyone generally thinks.

      So the women who die don’t matter? It’s “tragic, but” – you don’t care?

      I am sure that Canadian pro-choicers were claiming that hundreds or thousands of mothers were dying from illegal abortion but the facts don’t support this. It was the same in the UK.

      Given that only fifty to sixty thousand women a year die today because of illegal abortion, I am quite sure that Canadian human rights activists were not wildly claiming exaggerated figures. They didn’t need to. To human rights activists, sixteen preventable deaths a year are enough to want to prevent them: to prolifers, as you make clear, they are a matter of indifference.

      • I had begun to write a long post in reply to the one above, but then I realised something.

        Most people, even if they are broadly pro-choice, recognise some worth to the child in the womb, they recognise their existence as a human being with some value, even if is a partial value relative to people outside the womb. That is natural, I think. It is very difficult to empathise with the child in the womb: I have struggled to do so with all my children myself.

        But most people try, they recognise themselves in the child in the womb, and they understand abortion issues as a tension between the rights of women, the rights of the unborn, and other wider factors which do not relate specifically to rights.

        But it seems that with you, you literally do not recognise the person in the womb at all. You do not acknowledge them at all. You do not really acknowledge their existence. They have a zero worth, they are inconsequential. In all your calculations, considerations and equations, they quite literally do not feature at all. All your rhetoric about your concern for women’s health cannot disguise that fact.

        And at that point, we have left the arena of debate and discussion, and we are into a new arena completely: the arena of psychology, specifically the phenomenon of denial, and I can only guess why that might be.

        I am truly sorry, I am very sorry. I do not think it is fair or right, or even particularly constructive to continue this discussion. Nothing can come of it, because we are not dealing with reasoned debate any more, we are dealing with something quite different. I hope you can come to terms with things in time. I wish you all the best, and I bear you no ill will.

        • Most prolifers recognise some worth to the pregnant woman: they recognise her existence as a human being with some value, even if is a partial value relative to her use as a mechanism for producing babies.

          But most people who identify as prolife recognise themselves in the woman, and they understand abortion as an issue for the woman who is pregnant, and for people whom she chooses to involve in that decision.

          But it seems that with you, you literally do not recognise the pregnant woman as a person at all. You do not acknowledge her at all. You do not really acknowledge her existence. She has a zero worth, she is inconsequential. In all your calculations, considerations and equations, women quite literally do not feature at all. All your rhetoric about your concern for foetuses cannot disguise that fact.

          And I realised some time ago that it is impossible to make men who do not think of women as people do so. Your purple rhetoric about how you are sure I can’t care about foetuses because I talk about women , merely proves that point.

  23. Paul Atkin

    It is not an either or choice of illegal abortion and maternal deaths vs legal abortion with no maternal deaths. Ireland, with no abortion has a very safe record on maternal health. The US, with legal abortion, still reports deaths from women presenting for legal abortion.

    So you can have good maternal health for mother and baby

    The inconvenient truth is that mother and baby are human beings with equal rights and worth.

    The child is a human being with a sex, heartbeat, nervous system, arms, legs, eyes, hair etc etc. These are the biological facts taught in schools and universities. The health and rights of mothers are important but to ignore the science of the child reduces the prochoice position to an ideology.

    • It is not an either or choice of illegal abortion and maternal deaths vs legal abortion with no maternal deaths.

      No maternal deaths? Straw man. Pregnancy and childbirth are dangerous – no country in the world has ever managed to achieve zero maternal deaths. Access to safe legal abortion merely removes a whole range of preventable maternal deaths.

      Ireland, with no abortion

      Ireland has an annual abortion rate of at least 55 per 1000 live births, not out of range for European countries: but almost all of Ireland’s legal abortions are outsourced overseas. We know this because since 1980, the UK has logged home addresses for women seeking abortion; so that gives us the minimum numbers (4,149 last year) though it won’t track women who were able to give British addresses and so get their abortion on the NHS. (Nor does it include women who opt to go to Belgium or the Netherlands, though the traditional route for women seeking abortion in Ireland has always been Liverpool or London – it’s called “getting on the boat”.)

      has a very safe record on maternal health.

      Women who were miscarrying and other women ill enough to need an abortion have been advised by Irish doctors to go to the UK, and have travelled while sick and pregnant.

      Ireland’s claimed “very safe record” on maternal health is based on 2005 WHO/INT figures which Dr Michael O’Hare, a consultant obstetrician and Chair of the Maternal Mortality Joint Working Group (established in 2007 to review the issue of maternal death in Ireland) said was almost certainly the result of maternal mortality being under-reported.

      So you can have good maternal health for mother and baby

      Of course. The inconvenient truth for prolifers is that the only way to provide good care for foetuses is to provide good care for the pregnant woman, and good care for the pregnant woman includes abortion, available either at her judgment or in consultation with her doctors.

      The inconvenient truth is that mother and baby are human beings with equal rights and worth.

      True, but (a) we’re discussing pregnant women, not post-natal mothers with babies, and (b) even if you give the foetus equal human rights with the pregnant woman, that still means the woman has a clear human right to abortion. Her body, her choice.

      You are a human being with equal rights to me, but any ideas you have about how that gives you the “right” to a lobe of my liver or one of my kidneys or a pint of my blood because you need them to stay alive – human rights law says no. You don’t get any part of my body unless I consent. Prolife demands to have pregnancy be a special exception to that human rights principle lead – as one would expect when human rights are violated – to suffering and death.

      The pregnant woman is a human being with a sex, heartbeat, nervous system, arms, legs, eyes, hair etc etc. These are the biological facts taught in schools and universities, if you needed to be “taught” that women really are human. The health and rights of foetuses are important but to ignore the humanity of the woman reduces the prolife position to a cruel and vicious ideology.

  24. Paul Atkin

    Fair point – Ireland does have abortion, it is just exported. The O’Hare article is interesting.

    “even if you give the foetus equal human rights with the pregnant woman, that still means the woman has a clear human right to abortion. Her body, her choice”

    It doesn’t. It means you have to balance the rights of 2 human beings. Essentially that is what the abortion debate is about – where is it right to draw the line

    No Doctor on the planet would sign up to the “it’s my body statement” The child is a separate human being distinct from their mother. Half the time it is a boy, so it can’t be part of the mother’s body. Scientifically it is just not correct.

