Abortion: Left Are Not Right

West Belfast. Socialist Republican, Ciarán Cunningham highlights what he feels are deficiencies in the Left perspective on abortion and the right to choose.

Pronounced demands from the Irish Left for legislation bringing closer the availability of abortion on demand here now enjoy prominence both as policy and as a popular campaigning platform.

Yet while forwarded as no less than standard socialist doctrine, this position potentially risks compromising principles of class struggle in their truest sense.

In the north practically all sections of the left have for decades now made visible calls for an extension of the 1967 abortion act while similar demands are increasingly raised in regards to a repealing of the 8th amendment in the twenty-six.

The largest and most visible manifestations of left-wing thinking - the amalgamated People Before Profit/Anti Austerity Alliance groupings - have made abortion demand a central tenet of their political faith, and the passion with which they (and indeed all other sections within the broad left) display on the issue has gone virtually unquestioned by anybody who shares the Socialist worldview. Indeed, the author (not relishing the thought of provoking the scorn of those he considers comrades) thought seriously before commencing this piece at all.

Yet as a father of three in his forties, active in one way or another with the Irish left since my teens, I find it difficult to placidly accept (as I did when I was younger) the increasingly contradictory rationale of the ostensibly titled pro-choice lobby here.

Pro-choice leftists often make an accurate criticism of those described as ‘pro-life’, stating (with total justification) that on a political level they don’t challenge economic deprivations common to capitalist society; factors demonstrably shown elsewhere to drive thousands of working class women to seek abortion.

Yet this criticism exposes an equally damning flaw within the left’s own position. 

For when it comes to debating the issue of abortion, the same factors are now abandoned by the left, replaced instead by an elevated and selective concept of ‘choice’. 

A woman’s right to choose, is now promoted by the left as a standalone value, independent of economic, social or material pressures, unrelated to access (or the lack of it) to resources vital for any expecting woman or couple; such as post-natal support, suitable housing, and a sufficient family income.

This tendency was aptly demonstrated in November’s Northern edition of The Socialist newspaper which dedicated its front page to calls for an extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to here. 

Zero class analysis was offered by the Socialist Party, around factors which inevitably press down harder upon working class women than their privileged counter parts when considering ‘choice’ and abortion. Indeed, the only ‘class issue’ mentioned on the front page, was how some women found it more expensive to travel to England than others; an appalling lack of in depth analysis for a movement that describes itself as Marxist.

The inevitable conclusion for those of us primarily concerned with securing adequate standards of living for working class mothers, children and families, is that many on the left are now content to retreat towards a position which proposes an increased availability of abortion on demand as a viable alternative to the struggle for a compassionate and benevolent society capable of providing for pregnant women, children and families. 

Of course, to consider benevolence as a preferred goal to abortion, requires a consensus that abortion in itself is a negative procedure, a conclusion which many on the left – for equally questionable reasons - appear fundamentally opposed to.

Whether or not Socialists recognises this as a defeatist position, there is no doubt that many proponents of right wing economics will applaud what effectively amounts to less demands for social welfare and front page endorsement of a service long provided by the private sector, and one which dips into National Health resources to boot. 

It is unlikely however, that the editor of The Socialist newspaper saw the irony in headlining the back page of the same edition to ‘Stormont’s race to the bottom’, in reference to neo-liberal practice of lowering working class expectations to suit the prevailing demands of capitalist priority. 

Abortion on demand as an alternative to providing a benevolent society arguably represents a ‘race to the bottom’ and for Socialists to ignore this contradiction in their position, by reference to class neutral concepts of ‘choice’ and defensive accusations of misogyny, misplaced sentimentality and religious guilt arguably represents a serious retreat on their behalf.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

204 comments to ''Abortion: Left Are Not Right"

  1. As an anarchist who has campaigned for taken part in struggles and campaigns for women's right to choose, Ciaran has once again confused the the issues.

    Ciaran writes,

    "Pro-choice leftists often make an accurate criticism of those described as ‘pro-life’, stating (with total justification) that on a political level they don’t challenge economic deprivations common to capitalist society; factors demonstrably shown elsewhere to drive thousands of working class women to seek abortion.

    Yet this criticism exposes an equally damning flaw within the left’s own position.

    For when it comes to debating the issue of abortion, the same factors are now abandoned by the left, replaced instead by an elevated and selective concept of ‘choice’.

    A woman’s right to choose, is now promoted by the left as a standalone value, independent of economic, social or material pressures, unrelated to access (or the lack of it) to resources vital for any expecting woman or couple; such as post-natal support, suitable housing, and a sufficient family income."

    I dunno where you get these assumptions but I know of knowone on the left who believe this is a 'stand alone issue'. Indeed, abortion rights should be saw as a wider struggle against the the Church and state controlling women's lives and for womens freedom. In favour of of full child-care provision paid for by the state, maternity leave and flexi-time for working, public creche facilities and restaurants. The present role of many women as full-time unpaid childminders within the family must be ended.

    A woman who finds herself pregnant and does not wish to remain so should have a right to free, safe abortion on demand. This is not an abstract political slogan, we don't go around shouting "free abortion on demand" in the belief that it can only be gained in the context of a socialist revolution. We believe that it is merely one of the basic first steps in freeing women from the constraints placed on us by capitalism and the Church who have been one of the traditional pillars against this demand.

    Women have always tried to control their own fertility. Anti-abortion laws have resulted in back-street abortions and induced miscarriages. World-wide, one woman dies from a back-street abortion every three minutes. Winning full control over our own fertility is an essential step towards ending womens' oppression. The technology has been developed under capitalism to make this both safe and possible. Women must have the right to use this technology to decide if and when to have children.

    It is a 'class issue' because the lack of abortion services in Ireland mainly affects working class women, who often cannot afford to travel overseas. This is not a single issue or abstract and must be considered as wider struggle for womens freedom where most 'socialists' stand.

    Finally, I find it contradictory some republicans getting into in the 'morality' of life considering armed republicans took many lives in Ireland over the last 30 years. Also where does your personal position stand in with the IRSP who dod support free and equal access to abortion.

  2. I think this piece is less a critique of the right to choose but a critique of a perceived failure to look at how what passes as choice my in fact be economic coercion.

    That said, a woman's right to control her own body, and ultimately make the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be a stand alone right that society should defend. Even when the type of economic necessity exists compelling a woman to make a decision, the right ultimately to make that decision should not be denied her by anyone, whether left or right.

    I feel obligated to listen to all perspectives on abortion other than religious ones. If people feel they can construct a sound secular argument as to why abortion should not take place, I would consider the argument although I fail to see how I could ever end up agreeing with it.

    Thanks for putting this piece our way Ciaran.

  3. That’s it in a nutshell Mackers. A central element of Marxist principle (as I understand it anyhow) involves challenging what on the face of it are apparently ‘independent’ choices and exposing the presence of economic coercion which often forces working class people to make negative life decisions that their richer counter parts can avoid.
    Previously I have used the example of a worker taking up a detestable job in order to survive; no self-respecting socialist would emphasise the independence of such a ‘choice’, yet this is just what most do when promoting abortion on demand. If the front page of ‘The Socialist’ newspaper doesn’t suffice as evidence (for your contributor) of the left abandoning a class analysis for a popular demand, then i dont know what will.
    It comes down to choices which are available when pregnancy faces (both individuals and couples) in comparison to the resources available to them, this is what makes it a class issue. I understand the logic that calls for ‘abortion on demand’ no matter what the circumstances, yet I reserve the right not to agree with it, especially when it attempts to cloak itself misleadingly as class politics.
    As far as the IRSP question goes (not that its entirely relevant) I find them more than mature enough to accommodate an alternative Socialist analysis on this issue.
    Sure, the left all over the world have gotten their head around this issue a long time ago, this being Ireland however and the time thats in it is bound to throw up alternative discourses.
    What we know for certain however, is that in times of specific austerity, what for the left may be an ideological demand, will no doubt for the right (those in actual power) be viewed as an economic solution. Less benevolence, less welfare, less expenditure, more Abortion. This is the general economic trend into which the current upsurge in campaigning is inserting itself, and that makes it a potentially serious contradiction for Socialists.

  4. The right of the child to life is also a 'stand alone' issue that society should be upholding to the full.

  5. The right of the child to life is also a 'stand alone' issue, one that I believe society should uphold in full. Indeed the right to life, quite obviously, is a human right whereas the right to choose is a rung down and is a civil right. The right to life then, as a fundamental, should proceed. That, in my opinion, should be the lens we use when examining this difficult most issue. I would add that this a timely intervention from Pip. Maith thu a chara.

  6. Society does (or should) uphold the right of all children born into the world. I don't think it should ascribe a human right to the unborn, as much as I dislike the practice of abortion (as do many women who go thru the procedure.) Irish society does not uphold the right of the unborn fully because nobody who has one or administers one is charged with murder. While it is not yet as far as I am aware an enshrined human right to abortion, there is a growing demand for it to be that way.

    Even when we argue against abortion we are confronted with the issue of at what point do we oppose it? I can see very strong arguments for opposing termination at say 8 months but no such arguments for banning the morning after pill. Then there is the (emotive for sure) issue of society demanding of a woman that she carry the child of the man who raped her. There is no way could I ever see myself agreeing to that.

  7. Can someone explain to me what is this article about? I am confused. Is he trying to say that the left should not get involved with the issue? As for abortion well that is a whole different article and one that women should have a say in. I have always believed that who am I as a male to dictate to women over control of their body and health.

  8. If it were men that could get pregnant we would not be having this discussion!

    Always amusing to see those opposed to the adult human female's right to choose what happens to her own body view is that her choice, is of lesser value than a non-sentient collection of cells of only a few weeks grouping.

    Who do these people blame when the same human female's body does this spontaneously, otherwise known as a 'miscarriage'?

    In the immortal words of Jay...

    "A woman's body is her own f*cking business"

  9. Steve R,

    if men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament!


    I think the article is pretty straightforward. The author is not arguing that the Left should not get involved in it. He is arguing that it should get involved more and do so from a Left rather than a liberal perspective. He appears to feel that the liberal perspective grounds the issue in abstract rights whereas he feels a Left focus needs to avoid that and go deeper into concrete economic circumstances.

    The article, whether we agree with it or not, is not a reactionary rant against abortion but a Left critique of how the Left approach it. As someone wholly in favour of a woman's right to choose, I think the article infuses the discussion with the type of thinking we don't get enough of in this type of debate.

  10. To be fair though I think you will find ciaran is opposed to women's right to choose. He's completely confusing the liberal section with the majority on the left who approach this struggle from a class perspective.

  11. Mackers, it would be disingenuous of me to sit here and pretend I was interested only in making political commentary on left wing logistics. I have declared an interest elsewhere in the past on the issue stating openly that i feel Abortion was a negative procedure, if i didnt feel that way i probably wouldnt put my name in the firing line of people who obviously feel strongly otherwise. Nevertheless, my critique of the pro-choice left comes from a Marxist analysis of their standards on this issue.
    Perhaps my own scepticism around Abortion comes from a Catholic upbringing (the standard theory of pro-choice advocates) although with non religious parents i cant say i had one of those in the strict sense, perhaps it comes from a mere humanistic instinct believing that a life prevented is a potential opportunity not realised or whatever.
    Are these instincts in themselves wrong? According to some on the left they are as enough to brand a person a heretic.
    What ive seen over the years with Socialist glasses firmly on was a gradual refusal of the left to have the debate on abortion outside the terms of a selective, non-class based interpretation of the word 'choice', a one word catch all position which only tells half the story.
    This process has led to no small degree of polarisation, with people who question the concept of 'choice' albeit from a legitimate socialist perspective running the risk of being declared no less than misogynists. An insane assertion.
    Perhaps it is understandable given the equally zealous positions and downright appalling behaviour of those on the right who berate those women who chose to visit clinics for advice and more.
    I can only speak for myself, I think abortion through economic necessity is a damning indictment upon Capitalism, I would never force my opinion on any woman who choose an abortion, but as a Socialist, nor could i ignore the fact that those who are denied the natural opportunity to have and raise a child due to unnaturally created social inequality, deserve more than to have socialists reduce the scale of such an injustice via a limited concept of the word choice.

  12. The basic premise of the abortion debate is that women have the agency and autonomy to determine their fertility. All human beings have the right to "property in one's person"; that means that no one should be subjected to torture, slavery or corporal punishment or , the case of women, enforced pregnancy because of prohibition on abortion or the absence of appropriate regulatory regimes for abortion.

    This is something that should unite all liberals and democratic leftists.

  13. Ciaran,

    you are merely declaring an interest which is sound. But having that personal interest does not detract from the nature of the political argument you make. I think everybody has the right to dissent from the idea of abortion. I find it a hideous procedure but so do many women who choose to have it. The key line for me in your latest comment is "I would never force my opinion on any woman who choose an abortion". That is ceding to a woman's right to choose while retaining your own right to dissent from the choice made and offering an opinion about the beneath the surface societal factors that you feel hollow out choice so extensively that they devalue the concept of choice.

    There is little point in people standing up to beat the drum for a woman's right to choose while at the same time denying another person the right to choose an opinion on the matter.

    It does not matter that you oppose abortion. What does matter is that you are unwilling to impose that opposition on women who choose otherwise. Respecting a right to choose does not amount to a respect for the choice made.

    In this type of debate too many either cannot or do not want to get their heads around that.

  14. The issue is not about women having the ability to control 'properties in their own person'. The issue is the right of another to life. The child in womb is a separate life to his or her mother. It is not a mere part of her body then but a separate 'entity' - born of two people and not one. We can't lose sight of that and verge into a discussion on patriarchy etc just to try and underscore a point which begins of the wrong premise in the first instance.

    The right to life is a fundamental and is the lens through which this matter should be viewed. In that sense this is not a Left or a Right issue. Nor is it about misogyny or religion or judging others - as is often trotted out to label people who do not wish to see abortion become a legal 'right', intimidating them from speaking out. There is nothing progressive about permitting someone the 'right' to abort a child in the womb on the basis they should just be free to do so should that be what they choose.

    Ultimately this is what all of this comes down to once we remove the intellectual jousting around 'choice'that goes on around this subject. This is not an intellectual argument but is very simple. Either we are saying that women, by mere virtue of their biology, have the right to end the life of the child in womb or we are saying that they don't. The rest is additional. It is there where the fundamental of the argument lies. It cannot be got around by introducing context. Either you are pro the above or not when all is said and done.

  15. Sean,

    there is no "right" to be born.

    Some are trying to make it into a right and others are trying to ensure it does not become a right.

    The universal flow at the moment is in the direction of the latter.

    "born of two people and not one" means that the rapist has the right to insist on the rape victim carrying his child against her wishes. Who apart from the rapist feels comfortable with that?

    The right to life is never fundamental. In war soldiers are said to have a fundamental right to take life. The right to life is not like the right not to be raped. Society specifies conditions in which people might be killed but never conditions in which people might be raped. Society does not prohibit killing in the way it prohibits rape. Society prohibits murder but there are ways to end life other than murder.

    If we follow the logic of your argument through then there would be a ban on the morning after pill. While many people will see late term abortion as horrible they do not feel the same way about the morning after pill. And if the anti abortion lobby advocate the ban of the morning after pill they diminish the potential for support.

    In my view it is progressive to permit women the right to choose an abortion. It is regressive to prohibit them that right. It is progressive to permit and encourage the type of logic introduced in the piece above in an effort to enhance public understanding and regressive to suppress such logic.

    It is very much an intellectual argument because unless we bring the full force of or intellects to bear on the matter from whatever perspective, pro or anti, we will be left with emotion. We either address the problem intellectually or we address it emotively.

    If we really believe the right to life is fundamental then we will follow through and demand that those who opt for abortion and those who perform it are as guilty of murder as are those who commit infanticide: we would place abortion doctors and chemists dispensing the morning after pill on a par with Robert Black or Myra Hindley. But we never do.

  16. This is a complex matter and of course the incidence you introduce has a relevance to the discussion. It would be remiss, however, to suggest that the right to choose derives from the right not to be raped. Most abortions have nothing to do with rape - or incest for that matter. Ultimately, what is being advocated by the 'guru left' is not about the right not to be raped. That is just something they employ as a useful trojan horse to impose their argument and I would venture most of them have no actual experience with this issue and are coming at it from an intellectual standpoint.

    Essentially, when all has been said, the argument is that a woman, by virtue of biology, has the right should she choose - for whatever reason - to terminate the life of the child in womb regardless of its own individual rights. Again its worth stressing that the child in womb is not of the woman's body and not a 'property of her person'. It is of two people - a man and a woman - as are we all.

    We don't need to veer towards criminalising those who have faced this horrible scenario to admit that the right to life is fundamental. I have witnessed this awful awful situation at first hand and in the flesh. I took a friend to the airport who was going to England. Words cannot explain the trauma this person was going through. There is no judgement here or intellectual ego on my part, this isn't about criminalising.

    And just on war, there is no right - even in a just war - to wilfully choose upon the taking of innocent and defenceless life. No-one in their right mind would suggest otherwise. That is the basis we are working on here when we speak of the right to life as a fundamental - not what you have portrayed. Again this is an extremely complex and indeed emotive subject but underneath it all we must be conscious of the right to life. For me, we can't just allow that it be subject to the choices of another.

  17. Thanks Mackers, you have hit the nail on the head with them replies. Ciara, you keep confusing the issues. I am not fan of the trots or the authoritarian left but you have tried to pick two newspaper headlines and slogans from a a newspaper and try to insinuate this with the entire left.

