The Left And The Eighth

Dr Anne Mc Closkey objects to the position f the Left on the Eighth Amendment. 

My religious views are my own private affair. Indeed they are so private that I don’t know them myself most days! But I’m a born-again secularist in terms of how a state should function. We cannot condemn theocracies or fundamentalist rule in other lands, while expecting preferential treatment for a particular religious or moral opinion at home. While one’s faith and upbringing can colour our attitude to abortion, that is the intentional destruction of the human foetus, the two are I believe separate and independent matters.

The state has a duty to protect her citizens, especially those unable to do so themselves. Our laws should strive to ensure the best possible outcomes for the greatest number of people. When a woman is pregnant, two separate lives exist. We can rail against the biology, but we can’t change it. The Eighth Amendment gives constitutional protection to the unborn, without discriminating on grounds of wantedness, wealth or state of health, while in all cases protecting the mother’s life and wellbeing. Politicians cannot be entrusted with such important issues.

Many of those who were enthusiastic supporters of the 1967 act in England did not ever anticipate that it would essentially be abortion on demand in implementation, and that somewhere in the region of 200,000 abortions would be performed annually, of which over 95% are for non-medical reasons. In Ireland, our leaders want to introduce a regime which is even more extreme than this, that is abortion on demand, for any reason up till three months gestation, at which time the baby is fully formed and just requires to grow and mature.

It is important to be clear that in this country today, where it is deemed medically necessary to end the life of the unborn child in order to preserve the mother’s life, as for example in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or gynaecological malignancy, such action is legal and appropriate. These procedures are routine in all of our hospitals. Ireland’s maternal mortality rate is significantly lower than that in Britain, and among the lowest in Europe, although the politicians and media don’t seem to know this.

Many of those who once held different views now concede that abortion harms not only the unborn child, but mothers, fathers, families and wider society. While there are certainly women who have found that abortion seemed to be the correct option for them, I know of many other women who deeply regret their choice to end a pregnancy, and find it difficult to forgive themselves. Robust scientific studies have confirmed significantly worse mental health outcomes for women who have undergone an abortion, including one Finnish study which shows six times higher rate of completed suicide, as compared to those who carried their babies to term.

Fathers have no say, and are often left bereaved and traumatised by a decision they have no control over. The notion of fatherhood, with all that entails, is reduced to mere sperm donation. The ensuing baby is “part of the woman’s body” and the father is no longer relevant.

I’ve frequently spoken to women who were adamant that they could not continue with a crisis pregnancy, but then found the strength and support to carry on. Not one has ever come back to say that she regretted her decision. In every household in every street in this town, live people whose being may not have been “planned” or “wanted”, but who are valued and valuable members of our communities. It has been confirmed that in the six counties, our laws have saved 100,000 lives since the introduction of the 1967 act in England.

The nub of the matter is what constitutes a human person, and what protections should be afforded to that person? Is the right to life predicated on another person’s requirements, or have we intrinsic rights by virtue of our being? What is a person? Is there a point, either before or after birth at which we become autonomous, or a line which divides those who have personhood from those who haven’t? In the same way as we have laws for gun control, or to forbid drunk driving, should a state intervene to protect its members from harm? These are not simple questions, and we need respectful and inclusive debate to try and reach the best outcomes by which we can arrange our society.

I think most people shudder when we see images of dismembered bodies, so obviously human, the products of mid-term or late abortions, or see the recordings of abortion clinic staff casually haggling over the price of foetal parts for sale to pharmaceutical companies or research facilities. But if the human foetus is merely a part of his or her mother’s body, and has no autonomy, then the logical conclusion is that this is perfectly acceptable. Why so coy?

It is true that the majority of “terminations” happen at a much earlier stage, when the foetus is not in so recognisably human form. But once there is an established pregnancy there is no point in time, no dividing line which demarcates the human person from merely “tissue”. The process is a continuum, an amazing mixture of two parents’ DNA coming together to create a genetically, biologically and actually autonomous unique individual. The unborn child is not part of a woman’s body, but a separate life, albeit dependant on its mother for nutrition and shelter.

Abortion discriminates on the grounds of disability, no matter what Michael Martin tells you. Those babies who are found to suffer physical or intellectual challenges, those who might not fit our society's definition of successful or useful will not make it! In countries with abortion, women come under tremendous pressure to terminate babies who are going to be a “burden”. But a burden on whom? We know that disabled people have a huge amount to contribute to our society, and are capable of giving and receiving love in a sometimes very special way. I find it incomprehensible that while we mouth platitudes about the courage and fortitude of those with, for example, Down’s syndrome in the Special Olympics, over 95% of such children are aborted in countries where it is legal, their lives deemed not worthy of living. Surely we can do better.