    I did manage to find the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths figures:

    Abortion Deaths (Legal / Illegal) – England and Wales
    1952 – 54: 2 / 108
    1955 – 57: 0 / 91
    1958 – 60: 1 / 82
    1961 – 63: 5 / 77
    1964 – 66: 10 / 98
    1967 – 69: 18 / 74
    1970 – 72: 30 / 37
    1973 – 75: 13 / 10
    1976 – 78: 8 / 4

    Dept of Health, Report on CEMD, HMSO, in “Legal Abortion Examined”, SPUC Educational Research Trust, 1992

    The illegal figures were dropping steadily before 1968 (when abortion was first practised) and, after that date, deaths from legal abortion actually rose. So, in 1973 – 75, more women died from safe legal abortions than illegal ones. They do eventually tail off to virtually zero on both sides. Again the figures are smaller than prochoicers probably claimed at the time.

    Doctor Malcom Potts, former Director of the International Planned Parenthood Association said:

    “”Those who want the law to be liberalized will stress the hazards of illegal abortion and claim that hundreds, or thousands, or women die unnecessarily each year, when the actual number is far lower.” (Abortion (CUP, 1977) p. 529)

    The exaggeration of figures weakens the prochoice argument

    • It doesn’t. It means you have to balance the rights of 2 human beings.

      And as no human being has the right to make use of another human being’s body against her will, it follows that abortion is a human right.

      Unless you’d like to explain how come blood can be forcibly taken from a human body if the purpose is to save a life? (Prolife = vampires = the undead….)

      No Doctor on the planet would sign up to the “it’s my body statement”

      Really? You think no doctor on the planet understands that pregnancy is a bodily process?

      That you think gestation doesn’t involve a woman’s body is surprising enough. That you think doctors believe gestation happens somewhere other than a woman’s body is outright amazing, but I suppose follows from the first…

      The exaggeration of figures weakens the prochoice argument

      Nice straw man. First, you claim prochoicers exaggerate the deaths caused by illegal abortion. Then, you claim that because you’ve claimed prochoicers exaggerate the deaths caused by illegal abortion / denial of safe legal abortion, this “weakens the argument”.

      It also thoroughly contradicts your claim that you think these deaths are tragic. Evidently, you don’t.

    • Fair point – Ireland does have abortion, it is just exported. The O’Hare article is interesting.

      So – moving on from this – what exactly is your goal in making abortion illegal? Ireland is the perfect example of how prolife laws merely ensure almost all abortions are carried out elsewhere at significantly more risk, trouble, and expense to the patients. Why is it you feel it’s worth inflicting risk, trouble, and expense – and risking women’s lives – when you know from Ireland’s example this doesn’t actually do a thing to prevent abortions?

  25. Paul Atkin

    Sorry for the delays, out of the UK at the moment

    “And as no human being has the right to make use of another human being’s body against her will, it follows that abortion is a human right. ”

    The jet lag might be getting to me but I think I agree with you here. This is the essential point – the unborn child is a distinct human body. Although carried within her mother, the child is a separate human being.

    If the child is human, it has human rights We have human rights because we are human beings, they are not conditional on our age, location, ability or strength.

    Certainly the mother has rights too but a compromise has to be reached between her rights and the rights of her son or daughter becuase “all men (and women) are created equal”

    On the Doctor bit, it might be best challenge you. If you can find a Doctor to post on this blog that an unborn child is part of a mother’s body in same way as the liver or a kidney then I’ll contribute £25 to Barack Obama’s re-election fund. OK, I know he can’t be relected again but you get the idea…

    • Okay, since you’ve basically just ignored everything I’ve said and refused to respond to any of my questions, but are simply repeating your nonsense to yourself, I guess this discussion is over.

  26. Paul Atkin

    Sorry I’m away at the moment hence the infrequent posting.

    You’re not taking up the challenge then?

    • What. try to find a doctor who thinks pregnancy takes place in a woman’s body? Is that a serious challenge? What will you give me if I can produce a doctor to comment on this site that he knows gestation takes place in a woman’s body, not in some little bubble floating separately in the air?

  27. Paul Atkin

    Been away a while but here goes. The challenge is:

    “find a Doctor to post on this blog that an unborn child is _part_ of a mother’s body in same way as the liver or a kidney” This is the meaning of the phrase: my body, my right to decide.

    Your point that “gestation takes place _in_ a woman’s body” is true and not controversial.

    • This is the meaning of the phrase: my body, my right to decide.

      No, it is not.

      The meaning of the phrase “my body, my right to decide” is literally what it says.

      A woman’s body is her own. The prolife demand that women’s bodies should be used against their will for gestation is the moral equivalent of slavery and rape.

      Your point that “gestation takes place _in_ a woman’s body” is true and not controversial.

      Plainly too controversial for you to deal with, since you attempt to ignore it and pretend that “my body, my right to decide” means something other than the obvious and direct.

      • Paul Atkin

        Well it looks like we need the opinion of a qualified Doctor to solve this.

        The challenge is still open

        • Paul, if you need the opinion of a qualified doctor to explain to you how pregnancy works, you’ve got more problems than any doctor I know….

          The challenge is still open

          £25 to be donated to re-elect Barack Obama? I think you’ll find that closed at 12:35am, 7th November 2012. But nice try.

          • Paul Atkin

            I think you’re missing the point, perhaps deliberately😉

            On 6 Dec 2012 you said “Her body, her choice.”

            The challenge, since then, was to find a Doctor to post on this blog that an unborn child is part of a mother’s body in same way as the liver or a kidney

            16 months later we’re still waiting. (Barack Obama could have had my 25 quid as well😉

            Science is not on your side if you use the “my body” argument to justify abortion

          • On 6 Dec 2012 you said “Her body, her choice.”

            Yes. And sporadically, since then, you have tried to claim that pregnancy has nothing to do with a woman’s body; that abortion doesn’t terminate pregnancy, as science and medicine says it does.

            You’ve tried, over and over again, eternally (it begins to seem!) missing the point: “her body, her choice” because pregnancy is an action taken – a labour performed – by the woman’s body.

            Your notion of a foetus is, apparently, something that floats in a haze of golden light, entirely unconnected to the mammalian body gestating it…

            Science, medicine, kindness, truth, and human rights are all on the prochoice side.

            You have nothing at all on yours but a fuzzy idea of a medical model of a foetus, hanging in midair.

          • Paul Atkin

            “Science, medicine, kindness, truth, and human rights are all on the prochoice side.”

            So you should be able to find a Doctor to back you up

          • So you should be able to find a Doctor to back you up

            That pregnancy is a function of the human body? Yes, I probably could.

            Of course, since you could find that out for yourself on any antenatal website, it’s hard for me to believe that you would accept a doctor’s word for it: if you won’t believe what science and medicine already tell you on every site about pregnancy, why do you expect me to think you’d believe a random doctor on a comments-page telling you that pregnancy is a function of the human body?