    Ciaran, I will repeat for he last time, I no knowone from the revoltionary left who does not approach the struggle for women's right to choose from a class based analysis that is interconnected with other struggles. Indeed, the struggle for abortion rights has been one on the most important movements over the last decade mobilising thousands on the streets that has saw the mainly ultra right forces from the establishment and the clergy attempt to stop this sea change taking place. In the north it has also united people across the sectarian divide despite opposition from the political establishment which is also another important development

    The left has been at the forefront on this movement including anarchists but you will also see the left active in a range of struggles partiulcarly the campaign against househould charges and active in trade unions. We cannnot and should as you have sought to do (because knowone on the left has) is divorce this struggles from each other.

    Indeed you couldn't get more class based in terms of narrow 'workplace' definition than this push for a Strike for Repeal being planned. You also seem to have a very narrow definition of class that should be about challenging all forms of oppression and exploitation in all aspects of life.

    Mackers, is right in relation to 'womens right to choose' This is now the dominate narrative that has completely changed the debate and quite simply one can be personallly against abortion but defend the right to choose and for a women to control her own fertility. This has and will always be a central pillar of any revolutionary left movement for womens freedom.

    As Ciaran has already alluded too, only in Ireland has this issue been unfortunately confused with some level of catholic guilt and I understand this.

  18. Sean, I see little point in debating the 'right to life' except to say you are either pro choice or anti choice. Abortion takes place anyway. The question is do you believe we should provide safe and accessible services and advice should a women decide to take this decision. For example, my girlfriend is personally against abortion but defends womens right to choose and control over her fertility.

    I also find it a bit ironic some republicans engaging in a moralistic debate about the 'right to life'

  19. Sean Bres,

    the right to choose does not derive from the right not to be raped. It derives from the right of a woman to exercise autonomy over her body (or at least what I believe should be a right).

    The issue of rape is fundamental to the wider question for the very reason that the product of a rape must to the anti-abortion school have the same rights as the product of consensual sex. To the pro choice school the lack of the right to be born has also to be the same in both sets of circumstances.

    In your view should a rape victim be compelled by society to give birth to the child of the person who raped her?

    "Essentially, when all has been said, the argument is that a woman, by virtue of biology, has the right should she choose - for whatever reason - to terminate the life of the child in womb regardless of its own individual rights."

    The life in her womb does not have the individual rights you suggest. It does not have the right to be born. People are trying to argue for it to be a right but at present it is not and looks increasingly unlikely that it will ever be a right.

    The woman should have the right to terminate pregnancy, regardless of how it emerged. That is not recognised as a right everywhere but is being pressed for and from what I can see is making advances that the counter argument is not.

    Failing to criminalise the taking of life through abortion amounts to not affording the same rights to the life in the womb as are afforded to life outside the womb. In all cases society outlaws/criminalises infanticide. By declining to outlaw/criminalise abortion we make a very clear statement: life in the womb does not have the same rights or protections we afford to life outside the womb.

    There has to be a judgement on your part. I have no doubt that had the woman you took to the airport told you in advance she was going to England to kill her month old child you would have refrained from taking her. That you took her to the airport knowing she was going to terminate her pregnancy indicates you did not consider the life in her womb to have the same right as her month old child. You did not judge her a child murderer nor judge yourself to be aiding and abetting child murder. You did not protect the life in her womb in the way that you would have protected her month old child because you judged there to be a difference. Otherwise your behaviour makes no sense and you behaved in a wholly contradictory fashion.

    In Just War theory, as I understand it, there is a right to take the life of the innocent but it has to be performed on the grounds of military necessity, the absence of any workable alternative, and in accordance with the Thomasian principle of double effect. An arguable defence can be mounted in Just War theory in pursuit of a demand for the Allies to have bombed the Nazi death camps during World War 2 and destroyed the means of mechanised mass murder, but in the process killing the innocent inhabitants of the camps. But Just War theory never justifies rape. The right not to be killed is contingent on other factors in the way that the right not to be raped is not.

  20. An interesting reply Anthony - particularly on the 'just war' aspect. I wasn't aware it was held as acceptable in certain circumstances to deliberately kill innocent civilians. I'm not at home here but will look at all of your comment further when I get in. The bottom line and is obvious from even this brief exchange, nothing here is black and white. I still maintain the right to life should be paramount. There are incidences that can impact here but the simple right to choose, in isolation and regardless of any other factor, is not among them from where I sit.

  21. Suicide was illegal not that long ago in the Uk and it is still regarded as a crime/sin by the Catholic church, so let me pose this question, did Bobby Sands have the right to use his body as a political weapon, my view is of course he did, its his body. So does a woman have the right to do what she wishes with her own body. The answer must be the same.

    If men truly cared about this issue they would either refrain from having intercourse or use a form of birth control, I wonder how many men who are against abortion alway do this? It's always down to the woman ah? As Steve R wrote if men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament!"A woman's body is her own f*cking business"

    A woman's right to decide is a revolutionary issue and if a comrade cannot see that they fail to understand how the ruling class oppress.

    We live in a period in which reaction is on the rise, its no accident that one of Trump's first decision was to pick a supreme court judge who is willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Comrades need to think carefully where they stand on this issue, for if they are against abortion better to keep it to themselves rather than place themselves in the same trench as Trump and co.

  22. Sean B,

    it is just from my own reading of the Michael Walzer book on Just War, written in 1977. I read it much later than that. The doctrine has obviously been updated since then but by how much I am not sure. I am not saying that I agree with double effect but merely expressing a view that it is permissible under just war theory.

  23. Just in reply to Seanito, why you think it ironic or otherwise questionable that republicans would speak of a right to life I don't quite get. I can only assume this is directed at the armed struggle. The IRA's war was governed by and subject to the notion spoken of above as 'just war theory'. The right to self-defence applied and civilians were never wilfully targeted. Essentially the IRA targeted the British state - as it was fully entitled to do. The Republican Movement stood up and organised the community in much the way anarchists aspire to. What they achieved in this respect should never be underestimated or disregarded. Tony, I'll look into that Michael Walzer when I get in.

  24. And just in terms of Mick's comment, which I didn't see, Trump I against TPP and its ilk - as am I. It doesn't put us in the one bed.

  25. I think the problem with Mick's point is that it amounts to a call for self censorship just in case some opponent might benefit from what is said. Self censorship has never yet added anything to public understanding.

  26. Just to make clear on something from earlier, the person I took to the airport was a young lad and not a girl. I have never seen someone in such an 'all over the place' state in my life. The pregnant girl was already in England and he was going over to join her at the clinic. He did not want the abortion I should add but felt he had no choice as the girl was adamant she did. Maybe somewhere deep inside he was happy to let it go ahead, I don't know. We have never spoken about it since. Regardless, I have never judged the two people involved - not then or now - and only feel pity for them. They were young, it was basically a one night stand and neither were at the point in life where they wanted to start a family. A life was still ended though - or not allowed to come into being if that's how some wish to consider it. Somewhere along the line that has to come into the reasoning. And yet I still think the context you set out is to be considered in any discussion on this troubling matter.

  27. Sean B,

    that distances you from the scenario I described although you were clarifying the matter rather than evading responsibility. But the issue is much more nuanced than is often supposed.

    While you claim not to have judged her in a sense you have. You have judged her not to be the target of a harsh judgement. Had she terminated the life of her month (imaginary) old son, you would hardly have spared her your wrath. The point I seek to make is that we calibrate our perspective on abortion to suit the circumstances. I guess many anti-choice people will take a less harsh view of the person who uses the morning after pill than they would to the person who aborts at say 5 months. Yet if life in the womb at any stage is on a par with life outside it, we are compelled to argue for its defence at one day every bit as much as we do for its defence at 5 months. Otherwise we are compelled to explain why we don't take that position.

  28. What I meant when I said I didn't judge them was that I could see why they felt 'trapped', or whatever way you want to put it. What I meant was that I wasn't judging the woman involved as a 'baby killer' or a murderer'. I did not agree with the course of action though and believe it infringed on the right to life.

    It was a highly unnerving experience but the lad was a friend, he needed my help and I gave it. The straight fact is the girl involved was not raped and her pregnancy was 'normal' (i.e. there was nothing to say the child would be born disfigured or disabled or the like). The decision was made purely as a 'lifestyle choice' - for obvious want of a better phase (I don't like that phrase but people use it and it makes the point).

    To get to the bottom of what I'm driving at here, to allow abortion to be the preserve of a woman on the simple basis that she decides she wants one is not the practice we should introduce. I don't even think all the stuff Pip has gone over is as relevant as he and Seanito have tried to make it out and I told him that on the phone the other day, after his letter was published.

    The people in the instance I referred to were not poor or economically disenfranchised. Their 'class' played no part in what happened. That's just intellectual guff. This is about whether or not a woman has the right to choose to end a life growing within her for the simple reason that she decides to do so.

    You seem to have identified this in your opening comment where you say the right to abort a child is a 'stand alone' matter. Class and all that rhetoric we get from the Left are not as important as the Marxists would attempt to have it. This is not a class issue but a moral one, as you also seem to suggest with your comments above that you dislike the practice of abortion.

  29. Sean Bres "civilians were never wilfully targeted".


  30. Sean B,

    what you do is offer understandable mitigation for the course she followed.

    Mitigation can be offered in the case of infanticide and often is.

    Yet if a baby is killed how can she not be a baby killer?

    I don't believe her to be. She is simply a woman who made a choice that I will never be put in a position to make.

    You believed it to infringe on the right to life but not a sufficient enough infringement to cause you to describe her as a child killer. But you would describe her as a child killer if she were to have killed her month old child unless you found extenuating psychological circumstances. In your mind the right to life was not as pronounced in the womb as it is outside the womb. I think that is the same with the majority of people, whether pro or anti-choice.

    I find the practice hideous but I defer to the woman's right to choose and to be free from any attempt by me to choose for her. It does not matter to me why a woman might decide to choose an abortion. That is her concern.

    The right to choose is a stand alone matter but it does not mean that Ciaran is wrong for flagging up the economic structural context to choice which serves to limit choice. He appears to feel that there are women who, given different economic circumstances, might make a different choice. I think that is a fair comment and not guff. It would be different for me if he was using context as a means to restrict choice but he isn't. He is suggesting people should think more deeply about the choices they make.

    The one criteria for valuing abortion is the same as for valuing self-euthanasia. It increases the capacity for human development through giving the individual the maximum amount of self determination/personal autonomy realisable.

  31. I wouldn't say what Pip has offered is guff but we do tend to get it from the Left regards this issue. The comment was more directed towards there and to the doctrinarians who are intent on ramming it down people's throats that they can't be progressive if they oppose abortion on moral grounds.

  32. I don't think we should be influenced by what the Left say but if they say something germane it should be taken on board. The Left can be very authoritarian in this regard but it is something we have experienced witnin republicanism as well.

  33. Except as a moral interpretation of phenomena why do people insist on opposing abortion?

    And, how does superseding a woman's right to choose benefit society as a whole?

  34. HJ,

    my own view is that those most opposed to it do so on religious grounds, feeling that ensoulment is a process that begins with conception. It is not an argument ever likely to sway the non religious. In an increasingly secular world that is the big hill the religious lobby have to climb.

    There are people who oppose it for non religious reasons, seeing in it a brutality against the defenceless that they can never feel comfortable with and who then oppose it on what are humanist grounds. I am sure there are some atheists who oppose it.

    I think the above article is important because it makes an attempt from a secular perspective to question the rush to freedom of choice. I take the view that our ears should be open to all arguments other than ones made on religious grounds. What the Flying Spaghetti Monster might divinely rule on abortion, whether for or against, should have no bearing on the discussion.

  35. Anarcho Sean said

    "Ciaran, I will repeat for he last time, I no knowone from the revoltionary left who does not approach the struggle for women's right to choose from a class based analysis that is interconnected with other struggles."

    You didnt have to repeat it the first time, i didnt ask you to. I dont agree with you. This is the type of pompus authoritarian crap that has put ordinary people off left wing politics for generations. Self appointed philosophical elders telling others to get with the manifesto word and spirit or risk being humiliated, with doubt cast upon your powers of perception.

    Likewise, Organized Rage says

    "Comrades need to think carefully where they stand on this issue, for if they are against abortion better to keep it to themselves rather than place themselves in the same trench as Trump and co."

    How repressed do such people expect others to be? telling us not to raise genuine issues or questions of concern.
    We have the PSNI threatening us with arrest for expressing opinions on one hand and elitist intellectuals threatening us with scorn on the other.

    All due to the raising of a legitimate question. Insanity 2017.

  36. AM

    I get all that. And don't discount that the above articles has merit.
    Essentially, as you've alluded to, the subject is an emotive one. And as such, unsurprisingly there seems to be little rationale to the anti-abortion position and lots of moral outrage.

    If morals evolved to serve as a gel or glue for functioning herds and societies then how does a morality that prevents abortion serve in any progressive way? I'm of the opinion, and as you suggested earlier, such a stance is a regressive throw-back.

  37. I do wish that, in developing one's argument, responders to articles such as this would not fall into the rather silly "if" trap - "If it were men that could get pregnant we would not be having this discussion!" or AM's equally silly response, "if[sic] men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament!"

    Clearly if men were to get pregnant they would not be men as we know them; nor does speculation on the likely sacramental status of such an unlikely occurence help to advance any argument.

    Let us, please, stick to waht we know, without diverting into unimpressive wordplay with gender realities.

  38. Sean Bres,

    "The right to self-defence applied and civilians were never wilfully targeted"

    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by that as it will clearly be seen as either completely delusional or worse by a lot of people?

    You have been told before by former Provisional volunteers that civilians WERE targeted in a sectarian attack, and even books by former senior Belfast Provo's stated this was the case.

  39. HJ,

    Richard Holloway wrote a brilliant book on morality which touched on the question of abortion. People apply different moral codes and the notion of there being one moral code that we can draw upon does not stand up.

    I don't think morality can necessarily be said to be progressive merely because it serves some functional need. It follows that opposition to that particular morality is not by necessity regressive.

    Still, I think you are right. I see nothing progressive about the anti-choice position.

  40. Ciaran wrote

    "You didnt have to repeat it the first time, i didnt ask you to. I dont agree with you. This is the type of pompus authoritarian crap that has put ordinary people off left wing politics for generations. Self appointed philosophical elders telling others to get with the manifesto word and spirit or risk being humiliated, with doubt cast upon your powers of perception."

    With respect comrade, I don't know where you are coming from with this but sounds like a massive over-reaction in terms of some of the slurs being thrown about lol. Yes, you are entitled to bring these issues up and knowone suggested otherwise. Im actually glad you did because you have been talking about this 'abortion debate' for years now and have finally put pen to paper.

    I think you have a very simplistic marxist definition of class and and misunderstanding of where the 'left' is coming from in this struggle. You have attempted to pick two newspaper clipping from the SP and than attempt to kind of hit the whole left with it in your opposition against women's right to control her fertility which is disingenuous. In fact if you look at the websites of the SWP and SP, the struggle for womens right to choose barely features.

    Furthermore, youre in no position to accuse someone of 'pompus authoritarian crap' because, It is just as well you don't have any power to enforce your views because you would probably give little say to women over control over their own fertility. At the end of the day Ciaran, knowone is asking you or your partner to personally be in favour of abortion, rather its about respecting the womens right to control her fertility and reproductive justice. It is unfortunate you cannot get you head around this and as you have already alluded to it is unfortunate that this kind of 'catholic guilt' and religion continues to infect even the ranks of 'socialist republicanism'. You have raised important questions but one that affects the liberal spectrum of the movement.

    As one socialist republican feminist(who you know) said after reading your article which to me sums it up "Socialism requires the liberation of all, including women and therefore bodily autonomy. Simple."

  41. I have always respect the IRSP for being one of the first republican organisations come out and support abortion but is their support just merely lip service and not really an important 'class issue.' Maybe a bit old but this is their policy

    " In the six counties, abortion is illegal except on strict medical grounds, when a mother's life is in danger or when the child will be deformed. In the twenty-six counties abortion is illegal. It is also illegal to give advice on how to obtain an abortion and at present there are court cases pending against various groups who are giving advice an abortion. A vigorous campaign has also been mounted (DEFEND THE CLINICS) to defend the right to freely give out information on abortion.
    The I.R.S.P. totally supports a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion or not."
    The I.R.S.P. supports the Defend the Clinics campaign for the right to freely give out information on abortion."

    Given that you seem to have strongly held opinion on this which you are entitled to do you support their position or is womens liberation not important enough, just another 'single issue' subsumed and must wait until the fight for 'national liberation and socialism' is sorted?

  42. AM,

    its more than clear that we're both on the same side insofar as this discussion goes. I didn't intend to suggest that there's one moral code. I'm not familiar with Holloway's works (but will check him out), my thinking on this is more influenced by Nietzsche's quip "There are no moral phenomena but there are moral interpretations of phenomena".

    Morality, if only in tone, is peculiar to the individual and collectively expressed differently between, and even within, cultures.

    Inherent in Nietzsche's position is a multi-faceted morality, a morality that's neither singular, static nor objective. Its a subjective morality with an evolutionary trajectory. In such sense there is a dominant/regressive aspect as to how our moral attitudes change. This is evidenced as with the turn-about over time in moral acceptance (and in law) as to how society views homo-sexuality. What was once immoral and taboo is now broadly accepted and rightfully normalised.

    My original comments/questions were an honest attempt to draw out what underpins the anti-abortion stance. I guess I shouldn't hold my breath whilst awaiting a coherent rational response from those entrenched on the emotive side of the discussion!

    You were on the money when you framed this issue on the intellectual/emotive axis.