In the case of what have now become known as “fatal foetal abnormality” that is those babies suffering from rare conditions which are unlikely to be compatible with independent existence outside the womb, current law allows a clinical decision between the parent/s and their physician as to how to proceed. Treatment should ensure the best outcome for the mother, in whatever form that might take. Again, the evidence is growing that mothers do better long-term if they are supported in delivering their baby and the new specialty of perinatal hospice care provides an environment where parents can nurse their child in a supported and loving way, for his or her short life. I’ve personally seen this working in our community, where the little girl lived for three weeks, surrounded and cared for at home by her family and neighbours. She left special memories for all those who were privileged to meet her. Parents who chose other ways of dealing with these rare and heart-breaking situations should be supported in whatever way they choose. The law allows intervention when it is required. There will be no prosecutions where doctors act in the best interests of patients. To claim otherwise is patently false.

Of course the commonest “fatal foetal abnormality” worldwide is that of being female. There are over one hundred million females missing because of sex –selective foeticide. But you won’t hear the sisters talking about that.

There is a wider context to this discussion. In my work as a GP in a socioeconomically deprived area, with 60% child poverty. I regularly see children of thirteen or fourteen in the surgery looking for contraception. They often are sexually active without any consideration of the alternatives, or awareness of what healthy age-appropriate relationship look like. There are other women who may be abusive or violent relationships, at risk of STDs, unplanned pregnancies and worse. Even with free accessible contraceptive including post-coital contraception available round the clock, 365 days a year, unplanned pregnancies occur. Something is wrong with a society where if abortion is available one in five pregnancies is deliberately destroyed.

Choice for our young needs to start much earlier than the choice which abortion offers. Sexual health and contraceptive services must be accessible, non-judgmental and free at the point of use. Women and men should be empowered to look after one another and their families. It is incomprehensible to me that some men absolve themselves of responsibility by insisting that abortion is a woman’s choice only, and has nothing to do with their actions.

We live in a society which manifestly does not value women. Apart from the obvious things like pay disparity and the casual sexism to which all women have been at times subjected, we accept the objectification and casual abuse of women in a million ways every day. I regard the use of images of photo-shopped anorexic girls in a permanent pre-orgasmic state to sell stuff, and often violent and abusive pornography to which our children are daily exposed now as essentially the same thing. They vary in degree, but not in principle. That there is somehow a difference between a “high class prostitute” and a trafficked and pimped sex slave is nonsense.

The virtue posturing around the “me too” campaign is nauseating-they all knew it was as much a part of the glitz of Hollywood as the gross frocks! Wasn’t it Madonna who said forty years ago that losing her virginity wasn’t so much a sexual encounter as a career-move. No-one batted an eyelid.
The Left in Ireland haven’t even tried to produce a class-based analysis of the pro-life position. Abortion disproportionately affects the poor, those from ethnic minorities, females, and the disabled.

But the vocal and well funded militant feminists and erstwhile human rights bodies have climbed the high moral mountain and proclaimed “choice” as the only morality. They scream abuse at anyone who dares question the basis of their thesis. The left are cowed and cowardly, led by narcissistic ideologues, hidebound by dead dogmas. They don’t do facts, only rhetoric.

Of course we need houses, a health service worth the name, social care, jobs and hope. But do you think billionaire venture capitalists are going to finance any of that? The likes of Soros and there are many others, want a cull on the poor, the untermenschen, those who can’t or won’t feed their money machine. They even get tax breaks for using their dirty money to shape the world to serve their needs! But there’s not a word of challenge from those on the left who should be defending the values which they claim to assert. And the less said about those elected to promote those values the better.

The Proclamation is a blueprint which for many of us still describes the Ireland we will work to achieve. We should reject the failed solutions imposed by those who do not have the interests of the people at heart. We must Cherish All the Children Equally if we are to achieve freedom. 

Anne Mc Closkey works as a GP in Derry. Lifelong republican and community activist, mother and grandmother, stood as Independent candidate in 2016 Assembly election, polling over 3k 1st preference votes, founder member of Cherish all the Children Equally, a republican progressive organisation founded to give pro-life socialists and Republicans a voice and to campaign against repeal of the constitutional right to life in 8th amendment.

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Anthony McIntyre

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

21 comments to ''The Left And The Eighth"

  1. I'm unclear, is the author saying even the child produced by rape or incest should be brought to term? Where is here 'line' on this matter?

    How on earth can a severely handicapped child that requires around the clock care contribute ANYTHING to society? Isn't it plainly obvious that child would be resource intensive?

    And if a pregnancy isn't wanted in this already overcrowded world, who is truly being responsible forcing the mother to do something she adamantly doesn't want to do.

    This smacks of the State over-riding individual liberty!

    Something that wouldn't be out of place in a theocracy!

  2. Its a bit of fresh air reading the above article from Anne and the previous one concerning the attitudes of the left towards attempts to repeal the 8th Amendment. As a fellow Socialist, Republican and Irish citizen its incumbent upon us all to ensure that we "cherish all of the children equally" as it is stated in the Proclamatiion. Evevn though it may not seem popular, we must protect those little children in the womb! Lastly, a chairde good luck to all thise who will partake in this Saturday's Rally in Baille Atha Cliath.