          • Paul Atkin

            I know it’s a long thread but that wasn’t the challenge. You need to “find a Doctor to post on this blog that an unborn child is _part_ of a mother’s body in same way as the liver or a kidney” If this is true then abortion is not controversial and it really is “my body” and nothing else.

            But we both know that it would be a very random Doctor who would say that because it is not the case.

            Here’s some science from medical text books. I didn’t check but I’m guessing that all authors are doctors

            “The development of a human being begins with fertilization”
            [Langman, Jan. Medical Embryology. 3rd edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1975, p. 3]

            “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”
            [Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]

            “Development of the embryo begins at Stage 1 when a sperm fertilizes an oocyte and together they form a zygote.”
            [England, Marjorie A. Life Before Birth. 2nd ed. England: Mosby-Wolfe, 1996, p.31]

            “Human development begins after the union of male and female gametes or germ cells during a process known as fertilization (conception).
            [Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p.2]

            “Embryo: The developing individual between the union of the germ cells and the completion of the organs”
            [Considine, Douglas (ed.). Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia. 5th edition. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976, p. 943]

            “Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm (Gr. zyg tos, yoked together), represents the beginning of a human being.
            [Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1]

            My point is that the “my body” argument is not a good one because you have to ignore the fact that every man/woman in the street knows.

            The abortion debate is about when it is acceptable to take human life, not whether life exists or not.

          • but that wasn’t the challenge. You need to “find a Doctor to post on this blog that an unborn child is _part_ of a mother’s body in same way as the liver or a kidney” If this is true then abortion is not controversial and it really is “my body” and nothing else.

            No, Paul. I know this is difficult for you to understand, but please pay attention.

            You claimed – in a very basic misunderstanding of pregnancy – that “My body, my choice” didn’t mean the obvious – pregnancy is an action undertaken by the woman’s body, and it is therefore her choice to terminate her pregnancy or continue it. You claimed – I have to assume by now in pure bad faith! – not to understand this, to believe that the foetus a woman is gestating is somehow hanging in midair, uninvolved with the woman’s body. You also then “challenged” me to accept your bad-faith bad-science idea of a foetus, and to find a doctor who would, I don’t know, also accept your bad-faith bad-science ignorance of pregnancy and silly idea of a mid-air foetus, and then somehow disprove something about an idea of a developing mammalian foetus that does not exist in the real world?

            And now – exactly like an evangelical Christian citing “clobber texts” out of context – you are citing one-liners from medical texts about embryos and foetuses, as if you think doing so somehow disproves the existence of a pregnant woman!

            I’m unclear what you think you’re accomplishing by this. Regardless of what your argument, eppure lei è incinta (as Galileo might have said if forced to argue with a prolifer).

            My point is that the “my body” argument is not a good one because you have to ignore the fact that every man/woman in the street knows.

            Huh? Every man/woman in the street “knows” that you can gestate a human foetus outside a woman’s body? Not except in science-fiction novels…

            The abortion debate is about when it is acceptable to take human life, not whether life exists or not.

            Agreed! Prolifers argue it’s acceptable for women to die pregnant or in illegal abortions: the rest of us argue that it is not. Prolifer indifference to preserving human life manifests itself in terrorism and murder, as well as in enforcement of bans on safe legal abortion. Prochoice is the human rights side, the side that values human life. “Prolife” is the most ironic name for a political movement ever…

          • Paul Atkin

            “pregnancy is an action undertaken by the woman’s body”

            Not entirely. It’s traditional to have 2 people involved at the start😉. And, when pregancy begins, another human life comes into existence, inside the mother’s body. 50% of the time that new person will be a male, so while he’s inside his mothers body, he can’t be part of it. So, as with all things controversial it’s about balancing the rights of the people involved. Are you saying the mother should be able to have an abortion at any time, for any reason and that no other opinions should be taken into account?

            The reference to Gallileo is appropriate. In the 17th century, the Church got it wrong when they censured him for suggesting the earth was round, in spite of the scientific evidence. Today it’s pro-choicers who are ignoring the facts of life in spite of the written and (today) very visible scientific evidence. I just typed “ultrasound pictures” into Youtube and got loads of results, for example

            “Prolifers argue it’s acceptable for women to die pregnant or in illegal abortions”

            I know it is easier to demonise people who don’t share your views but I don’t know any prolifer who believes this is acceptable. The pro-life point is that all human life has equal value regardless of age, sex, ability, disability or location

            But with regard to abortion for life threatening reasons – Grounds A and B of the abortion action permit abortion where there is risk to life or grave permanent injury. In England and Wales in 2012 there were 190 abortions for these reasons – about 0.01% of the total.

            Most aboritons take place under Ground C – the ‘social’ clause. Certainly pregancy is a big change in circumstances with long term consequences but you have to ask whether avoiding that justifies the death of another human being.

          • Not entirely. It’s traditional to have 2 people involved at the start😉.

            More confused understanding of mammalian biology, Paul? No. At no point in a mammalian pregnancy are two people pregnant.

            You are muddling conception with pregnancy, and you’re even wrong about conception. As you may or may not be aware, while (usually) another person is around when sperm enters the vagina, the sperm takes several days to reach the ripe egg, assuming that an egg is ripe for conception. (This is how emergency contraception can work to prevent conception: taken swiftly enough, the morning-after pill prevents an egg from ripening. No egg, no conception.) So in fact, when fertilisation occurs – and pregnancy doesn’t begin for some time after fertilisation – there need be no other person present.

            Pregnancy, however, is an action undertaken entirely by the woman. Which is why “My body, my choice” is the human rights answer.

            Are you saying the mother should be able to have an abortion at any time, for any reason and that no other opinions should be taken into account?

            Up until about 15 weeks of pregnancy, having an abortion is a relatively simple process (simplest of all at <10 weeks, when the vast majority of abortions take place) and there is usually no reason for anyone's views to override the woman's decision.

            Exceptions exist, of course. A raped 12-year-old girl who has been made pregnant by her rapist pretty definitely needs to have an abortion: pregnancy that early could damage her health and affect her ability to have children in the future. Still more so for a younger child – the 9-year-old girl in Brazil whom prolifers wanted to force to gestate twin foetuses until her uterus burst, for example. While I would say a 12-year-old girl’s views should be taken into account, her parents are entitled to make medical decisions overriding her choice where her best interests lie – and obviously, pregnancy being the leading killer of teenage girls worldwide, carrying the foetus to term will never be in her best interests.