  43. It's hardly reformist to acknowledge that women's material lives are affected by childbirth regardless of what utopian socialist society you imagine for us all. There is still a cost to us and our bodies to be pregnant, to birth, to be parents and to safeguard our own fertility, no matter the political system we live in. No man here that opposes abortion has offered any other solution that is in any way practical, pragmatic or even idealistic. It's pro life posturing using socialist purple prose, it devalues the bodies and minds of women, it underplays the huge physical, mental and financial cost of pregnancy and it fails to understand the myriad of reasons that a woman may not want to be pregnant. The left largely supports a woman's right to choose precisely because bodily integrity is a human right, otherwise we are gestational slaves to our biology. And that's bullshit.

  44. Anarcho Sean, i dont believe i have a misunderstanding of where the left is coming from on this issue at all.It has become all too habitual for Anarchists, Communists & Trostkyist Socialists alike to insinuate a lack of understanding on behalf of republicans on all sorts of matters, i may elaborate further on that matter in another article.

    I see exactly where the left are coming from in regards to Abortion in Ireland, i have probably been arguing with them on the issue for the past 20 plus years. In my early days i stood with them on the streets on it, i can truely say that that was the point in which i had a limited class understanding of the issues at hand.

    Their demand today is Chrystal clear, the securing of Abortion facilities in Ireland no matter what; a stand alone demand existing outside wider considerations of economic coercion caused by the class system, a system which as we all know, puts greater pressures upon working class people to seek abortion than their wealthier counterparts.

    That element of economic coercion is mentioned minimally if at all, for fear of raising the obvious question...why dont we fight for a more benevolent society rather than wider abortion facilities?? No, Abortion facilities are the primary goal, the less said about benevolence when discussing it the better. Yes the SP newspaper was a primary example of this ideological retreat, i bought it, read it and as a proud Socialist, put pen to paper in protest.

    Yet I have not singled out the SP news paper as a sole example, there are many many more. Here is the SWP position on it, may i qoute...

    "North and South, austerity means that many families cannot afford to have a child or another child – yet there is no right to end an unplanned pregnancy."

    Yes they mention austerity, but with no room for doubt that its impact is in reality to be considered yet another opportunity to push calls for Abortion facilities in Ireland.

    I say push for benevolence, push for sufficient homes, push for facilities and a good income for mothers and pregnant women, then the concept of 'choice' may mean something tangible. Note that nowhere am i saying a woman should be denied a choice, i am saying that the ideological compass of the left is veering out of direction on this issue.

    Lets remember the context in which this debate is also occurring, in a situation in which all the stops are being pulled out to cut public expenditure, should Abortion be made fully available in Ireland, will class inequality against pregnant women and mothers here be alleviated or simply perpetuated at home, with victims of austerity being expected to forgoe further the right to have children. Of course it will.

    Has the fight for a more benevolent society, capable of providing for mothers, pregnant women and working class families in England and elsewhere been advanced by the availability of Abortion facilities there, or has abortion simply become a normal element on the baseline of the wider working class experience, figured in with the cost of raising a family? Is that OK by us on the left?

    Perhaps it is for some. Again i speak only for myself, and apologise only to those who need to feel genuine offence at any oversight. I am glad i raised an ideological anomaly within the Irish left, who i feel equally proud to be part of.
    I feel that Abortion is a negative procedure, one which in a benevolent society could be avoided by a massive number of working class women and couples who instead of being denied by economic inequality should be allowed have the positive life experience that comes with a child. If this is idealistic, then perhaps Socialism itself is idealistic.

  45. AM

    We self censor ourselves on all sorts of issues, surely, I don't like abortion, who does, at one time I was very much against it but over a period of time and after discussions/arguments with the women I know I concluded women have the right to chose what they do with their bodies, just as us men do. When I told my daughter this she replied, "Well thats fucking big of you."

  46. Rage,

    we do self censor ourselves. We apply discretion for any number of reasons. It may be for a good reason or a not so good one. This is the thing about free speech - we are free to speak or to desist from speaking. Compelled speech is not free speech. My issue here is that you are not self censoring but calling for another to do it. You want him to suppress his own message which in a way gets him to censor an idea you don't want out there.

  47. The IRA prosecuted a war against the British state. If they had wilfully targeted civilians as policy - as its detractors seek to make out - its quite obvious that, given their military capacity, many more people would have died than what did. The two largest categories in terms of deaths during the Troubles are members of the British security forces killed by the IRA and members of the nationalist community killed by the state apparatus. This lateral category consists mostly of innocent civilians, reflecting the perverse reality that the so-called forces of law and order deliberately set upon the killing of civilians as the actual modus of their campaign. Thankfully, for all of us, the IRA resisted the calculated attempts to drag them into doing likewise.

  48. AM

    If it came across as that it wasn't my intention and I feel you're being a tad pedantic. It matter not a jot whether i want this issue out there or not, in truth I had hoped we had moved beyond a woman's right to chose being an 'issue,' but with reaction on the rise and in power in the USA that is clearly no longer the case. So if they raise their heads we have no choice but to join the debate whether we like it or not. Having said that the 'right to choose position' is as solid today as it has ever been and will eventually prevail. I also feel if male comrades have doubts about a woman's right to choose they would be better keeping them to themselves, but that is entirely up to them.

  49. Rage,

    I see it as challenging your perspective rather than being pedantic about it.

    Why should people keep their opinion to themselves? If you should not keep yours to yourself why should they?

    How can public opinion on any matter be kept informed by withholding opinions from it?

  50. Sean B,

    this is revisionism which mirrors the revisionism that SF are involved in.

    The IRA at certain times in certain contexts targeted innocent civilians. White Cross is on a par with Bloody Sunday.

    Desist from defending the indefensible otherwise the more substantive points you make will be dragged down with it.

  51. There is not so much as one word that is 'revisionist' in that last comment of mine but feel free to point out where the case is otherwise. The IRA war was against the British state and not the civilian population - its targeting bears that out. Were it otherwise then many more people would have been killed. The Army fought according to the principles of just war but of course mistakes where made and people died. This is the gruesome reality of war and why me must never go down that pathway again, unless faced with no other choice. The state on the other hand employed massive violence against one side of the civilian community, including as policy a systematic murder campaign that was in every essence terrorist. If the Republican Movement had followed this lead things would have been much worse than what they were. Many would say that they perhaps should have. That they didn't in my opinion is because we are not a psychopathic people like the British, whose record of shame has no equal in history - not even among the murderous regimes spawned by the far left and far right. These people are killers and that's what they done here during the war - what they've always done. Killed civilians as a matter of policy in pursuit of their military objectives. Feel free to point out how any of this is otherwise.

  52. Sean B,

    wholly revisionist to state:

    "the IRA resisted the calculated attempts to drag them into doing likewise."

    If that was so , what was the dissent about in the cages in opposition to the IRA practice being dragged into doing just that?

    "civilians were never wilfully targeted."

    But you have to know that is simply untrue.

    What was Whitecross?

  53. Let me get this straight here, are you saying that IRA policy - as was the case with the British state - was to deliberately target civilians and that this informed its military strategy?

  54. It seems straightforward enough.

    It is wholly revisionist to say that "civilians were never wilfully targeted" when we know they were.

    IRA military strategy evolved over the years and in terms of who was targeted it was mostly combatants.

    But that is far removed from the gross inaccuracy that "civilians were never wilfully targeted".

  55. I understand what you're saying now and I suppose 'never' is the wrong turn of phrase. The original point was in relation to a suggestion from Sean Matthews that Republicans had limited their ability to discuss the right to life by virtue of their actions during the war and not with this discussion in mind. That aside, I have no problem saying that 'never' might not be fully accurate but the point remains - this was not the military strategy employed, that being to target civilians as a matter of strategy. Where civilians were targeted in a deliberate manner was isolated and did not take place in the same manner as employed by the state and its agents. I don't feel that's revisionist and still maintain that if the Provos had followed the lead of the state that the civilian death toll would have been much, much higher.

  56. I felt Sean Matthews was wrong to argue that republicans limited their right to comment on things like abortion. But as he continued to debate the matter with you I guess it was more a throwaway comment.

    Civilians were frequently targeted as a matter of strategy from the end of 1974 until the end of 1976. There was a lot of opposition to it from within the jail and led to divisions and a near walk out by the Dark. They felt it a woeful strategy and something which had raised its head during the 72 truce and which they had then moved to halt very quickly. One of their major criticisms was that the leadership was being sucked into a sectarian campaign by the Brits and that they needed to reverse it.

    The real weakness in your argument was pointed out by the comment from Alan MacSimoin. The minute you said what you did I put the kettle on for the response and it was not long in coming.

    Republicanism, if it wants to be believed about its future intentions must also be believed about its past.

  57. 'Why should people keep their opinion to themselves? If you should not keep yours to yourself why should they?'


    But I never suggested that, did I, I made my position perfectly clear when i wrote; . I also feel if male comrades have doubts about a woman's right to choose they would be better keeping them to themselves, but that is entirely up to them.

  58. Rage,

    which does nothing to answer the question, why would they be better to keep their opinions to themselves? Why not encourage them to express their opinions?

  59. For me, the bottom line is that our intent going forward should be to avoid another war unless it becomes a necessity. I have no issue with TUAS other than to say that the 'new phase' was never delivered and thus needs built by those who remain in the republican fold. That is the challenge before us.

  60. AM

    Ahaa, but that is not the question you asked me is it? Goal posts and movement springs to mind.

  61. Rage,

    it is exactly the question I asked you.

    "Why should people keep their opinion to themselves? If you should not keep yours to yourself why should they?"

    Readers can make up their mind if the goal post had moved or if the goalie has moved in order to avoid the ball.

    I'll make the question even more simple:

    Why should you express your opinion in favour of abortion but suggest that those who have a different opinion should keep it to themselves?

  62. "I felt Sean Matthews was wrong to argue that republicans limited their right to comment on things like abortion. But as he continued to debate the matter with you I guess it was more a throwaway comment."

    I dont belive republicans have limited their right to comment on things like abortion. I can just see the irony and little point in debating who has the moral high ground or questions about the when does life begin especially when its mostly cloudy in religious dogma.

    One is either pro choice or not and womens liberation must include boldily autonomy and thats it

  63. What about our women-to-be in the womb and how is it liberating that their life be brought to a premature end because another with power over their body decides it should be so? Where is their 'bodily autonomy' and how does this escape the notion mentioned above that 'socialism requires the liberation of all'?

    If the argument is that their rights are invalid because they are unable to control their own bodies then this has very serious connotations for other scenarios of a similar nature. We are not far in this instance from the Zionist agenda of fascists like 'Prince' Phillip and his ilk, which is where this is heading as can be evidenced from Zionist bankrolling of the pro-abortion camp in Ireland through the stooge Chuck Feeney and his minions here at home, some of whom are well-entrenched and have a depth of influence in and around republican groups to my horror.

    When it comes to this side of abortion - that liberation of one can't be based on denial of the same to another - our great champions of women and their rights are sadly lost in their own rhetoric - a common endpoint for many who self-describe as Marxist, who imagine themselves as enlightened free thinkers but in truth are the biggest slaves going: slaves to ideology.

    The near-psychopathic need of the liberal left to impose their position has them ignoring this obvious reality. You can wrap it up in the red flag but it won't change that you are denying children - half of whom will become women - their own right to bodily autonomy and their own individual right to this 'liberty' you profess to care so much for. In truth, 'liberty' is only a useful phrase to ram through your reactionary pro-abortion agenda.

  64. Sean B,

    but how far does society extend that logic?

    Does it need to ban the morning after pill in order to meet the criterion you think appropriate?

    The argument about Zionism is as inconsequential as the one that sought to discourage you from expressing your opinion because Trump had a similar stance. I think it is best to stick to the issue itself and allow a better understanding to emerge rather than raise Trump or Zionist spectres. Whether they support or oppose abortion, makes abortion neither right nor wrong.

    I can see a situation in which many anti-choice people would oppose abortion by medical procedure but not the morning after pill. Probably the same sort of people who would use the pill or contraception but would never agree to what they consider a real abortion.

  65. The fact remains that pro-abortionists - or maybe I should replicate your clever use of turning a phrase in on itself and describe them as 'anti-lifers' - are set on denying this 'autonomy' they speak of (with a near-religious zeal) to the child in womb, ignoring all the while that half of the children in question are women-to-be. There is nothing progressive in this; it is reactionary. Arguments can still be made that it's a woman's right to abort her child, of course, but let's not pretend this is progressive, as the liberals attempt in order to preserve their self-righteous need to be so in their own minds. Abortion is a reactionary 'procedure' and those who say a woman has the right to choose to end the child in womb on the simple basis that it is her right to do so are in essence themselves reactionary.

  66. Sean B,

    I don't know who you are replying to in the above comment but don't believe it to by myself as it didn't address my previous comment. Perhaps it is Sean Matthews you are responding to but It helps if you state the name of the person with whom you are discussing matters.

    I am interested in whether you think society should ban the morning after pill and the consequences that flow form a decision to ban or not to ban it. Points about liberalism and progressives don't really move the discussion on.

  67. As it usually ends up on here it's back to playing silly games.

  68. Sean B,

    what has asking you to extend the logic of your argument got to do with playing silly games? I think an avoidance of the question only weakens the argument for the anti-choice lobby. You must have a position on the morning after pill or the rape question which I imagine you can stand over and which I can't see why you feel uncomfortable answering unless you are ill at ease with the position you hold. But so what? We all have to be made uncomfortable otherwise we will never change our view on anything because we will not come out of our comfort zone. The point about these debates is to make points and refrain from scoring them.

    You have been given a fair wind in this discussion, as has the anti-abortion argument in general, so I don't think you have real grounds for complaining about probing questions amounting to silly games. People have been commenting on social media sites (including those who oppose abortion) about how good the debate here has actually been. There is little point in diminishing the quality of the debate by not confronting the issues head on. If you make the better point, fair play, and if you don't, so what?

  69. Your comment is of course part of a silly game because it was pretty obvious who I was responding to, given that I referenced your use of 'anti-choice'. My views on the pill do not alter that anti-lifers are set on denying to the child his or her own bodily autonomy by permitting a woman the 'right' to end that child's life on no other basis than it is her right to do so. That's what I have spoken of but instead of addressing that you go on to introduce something else instead, even though it be related. I'm out for Sunday dinner here with my family so will return to this later.

  70. AM

    I might prefer it if comrades kept their opinions to themselves on abortion but I added " but that is entirely up to them.' I will let your readers decide if I want my cake as well as eating it, or whatever the bloody saying is.

  71. Just for the record, I have no problem with contraception.

  72. Sean B,

    given that most pro-choice refer to the opposite side of the debate as anti-choice, you could be referring to anybody in this exchange. And as you never answered one question raised, I was quite sure you were hardly referring to my comments. I never mentioned any of the things you brought up. But there is the most simple of solutions. Just state the name of the person you respond to. It is a simple enough procedure. I refer to you as Sean B because of the participation of Sean M. Earlier in the discussion I thought Sean M had answered a comment I had made to you.

    You have made you position quite clear. You are opposed to abortion. You don't think women should have the right to decide the "autonomy of the child." There is no need to repeat it because it is out there. But in stating your opposition to abortion it is reasonable to be probed on the extent, if any, to which it is a calibrated position. Where for you does the "autonomy of the child" begin? If it begins at conception then to me it follows that you must oppose the morning after pill. If it begins later, then you will not oppose the morning after pill (presuming you don't oppose contraception in general. If you do then it follows you will oppose the MAP). But if you do not oppose the MAP, then I am interested by what means do you establish the starting point for the "autonomy of the child".

    These are all very reasonable questions in this type of discussion. The answers to them clarify in a way that not answering does not. If our logic in these matters is intellectual rather than emotive, then we stand a chance of persuading those intellectually opposed to our position. The emotive are unlikely to be persuaded by any rational argument regardless of what side they take in the discussion.

  73. Sean B,

    I presumed you had no problem with contraception.

    But there are people who do not view the MAP as contraception (in the sense of it meaning to avoid a pregnancy) and see it as an abortifacient, therefore aimed at terminating a pregnancy already started.

  74. Mick,

    I am aware that you added "but it is up to them".

    The point is that even while leaving it up to them you still think a pro abortion position is alright to be expressed but an anti-abortion position not so right.

    I don't agree with the anti abortion position, but I think it has the same right to be expressed as the pro abortion position. I think it should be expressed so that we who oppose it can deal with it. If people wish to apply discretion and self censor that should be left up to them but I would not advise them to self censor.

  75. I know you didn't mention the things I brought up - sure likewise I presume you are not a Marxist and yet that was mentioned in the comment you railed against too. I was simply replying to your response and giving in turn a broader opinion in the context of what I had originally referenced and all in the one go. I did not realise you had rules in place on this and thought we were free to write our opinions without this type of structure.

    Nonetheless, what is interesting here is the demand for answers in relation to something other than what I spoke about, coupled with the suggestion there was an avoidance in kind for some ulterior reason. I have no problem with contraception and indeed would encourage it of my own children. That is removed from what I said to start with - which is why I did not feel compelled to answer. I have answered now only to dispel the idea you've introduced that I am reluctant to avoid giving an answer. Why would I be when it has no bearing either way on the idea that a woman should be free to abort the child in womb simply because she decides to do so. That is what I was talking about and not what you changed the discussion to, probably to try and catch me out on something as is your usual.

    That fundamental issue of whether a woman has the right to impose on the bodily autonomy of another and the life prospects of that person simply because she decides to do so is a stand alone matter. You are among those that say she has that right - no matter of rape or any other mitigating factor. They are only additional and she has that right regardless according to the liberals. You are entitled to hold that position - as is Sean Matthews, Mick and the other anti-lifers who have contributed above. It does not however make it progressive just because you perceive yourself to be of the 'revolutionary left'.

  76. Sean B,

    It is not my view that I railed against any position, but merely expressed my view on the matter. Many people observing the dabte have commented on the fact that it is measured and non-emotive, rather than railing, ranting and raving. I firmly disagreed with Organized Rage on the grounds of feeling he wanted you to self censor. He disputes that was his intention.

    There is no firm set of rules and you are free to write your opinion but we prefer it on topic. So when someone goes off on a tangent about the IRA killing someone, we try to pull it back to what it was meant to be. While you did not start the detour you did invite a penalty kick from one of the commenters which we felt needed cleared up beofre the debate could continue.

    There is no demand for answers but rather a request for an explanation of a position. You are wholly free to express your opinion but not wholly free to excape questioning about it. Same for us all here. If I make a comment about something that prompts you to draw an inference you are fully entitled to ask for clarification, just as you did yesterday in respect of the detour into the IRA.

    The question of rape and the MAP is central to any debate on abortion for the simple reason that it addresses the question of whether rights are absolute or if they are relative. If society holds that the mother may terminate her pregnancy if caused by rape it is also saying that the life in her womb has no absolute right to life. Then it becomes a societal battle over the negotiation of rights. But little of this seems to figure in your approach to the matter.

    What can any of us be caught out on if our position is logical and consistent? If the argument of any of us is deficient should it not be caught out? It will not be strengthened if not caught out. Maybe, rather than me trying to catch you out, you fear being caught out. But why worry? The comments section of a site should be a forum where we practice our ideas, not something that ties us down to a position forever and a day. Yeah, people might use it to claim bragging rights, but if that is what worries us we should stay clear of internet discussion.

    I very much feel a woman should have the freedom to choose in respect of terminating her pregnancy. She should have that right in all circumstances, regardless of how the pregnancy comes about. I feel it is a progressive position because it contributes to human progress rather than regress. It makes great strides in the emancipation of women. There are many right wingers who support abortion. It is not just a revolutionary left or liberal position. One of the commenters above described it as a democratic left position.

    Nevertheless, I am wholly open to any non-religious critique of abortion and am willing to listen to the ideas in that critique. The subject interests me. We have opened this site up to that very type of discussion. As we move towards the Repeal of the 8th, I think people should fully understand what they are voting for or against.

  77. Your last comment is fair enough in terms of its broad scope. Just to be clear though, I don't fear being 'caught out' on anything; I just assumed you were trying to steer me into a trap when you moved the point of discussion towards contraception. Contraception and abortion are not the same thing and we can support the former while disagreeing with the latter - as indeed I do. That aside, that you describe as progressive this giving a woman - or anyone else for that matter - an innate right to impose on the bodily autonomy of the child to the point where the child's life can be brought to an end, just to placate her right to choose, well that just beats me to be honest but each to their own. For me it's anything but progressive to facilitate ending life for no other reason than to uphold someone's supposed freedom to choose. That to me is fundamentally reactionary.

  78. Sean B,

    Revolutionary Left - again I have good grounds for asking who is that you are actually responding to. My views on revolution and revolutionaries are so well recorded, they don't bear repeating. Best not to create a chimera and just stick to the facts.

  79. The mention of the 'revolutionary left' was in relation to those who describe themselves in that way, those who lecture to others that they are rowing against 'progressive instinct' if they do not support the right to take an individual life so that the rights of women might be advanced. Bodily autonomy - and indeed of women, since at one time they have all been the child in womb - only matters to these self-styled revolutionaries when it suits. Again it was just part of the broader discussion and not aimed specifically at yourself.

  80. Sean B,

    the problem is that there is a major fracture of opinion regarding the autonomy of life in the womb and what rights should be ascribed to it. It has no innate rights but that can be said of all of us: rights have to be established even though we might think that because we are born human we have all these rights. We should have but the boundaries of rights shift constantly. But if we are to ascribe rights to life in the womb at what point of its existence do we ascribe such rights? Society in general does not feel that life in the womb is on a par with life outside it and as such permits abortion in many circumstances. It never permits infanticide except in those circumstances where Nazi ideology or something similar prevails.

    Given that state of play we are left to ask how we regulate access to abortion facilities. We do not have an outright ban. We are moving towards a relaxation of existing restraints. Unless the anti-abortion lobby engages with the process of shifting boundaries - which I hope it does not - then the journey towards abortion on demand will be largely uninterrupted. No, Nay, Never has little purchase in the type of societies we have evolved into being.

  81. 'If we are to ascribe rights to life in the womb at what point of its existence do we ascribe such rights?'

    Rather than it being the case that those who are for the right of the unborn to explain everything it should work both ways. At this point it's fair to ask of anti-lifers as yourself what level of 'bodily independence' must we as human beings achieve - and presumably maintain going forward throughout our lives - before the right not to be done away with, based exclusively on the decision of another without legal/constitutional protections, should come to pass. Just for the record, as far as I'm concerned the moment life begins is at conception and it is from here and this point forward that our human rights begin. You obviously say it is otherwise so at what point is it the case for you - or can a woman choose to end the life in her womb at any point in pregnancy right up until its end? That is where the logic of the right to abortion combined with the notion that life only begins at birth leads in the extreme.

  82. This is just a thought, just so I am clear I am not having a go at anyone or stirring a pot. It seems to me the anti abortion camp if i can call them that make much of the so called right to life, but do they practice what they preach? For example in the USA and elsewhere many of them also believe in the death penalty. I have often wondered how they square that circle.

  83. Sean B,

    I think this is a key question and often wonder why it does not get raised more often. It turns the issue around and confronts the pro-choice lobby with the same type of question they pose about the start if life to the anti-choice lobby.

    I can't answer it with any degree of certainty. The longer the pregnancy the less confident I become. The morning after pill causes me no problem whatsoever; late term abortion cause me a whole range of them.

    Very hesitatingly, and squeamishly, I would defer to the mother's right to choose at any stage of the pregnancy. I dislike saying I support it because I feel no enthusiasm for it. I could, if asked by her, see myself advising a friend to go for it at three months but could never find myself advising her to go for it at 9 months.

    This is one of the great things about Pip putting this together - it forces us to think more deeply about it and divest our thinking of the more simple and dispense with the slogan.

  84. That's fair enough Tony but the fact you admit you would only defer to this 'squeamishly' and with great difficulty reflects that this supposed right to choose is not then after all 'progressive'. I also agree that Pip raising the subject has been useful and commend him for doing so. The reaction of the fake left - safely ensconced in their cafes scrolling through Facebook slighting the man as 'not sufficiently in tune with the revolution', has only furthered my longstanding belief that these supposed socialists are no more than intellectual fascists who have read a few books and wouldn't know a revolution if it bit them on the jacksie. The discussion on here on the other hand has been measured and useful for the most part, which is testament to the site.

  85. Sean B,

    on a political level it is progressive in that it goes a great distance in emancipating women. For me that seems a given. The problem on an individual level is that the closer the life in the womb moves towards identifiable human form, the more uncomfortable many of us feel about termination. It goes back to the point I made about how most of us regardless of what side of the debate we are on, instinctively calibrate our responses. I imagine many of anti-abortion school are much less annoyed by termination at one month than they are at termination at 6 months. And that is in spite of them having what they say is an absolutist position of rejecting the procedure in its entirety.

    It is these type of things that make the issue sensitive and complex. It is not as if people can retreat into their trenches at each end of the football stadium and shout at each other, while not being forced to reflect on what they are doing. Many in the debate all too often portray it like that but as Pip suggests and a swathe of commentary on social media sites points to the existence of a number of republicans and radicals who are anything but comfortable with an easy going laid back pro abortion position.

    I think what Pip has achieved is to send a ripple of reflection to wider areas of the pool. That can only be a good thing.

  86. The best the anti-abortionist can hope for is to delay its broad acceptance and general availability. To the degree that the MAP is available is a reflection of the inevitable change that will come to pass. The MAP, as AM states, is an abortifacient. There is no rational argument for rewinding its availability and as such a standard has been set. The next phase of the process will be repeal of the 8th, followed by legislation allowing limited availability for exceptional circumstances. And so on it goes. Those who oppose may have some successes in the stalling of advancement but ultimately can do little more than harry and frustrate progress. Those of us who are around long enough have seen this pattern before, first about the availability of contraceptives ... prescription only, with allowance made for prescribing pharmacists who were also Knights of Columbanus to opt out! Divorce took a second attempt but we got there eventually. Homosexuality was decriminalised and followed in time with legalised gay marriage. Liberal progress moves slowly ... but it moves despite the emotive Neanderthals.

    I see no reason to predict that access to abortion facilities won't in time follow those preceding patterns. Liberals tend to prioritise legislation which grants greater individual freedoms. Conservatives tend to value and pursue policies which guarantee greater security. In reality abortion presents no real challenge to an individual's security. The loss of the familiar may be perceived as a threat so conservatives will drag their heels but when it comes to the crunch, and they realise that in truth any changes in the constitution with regards to abortion do not threaten their security in any real or meaningful way, not in the same way as divorce threatened property and succession rights. This proposal will be easily carried in the Republic of Ireland. Now Northern Ireland that's a different kettle of fish!

  87. Henry Joy,

    I think that projected trend, based on past experience, is the way it is going. The tide seems irreversible. I think it is the inevitable consequence of a growing secularism. Religious influence is one the wane and a large swathe of anti-abortion sentiment is rooted in religious belief. Those who oppose abortion on secular humanist grounds will find themselves making up a very small section of the population. Without the power of the religious, I imagine the anti-abortion sentiment will wither on the vine and abortion will be regarded much the same as divorce or gay marriage is. Nevertheless, I still think we need to bring out the voice of secular opposition to abortion if we are to get a more rounded appreciation of it and a better informed debate. And I don't think we can bring that voice out as fully if it is labelled Neanderthal. Many people oppose abortion because of the pain it can cause to a living organism in the present and not because they are a throwback to a dark age.

  88. I don't see how taking the life of the unborn for no other reason than it should be the preserve of a woman to do so (which you seconded above - however reluctantly) can be held as progressive or as 'emancipating' anyone. Indeed we now have someone claiming that if you don't back this as a woman's right you are a 'Neanderthal'. If this is emancipation then we are in trouble because I don't see what sort of emancipation can flow from the idea there is an innate right just to end the life of the child at any point it might be desired up until birth. If this is progressive then I'm lost as to how.

    That the right to do so - to take that life regardless - belies the notion this somehow emancipates women is reflected in your earlier reluctance to support that position, even though it is where your logic leads in the final analysis. And all of that is to say nothing of how the act of abortion itself negates the bodily autonomy of the child in womb, half of whom will eventually themselves become women. Maybe those particular women don't need emancipating - I don't know. That Henry Joy and his ilk consider this 'freedom' while castigating those who dissent as 'Neanderthals' puts a whole new slant on the notion of irony. Nothing new there in fairness...

  89. Of all the proffered opinion's for and against, are any of the commentators on this thread women?

    I mean, in the end it is the female of the species that carries the burden of gestation for 9 months and yet there is a spectacular array of emotive opinions by what I am guessing is 100% male commentators on here? Isn't this a little...odd?

    One for Sean Bres though if I may (sticking to this topic though, as you seem inherently revisionist about the war), at which point do you consider the pregnancy to be sacred?

  90. Steve R,

    a good point even though I think there is one woman commenter in there.

  91. Sean B,

    a quick look at the following indicates why it is emancipatory:

    Jessica Valenti quotes from Katha Pollitt's book on abortion:

    Society benefits when women can commit to education and work and dreams without having at the back of their mind that maybe it’s all provisional, because at any moment an accidental pregnancy could derail them for life ...
    Valenti goes on to write:

    Pollitt notes, for example, that between 1970 and 1990, “the Pill accounted for nearly three quarters of the increase in the number of women who became doctors and lawyers.” The right to abortion contributed significantly to the same phenomenon: it allowed women an unprecedented amount of control over their futures (which perhaps is part of the problem for abortion opponents).

    Most progressive movements back it because they view it as progressive while those opposing it are hegemonised by a conservative school of thought. While we can't argue that something is necessarily right because progressives support it and conservatives oppose it, the obvious question would seem why such a wide trend of progressive thought is pro choice?

    It is only a matter of time in my view before abortion is well enshrined in international law as a human right. The United Nations Human Rights Committee have long insisted on it as a human right, ruling against Peru on the matter back in 2005. That is not a right that is going to be afforded to life in the womb. The barrister William Binchey in criticisms of the Committee has tried to make the case that it is not a human right but is very unpersuasive.

    I think anybody who argues that the human right of a week old life in the womb is on a par with the human life of a living human being, seriously limits their chances of winning the debate.

    Henry Joy is right - there is only one way this is going short of some human catastrophe like a major war or the establishment of a right wing dictatorship.

    I guess you will just have to stay lost in relation to its progressive character and find some way of living in a society that values it as a right. For women who think like you and find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy then they can only go with their conscience and carry until full term.

  92. I had noticed the point about the contributors being men myself. It's more likely to do with regular contributors being male, with it being mostly they who comment. In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop. Perhaps Steve in turn though might answer at what point has enough bodily autonomy been reached by the child in womb - if at all - where he considers it is no longer acceptable to 'terminate' that child. He might also explain how this is upholding a woman's right when half of the children in the womb he would see 'aborted' will in time grow themselves to be women.

  93. AM,

    I'm not suggesting it has substantial bearing on this discussion yet up to a fifth of Neanderthals' genetic code lives on in some modern humans.
    Neanderthals may not be the most politically correct of metaphors yet I feel it makes a point. As I've stated preiously,and if one can take a meta-view, issues of perceived morality do have an evolutionary frame.

    'Many people oppose abortion because of the pain it can cause to a living organism'.
    You're right, yet surely that's a perception rather than an actuality. I agree, some people in their Disney World minds equate this with an attack on Bambi.
    A fetus only forms the brain connections allowing potential consciousness sometime between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. (Not all fetuses develop at the same rate, so it s impossible to be more precise). Prior to that, the fetus is unconscious, and cannot become conscious.

    After these brain connection form, the fetus may wake up, but not to the degree that a baby does. It cannot, and the reason is actually simple - the environment of the uterus is extremely low in oxygen - sort of like being at the top of Mount Everest. This low-oxygen environment keeps the fetus in a sedated like state.

    Full consciousness, as we might fully experience and understand it, does not and cannot occur until birth, when the infant is given something different from its previous existence to compare it with. It does have the hard-wired faculty of perception, and even of epistemic logic. But until it experiences the trauma of birth, when all of its senses are sent screaming into its mind ... where before there was merely a satisfied watery existence from which it was protected from all senses except perhaps sound ... then it never gets the chance to experience perception. Perception is the action upon the brain of exposure to sensations. Only then is the point reached at which sensations can become conscious experiences.

  94. Anthony, how can women commit to their 'education and work and dreams' if they are already dead, their life and life prospects ended in the womb because you feel it another's right to choose it be so? Where is the progress in that? I find the notion that it takes permitting the destruction of the child in womb if women are to be doctors or engineers a nonsense. Are you really suggesting that the same upward trend is not found in countries were abortion is not 'available'? Just because something will come to pass in our society does not make it progressive and again your earlier squeamishness and inability to support the fullness of your own position makes it obvious this is not the case. If that makes me the one who remains lost here then so be it but to suggest killing a child in womb for no other reason than it is someone's right to do is - and that is the logic in play - to suggest this is somehow a mark of our progress belies your own admissions. I would venture that your squeamishness and difficulties come from something within yourself telling, some part of you, telling you the anti-life position is far, far from progressive and is a fundamental violation of the rights of the child in womb - unless that is you are saying it doesn't actually have any as far as you're concerned.

  95. Henry Joy's bogus notion that the child in the womb cannot feel pain contradicts modern science. There is something sickly, if not indeed grisly, about his attempts to dehumanise the child in the womb just so he can feast at the altar of progression, enjoying there the company of the master he so obviously yearns for. Again, there is no surprise here when it comes to this sycophant.

  96. Sean B,

    the same type of logic used to fuel tirades against masturbation and sex for joy rather than procreation. A life not yet born is exactly that. It does not have the rights you try to ascribe to it. There is no right to be born.

    You can take the view re doctors/lawyers a nonsense but the women making the arguments will view your own position much the same. If you can refute the arguments the women make and show that Roe-Wade had no impact on women's employment and life opportunities, I am willing to give it a hearing.

    Because I feel personally uneasy in no way impacts on the progressiveness of the case for abortion. It merely says I have difficulties. I also never feel instinctively easy with same sex adoption, but that is a problem at my end not something wrong with that type of adoption.

    There is no one way to judge the rightness or wrongfulness of abortion. As Richard Holloway argued there are competing moralities at play. There is no one source upon which we can draw for our moral framework and we have to proceed as we go along with morality shifting boundaries over time. So even if it coming to pass does not make it right for you, it will make it right for a much greater number of people and society will legalise and endorse it. Eventually most people will come to see it as a mundane and private matter much as they do contraception and divorce, things, previously blocked by the regressive lobby and pushed through by the progressive school.

    Those who think it morally wrong must be free to follow their conscience and desist from having an abortion. Those in possession of a different moral framework, one which sees no immorality in abortion, will proceed as they think proper on the basis of their morality. They can't be forced to adopt somebody else's morality. How many people do you think really want to live in societies that ban things like condoms, divorce, same sex marriage, MAPs, just because somebody claims a moral right to deny them access?

    The pro-choice position is a very progressive one. There is no part of my intellect that tells me it is wrong. And as I have no soul there is nothing else inside me telling me anything. That is wishful thinking.