            But in general, no: A pregnant girl or woman gets to decide for herself whether to terminate or continue the pregnancy, and no one else should ever be allowed to overrule her to force her to continue her pregnancy against her will.

            After 15 weeks, the risks of abortion begin to become less inconsiderable, and it’s also reasonable to ask the woman why she delayed the abortion. The most common reasons in the UK are prolifers in Ireland forcing women to travel to the UK to have abortions, and young girls who have been raped and did not understand that they were pregnant. Obviously whatever the reason, it would be wrong to force a woman to continue through pregnancy against her will, but I’ll admit it’s fair to ask post-15 weeks why the delay.

            But another reason for late abortion is medical: the woman may not know until late on in pregnancy that the foetus carries defects which will ensure it may not survive to be born, and the baby cannot live. At that point, only a callous, inhumane monster would say to a woman “you have to continue in pregnancy knowing the baby is dying slowly inside you!” but unfortunately such prolife monsters exist around the world, and often force women to travel hundred or even thousands of miles to a more humane state which will allow the woman to terminate.

            And finally, of course, there is the situation where the woman desperately want to keep the pregnancy but her doctors have to advise her for the sake of her health to terminate. That decision should still be up to her, but doctors have a rightand an obligation to preserve their patient’s life and health, and only in a prolife regime like Ireland could the situation arise where doctors are compelled by prolife law to stand back and watch their patient die slowly when abortion could have saved her life.

            Today it’s pro-[lifer]s who are ignoring the facts of life in spite of the written and (today) very visible scientific evidence. I just typed “ultrasound pictures” into Youtube and got loads of results, for example

            Fixed that for you! I think you’ll find that every single one of those ultrasound pictures of pregnancy took place in a woman’s body. Only prolifers are unscientific and inhumane enough to pretend this is not so.

            I know it is easier to demonise people who don’t share your views but I don’t know any prolifer who believes this is acceptable.

            I know lots of prolifers who argued against changing the law in Ireland recently to allow doctors to perform abortions to save a woman’s life.

            I know no prolifer who is arguing against the current practice of driving pregnant immigrants away from NHS prenatal care by making them pay for it.

            There is a Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast which will perform abortions up to nine weeks if and only if the woman’s life is at risk. That clinic was the target of huge prolife opprobrium – against saving women’s lives.

            What about you, Paul? Did you support the recent change to Irish law to ensure women’s lives could be saved? Did all the prolifers you know also support that change? Did you support the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast? Did all the prolifers you know also support the MS clinic having the right to perform life-saving abortions? Do you think that the Irish hospital that took in Savita Halappanavar and then refused to perform an abortion early on that would have saved her life was acting rightly or wrongly?

            Simple questions. Do answer them, since you’re claiming that as a prolifer, you support life-saving abortions, and that all of the prolifers you know also support life-saving abortions. Those are nice clear moral questions with straightforward answers for people who really do support life-saving abortions.

            But honestly, Paul: the way to make sure women don’t die pregnant or in illegal abortion is to ensure all women, everywhere, have access to safe legal abortion on demand. And you have to ask yourself: what are the lives of women worth to you, if your principle that abortion should be illegal/inaccessible causes so many deaths each year?

          • Paul Atkin

            Well lots to cover there so I probably won’t do it all in this post but here goes…

            “So in fact, when fertilisation occurs – and pregnancy doesn’t begin for some time after fertilisation – there need be no other person present”

            At the point of fertilisation another person _is_ present. It’s the time when human life begins – cf all those medical texts we saw earlier.

            The fact that the new human person is under the care of his / her mother doesn’t change this fact. The point of human rights is that they are inalienable – they don’t depend on being male/female, able / disabled, black, white or anything else. Although all these things are used to justify abortions.

            Sorry, I have to stop here, loads on tonight…

          • At the point of fertilisation another person _is_ present.

            No. A fertilised egg is not a person, no more than Hobby Lobby is a person.

            The fact that the [fertilised egg] is under the care of his / her mother doesn’t change this fact.

            Fixed that for you. The fertilised egg is not “under the care of its mother” (at this point it is neither male nor female). The fertilised egg is somewhere up the Fallopian tubes, and may, in another few days, attach to the uterus wall. At that point gestation, and therefore pregnancy begins.

            The fertilised egg is possibly a potential human being. Only possibly – about forty percent of conceptuses spontaneously abort in the first few weeks of pregnancy: a small percentage are molar pregnancies.

            The point of human rights is that they are inalienable – they don’t depend on being male/female, able / disabled, black, white or anything else.

            Agreed. Which is why it is impossibly wrong to abrogate the human rights of a pregnant woman, as prolifers want to do.

            Sorry, I have to stop here, loads on tonight…

            Heh. Colour me unsurprised you haven’t answered any of the simple, yes/no questions that would establish if you actually are one of the rare prolifers who supports abortions to save a woman’s life, or one of the many prolifers who actively oppose saving women’s lives by abortion.

          • Paul Atkin

            Hi Jane,

            Sorry for delays, had a long bout of eat – sleep – work – repeat. Finally finished that and on the train back from London full of East Coast’s best Gin so forgive spelling mishtakes…

            “A fertilised egg is not a person”

            Nope, totally disagree. There’s no other point where you can draw the line. At fertilisation it is absolutely human and male / female plus a whole load of other genetic characteristics. Again, science is not with you.

            Implantation does not = the start of life. That happens at fertilisation. Everything else is part of the journey. The fact that people may or may not die on that journey does not make them any less human.

            So, onto your questions…

            There are certainly cases where pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Ectopic pregnancy is a good example – implantation has taken in the fallopian tube – the pregnancy can’t be moved and removing it will end that pregnancy. i have no problem with an abortion here and I don’t know a prolifer who does. We might be able to agree on life threatening abortions.

            But that isn’t the position of most pro-choicers. They start from the hard cases and then work back to abortion for any reason whatsoever. The fact that some abortions may be jusfified can’t be used to justify all abortions.

            Pro-lifers work the other way round – from the majority of abortions which take place for social reasons (which most people oppose) through to the hard cases (which most people support).

          • There’s no other point where you can draw the line.

            Of course there are!

            It would be downright foolish and unscientific to “draw the line” at the point when sperm meets egg.

            At that point, if you think a fertilised human egg is a person, you think the placenta is a person: the placenta, equally with the embryo, develops from the fertilised egg. If you think a fertilised human egg is a person, you think that in the normal course of womanhood, most heterosexually-active women discard persons with their tampons/sanitary towels on a fairly regular basis. If you think a fertilised human egg is a person, you think a molar pregnancy is a person – and one in every 600-800 pregnant women in the UK will develop a molar pregnancy, or 1,500 a year. Even in Ireland, where creepy prolifery rules, molar pregnancies are aborted early without fuss: no one is so extreme as you to call molar pregnancies “persons” just because they developed from a fertilised egg.