  97. You admit the child in womb is a living organism. If it is living then surely that makes it a life. Your efforts to introduce contraception as a relevance to this particular discussion doesn't wash - likewise the stuff about masturbation and sex joy. That has zero to do with what we are talking about and furthermore you know this full well. I don't care what people do for sex joy - within obvious limits as they can't just have sex with anyone or anything without the consent of the partner. They can masturbate 24 hours a day for all I care - why shouldn't they? To equate that with permitting what is at the end of it all the killing of an unborn child, for no other reason than that a woman should be free to do so, is disingenuous in the extreme and an effort to shift the attention away from the absolute horror of what you propose - soul or no should; squeamish or otherwise.

  98. Henry Joy,

    there is little there I would disagree with in terms of the ability to perceive and experience pain. I am always suspicious of the pro Life movement claims on these matters because my experience of that type of lobby is that they pathologically lie for the purpose of bamboozling us, whether it be in the Intelligent Design controversy in Dover, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo's rubbish about condoms, the lies of the Dublin clinic about abortions leading to cancer. As a rule I consider what the health professionals offer and ignore what the clerics say. Not perfect but a much better option by far.

    But even if what you say is wholly accurate the comparison with Disney is tenuous. People do oppose abortion not because they in some infantile sense imagine something horrible. They can see the procedure at a later stage ripping to pieces a life that looks to them to have so many human characteristics. They don't oppose it like say a religious wack job might, thrusting rosary beads into the faces of women because there is some perceived violation of their god's law, but as a consequence of feeling that the destruction of this life in the womb is a brutal technique.

    This is why I always seek to listen to the secular critique of abortion and discard the religious.

  99. Sean B,

    a tree is a living organism. Masturbation produces living organisms. Sperm is not inorganic. Contraception and divorce are relevant because you tend to find that the same lobby has involved in trying to block progress on all these matters.

    If you think abortion so horrible, refrain from supporting it and stay out of relationships where the woman might consider having one. But those of us who don't share your view of it will march to the beat of a different drum. Neither of us can do much else. I will not compel you to abort and you will not compel me to carry full term.

    Should society ban all abortions and the MAP or are there circumstances in which it should permit?

  100. Regards Holloway and your comments about there being no way to judge the rights or wrongs about abortion, that may very well be the case but it still does not make affording a right to terminate on the basis of a free choice alone progressive. You, despite your squeamishness and description of abortion as a negative procedure, have now begun arguing that it is so.

    'Should society ban all abortions and the MAP or are there circumstances in which it should permit?'

    Such circumstances have already been allowed for to the best of my knowledge, in cases for example such as medical emergency. If you are really attempting to equate a tree to a child in the womb then I can only suppose you feel that same squeamishness you referred to earlier when you write on a piece of paper, disturbed by the knowledge there is a distinct possibility it might have been murdered in order that you might do so. Let's get real here and cut out the silliness. Your earlier comments already reveal you don't consider them both on a par.

  101. Sean B,

    you cannot persuade me it is not progressive. I cannot persuade you that it is. The option is to allow society to decide if it is societally beneficial or harmful and enact laws to that effect. We can both hold to our own positions without going around the lock time after time.

    What I have done is make the case that because something is a living organism does not mean it has a human right.

    Your reference to squeamishness on trees I imagine makes people laugh at you rather than listen to you. Do you really want to have your own long discourse draw down ridicule? It would be a waste of a solid effort to persuade your opponents. So, follow your onw advice and get rid of the silliness.

    On the question of squeamishness, research carried out in respect of wars has indicated that the majority of soldiers do not discharge their weapons. It is not because they are pacifists who think the war is unjust or reactionary but because they have a reluctance to personally perform the act. Many people who support the death penalty would not step up to the gallows and pull the lever. My personal reticence about late term abortion does not in any way impact on my view that the right to choose is a very progressive move.

    I didn't actually ask about the what already exists - abortion and MAP exist in many societies. I asked should it continue to exist or be banned? If you think it should continue to exist in the circumstances you referred to, then you feel that the right to life in the womb is not absolute, that there are circumstances in which it is permissible to abort.

    Your reference to murder - is it your view that abortion is murder or was that a throwaway comment to which no further significance should be attached?

    It is our ability to answer the most difficult of questions, not the easy ones, that will prove most beneficial to the case that we try to make. You won't convince me. I won't convince you. But there are a lot of people reading this discussion who might be open to persuasion.

  102. The old 'you cannot persuade me and I cannot persuade you' line. Your own comments, when it came to the crunch, make it clear this is not progressive. While abortion is something that can and does be argued for, to suggest it is progressive to kill a child in the womb - imposing on its bodily autonomy and life prospects in so doing - for no other reason that it is the preserve of a woman to do so flies in the face of the term and its basic meaning.

  103. Sean B,

    that is what it is. You have failed to persuade me and I have failed to persuade you. How else can we describe it?

    Not only have you failed to persuade me you are losing the argument (not you personally) in the minds of ever increasing numbers of people. That is going to be borne out by the Repeal of the 8th. Society will, I believe, endorse the argument that the Repeal is progressive. You are free to dissent from that position but endlessly reiterating your opinion that it is not progressive does not really achieve much in the face of so much opinion pushing in the opposite direction. You will have to convince rational, intelligent people that it is not progressive in a context where those most opposed to abortion have a history of opposing other key advances in progress - divorce, contraception, gay rights etc. Why would the Vatican, the Caliphate, the evangelical right and that whole spectrum of conservative opinion suddenly be right? It is not as if you are standing, proclaiming that the world is spherical and society just accepting that it is flat. The tide of history was always going to carry the spherical position. Today it is moving away from opposition to abortion and will carry the pro-choice position.

    Meaning is more often positional than fixed. You can't set limits on what a term might mean to others who dissent from your position.

  104. Sean B

    you're on the back foot and reduced to name calling once again. Unlike you I don't bend the knee before gods, devils or men.

    'the child in the womb cannot feel pain contradicts modern science'

    Allowing for your persistent misdirection which fails to distinguish between the fetus and a child can you please offer some credible references which support your attempted rebuttal of my position. The error in your argument is that you humanise the fetus. This is decidedly not so. You attribute capacity to the fetus which is not laid down until 24/28 weeks into gestation and does not become fully functionally activated until the child is born.

    As far as I'm concerned, with regards to this discussion, I've made and rest my case.
    I have nothing more to say on it save to quote my learned Master (Lol) with regards to your position, 'what hasn't been reasoned in can't be reasoned out'!

  105. Keep on sucking up to your own version of the bearded one 'Henry Joy' but just in case you missed it, it was none other than yourself who was 'reduced to name-calling'. You really are a piece of work but I rest my case as it's clear from the exchange. Make no mistake though, your neediness and sycophancy - as ever - shine through in your commentary. Anthony, the direction of travel is no doubt as you suggest and most likely will come to pass. The bottom line though is that just because something comes to be by way of a majority does not automatically make it progressive. With that I think we've probably covered this all. If anything this discussion suggests that rational debate will not alter pre-existing opinion when it comes to this issue.

  106. Sean B,

    I agree that because something comes to pass does not make it either good or bad. We need to consider it on its merits.

    People have emotive attachments to positions in all walks of life and may not be responsive to new suggestions. But the capacity for reason makes rational discussion worth a try.

    I got quite a lot out of the discussion.

  107. On its 'merits' the issue comes down to this; there are two main points of thrust:

    One, that it is progressive to give the woman absolute control over the situation, leaving her free to decide upon an abortion in any instance - what is termed 'abortion on demand' - granting also and in turn access to that abortion;

    Two, that it is not progressive to allow that a child in the womb can be destroyed for this same simple reason - that being the say-so of the mother removed from all other circumstance.

    How far the one is elevated above the other - as they are both in a direct relationship - depends on how far we are willing to allow the former to impose on the latter and be considered as of greater priority. It seems for you the woman's right to terminate the child in womb holds sway and negates the obvious ramifications - which are the destruction of the child and the ending of its life and life prospects.

    That this for you is progressive is something I will just have to accept at this point. I can only but hope that anyone still following this exchange who believes in the unequivocal right to abortion might see from the discussion the logic of where their argument leads - which is the oppression of the child in womb and the complete elimination of its bodily autonomy right up until the point of its actual birth. When we go to the extent of endorsing this argument we can only fear where the next step will take us but we will cross that bridge in due course...

  108. Sean,

    I will re-iterate my question in case you missed it.

    " at which point do you consider the pregnancy to be sacred?"

    Your constant use of the word 'child' to appeal to emotion notwithstanding, you still seem to come across with religious zeal upon this issue.

    With respect, would you say your religious views are influencing your views on the subject?

  109. Religion has nothing to do with it. The child in womb is - and always will be - the child in womb. Everything else has been covered in my last point above.

  110. Steve

    some people imagine that through conviction and adherence to dogma ... religious, political or whatever... they can buffer themselves against mortality and existential uncertainty. Many in their positions of moral certitude are totally unreachable. They are incapable of rational discussion. They are so fixated on the 'certainties'of their own position that they can't see the inconsistencies inherent in their stances never mind address them when highlighted. They have extreme difficulty arguing their case except for repeating their cherished beliefs ad nauseam.
    Whilst they can do argument, and generally with passion, they lack the finesse required for intellectual discourse.

  111. Steve,

    I too thought Sean B's argument was informed by his religious belief, even unconsciously. I imagine it is hard not to be shaped by the belief system that we are fundamentally shaped by. I think it is very much a religious argument that life in the womb should have full human rights from conception. Yet he argued his case without reference to religious dogma and I feel were he to become an atheist in the morning he would still be strongly opposed to abortion. I think regardless of the religious belief he has he is one of those people who feel passionate about the matter. Pip doesn't agree with it and I don't think he is too religious.

    It is fine to have a religious opinion and to follow the prescripts of your god in relation to yourself. I firmly believe it is the right of anyone to practice a religious belief on themselves but not on others.

  112. Better to be lacking in 'intellectual finesse' than to be a self-righteous, pompous arsehole. While 'Henry Joy' - ridiculously I might add - envisages himself as some sort of intellectual giant looking down on the plebs, only an absolute moron would come out with that last line of utter tripe above, revealing himself yet again for the self-absorbed and pretentious narcist that he is underneath his fancy word-play. A cretin - pure and simple.

  113. I would hope the BBC and other news networks make some real life hospital shows which include up close footage of abortions etc? Sure if it's a normal procedure and a normal thing to do then why not let everyone judge for themselves? Perhaps those who want to 'repeal the 8th' should lead the way just to show what all the fuss is about. Surely it would be a shoo-in after that?

  114. Sean B,

    with that behaviour you seem determined to prove my commentary right ... yet more ad hominem and nothing of substance.

    You've failed to answer Steve's question about the sacredness of life in the womb and consistently avoided AM's attempt to draw your attention to possible inconsistencies as to how you might view the morning after pill you even get that its not a contraceptive but rather an abortifacient?

  115. Henry Joy,

    you goaded him and he bit. Positions are unlikely to be teased out and developed in that type of atmosphere. I think it is very easy to come on a site like this and advocate the right to choose but much less easy when you take the opposite position and have as a largely lonely voice to defend it against the majority. I don't agree with Sean on this but he has to be credited with openly defending his position.

    I think Wolfe Tone is right. No medical practice or procedure should be concealed from public view and scrutiny. It should be accompanied by the best commentary that medical science has to offer. Where there is pain and suffering involved the public should know about it to the fullest extent possible.

    A woman recorded her own abortion which I watched and it looked absolutely mundane. But it was at the early stages of the pregnancy. I imagine it would look considerably different at a much later stage.

    This is why the argument that abortion is as challenging/wrong at one week as it is at 6 months, fails to make the progress its advocates wish for.

  116. Steve's question on 'sacredness' was answered long ago - as were all of Tony's. That both the joyous one and Steve avoided or skipped past that answer is hardly my concern.

    'Do you even get that its not a contraceptive but rather an abortifacient?'

    Who does this idiot think he is? I know full well the difference and don't need him to point it out in his self-serving lecturing way. Nor was it at any stage avoided. Just for the record I do not agree with the morning after pill on principle, for the reason identified, but I can of course understand why opposition to its use is less pronounced than to 'later-term' abortion. Tony has covered this several times. I support instead contraception, which by its definition (and which 'Henry Joy' seems to think only he was aware of in his self-enlightened state) comes in advance of pregnancy and prevents it coming to pass in the first place.

    Regardless the individual's view on the morning after pill, it does not alter that to posit that the child in womb is devoid of rights until birth and that a woman has the right to terminate its life at any point she might desire up until then, for no other reason than that she simply decides to do so, is hardly something we can pretend is progressive.

    I repeat again that on this matter there are two main points of thrust: that it is progressive to give the woman full control over the situation, leaving her free to decide upon an abortion in any instance; and that it is not progressive to allow that a child in the womb can be destroyed for this same simple reason - that being the say-so of the mother removed from all other circumstance.

    Again, how far the one is elevated above the other depends on how far we are willing to allow the former to impose on the latter as of greater priority. For most contributors here the woman's right to terminate the child in womb holds sway and negates the obvious ramifications - which are the destruction of the child and the ending of its life and life prospects. That is for them to justify and not me but to argue that it is progressive and therefore 'justified enough' doesn't cut it in my book.

  117. All of that said and while I know this is a dead horse I still feel it needs 'flogged'. As ever, 'Henry Joy' offers nothing useful other than twisted wordplay whose purpose is no more than to satisfy his intellectual ego. It's very obvious on this site - even in some of his comments above - that he has an underlying need to 'be on the same page as the host' - or whatever way he invariably puts it. It's rather pathetic that this is how he measures himself - and that's no disrespect to Anthony. Others elsewhere, who do not comment but contribute articles, describe his crawling and fawning and general demeanour as of someone who comes here solely to 'intellectually masturbate' - both himself and those he seeks approval from. Not that there's anything wrong with masturbation but that sounds about right to me. Enough said...

  118. AM,

    indeed all credit to Sean Bres for openly defending his position. Inherent to that though is exposure of one's position to challenge. Sometimes those challenges may be robust.

    And yes the more information that's out there and grounded in good science the better. I'm all for that.

  119. Jean Paul Camus,

    post under your usual name so that your comment can be carried.


    there is an inherent unfairness in your critique of him. You want to expose him to ridicule because of his ideas but use a pen name which enables you to escape ridicule. It is most likely not your intention to escape ridicule but it is the outcome.

    I agree with ideas being eposed to ridicule and mockery, particularly if they are expressed with arrogance and contempt. We can hardly accuse Sean B of any of that. He comes here, lays out his ideas and fights his corner. I think he has difficulties with the logic in his position which might explain the bobbing and weaving which he sometimes resorts to while he reflects on where the argument is going. But he still makes his points, and does his best to stand over them.

    I try to tease hid ideas out rather than force him to keep them to himself. Pip certainly kick started the discussion but Sean contributed to its development immensely.

  120. AM

    except when I addressed Sean B directly none of my comments were addressed specifically to him ... to the extent he was part of the collective of where my opinions were directed he was obviously implicitly included ... I understand my take on things is often somewhat esoteric and occasionally mildly provocative but Sean has choices too. And despite previous guidance from you he goes of on yet another unwarranted rant. He still doesn't get that old adage about debate when you're loosing your temper, you're most likely to be perceived as loosing the argument'

    The stuff on Monikers we've visited before so not's let rehash it again. If my perceived 'unfairness' becomes too much bother to you guys at the Quill a simple request to me to unsubscribe/sign out is all it takes.

    Sean B,

    it'd serve you well to demonstrate to people that they'll have to find a bigger key if they want to wind you up! If you could manage that you might even thank me.

    Your suggestions of sycophancy on my behalf are risible and most likely a projection of your own needs for 'Tony's' approval.
    Whereas I do hold AM in some esteem I'd remind you we have disagreed deeply on many issues ... most noticeably when I came about here first I was the lonesome voice critiquing the contracting processes for the Boston College Project. More recently I criticised the way the late Frank O'Brien was given unbridled access.

    Are those the actions of someone who wants to curry favour about all else? ... I think not.
    There are many things we disagree on Sean. Why sweat it so much? Aren't disagreements just part and parcel of life after all.

  121. Sean B,

    I live on the other side of the planet and work odd hours so please forgive my late response, I did not mean to 'skip or avoid' your answer to my question..albeit I cannot seem to locate said answer.

    You mention repeatedly that the 'child in the womb' is apparently being denied rights. I ask you again but in a different way, and please for the sake of my feeble brain put this in layman's terms,

    At which point do you consider the pregnancy to be a 'life'?


    To me the discourse reminded me of the Free Presbyterians in disguise, protesting against Marriage equality, by starting up front groups and using word for word the same arguments except replacing the word 'Christian' with 'Traditional' as if the average moron could be fooled by such antics. But credit were credit's due, Sean has fought his corner well..

    Just seemingly only vaguely aware that he is boxing himself INTO a corner.

    A point on pseudonyms though. I also use one as it would be decidedly unhealthy to use my real name and go home!!!!

  122. Steve R,

    I think that people are quite free to argue the case that way. They are being asked to carry the argument with the authority of logic rather than that of some holy book or cleric. It might even assist them to see that stripped of the comfort of religion, the argument looks very dubious.

    While permitting pseudonyms we ask that they are used to push ideas rather than insults.


    we can refer to people in an indirect manner and then try to fall back on plausible deniability.

    We certainly do not want you to unsubscribe or whatever, but rather recognise the unfairness inherent in the use of a pen name when an opponent does not use one. You are your own man and are no one's sycophant so we value contributions from that quarter.

    Sean's argument should be judged on how he presented it not on how things went at the end.

  123. Steve Richardson, I think we all know who you are by this point but it'll hardly matter either way should you decide to 'come home'. As I said above and which you seem to have missed or otherwise skipped over, pregnancy is sacred. If everything has to be put in a 'fuller' position for the needs of your 'feeble brain' then this means from beginning until end. If that STILL isn't clear enough then that means from the moment the child is conceived until the moment of his or her birth. All of this has already been accounted for elsewhere above.

    Where you see Free Presbyterianism or me 'boxing myself INTO a corner' anywhere in the discussion above is wishful thinking but it goes to show some just can't help but try and introduce a religious dimension, where none is relevant, to bolster their argument. And by the way, it would be nice if for once YOU answered the questions put YOUR way, which you never seem to do. In case you missed it here is my previous response which you seem to have ignored:

    'In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop. Perhaps Steve in turn though might answer at what point has enough bodily autonomy been reached by the child in womb - if at all - where he considers it is no longer acceptable to 'terminate' that child. He might also explain how this is upholding a woman's right when half of the children in the womb he would see 'aborted' will in time grow themselves to be women.'

    How about some of you's answer those questions or are you's able to in the first place? That is asked especially of the ringmaster Steve Richardson, as it was originally put to him, but the sycophant can give it a lash too if he likes - what with him having all the answers, being an intellectual colossus and all of that...

  124. Sean B,

    Calm down Sean, my bad, I did miss your question so my apologies. I will answer both of your questions as is only fair..

    "'In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop. Perhaps Steve in turn though might answer at what point has enough bodily autonomy been reached by the child in womb - if at all - where he considers it is no longer acceptable to 'terminate' that child."

    At the point in were there would be unacceptable risk to the Mother's health. The foetus has not breathed by itself until it is born, for all intents and purposes it quite literally is a 'parasite' living off a host. Once it is born and breathing unsupported it then becomes a child, not before, despite your appeal to emotion. Many deformities are not transparent until late stage gestation. Why on earth would I want a bring a child like that into this already over-crowded world?

    "He might also explain how this is upholding a woman's right when half of the children in the womb he would see 'aborted' will in time grow themselves to be women.'"

    See above.

    "'In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop"

    "Where you see Free Presbyterianism or me 'boxing myself INTO a corner' anywhere in the discussion above is wishful thinking but it goes to show some just can't help but try and introduce a religious dimension, where none is relevant, to bolster their argument."

    If pregnancy is sacred, what is a miscarriage then Sean?

    And my names not Steve, Sean, that's the whole point of pseudonyms.

  125. Sean B,

    Here's my final lash, some hard figures rather than abstract morality.

    Thirty four thousand women (that's the population of Omagh, every man, woman and child and almost 1/2 that again) travelled to the UK from the Republic of Ireland during 2015 to have an abortion. (Abortions are available up to 24 weeks into gestation.)
    Take a breath and contemplate that for a minute!

    The MAP is now available in Ireland without prescription so there's no accurate way to quantify how many avail of that. Tot it up whatever way you like but you're up against it big time.

    Thankfully your moralising is irrelevant in the real world to the women of Ireland. This country is still in many ways a parochial spot and I predict that despite the impending repeal of the 8th, which will likely be followed initially by restrictive legislation, similar numbers will continue to travel for many years to come.

    You're entitled to your views Sean but you're swimming against the tide yet again.

  126. Pregnancy is sacred will be viewed as a religious perspective.

    It might of course be said in the sense that an atheist might say "miracle" without attributing any religious connotation to it.

    I take the view that life is precious but not sacred.

    One of the dissuading factors for people trying to tune into the anti-abortion argument is that the mullahs and priests are at the forefront of the anti-choice movement. The Men Only club insisting on the right to decide what women will do with their bodies is a serious repellant. The clerics have opposed so many progressive campaigns and legislation, that it is impossible to imagine they are suddenly with the "good guys" on this one.

    Henry Joy,

    the figures speak for themselves in terms of the way things are going. That on its own does not make it morally right just as a majority in favour of the death penalty would not make that morally right either. But it does indicate that for increasing bodies of people it is not a moral issue any more. Many see the greater immorality resting in the refusal of a society to grant rights to roughly half its population.

  127. Correction, correction, correction!

    The figures for abortion in 2015 was 3,400 not 34,000.

  128. Apologies for the double post.

    In the last 5/6 years the equivalent number of Irish women to that of the total population of Omagh travelled for terminations of their pregnancies.

  129. 'Steve', it was an educated guess but I'd venture it's not far away. Either way I'm sure you're safe to come home. I note you have completely failed to answer the questions in any meaningful way. Indeed the reply you did give is very much revealing. You now say bodily autonomy and the right to abort only comes into play at 'the point in were there would be unacceptable risk to the Mother's health'. This is a red herring as this is already allowed for under the law. I don't know anyone who disagrees with that but one thing for sure is it has nothing to do with the discussion above and nothing to do with the position being posited by the anti-life brigade - which you have been supporting - which is that a woman has the right to terminate the child in womb regardless of circumstance.

    If we are to hold, as you have been arguing previously - despite the complete 180 in your last comment above - that the child in womb is without rights until it actually enters this world, and that it is from here where the right to abort derives, then how can we call this progressive when it intrudes on the bodily autonomy of the child in womb? If this is not your position then at what point has the child in womb developed sufficient bodily autonomy to warrant not being terminated on the simple say-so of the mother? That was the question asked and not what you have presented.

    Unlike this 'Henry Joy' character at least you made some sort of effort. He just avoided what was asked in total, dishing out his old favourite, the ad hominem, to distract from his hopeless inability to give a credible reply. To be honest there is no surprise there. Either answer the questions asked or cut out the preaching from on high. You have some neck talking about others 'moralising' given your endless patronising on this site. If neither of you can address those questions as they are put - not as you would like them to have been to suit yourself - then it exposes your argument for what it is: without substance.

  130. Sean B,

    the fetus exists in the in the womb and does not acquire human status nor rights until it becomes a living entity separate from the host. Up until that point there is only a fetus and an autonomous human host for whom rights are accorded.

    I've attempted, and obviously failed where you are concerned, to place the conversation on a more pragmatic plane. Entering into your emotive frame doesn't serve me well. If declining to enter that allows you some sense of victory, off you go with yourself and celebrate it. You may convince yourself you've won a battle and cry attention to your success but your victory is pyrrhic as yet another war is lost to you.

    My take on this, as outlined previously, is that moral positions are subjective rather than objective. Their evolutionary function is a gel of sorts to hold the herd together. As such they are fluid over time. Yet somewhat like the Mullahs, you take a position as if morality were objective, fixed and permanently carved in stone. Somewhat like extreme fundamentalists you hang on to your morals in the same way as a drowning man holds on to a life-preserver ... and in a similar vein act with irrational vehemence when your perceived life-preserver becomes threatened. Woe betide anyone who doesn't bow before your metaphorical altars!

    Everyone is entitled to live by whatever moral code they choose as long as it is within the law. They ought not expect however that they can impose that code on others unchallenged forever and a day. Societal mores are only effective to the degree that they reflect the collective wishes of a majority. Changes in the process of how Irish society regards a woman's right to choose are well underway. By its nature change has its divisive phases, and while we're not fully out of such phases yet, the tide has definitively turned. You can ridicule and insult those that are pointing to the switch in tides but I'm confident most reasonable observers will see all that for what it is.

  131. There is no insult, there is no ridicule and there is still no answer from yourself - only your inability to reply to the question posed. No matter what way the tide flows, that will not change. No victory on my own part, just your own inabilities to engage in your famed 'intellectual discourse' exposed in plain sight.

  132. Henry Joy,

    the fetus exists in the in the womb and does not acquire human status nor rights until it becomes a living entity separate from the host. Up until that point there is only a fetus and an autonomous human host for whom rights are accorded.

    I think that is a good appraisal. But I can see how people might think greater rights should be accorded to life in the womb at 24 weeks than such life at one week. I can see no logic other than a religious one which holds that one week and 24 weeks amounts to the same thing.

    If you believe Sean's position is a religious emotive framework, then of course you are not obliged to enter into it at all. That would equate with "teach the controversy" which the Creationists try to push in the US in order to get their gunk taught on a par with science. But I don't feel the discussion went that way. Sean put his position forward and it was responded to by others. It was conducted on secular ground rather than emotive ground, even if the emotive entered it on occasion.

    The question that Sean has to address is who is to decide to what the right shall be afforded. It can only be society, not the priests, the vicars, the mullahs, the Rabbis. Rights like morals are often nebulous concepts. Something is not a right until made a right.

    Hopefully, you have hauled the discussion back onto a more even keel.

  133. Unless of course that is that you're saying the child in womb has no rights whatsoever, that it thus is 'free' to be aborted at any stage should the mother so decide. If that's where you are at then fair enough but how this is supposedly 'progressive' belies that the child in womb is a separate physical entity with its own genetics born of two people - both the father and the mother - and not one. The long and the short of it here is that you and others consider it progressive that a child in the womb could be subjected to being ripped apart, its life and life prospects spilt on a hospital floor, so the right of a woman to carry through that action - for no other reason than that she should so decide - can be upheld. You might not like how your position peers back at you and accuse people of moralising or emotion but this is not moralising and it's not emotion: this is exactly where you stand.

  134. Sean,

    society confers the right. There is no inherent right. We might wish for rights to be inalienable by virtue of being born human but even then the boundaries shift. Morality evolves over time as do our concepts of right and wrong.

    The father should have no claim to a woman's body. Her womb is not a receptacle for his sperm which allows him to forbid what she might or might not do with her body. At the most extreme that would give rights to a rapist and none to his victim. How is a child ripped apart by the morning after pill? Maybe if you were to argue that a child is ripped apart at 24 weeks your argument might gain some traction. How many abortions end up on a hospital floor? That sounds like the language of the gangs that gather outside Marie Cure and other advice centres.

  135. HJ
    There's nowt so entertaining as a bun fight with Sean Bres in the middle!

    Steve R
    You pull Sean up for calling the foetus a child. When exactly does the foetus become a child? Do its rights change when it reaches that point?

  136. Whatever way you wish to put it you support that a child in the womb can be ripped apart at 24 weeks - or indeed at any number of weeks prior to actual delivery - should that be what a woman decides. That is the logic of the position that there are no rights to the contrary until birth. The blood on the hospital floor analogy is to highlight the grisly reality of what you propose but sure hey, so long as we're being progressive then what does that child reality matter. It's stark but it's where you are at.

  137. Sean,

    what do we do about all those people who do not believe they are killing a child in the womb?

    There seem to be some rights granted if an abortion can only take place up until 24 weeks.

    Is it an analogy or hyperbole?

    Can you describe how the morning after pill rips a child to pieces?

  138. It's not about the morning after pill because you support full term abortion as a right of choice regardless of any other factor. You can beat about the bush forever and a day but this is where you stand.

  139. Just because we believe something doesn't make it true Anthony. The Israelis believe they have a right to bomb people in Gaza at will. Because a majority of them say that they do does this make it so? What are we to do with those who don't believe they are killing the child in womb? Legislate accordingly that the right to life be upheld regardless. The right to life is fundamental and not subject to a majority. Majority has nothing to do with it and nor does belief. The only way around this is to say that the child in womb has no rights - and that seems to be where you guys have chosen to make your stand. It's worth bearing in mind that it was actually yourself who introduced the 'ripping the child apart'. That, allied to earlier admissions of unease and squeamishness, indicates that you know deep down that of course that child has rights. Perhaps not to the same degree at conception as during the third trimester, I can see that point of course and already acknowledged it long ago, but to say it has no rights whatsoever and that likewise there is no bodily autonomy at any point prior to birth flies in the face of your unease and you know it.

  140. Sean,

    " I note you have completely failed to answer the questions in any meaningful way. Indeed the reply you did give is very much revealing."

    Not sure what you mean Sean, as my reply and opinion is this

    " At the point in were there would be unacceptable risk to the Mother's health. The foetus has not breathed by itself until it is born, for all intents and purposes it quite literally is a 'parasite' living off a host. Once it is born and breathing unsupported it then becomes a child, not before, despite your appeal to emotion. Many deformities are not transparent until late stage gestation. Why on earth would I want a bring a child like that into this already over-crowded world? "

    I am assuming this statement also refers to me?

    "Unless of course that is that you're saying the child in womb has no rights whatsoever, that it thus is 'free' to be aborted at any stage should the mother so decide"

    If so, that is quite alright, I have gotten the wrong end of the stick on TPQ on many occasions so won't hold you to your earlier (and 'angrier') response.

    But.....I have answered your question Sean, though note you still avoid mine as you have no doubt astutely saw the trap you laid for yourself.

    Again for clarity..your words Sean,

    "In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop"

    "Where you see Free Presbyterianism or me 'boxing myself INTO a corner' anywhere in the discussion above is wishful thinking but it goes to show some just can't help but try and introduce a religious dimension, where none is relevant, to bolster their argument."

    If pregnancy is sacred, what is a miscarriage then Sean?<< This is my question Sean.

    Implying that being 'pro-choice' is anything but progressive, using emotive terms such as 'ripping a child to pieces' does not cover that you are obviously hammer a religious dimension behind the vitriol.

    "Pregnancy is sacred Full stop."

    Here's the definition of 'sacred' for you Sean.

    connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.
    "sacred rites"
    synonyms: holy, hallowed, blessed, blest, consecrated, sanctified, dedicated, venerated, revered
    "only the priest was allowed to approach this most sacred place"
    religious rather than secular.
    "sacred music"
    synonyms: religious, spiritual, devotional, church, churchly, ecclesiastical
    "sacred music"
    (of writing or text) embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion.

    At least have the balls to say it though.


    After gestation (birth). Up until then it is still quite literally a parasite. I was there at the business end when both my kids came into this world. It was brutal, horrific, bloody and bizarre watching my wife overcome with oxytocin after a mammoth battle. A 'miracle' it ain't, there's nothing pretty about it and it happens thousands of times a day.

  141. Sean B,

    it is about the morning after pill, it is about the status of life in the womb it is about late term abortion, it is about a whole range of factors. I have sought to better understand your argument but it seems to me to be very weak. The option for me is to support a woman's right to choose or deny her a right to choose. Nothing in what you have said has prompted me to move towards denying her the right to choose. I fail to see any merit whatsoever in the argument that a baby is ripped to pieces by the MAP. I am wholly open to persuasion on it. But you have not persuaded. I see much more merit in the argument that a baby is ripped to pieces by late term abortion. It seems society does too because of the time limit in which it is lawful to have one. But as you fail to differentiate and provide no reason for not differentiating other than to say life in the womb is sacred (which is essentially a religious argument) I am left to opt for the better logic.

  142. Another thing too is the use of 'sacred' was not introduced by me. I was asked my opinion regards what point pregnancy became sacred so spare me the religious mumbo jumbo. This is not about religion but about whether a child in the womb has a right to life. You say it doesn't and that's where you are at, even though you have obvious difficulties standing over this. I can well imagine why this would be the case given that it was you who introduced the narrative about the baby being ripped apart by abortion. So you are quite aware of the process which you maintain is progressive in the final analysis, progressive as it is necessary to uphold the right to abort on the basis that the child in womb is not a life. No matter that this is what becomes of the terminated baby you still maintain it is progressive. No amount of discussion on this will ever persuade you otherwise but please, don't start harping on about religion and all that guff. I have never alluded to it once as it has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion.

  143. Peter,

    that question goes to the heart of the matter.

  144. Sean,

    you used the term sacred "In terms of the question asked, pregnancy is sacred: full stop."

    That is a pretty unambiguous statement.

    Steve R presumably used the word because he feels there is a religious core to your thinking on it. Had he have asked you when does the pregnancy become an
    "abomination" you would have rejected the term. You did not reject the term sacred but in fact used it and emphasized it with the language "full stop." So there is little point in trying to state you were merely responding to the question used. It matters not that the term was introduced by another. You embraced it, endorsed and for effect said "full stop." It is your stated view that abortion is sacred. That is very much a religious concept. Hardly guff to point that out to you.

    Now, while I think it daft to argue that pregnancy is sacred because of the religious connotation, I am not criticising you for using it. And to be fair you have conducted the discussion on secular ground and not religious. Maybe that is because you feel compelled to given that the best way to get a seat by yourself on a bus is to wear a T-shirt proclaiming "today I am going to talk to you about Jesus". People just bolt. You presumably want to succeed with your argument rather than causing everybody to scarper so you debate it within a secular framework.

    If you look back at my comments you will not find me saying that I thought a baby was being ripped apart but rather that people who oppose abortion (of which I am not one) because they in some infantile sense imagine something horrible. They can see the procedure at a later stage ripping to pieces a life that looks to them to have so many human characteristics.

    I think many people are uncomfortable with abortion, most of all the women who have them. But would it not make sense to you to encourage women to use the MAP so that the stage where your opposition might stand up a bit is not reached? Given that you seem unable to show how a child is ripped apart by the MAP, on what possible grounds could you oppose it?

  145. I never said the morning after pill ripped a child to pieces. As for the rest of the nonsense in your last comment I really wouldn't know how to respond to it - it is as meaningless as it is meandering.

  146. Anthony where is my comment in response to Sean gone?

  147. In regards the morning after pill what I said is that I opposed it on principle, to the extent that it is what Henry Joy described as an 'abortifacient' and for that same reason. I also said I could see why others would look on it differently. Part of the reason for this is because it is more than likely in the majority of instances that no pregnancy had ever occurred in the first instance. So of course there is a massive difference here. This is hardly the same as your call that a woman should be free to abort her child right up into the third trimester and to the point of birth, for no other reason that that she simply decides to do so divorced from all context. You are free to argue her right to do so but given its impact on the child in womb, which you've acknowledged several times, it is hardly something we can posit as progressive. It is not progressive that a fully-formed child should be terminated because the mother decides on that course of action. Even if society allows for her to do so it STILL does not make it progressive - it would only make it something that had been legislated for by a majority. It is not progressive to end life under such circumstances. Indeed it is inherently regressive.