            At the moment when a sperm fertilises an egg, a potential human being exists: potential, because

            (a) the fertilised egg has about a 50% chance of being spontaneously aborted or never implanting, in which case that “person” will be discarded with the woman’s next period. (By the way, does your conviction that these fertilised eggs are “persons” include campaigning to have used sanitary towels/tampons given proper burial? Serious question. Seems to me male prolifers never think this one through, so I imagine you’ll never answer it.)

            (b) the fertilised egg can only develop into a baby – and thus become a human person – if the woman consents to gestate the egg for nine months of her life. One of the most misogynistic and unscientific elements of prolife propaganda is the dismissal of pregnancy as important: it is either taken for granted or ignored. The utter disrespect of prolifers for pregnant women is as key to your kind of thinking as your callous lack of concern for pregnant women’s health and welfare.

            Finally, (c) The potential human being will gradually develop over nine months labour into more and more of a person, but because of low oxygen levels in the blood, the amphibian foetus remains effectively asleep, without memory or thought or consciousness, until she or he takes the first breath. To claim the fertilised egg as a person is ludicrous; to claim the amphibian foetus as a person is merely unscientific.

            And (c) The human rights side, of course: Since forcing her through gestation would be a callous and horrible violation of her human rights – as we see in prolife countries where such force is legal, pregnancy can and does kill a woman who isn’t permitted the right to choose to terminate – it remains the case that, to anyone who values human rights, it must always be the pregnant woman’s decision whether to terminate or continue. Grant the foetus every human right a person can have, that will still not give the foetus any right to use another human being’s body against her will, and obviously should not give prolifers any right to demand the use of women’s bodies with such misogynistic indifference to our welfare.

            i have no problem with an abortion here and I don’t know a prolifer who does.

            I notice that you still haven’t answered my simple, yes/no questions about issues like Savita’s need for a life-saving abortion – which so many prolifers had such a huge problem with! – or the Belfast clinic: or the recent change to Irish law to make life-saving abortions legal.

            Abortion of ectopic pregnancies is banned in Catholic hospitals on principle: the only means permitted is removal of the Fallopian tube. You don’t know any Catholic prolifers, then? Odd that.

            Abortion of ectopic pregnancy before the foetus is definitely dead (which is usually discovered when the Fallopian tube ruptures) is banned by prolife law in several prolife countries. I have never heard, ever, of any prolifer protesting this ban: it is always and only protested by human rights activists, pro-choicers, who want doctors to have the right to abort the ectopic foetus early enough to save the woman’s life. Prolifers don’t care.

            But that isn’t the position of most pro-choicers. They start from the hard cases and then work back to abortion for any reason whatsoever. The fact that some abortions may be jusfified can’t be used to justify all abortions.

            Of course they can. The woman’s human right to decide to terminate a pregnancy justifies the vast majority of abortions. Exceptions exist where a woman has been forced to choose abortion because she cannot afford prenatal care or childbirth: but notoriously prolifers in the US – where abortion is far cheaper than prenatal care, childbirth, postnatal care, or healthcare for the baby and growing child – are always angry opponents of the idea that all pregnant women and children should as of right receive free healthcare for all their needs (too keen always to funnel pregnant women into the adoption industry): and in this country, where immigrant women are being turned away from NHS prenatal care by regulations instituted by our prolife Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, I have never heard of any prolifer caring about this or instituting any protest to ensure every pregnant woman can get all the care she needs.

            Prolifers are indifferent to the welfare of pregnant women, as you have made clear. Which is how we can be sure all claims to be campaigning for this outrageous intrusion on human rights, to force women through pregnancy against their will, are done not out of any concern for the welfare of fertilised eggs (do let me know your answer to the Tampon Question) and still less for embryos or foetuses: only out of a wish to force and use women.

  28. Paul Atkin

    “Of course there are!”

    The fact that you didn’t say “of course there is” sums it up. You admit to multiple possiblities based on people’s opinion of what suits them best at the time.

    Try that in your Science exams:

    Q1 – Which elements make up water?
    A: Oh, well, I think that’s up to the mother….

    Q2 – Did Newton’s apple fall up or down?
    A – It depends on the opinion of the woman answering the question…

    Write 1000 words, make them emotional, if that’s your style. You’re offering your opinion. You’re entitled to it, but don’t confuse it with observable, repeatable, testable science.

    In this thread you started with the assertion that 50,000 women die globally each year of illegal abortions. When challenged you produced a dodgy estimate (guess) sponsored by pro-choice organisations and based on just 10 countries which cited a different figure of 68,000.

    I asked you to find Doctor to back your opinion. You found none.

    The only pro-choice Doctor in this thread was Doctor Malcom Potts, former Director of the International Planned Parenthood Association who said:

    “”Those who want the law to be liberalized will stress the hazards of illegal abortion and claim that hundreds, or thousands, or women die unnecessarily each year, when the actual number is far lower.” (Abortion (CUP, 1977) p. 529). One of your own.

    I cited 6 medical texts which said that life begins at fertilisation. You disimissed them as “one-liners”

    Life and death can be one line. Writing more is just you making smoke to cover the truth: life begins at fertiliation, abortion ends life. 7 words.

    99.99% of abortions (ONS, England and Wales, 2012) do not involve a threat to the life of the mother. They are done for reasons of choice.

    Everyone is entitled to choies but when those conflict with someone else you have to balance. 99.99% of the time it is not a “my life or yours” situation. Your choice / preference / convenience does not give you the right to end the life of another person. Not for reasons of their location, apearance, abilty or disability (and shame on your for suggesting that last reason). If you can lie down to have the experience, then stand up and be a parent.

    And, the tampon answer: don’t be so daft. Natural failure to implant involves no intervention by anyone. Abortion is the deliberate termination of life, there’s nothing natural about it. It’s not about what to do after a natural death, it’s about not actively causing death in the first place

    • You’re offering your opinion. You’re entitled to it, but don’t confuse it with observable, repeatable, testable science.

      You’re trying to confuse your absurd opinion – that a foetus develops without pregnancy! – which you know is absurd, don’t you? – with actual science. The observable, repeatable, testable science is that in order for a fertilised egg to become a baby mammal, the process of gestation is required.

      Equally observable, unfortunately repeated, gruesomely tested: where prolifers have the power to force women through pregnancy and childbirth without access to safe, legal abortion, girls and women die. Tens of thousands, every year, sacrificed to your anti-science ideal of forced use.