  148. Steve R,

    check and see if it is in the earlier ones. We have removed nothing. Which one was it as we will have a record of them coming through to email

  149. Sean,

    you claimed abortion ripped a child to pieces, failed to differentiate between the stages of abortion. Where else does the logic lead us?

    If we can assume that there are stages of abortion which do rip a child to pieces, and that you do not think MAP is one of them, why are you as opposed to MAP as you are to late term?

    The comment looks meaningful enough to me but I can't control how others find it. If the debate makes you uncomfortable you don't need to continue with it. People are interested in your opinion and how you formulate your logic. If abortion is so wrong why is it so hard to explain it to rational people? Why is the argument against it losing ground all the time? Why are the people most stringently opposed to it immersed in the irrational?

  150. AM,

    The one finishing with my description of being at the birth of my kids.

    I don't believe you would have removed it anyway, but by happenstance you have covered my point well in your response to Sean regardless.

    The only question I wanted Sean to answer directly was..

    If pregnancy is sacred as endorsed by him ('Full stop') whence come miscarriage?

  151. Sean,

    no pregnancy might have occurred but the MAP is not devised for pregnancies that did not occur but for ones that did. You seem to suggest some form of Russian roulette is at play here.

    I support a woman's right in principle to abort because I can find no reason to deny her the choice. But as I said earlier I would never advise a late term abortion. It would be her choice. The notion of compelling her to carry full term seems abhorrent to me.

    Most progressives view abortion as progressive regardless of what you or I think of it. That sort of tells us something.

  152. The argument is gaining ground all the time because people are being pressed, by the like of yourself, to feel that to argue otherwise makes you in turn a reactionary. Popular mood though can dictate many things but it doesn't always mean it is progressive. The debate doesn't make me uncomfortable in the slightest for the record but at this point it's obviously going nowhere.

  153. Steve R

    did the comment appear?

    I can't recall. It might not have reached us as I don't recall one where you mentioned being at the birth of your kids.

  154. AM,

    Nope. Swallowed by gremlins I fear.

  155. Sean,

    Just because we believe something doesn't make it true Anthony.


    What are we to do with those who don't believe they are killing the child in womb? Legislate accordingly that the right to life be upheld regardless. The right to life is fundamental and not subject to a majority.

    But who would legislate? We would have to get the legislators to agree that the right to life in the womb is fundamental and on a par with the right to life outside it? A Franco type dictatorship might legislate your preference into existence but few others.

    Majority has nothing to do with it and nor does belief.

    Apart from your belief that seems. Why should your belief matter and others not?

    Beliefs have everything to do with it. You have an opinion that life in the womb is fundamental. Just as I have an opinion that it is not. So how do we reconcile the difference? Should everybody defer to your opinion?

    The child in the womb does not have human rights. You think it should have and are free to make the case. An opinion of what a right should be does not make a right. When it becomes enshrined in law it becomes a right, not an opinion that it is a right. We can of course have an opinion that it should not be a right.

  156. Sean,
    So the reason the argument is gaining ground is because people are being pressed, nothing to do with logic and force of argument.

    Why doesn't it work the other way given that you call people who endorse abortion reactionary? Why are they only pressed when I call them reactionary (which I don't unless they are the type who opposed gay rights and contraception) but not when you do?

    It is gaining ground for the same reasons gay rights gained ground. People no longer listen to the same extent to the clerics and stopped regarding them as moral guardians.

    Maybe you are not uncomfortable, just that you give me the clear impression that you are.

  157. I did not say that those who support abortion are reactionaries. Indeed I said long ago and at the outset that this is a highly complex and emotive issue that we would be remiss to dole out judgements on. What I said is that it is a reactionary position to posit that a child in the womb should be terminated at any point in pregnancy, right up until birth, on the simple say-so of the mother absent any other impacting factor. This came about because you admitted that, despite your reservations, you would agree this is something that is nevertheless progressive.

    I have no problem standing over all I have said and believe the child in womb is an autonomous body that should not be subjected to the logic you have posited. Religion has absolutely nothing to do with it despite your repeated mention of it. My views derive only from my belief that the child in womb is a life in its own right, with its own body and its own life prospects. I am quite comfortable in standing by that, no matter if it makes me a reactionary or not as many in the anti-life camp would insist. That is where it's at and that is where I will remain.

  158. AM,

    I didn't save it so alas it is lost in the netherworld. Doesn't matter, you are making much the same point. Sean has boxed himself in but as been shown in the past, he cannot fathom how to get out of his ever reducing corner so he is left with verbal gymnastics, dodging direct questions, and this topped off with his usual hostile style upon being questioned.

    It's quite clear he is coming from a religious standpoint however much he denies it though.

  159. Sorry Anthony I didn't keep a copy of it, no matter.

    158 comments and not one from a woman!!

  160. Sean,

    In truth, 'liberty' is only a useful phrase to ram through your reactionary pro-abortion agenda ... There is nothing progressive in this; it is reactionary

    So, who shall legislate and on the basis of whose opinion?

    I am not convinced that religion has nothing to do with it. You steered away from religious language but the position of life being sacred from conception to birth strikes me as a position only religious people hold. Being religious does not make a person reactionary although religion is generally reactionary. I don't believe for a second you are a reactionary. The author of the piece we comment on is not a reactionary. At the same time very few progressives can be found opposing abortion.

  161. 'Steve R' has failed to answer the questions put to him by both myself and Peter yet wants to talk about me dodging direct questions. I have answered every question; he has answered none. You couldn't make it up.

    Who will legislate? As far as I'm aware the legislation is already in place and has been long, long ago.

    If you are not convinced that religion has nothing to do with why I don't see terminating full-term children in the womb as progressive then it's most likely because you are obsessed by religion to the point of fixation. That's your concern and not mine.

    I'm out for the day so won't see anything further until later.

    Why I support protecting life from the get-go is for the same reason you support full-term abortion: because you either allow for the logic of your position in its totality - in principle - or your argument doesn't stand up to its own eventual logic. For me the child in the womb is its own unique life - easily evidenced by the fact that each and every one of us were all at one time the child in womb. On that basis I feel it progressive to uphold that child-to-be's right to life. You differ because you posit that the child in the womb has no rights until it is actually born and thus is free to be terminated should the mother desire to do so.

    That's the long and short of it and if you wish to harp on about religion then from here-on-in I will not be repeating myself.

  162. Steve R,

    it wasn't in the spam either so something has gone wrong along the route

  163. Sean,

    legislation changes all the time. Laws don't last forever and a day. The legislation in place is on the way out. How do you propose keeping legislation in place which the majority of people do not want and the legislators are not prepared to maintain in current form?

    We have no one moral guide or compass. Besides we should never allow the law to determine morality. But given that we have this plurality of opinion on the status of life in the womb, how do we legislate for it? Should the legislators take the view that the majority opinion is wrong and ignore it? And on what basis would they be able to say the minority opinion is right? In the absence of any universal moral code legislators have to proceed as best they can. The only way we could have your preference in place would be via a Franco type right wing dictatorship, which you are not advocating in the slightest and which would be a terrible price to pay just to have a minority opinion thrust upon the rest of society.

    I am not obsessed with religion to the point of fixation. I find religion laughable but I support the right of people to their religious opinion. They just can't inflict it on me. If they do I will quickly become fixated with stopping it. Religious opinion should have the same rights as rugby opinion. Nobody should be persecuted or prosecuted for believing Italy thrashed Ireland last weekend. But they should not be allowed to teach it as fact in schools. I don't live my life in accordance with what others insist some great unicorn says. I think Steve R has a point: because religion is so easily ridiculed due to its pretentious claims, people guided by religious logic are often aware of the disadvantage they face if they enter a debate openly citing their god as the source of their logic. So they avoid the use of religious language. In your case I think you would oppose abortion if you were an atheist so your stance cannot be explained away as just a mere manifestation of some religiosity.

    You seem to miss the point. My "comfort zone" with abortion decreases the longer the pregnancy. Probably the same with women who have them and why most are performed early in the pregnancy. Your opposition to it remains the same whether the pregnancy is at day one or day one hundred on the basis that pregnancy is sacred and not something that grows in sacred status each day.

    It is unfortunate that more ant-abortion voices did not weigh in as it would have made for a better discussion. I think the ease with which the pro-choice position prevailed in the above debate may not be a genuine reflection of the complexities of the matter. Society needs to be better informed as Pip suggested. The anti-abortion camp needs to raise its game if it wishes to make any serious impact. It was a valiant effort but you were largely alone, which never makes it easy. I just think the longer it went on the more frustrated you got. While you did not come to agree with the pro choice position, I hope you learn something about the limitations of the anti abortion stance. To have learned nothing would be a waste. I got much to reflect on from the overall discussion.

  164. No-one inflicted religion on in the discussion above and yet you continued to introduce it - admittedly along with others. This is because, despite your denials, you ARE indeed fixated on religion and thus why you continue to talk about it and attribute it to MY motives. And I don't miss the point about your 'comfort zone' - I understand it full well. It gives me no pleasure to accuse you of supporting full term abortion on demand but we have to deal with the logic of your position and this is where it ends. I'm under no illusion that you really believe this is a progressive concept and understand that you have to stand over the logic of your position - that the child in womb has no right to life until it be born. At least you were prepared to do so unlike the other contributors, namely 'Henry Joy' and 'Steve R'. Unfortunately this is the ramification of your position but I would well imagine that you don't truly believe such a thing would be an acceptable norm. The problem is to deny otherwise undermines the idea that rights only accrue upon birth and would then leave it incumbent on you to explain at what point bodily autonomy became part of the equation and why. I would safely imagine you have no way of satisfactorily doing so and thus you are saddled with the position that even a full term and fully healthy baby can be terminated in the days before it is due for no other reason than the mother decides it should be so. That such an instance could be described as progressive is in the eye of the beholder but for me it is no such thing. And if that's what you call your argument prevailing then good luck to you and good day.

  165. Sean,

    I did not say my argument prevailed. I said the pro choice argument seemed to have easily won the day. I was only part of the argument. Like others I found you boxed yourself in.

    We will have to disagree on fixation about religion. I have a firm commitment to secularism which could be interpreted as a fixation with ensuring that the public sphere is not polluted with religion. I think those fixated with religion are those who thrust rosary beads in the face of women. Neither you nor I would fit in that category.

    Nor am I concerned about what motivates you. I just happen to think Steve makes a better case regarding that sort of thinking. I don't know anybody other than people of faith who hold that pregnancy is sacred. If you can point me in the direction of those that do, I'll cede the ground. How many non religious people believe in miracles. The miraculous, like the sacred, is a religious concept not a non religious one.

    I think both Steve and Henry Joy said the same thing about a woman's rights. If I recall they advised not to humanise the foetus.

  166. Sean B,

    Those of us that are pro-choice make a distinction between a fetus and a 'child' and generalise that the fetus in the womb has no rights that transcend the wishes and human rights of the host. Once the fetus is delivered to the world and takes its first breath the child acquires equal human rights. Previous to that event any perceived rights are subject to those of the host.
    Despite that generalised distinction, during the gestation period the wishes of the host will be/are restricted subject to the democratically enacted and enforced laws of the land. In a progressive society legislation is/will be shaped by both popular opinion and relevant expert inputs. Restricted by such influences no legislation that provides for the exaggerated scenarios that pro-lifers propose is likely. Its virtually impossible to realistically imagine that a scenario where legislation that allows for end-term abortion on-demand would even be considered never mind enacted. Late-term abortion on-demand will almost certainly never be legislated for. However provision will rightfully be made for late-term terminations in exceptional emergency medical circumstance and where fetal abnormalities only emerge late in the pregnancy.

    I'd hold that all that will be seen as a pragmatic and realistic response to these issues by most thoughtful and reasonable people. Calibrated by the degree of vehemence with which they oppose such inevitable changes the opposition will be rightfully placed on a spectrum somewhere between emotive & unreasonable to reactionary & regressive.

  167. Perhaps you might explain this 'boxing myself in' as I have never altered my position at any stage and am saying the same thing now as I did at the outset. The child in womb is a separate physical entity with its own right to life. Because it is impossible to ascertain at what point the life in the womb reaches sufficient autonomy to warrant protections we are left with the conundrum that you either hold the entirety of the pregnancy as warranting protection or none of it.

    And please man ffs, would you quit with the nonsense about 'sacredness'. Only I was asked to comment on it I would never have mentioned the word and other than in my replies to those questions I have never mentioned the word once. Just on a point of note, one definition of the word 'sacred' posits its meaning as 'worthy of respect or dedication'. So enough of that nonsense because that's all it is.

    That you and others say otherwise than that the child in womb is a separate physical entity, with its own unique identity and right to life accruing, only means that we don't agree - not that I was boxed into a corner. Alec passed comment recently on your tendency to declare yourself the winner when debating - even if you don't specifically state as much - and I can see now what he was referring to...

  168. Sean,

    have long have you been debating with me?

    How often have I declared myself the winner?

    Alex is yanking your chain.

    It might cause you to wonder if he tells others anything about your debating style!!

    Even here I didn't declare myself the winner. I tried to stand back a bit from the discussion - no easy thing - just to see where it was going and concluded it was really all one way traffic in terms of the better arguments and logic. I found your responses poor. It seemed at times as if you were too tensed up, reticent about letting your mind flow, in case we were trying to catch you out. It is only a blog comments section where comments are sort of unsworn testimony. The sworn ones come when we write pieces and we are promoting ideas more than we practice them. I don't hold people to what they say in the comments.

    How did you box yourself in? Precisely by saying the same thing over and over again, failing to appreciate the logic in the positions put to you, flailing around and at times getting angry when a much better response was to ignore the goading. You even seem angry with me despite my not having goaded you once, sticking instead to making points and refusing to score them. Maybe you are sitting behind your laptop laughing at us all and having a good time. Good for you if you are but the image your tone conjures up is one of being seething.

    As I said before, had it been put to you that pregnancy was a curse, you would not have articulated the concept of course into your language. You took a term, endorsed it and reinforced it. But yes, you did respond to someone else using the term and you did not thump the bible on it and it causes no problems. I sometimes use the word miracle without believing in miracles. I allowed for you using the word sacred in that sense.

    But you seem to get none of this, appearing to take the view that everybody is out to do you down.

  169. Henry Joy,

    your last comment is as comprehensive as it is concise. A no-nonsense laying out of the position with a brevity of words which I admittedly envy.

  170. Perception is a strange thing and then some. I am angry at no-one and sought only to expose the logic in play - this is the internet ffs and most of the comments are from nameless profiles. How can you get angry with a nameless profile, a moniker or a pseudonym? And by the way, were I for one second worried about what other people thought or think of me I would not discuss many of the things that I do.

    Regardless of that, from all the above we can see that the truth of the pro-abortion position is not about rape or fatal foetal abnormality or incest or any of those qualified circumstances often referenced. It is about abortion on demand and its introduction as a societal norm. I don't agree with this as I believe the child in womb has bodily autonomy. If I'm boxed in regards that then so be it - I'm not in any way uncomfortable in being so.

    And just one other thing. You are actually right that I am often sitting laughing behind the laptop during many of the seemingly 'heated' exchanges on here - particularly in relation to 'Henry Joy'. Not so much on this thread though as it's such a serious issue. Yes I find him patronising for the most part but I often enjoy giving him the worst word in my mouth as to me he is not an actual person - I haven't a clue who he is. Much of my indignation towards him is feigned. Do I hate him? Absolutely not and in the real world he's probably a decent man with whom you could have a pint and a yarn. I'd imagine the same goes for Steve and even Peter.

    The conversation was what it was and I agree it became repetitive. As I said long ago it simply goes to show that you will not 'debate' people around into surrendering or changing their positions. We will see what legislation, if any, comes forward...

  171. After reading 75% of the comments...Some people think abortion is murder while others hit back saying "Doesn't that make blow jobs cannibalism." And everyone comes away with the same points of view they started with..

  172. Well I know from the moment 2 lines appeared on the test kit to the heartbeat on the first scan to looking at our wee son now, I could never advocate preventing a life forming deliberately. There are a few adult A-holes I might think better in the 'hear-after' an odd time, but with the scientific advancement of contraception today, I cannot personally support abortion. And Frankie I think it's only cannibalism if you swallow your own. You really should avoid doing that mucker!

  173. heres something i read only today in a book i first heard of about a year ago and that i only got in the post last week. its called 'the spark in the machine' and is a book that tries to bridge the gap between eastern and western medicine.

    "When conception occurs, the sperm punctures through the egg with a violence that is immediately felt throughout the cell - it is now impossible for another sperm to enter. This process creates a surge of electricity in the cell: the nuclei combine, fizzing and sparkling with micro-electric sparks.
    The cell has done something incredible, it has created new life!...and then, just like God at the end of creation...the cell rests for a day.
    A day might not seem like a lot, but in the breakneck world of embryology, it is like a trillion, trillion, trillion lifetimes.
    Then it gets to work. It's got three billion years of evolution to get through, and only 12 weeks to do it in! Everything interesting that happens to the baby happens in these 12 weeks; from then until the birth the baby just gets bigger."