      You admit to multiple possiblities based on people’s opinion of what suits them best at the time.

      Of course! As everyone but prolifers acknowledge, medicine and healthcare are not to be imposed on an adult by force. An adult patient – even a child old enough to comprehend – is entitled to decide on treatment, based on each patient’s opinion of what will best suit them, guided – ideally – by their doctors’ medical advice.

      Only prolifers – well, and other anti-human rights activists, but primarily prolifers – talk of medicine and healthcare as actions to be forced on patients, just as prolifers regard pregnancy and childbirth as matters for force, not choice.

      Which elements make up water is a scientific fact. How much water a person needs to drink in a day is an aspect of health and safety. How many litres of water a person chooses to drink is, in general, entirely up to them. You don’t appear able to make that distinction, which is odd, isn’t it?

      Likewise: What happens to an apple when it falls from a tree is calculable by Newtonian formulae based on Newton’s theory of gravity. How many portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a person should eat in a day is an aspect of healthcare. How many apples a person chooses to eat in a day or a month or a year is dependent on what apples are available to them and how much they like apples. You don’t appear able to make those distinctions, which is very odd, isn’t it?

      I asked you to find Doctor to back your opinion. You found none.

      Now you’re outright lying. You know, I find conversations like this go better when people refrain from lying, don’t you? You repeatedly tried to claim that a foetus develops in midair, uninvolved with a woman’s body. I pointed out to you that I didn’t need to find a doctor to tell you that’s wrong: any basic health website about pregnancy would tell you otherwise, but you weren’t interested. Now you’re just lying, which is silly: your comments and my comments are still there, for everyone to see. If you lie like that again, Paul, I’m terminating this conversation: there is no point in trying to have a discussion with a repeat liar. Fair warning.

      In this thread you started with the assertion that 50,000 women die globally each year of illegal abortions.

      Yes. The figure has actually gone steadily downwards with increased access to contraception: WHO now estimates the number of women who die annually because of illegal abortions as 47,000. (Your anti-scientific idea that a scientific estimate is a “guess” is noted.)

      You quote Doctor Malcom Potts from 1977. Interesting that you’re not interested in any of the data in the 37 years since then, isn’t it? Just as it’s interesting that you can’t distinguish between a scientific fact, a sensible healthcare recommendation, and the patient’s choice?

      I cited 6 medical texts which said that life begins at fertilisation. You disimissed them as “one-liners”

      I’m absolutely certain that not one of those medical texts went on to outline your theory that a foetus develops without pregnancy. Which you would know, if you bothered to read any further in the medical textbook than one line. But I suspect what you did was get those single lines from a prolife website where someone else went to the trouble of finding them for you.

      Writing more is just you making smoke to cover the truth: life begins at fertiliation, abortion ends life. 7 words.

      Interesting. Yet your reaction to a fertilised egg being spontaneously aborted is not to want to give the tampons decent burial, but “don’t be daft”. So, obviously you don’t believe that a fertilised egg is a person. Thought not: it’s just an excuse for you to ignore the fact that if safe legal abortion were available on demand to every girl and woman, everywhere in the world, 47,000 lives would have been saved last year – and again this year, and again – because while improved access to contraception (something else prolifers are invariably against) indubitably works to prevent abortions, it never reduces the need for abortion to zero.

      Forty-seven thousand people dead, Paul. Each year, tens of thousands of people dying, because of the inhumane prolife code that says it’s better to keep abortion illegal and dangerous than to save lives. “Prolife” is undoubtedly the most ironic name for a political movement ever coined.

      And we’re clear, since as you yourself admit you don’t regard a fertilised egg that never implants or that spontaneously aborts, as a person who deserves human burial, that you’re not advocating these tens of thousands of women die because of some foolish notion that you can somehow stand up for fertilised eggs as people. You’ve admitted (“don’t be daft”) that you don’t think a fertilised egg is a person. If you did, you’d care about the fertilised eggs going out on a tampon as much as you claim to care about the fertilised eggs that end up implanting. But you don’t, and you even think it’s daft to suggest that.

      Everyone is entitled to choies but when those conflict with someone else you have to balance.
      Your choice / preference / convenience does not give you the right to end the life of another person.

      Quite. Which is why prolifers are entitled to choose to go on and on about how they think women shouldn’t be allowed access to contraception or safe legal abortion, but you’re not allowed (not in this country, nor in any with human rights values) to impose your distorted values on a woman: her rights are at stake, and the balance is obvious. You get your free speech, she gets her choice of healthcare.

      I’ve noticed that for all your claims of supporting life-saving abortion, you’ve still declined to answer my questions. Simple questions, with yes/no answers – if you really do support life-saving abortion.

      So let’s repeat them. Simple, short answers, Paul. No smoke from you.

      1) Do you support Savita’s need for a life-saving abortion when she asked for one in the Galway hospital?
      2) Do you support the right of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast to provide life-saving abortions on the premises?
      3) Do you support the recent change to Irish law to make life-saving abortions legal for the doctor to perform?

      If you actually support life-saving abortions, obviously your answers are Yes, Yes, and Yes. But given your delay in replying – and your dishonesty over the question of whether doctors understand pregnancy – I’m actually thinking that your refusal to reply is because you know your honest answer would be No, No, and No*. So, either you actually answer those three questions – only 3 words needed, even less than 7 – or again, I terminate this conversation on grounds of your dishonesty.

      *Indeed, I’m guessing that even if you lied and tried to claim you did, I would probably be able to find evidence online that you had already written in opposition to life-saving abortions….

      So, your choice, Paul. Do you want to make a committment not to lie again, to answer my questions honestly, and we can continue this discussion. Or fair enough: lying is generally the last resort of the defeated, so you can run along and leave your lies.

      • Paul Atkin

        Well that was while but things have been busy, apologies.

        The tampon stuff is, honestly, a bit bizarre. It’s not about burial it’s about not killing in the first place. When fertilized eggs don’t implant and come away naturally there’s nothing anything can do about it. It’s the natural end to a short life – no-one caused caused it. It might be best to compare it to the Air France plane which crashed into the South Atlantic a couple of years ago or the MH370 flight recently. These weren’t natural deaths but they were accidental and it is not possible to bury the people involved.

        The “one liners” about life beginning at conception did not come from pro-life authors or pro-life websites. They came from standard medical text books at Princeton University. http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html

        Estimated deaths from illiegal abortions have certainly come down. On 5th December 2012 you were sure it was 68,000. On 5th May 2014, in your last post, it’s now 47,000

        No-one has any problem with personal autonomy in healthcare. In pregnancy everyone knows that 2 humans are involved. So the choice of abortion for one means death for the other. 99.99% of the time that is not right.

        The unborn child has a head, body, arms, legs, a heart beat, brain waves, genes etc. It looks like a human, has the DNA of a human, was made by 2 other humans so what, exactly, is it? Your answer is that it’s not human or valuable until you say it is. But science doesn’t work like that. The existence of human life is no more arbitary than gravity or other scientific facts.

        Abortion ends human life. Your case would imho stand up better if you acknowledged the fact. By ignoring the obvious, it weakens your arguement. Some abortions are necessary (here comes your yes/no answer). Some abortions are need to save lives and and I cited ectopic pregnancy, earlier, as an example.

        So, would I support an abortion by a real doctor who genuinely has to intervene to lose one or both of their patients? Yes. Would I trust Marie Stopes to do it? The organisation named after a racist, eugenist who sent a book of her poetry to Hitler in 1939…? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Stopes)

        As I said last post (please do comment): everyone is entitled to choices but when those conflict with someone else you have to balance. 99.99% of the time it is not a “my life or yours” situation. Your choice / preference / convenience does not give you the right to end the life of another person. Not for reasons of their location, apearance, abilty or disability (and real shame on your for suggesting that last reason). If you can lie down to have the experience, then stand up and be a parent.

        • The tampon stuff is, honestly, a bit bizarre. It’s not about burial it’s about not killing in the first place.

          So your belief is that any “baby”* that spontaneously miscarries, doesn’t need proper burial?

          *By “baby” I obviously mean the more scientifically correct fertilised egg, conceptus, embryo, foetus….

          It might be best to compare it to the Air France plane which crashed into the South Atlantic a couple of years ago or the MH370 flight recently. These weren’t natural deaths but they were accidental and it is not possible to bury the people involved.

          I don’t understand what you mean by “not possible”. It’s not possible to bury people who died in a plane that crashed into the sea. It’s entirely possible to collect tampons that may contain a fertilised egg – that is, a “person”, by your definition, as you’ve claimed to believe – and bury them. This is absolutely not impossible – it’s just a question of whether the fertilised egg dying on the tampons actually matters to you as a dead person. Apparently not.

          he “one liners” about life beginning at conception did not come from pro-life authors or pro-life websites. They came from standard medical text books at Princeton University.

          In which case I am quite sure they went on to explain – and which you ignored – the process of gestation within the human body. Your “one liners” did not prove that gestation does not exist: they prove that you are not interested in gestation or in the woman who creates a baby from a fertilised egg by the process of gestation.

          The unborn child has a head, body, arms, legs, a heart beat, brain waves, genes etc. It looks like a human, has the DNA of a human, was made by 2 other humans so what, exactly, is it?

          You’re claiming that a fertilised egg is an “unborn baby”. A fertilised egg does not have a head, a body, arms, legs, a heart beat, or brain waves. A fertilised egg develops into a conceptus: this too does not have a a head, a body, arms, legs, a heart beat, or brain waves. Half of a conceptus develops into the placenta. The placenta does not have a head, body, arms, legs, a heart-beat, or brain-waves, but it has the DNA of a human, was made by two other humans, so what, exactly, is it? Are you arguing now for “rights for placentas”? The placenta was gestated from the fertilised egg exactly as the embryo was, and if your contention is that a fertilised egg IS a baby, so too must the placenta be…

          In fact, a human embryo at 8 weeks development looks very much like any other mammalian embryo at that stage of development. The fantasy notion entertained by prolifers that an early-stage embryo “looks like” a human being is based on photoshop and “artistic impressions”.

          Your answer appears to be that a fertilised egg has all the rights of a human being so long as you can use that to force women through pregnancy and childbirth against their will: when the fertilised egg does not, you are indifferent to it. But neither science nor medical ethics nor human rights work like that. The value and existance of human life is no more arbitary than gravity or other scientific facts: your denial of the humanity and the value of the woman’s life, health, and welfare, is mere proof – if any more were needed – that prolifers are as indifferent to science and medical ethics as they are to human rights.

          Estimated deaths from illiegal abortions have certainly come down. On 5th December 2012 you were sure it was 68,000. On 5th May 2014, in your last post, it’s now 47,000

          Yep. I think the 68,000 figure was from 2008: thanks to the worldwide defeat of prolifers in their opposition to access to contraception, illegal abortions have gone down – 47,000 is from 2012. If prolifers had been allowed to continue their horrible campaign against contraception, illegal abortion figures in 2012 would doubtless have been as high as under the prolife Bush regime, which fcussed overseas aid funding on charities that denied women in Third World countries access to contraception and thus ramped up the number of illegal abortions.

          No-one has any problem with personal autonomy in healthcare.

          Prolifers do, as you yourself make clear.

          IIn pregnancy everyone knows that 2 humans are involved. So the choice of abortion for one means death for the other. 99.99% of the time that is not right.

          So your “solution” is to ensure that women do not have access to safe legal abortion and thus ensure a higher chance of death for the woman? While at the same time perfectly indifferent to the death via spontaneous miscarriage of most humans conceived?

          Some abortions are necessary (here comes your yes/no answer). Some abortions are need to save lives and and I cited ectopic pregnancy, earlier, as an example.

          So, you’re still not going to answer the four yes/no questions I asked, except to casually malign the charity Marie Stopes on the grounds that it’s named after a Nazi?

          You’ve of course just lost the argument – Godwin’s Law, plus your squirming refusal to actually answer three Yes/No questions about abortions carried out to save human lives, but let’s point out something else.

          Did you know that George W. Bush funded prolife charities all over the world? Did you know that George W, Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush – the source of the family fortune – supported the Nazis? Not by sending a book of poems to Hitler, which you damn Marie Stopes for, but by actually financially backing the Nazis in Germany? So by your style of argument, any prolife charity that ever accepted funding from President Bush – either one – is clearly tainted because of the political connection to the prolife Nazi party? (The Nazis were prolife, by the way: abortion in Nazi Germany was as illegal as you could wish for.) Or you could argue that Prescott Bush – who died in 1972 – was too long ago to taint George W. Bush’s actions in supporting prolife charities, whereas Marie Stopes – who died in 1958 – is somehow still validly tainting the women’s healthcare charity that bears her name. But hey. You’re a hypocrite. We both know this.

          Your choice / preference / convenience does not give you the right to end the life of another person.