    I unconditionally love all conceived children/beings/foetuses/undifferentiated clusters of cells - whatever you want to call them. They are miraculous and so are we,despite our fallen state. Protect them all from the trade in foetal organs. Defend them and love them unconditionally.

    regressive republican backward backwoodsmen like me defended all of you here when you were in your mothers wombs, from shankill loyalists to sdlp existentialists to sf 'pro-choicers' to people who cudnt give a damn either way, and to me -
    "It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
    The thought that says ‘I’m right!’

    choose LOVE forever and ever LOVE from the very beginning LOVE to the very end LOVE
    choose LIFE forever and ever LIFE from the very beginning LIFE to the very end LIFE
    choose LOVE & LIFE

  174. Larry,

    congratulations on the most recent addition to the Hughes bloodline. I wish the little man, yourself and his Mom health and happiness.

    I can understand the shaping of your position and the views of those who hanker after and adhere to the old mores where the viability of the fetus takes precedent over the life and health of the woman carrying it. But I cannot respect a system of morals or laws which precipitate catastrophic events such as we had in Galway some years ago leading to the death of Savita Halappanavar .

    The decision whether to terminate or to proceed with a pregnancy, in all probability I'd guess, is never an easy one for the woman involved. An empathetic understanding of such difficult decisions ought allow for more compassionate facilitation of all choices.


    (welcome back, I'm looking forward to more of your zany humour)
    Best though if you make a distinction between imagining yourself a son of god and imagining yourself god.

    Love is patient, kind, respectful and compassionate.
    As "A Course in Miracles" advocates and teaches love's opposite is not hate but fear. Fear based positions are scornful of others. Fear based positions are demanding of others. Love allows for respect and tolerance of difference. Love affords freedoms, freedom to be and freedom to behave differently. And fear, on the other hand, demands undifferentiated compliance.

    I'm all with you Grouch ... let love triumph fear.

  175. Very oddly, my comment has now appeared in the correct chronological area!

    Must be a weird time warp/ interwebs thingy from the Antipodes!

    Something else I thought of on my travels the passed few days...

    For those against abortion, are you in favour of euthanasia?

    Or what about Same-Sex marriage?

  176. No idea what happened Steve R

  177. Henry Joy

    Thank you. Appreciated.

    In regards to abortion I am against it in the sense/fear or possibility of it being used casually. We hear so much vocal outpouring in demand of female responsibility for their own bodies. Yet contraception is widely available and females are regularly anything but responsible for their own bodies it would seem. The RC church is no longer putting the fear of hell and damnation into poor wee girls today and social stigma regarding single girls with babies is also a thing of the past. I do agree with your point HJ in regard to the Galway incident and similar situations. Also as far as euthanasia goes I am all for it. Especially in the 6 county prod areas as they are all awaiting a happy death demographically, so I say why disappoint them!?

  178. Larry

    ffs, that last comment!
    I hope you're not going to inflict your prejudices on the cub. Hopefully the different cultural exposures his mother brings to his life can soften and balance out the excesses from his Da's side! Have you got him enrolled in an Educate Together school yet?

    Back to the substantive: The evidence suggests, as I've outlined earlier, that the anti-abortionists are scaremongering and playing on peoples fears. Its virtually certain and unimaginable that on-demand late-term terminations will ever be legislated for. Yes, when medical emergency dictates and no in the third trimester when merely at the whim of the mother.

    You do make a worthwhile point about the consequences of the loosening of the moral noose Larry. Maybe in time with the introduction of more freely available choices for women coupled with almost certainly less generous 'headage' incentive payments and more effective imposition of financial responsibilities and consequences on the stud we will see less single girls with babies and return to more traditional and more stable families?

  179. hj, i am the humble leader of a tribe of saordonians with a population of one (and i wont be multiplying at this stage). when i go to mass, i wait til its over and take the leaflet home and hav a read as i consider myself unworthy of mass at the moment, so theres no god complex going on here. also, was listening to a vedic scholar recently saying that the ancient vedics believed love has no opposite, that if you think it does, thats were ur mind comes in messing everything up, thats the understanding i got from him anyway. larry, i dont want to live in a society were euthanasia is considered ok. im sure id a been banging the door down of the local euthanasia clinic years ago when the depression was at its most severe. imagine if that happened, thered be no saordonia. and on a more serious note, some poor christian or falun gong prisoner in china is being marched to their death TODAY to supply an organ for one of the new fabulously wealthy elite there now. (the doctors to the elite have direct lines to the prison chiefs there). they are the prisoner of choice for execution over there as their clean living and wholesome lifestyles mean they 'donate' the healthiest organs. i am against the trade in foetal and fully developed human organs. also, i would say to anyone on the fence, and this is just personal, that accepting life begins at conception is a journey. a transformative one, a really incredible and beautiful one.
    heres something i got in last sundays mass leaflet
    "....make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must really learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise mens thoughts: he knows how useless they are..."

    and from the week before's leaflet
    "......the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him."

    and my favourite quote from the bible, which Jesus Himself said -
    "Father in heaven, i thank you for hiding from the learned and clever, what you reveal to mere children."

    some poor anti abortionist is being marched to their death TODAY in china to supply a liver or a kidney for a marxist millionaire. the horror friends, the absolute horror.

  180. Henry Joy

    Was taking the proverbial P regarding the Old Firm... sorry... the old and infirm in the wee6. I thought Steve R or Peter may have came down on me there lol
    As for the child's education, thinking very seriously of enrolling him in the local Gaelscoil. Although he has plenty of time before that enrolment takes place and if I have my way we will be resident in sunnier climes.
    As for 'studs' being held accountable ... ABSOLUTELY...many poor girls get left high and dry by tramps who they were desperate to hold on to and impress otherwise they wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place. Though I still cannot see a heartbeat in the womb as anything but a life though. So for me time is not the issue. But I do concede different circumstances require different action. I wouldn't want to lose my wife for a refusal to remove/terminate a 10 week old fetus that's for definite. Terrible choice and a haunting one for the couple I imagine.

  181. Sean Bres,

    " in the real world he's probably a decent man with whom you could have a pint and a yarn. I'd imagine the same goes for Steve and even Peter."

    No offence Sean but you scare the living sh*te out of me!!


    I've missed your laconically casual sectarianism, hope you and the family are well mucker lol


    They are considering euthanasia here in some states of Oz....but you must be terminally ill, no chance of recovery, be of sound mind and judgement and assessed by 3 separate Docs saying as much. even then they just supply the cocktails for you to self administer so there are a lot of checks and balances. I too have the Black Dog and at times wanted it to go away but this is not the point of assisted easement of terminal pain.

    Pretty horrified to hear that stuff goes on in the People's China, have you any links I could read? My dealings with the Chinese have been very amicable. They tend to be very family focused along with their business but not warlike or blatantly macabre, but I suppose anything is possible where money and desperation exists.


    For them to die happy would mean a bunch of Free P suicide jihadi's up at Connolly house!

    I'll help Poots strap his on!

    The problem with humanity is we are saving those who would have been weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection, due to genetic abnormalities and general idiocy. Now humanity is faced with overcrowding of morons and plebs...which means overall IQ's will drop.

    We are all f*cked!

  182. Grouch,

    as someone who walked with the 'black dog' as well I'm glad you've found ways to leave it behind also. I've come to understand that, for me anyway, too much excessive rumination is part of the cycle of depression. So in that sense 'no mind' is a useful retreat. I can't for the life of me though see how one can be in that state permanently save but to be chemically induced out of one's mind and even then we have to come up for air occasionally.
    Rather, I can meditate and empty the mind for short 20 minute periods. Through my practice I have observed the monkey and got to know his ways. I have learnt to be more mindful when applying myself to even the most mundane tasks and that tends to keep him out of the loop too.

    But that's me grouch and whatever work for you keep doing it.

    I don't hold with organ harvesting. In reality though I don't have any influence over what Chinese billionaires do to unfortunate Chinese prisoners so I'm not going to ruminate unnecessarily on that.


    some things we agree on and others we agree to differ on.
    (Sunnier climes sounds good).

  183. steve r, its the foot in the door is my worry, - will get links for u later about executions to order but just google it and u will learn of the horror. lived in sydney for 6 mnths 20 yrs ago, awesome place. and yes, the chinese are a mighty race but they have been brutalised by the dehumanizing and evil doctrine of 'marxism'. the Taoists were persecuted under that awful regime. interestingly, the Taoists refer to the womb (horrible word in my book) as the Palace of the Child. i knew a chinese girl in dublin years ago who was the second child in her family and had to be reared by an aunt. beautiful young woman. hj,u do have influence on chinese billionaires and on anything on earth if u want to. small acts from other sides of the planet helped us here in our darkest hours and still resonate, choctaw nation being one. and steve r, dont be scared of bres!!!, id bet my bottom dollar u wud have a great nite out with bres - but it wud hav to be in the outback under a skyful of stars and tyrone wud hav to hav won the all ireland earlier that day.

  184. People Before Profit manifesto released yesterday, in mentioning abortion said...'Throughout this manifesto are a range of other proposals, such as better housing, childcare, public transport and wages, which would impact greatly on the ability of women to make decisions about crisis pregnancies'.

    Thanks for posting my piece Mackers.

  185. Grouch

    I don't necessarily decry any efforts you might have made on behalf of Chinese prisoners who have been used and abused for organ harvesting yet I'd have to question the value of such rumination or discussion if its devoid of concrete, practical and effective action. I suspect that there's an ephemeral nature to your musings on this and you've haven't in truth taken any follow-through on it. My hunch, you've read some article on-line and let it hijack your emotions, recycled it a few times over in your mind and allowed it to reinforce your distorted and biased conclusions about people, the world and how each interacts with the other.

    If any of us brings our focus exclusively to the negative, or generally to the negative with occasional rapid vacillations to extreme positivity, and do all that without due regard for the mundane muddle of the middle then we shouldn't be surprised if we become or appear unbalanced.

    Keep it simple Grouch. If you want to come out of your isolationist Saordonian habitat and make a contribution to broader society, how about keeping it local and volunteering with MADRA (Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue & Adoption)?

  186. henry joy, ive been interested in china since 2001 when i started studying acupuncture. i know chinese people living here. its actually a big part of my life. ur hunches are what they are - hunches. ur a right royal pain in the arse henryjoy and i actually preferred the other henry nutter - michaelhenry who used to comment here a few years ago. u are patronising beyond belief and the laughable thing about you is you have been harping on about existentialism here lately, which i hate to inform you, went out of fashion in the last millenium. ur polysyllabic and pretentious style of writing is truly nauseating, and i dont blame you for hiding behind a monicker. one big difference between you and me (and there are many thank God) is that, where you say - on waking this morning i felt a compunction to gravitate towards the lavatorial chamber where i performed my ablutions and on visually examining my recently excreted stool i was delighted to discover it was a fully formed and healthy looking specimen indicative of a proper functioning large intestine which gave me much pleasure, and i say - i had a good shit this morning.

    and may i ask you - what do you do for broader society except bore people to death with dead philosophies and pretentious polysyllabic guff that you dont have the courage to sign ur name to. g'nite from saordonia.

  187. and while im at it henry joyless, can you not see the point of me commenting here on this site about brutality and executions in prisons. this website was started by a man who was one of hundreds/thousands who were tortured in interrogation centres and then brutalised in one of the most notorious jails on earth. male and female prisoners who were supported by people from different countries all over the world, which gave them courage and hope and the strength to continue their struggle. sometimes i think u think ur on some website for nihilistic nietzche nerds and existentialist trainspotters. but it is a website that lets anyone say anything, so i suppose u have as much a right to waffle on about irrelevant dead existentialists as i do in trying to highlight prison brutality and murder thats going on now. now, did i "keep it simple" enuf for you mc crackhead, g'nite again.

  188. Grouch/Gerome

    attempting misdirection and bringing the over-roasted old chestnut of 'monikers' to the table yet again is risible, especially so from a contributor who over time has contented himself to use at least two.

    The four fundamental cornerstones of existential phenomenology; those of isolation, freedom, mortality and meaning are as relevant to a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of the human condition today as they ever were. I'd contend they'll, in all likelihood, forever remain so. We will never fully and completely know 'the other'. (Therefore the greater importance and relevance of knowing oneself). Despite the circumstances and limitations of our lives we have choices in our responses (As in Victor Frankyl's: Man's Search for Meaning). We are always, albeit somewhat constrained, free to choose. Death is inevitable and stalks us daily. And life or death has no meaning in the absolute sense save those stories we create around them.

    Its in the nature of life Grouch that we're metaphorically exposed to other peoples shit. However we're free to take it on or free to reject it. I'm certainly not going to knowingly and compliantly bend over and take a faecal transplant from arse-holes who, as it appears from their commentary, have little understanding of how the world and life most likely works. If I come across condescendingly or arrogantly in my efforts to protect myself from others' infected faecal matter that's something I can easily live with. Better that than become infected?
    If you, Bres and others want to make victims of yourselves yet again and cry "patronising prick" then you are free to do so ... just as you are free to refrain from choosing to do so. That's presuming of course ye could think better! Oh silly me!

  189. existentialism is the opium of the armchair pseudo-intellectual.

    i was actually put off this site about a year ago by your constant bullshit henry joyless. i used to like tuning in here. i only made a comment for the first time since then when i read ur pathetic comment on Frank's (God be good to him) page last week. u have no class bro. i can handle u sniping at people from behind ur monicker, but not at the dead, especially the recently departed, and much loved departed i might add. this isnt the pensive quill to me anymore. its the ponce-ive quill and thats down to you, ur all over this site from morning til night (which is why i have an issue with u using a monicker). i hope to God u have a job and arent one of those existentialist philosophers on the dole. that wud fucking kill me. and the phrase - make victims of yourselves!!!!! dont flatter urself mccrackhead!! u cudnt victimize me even if u tried! now take it easy on the thesaurus and best of luck with the verbal diarrhea (both literal and metaphorical, ie.- the use of 'faecal' in above comment as well as its content), but i fear at this stage, it is terminal. oh silly you indeed!

  190. and im not bovered what u come out with now cuz im out of here.

  191. Grouch,

    seems you're at a choice point ... you can take your ball and feck off home again or you can face the reality of the fact that the survival of any species depends upon diversity.

    Chill out man, there's more than enough room for all of us and all our diverse world views.

  192. This is an interesting piece I came across while browsing something else a few minutes ago.

    This Is What It’s Really Like To Have A Late-Term Abortion

  193. Grouch,

    not again - how many times have you left us now? !!!

  194. AM,

    thanks for that link. As Larry said earlier, it really is a difficult situation for any couple or woman on her own to face. Just imagine then having to run the gauntlet of demented 'pro-lifers'!

    It'd be challenging for anyone to offer a reasonable and logical defence for not allowing for termination under such circumstances.

  195. anthony, im starting a facebook page for the saordonian(s). people will have to pay to be friended (20euro for employed, 75 euro for the unemployed - sick of dolites gettin evrything cheap and anyone who was a terrorist is free). hj, survival of the species....depends upon cherishing the unborn. nothing else. im going to visit newgrange soon, a five thousand year old mega monument to the miracle of conception. they were more civilized than us barbarians. cherish life from conception to death, its a miracle that modern man is blind to and believing it elevates ur consciousness to a more miraculous and cosmic plane, the plane our ancestors were on. they are waiting for us. tiocfaidh ar la.

  196. Grouch,

    I wish you well in your new venture. You are always welcome here. It was great to start the day recently with a laugh when you narrated the tale of your visit to the ablutions. If we are allowed to laugh in Sardonia sign me up.

    Henry Joy,

    I found the article worth a read. That I was sympathetic to the woman was secondary. I am sure another woman could write as well from a different perspective and I would find that interesting also. I agree with you entirely: no woman should be subject to the deranged and demented thrusting rosary beads in her face. She should have access to the widest range of views possible if she wishes to more broadly inform herself.

    As you pointed out earlier few want late term abortion unless the circumstances are dire.

  197. Grouch,

    an entertaining crackpot is still a crackpot.

    Idolise the past and idealise the future if it keeps you happy. Avoid the challenges of living in the here and now by creating your private kingdom, your free-republic of Saordonia, if that works for you. We're all entitled to our own view of the world. What we can't do though is impose it on others. Sure, we can present our preferences for consideration yet we have to learn to respect the right of 'the other' to opt for different preferences. If a majority in a community hold a view that is at variance with one's own and presuming one wishes to live in a civil manner then surely one must cede to the collective preference. All the more so if that community allows for respectful dissent. Its not as if anyone is advocating here for mandatory termination in any or every circumstance. Its not as if we're asking you to morally approve the collective preference should it arise. For example, there's a valid case to be made for changing the laws on 'controlled substances' insofar as it could potentially lessen overall criminal behaviour and could probably benefit society in the round with such relaxation. Yet it wouldn't actually force anyone to take drugs who doesn't want to nor would it require anyone to change a deeply held position about the recreational use of narcotics. At a logical level there are parallels. And yet similar forces of moral conditioning as we've seen on the abortion issue are likely to come into play in order to stall such pragmatic and realistic attempts to address drug-use problems and curtail drug-related crime.

    Contemplate those parallels when you're in Newgrange.

    (I lived in the Boyne Valley for a while and did all the megalithic sites: Knoth, Dowth and Newgrange. That was almost forty years ago and access was unrestricted then. I rung in the millennium ensconced in a cairn in the Carrowkeel megalithic complex in south Sligo.)

  198. Another piece worth reading Came across this while reading about the earlier one on late term abortion

  199. henryjoy, in sorry, but i didnt read past the third sentence. all i'll say to u is this - i grow food. its reality. i know the healing properties of the wild herbs and of trees. i will survive. u cant eat existentialism and it wont cure diarrhea. i know a herb that does. slan.


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