          Absolutely. Which why I am prochoice, because I believe that you choice/preference/convenience – whatever basis you have for spouting this prolife hypocrisy – does not give you the right to end the life of a woman who needs a safe, legal abortion.

          Not for reasons of their location, apearance, abilty or disability (and real shame on your for suggesting that last reason). If you can lie down to have the experience, then stand up and be a parent.

          Now we’re coming to it: your real belief that if a girl or a woman has sex, this means she should be forced against her will through pregnancy and childbirth. No notion in your mind that it’s better for children to have parents that chose them. Only that you want to force a girl or a woman who had sex to have a baby, and you don’t care how many girls and woman die because of your desire to force them.

          • Paul Atkin

            Hadn’t heard of Godwin’s Law before though. Quite funny, and true. I note that “the law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering known mainstays of Nazi Germany such as genocide, eugenics, or racial superiority,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law) so I think my point about Marie Stopes as a racist and eugenisist is fair.

            Nor had I heard about the Bush connection although it is a bit weak and this article does go on to say “there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause.” Whereas, Marie Stopes International today is still carrying out her eugenic beliefs.

            Check your illegal abortion deaths sources again. Your 68,000 figure comes from 2006 (not 2008) and your 47,000 figure from 2008 (not 2012). I’m suprised you don’t know the details of the sources which you introduced to this thread.

            Are you sure that there has been a 30% global reduction (21,000) in 2 years? If that is the case then illegal abortion deaths would have ceased entirely by 2013.

            You are right in that we are getting to the core it. When you freely choose to do something it is right that you take responsibility for the outcome. 99.99% of the time, your unborn child is not a life threatening disease – she’s the natural outcome of your love.

            Pregancy means responsiblity and care for another person. You are not justified in killing that person because they are disabled (I know you disagree), inconvenient, unseen or expensive.

          • I think my point about Marie Stopes as a racist and eugenisist is fair.

            Wow, you lying squirmer. We weren’t discussing Marie Stopes who died in 1952. My question was about the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast. Your attempt to link that to the Nazis is classic Godwin’s Law: you’ve lost the argument, and you know it.

            Nor had I heard about the Bush connection although it is a bit weak

            Now that is really shamelessly hypocritical. You invented a connection between the Nazis and the women’s healthcare clinic in Belfast out of thin air because you know you’ve lost the argument; you aren’t honest enough to be able to answer a simple Yes/No question. Isn’t that a damning indictment of your “philosophy”: that you can’t defend it except with lies and hypocrisy?

            If that is the case then illegal abortion deaths would have ceased entirely by 2013.

            If only! Sadly prolifers are still prevalent through the world. President Obama’s reversal of the ban on support for contraception has certainly done a great deal to save women’s lives, but there are still countries in the world where women die each year because of prolife indifference to human life.

            When you freely choose to do something it is right that you take responsibility for the outcome.

            And as you freely choose to be a prolifer, you should then take responsibility for the outcome: the thousands of women dead each year because they could not access safe, legal abortion.

            But you wouldn’t be a prolifer if you could look honestly at the consequences of your ugly philosophy and take clear responsibility for the deaths that result.

            You are not justified in killing women because they are disabled, inconvenient, unseen or expensive. You disagree: you think these dead women don;t matter. But to those of us to whom each human life is real, is important, matters, “prolife” is one of the ugliest abuses.

            But, as I made clear before: either you honestly answered the three questions I had posed, or I would be forced to terminate this discussion. As you are apparently incapable of answering a question honestly – and as Godwin’s law decrees you lost the argument! – this long discussion is finally over.

            Which is to say: comment on this discussion thread again, and I will ban you from commenting on this blog forever. You lost the argument quite thoroughly some time ago.

          • Paul Atkin

            H Jn,

            d thnk th pnt bt Mr Stps ws fr. Y ntrdcd hr t th dscssn nd ctd Gdwns Lw, whch, ncdntly, thnk s gd n. t shld b xpndd t nyn wh mks n ccstn ndng n “st”, “sm” r “phbc” s wll. Th rsn sd tht t ws fr cmmnt ws tht t xplctly xclds dscssns bt gncs. S t’s rsnbl t mk th pnt.

            Yr pnts r stll ll vr th plc thgh. s ntd rlr y’v ctd 3 dffrnt fgrs fr llgl brtn dths nd dn’t vn knw th dts f yr wn stts.

            n 22 My y wr tlkng bt th “wrldwd dft f pr-frs” n n pst nd, n th sm dy n dffrnt pst, y sd tht “Sdly prlfrs r stll prvlnt thrgh th wrld” Prlfrs cn’t b dftd nd prvlnt t th sm tm cn thy?

            Whch ds cm t th hrt f t. xcldng th 0.01% f brtns fr lf svng rsns, th pr-chc rtnl s ll bt m. ‘ll d wht wnt, t wh wnt, fr whtvr rsn wnt. Fr brtn n dmnd. f tht s th phlsphy, fw fcts nd cnsstnt rgmnt dn’t mttr mch d thy?

            Y’r nt fcng dffclt pnts: s ftn n ths thrd ‘v md pnt nd y’v nswrd t wth smthng hns bt pr-lfrs. t my r my nt b tr, bt t vds dlng wth stff y cn’t / wn’t fc whch s th fct tht brtn tks hmn lf.

            nd y’r nt rlly pr-chc. Y’r nly ptn s brtn. Nthng ls, Wht ds Mr Stps, BPS, whmvr y rprsnt d fr th mthr wh hs frly chsn t kp hr chld nd nds sm hlp? t’s pr-lf grps wh prvd th bby clths, prms, bddng nd n gng spprt.

            f y wnt t trmnt [sc] th dscssn, fr ngh. sspct rsn s tht w’v tw r thr tms mntnd dsblty nd y’v nt rlly dlt wth t. Th d tht y cld spprt kllng ppl bcs thy r dsbld whn y prbbly r gnn spprtr f dsbld ppl’s rghts ftr brth s shmfl. Y shld rlly, rlly, rthnk ths. ‘m nt sr f y wr t th pr-lf chn lst mnth bt chttd t mmbr f th pblc wh sggstd brtn fr dsblty nd ffrd t ntrdc hr t my frnd wh hs Dwn’s Syndrm nd, t tht tm, ws bsy wlkng p nd dwn Lthn Rd ffrng lllpps t nyn sh lkd th lk f. hv nvr sn nyn sy “‘v gt t g nw” nd wlk s fst wtht ctlly rnnng!

            S, ll th bst &mp; thnks fr th cht – t’s nt ftn r tw sds tlk ths mch &mp; t ws gd t d s.

            Chrs

            Pl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s