  3. 'Free Thomas McWilliams Now!'- totally agree with you. Thank god we aren't all populists in this land. We all have a duty to protect our future generations.
    Btw, I always concur that Ta McWilliams should be freed immediately.

  4. Wolf Tone,

    If you are not a populist you are against the will of the ordinary people.

  5. yes, great article, free thomas and wolfe - listen to the pro-repealers 'arguments' and 'logic' in the following clip taken in dublin march for repeal, if the subject wasnt abortion it would be funny. they are soros funded indoctrinated goons who just havent a clue, also check out the antifa gimp at the end. as one commenter under the clip in youtube said -
    "We fought English oppression for 800 years... for this." !!!!!!!!

    i hate saying it, but i hope a few of these antifa lads show up in dublin for the march on saturday.

  6. The reference to "children of the Nation" in the Proclamation doesn't mean "minors". It is a reference to all citizens and was designed to reassure unionists.

    "The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past."

    We are all children of the Nation but we are not all "children". It isn't a matter of interpretation. Think about it.

  7. while on the topic of children, the following just beggars belief. Has this clown any idea of the real world? His is a world of the demented and the deranged.

    Catholic Archbishop Says Pedophilia Is ‘Spiritual Encounter With God’

  8. AM, A quick Google search shows that story is fake. It uses an actual story of the Bishop which is worrying in itself but not as repugnant as saying paedophilia is a "Spiritual Encounter with God". In fact, the Bishop never said that.

  9. In response to Simon's post, thanks for your feedback chara, appreciated. Like all such texts, they are open to interpretation and everyone is quite entitled to take from our radical Proclamation what they wish.

    Although, I strongly feel that every single Iriish citizen has the right to be cherished with respect also to the unborn. As a consequence, we have the right to advocate for the retention of the amendment of Bunreacht Na hEireamn in the forthcoming referendum. We ignore the will of the people at our peril.

    In stating all of the above a chara, our Nation needs a proper Constition fully representitive of all thirty-two Counties in Ireland and that should remain our focus. Le Meas,

  10. Simon,

    when I first read it I thought this is Waterford Whisperers stuff LOL.

    Thanks for that

  11. Steve R, if the will of the ordinary people is being achieved through lies,disinformation and censorship backed up by a well financed and supportive media and politicians then it should be imperative for everyone to challenge it. If that means being not being 'populist' then so be it. We aren't sheep you know although you'd be forgiven for thinking we were. Btw, keep your eyes and ears open as to how the media will play down today's march in Dublin I.e the media will not want the herds heads turned if they become aware that being opposed to abortion is popular.

  12. Simon, indeed the proclaimation is open to interpretation but the signatories of that piece of paper are documented as stating that their deeds on Easter Monday would be finished by future generations I.e the unborn. It wouldn't make sense to kill them now would it? Btw, the Planned Parenthood schemes introduced by populist charlatans like Hilary Clinton were one of the reasons why black people didn't completely support her presidential campaign I.e a lot of black people believe they were duped into welcoming the planned parenthood schemes thinking their govt cared for them. Alas the penny has dropped and a lot of them now believe the scheme was used to quell and reduce the population growth of black communities. Just saying.

  13. Steve,

    populism does not allow much for dissent.

    I think people are right to oppose a measure if they think it is wrong even if it is popular.

    I have no problem with people being opposed to abortion. I will listen to any argument other than a religious one against abortion. I like Anne's pieces because they are not based on what Puff the Magic Dragon might think of abortion.

    My real issue is when people opposed to abortion they try to make decisions for other people on the matter. If we oppose abortion it is our right not to have one. I think in a few years time all of this will look much like the same sex marriage issue - contentious at the time but losing the power to be so when the dust settles. It is not as if we have not being here before.

    I am sure the Repeal case will win the day but it should not be cause for bragging rights, or triumphalism.

  14. AM, no worries. It's easy to get caught out these days.

    Wolf, Free, I am not saying that the signatories wouldn't have been pro-life. I know it's likely most of them would have been, as men of that era. However, it goes without saying the children referred to are children of the motherland, children of Ireland not children in Ireland. It is flowery language but not that flowery it needs to be interpreted like obscure poetry.

    The Proclamation begins "In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom."

    They wouldn't have gotten very far trying to get a bunch of 5 year olds to take over the GPO would they?

    "Ireland's children" is quite clearly a reference to its citizens. This was clear to me as I read the Proclamation as a child. It doesn't mean I disagree with your point just the way you are making it. As Anthony said before "let the most intellectually coherent argument win". You are losing some of the strength behind your argument with such a rookie mistake. A five year old child could understand it. As Groucho Marx would say "Go and get me a five year old child".

  15. Simon a chara, its a matter of opinion that I made "a rookie mistake" likewise you are entitled to disagree if you so wish. What I fail to see is your inability to use your vision of how our nation was intended by the patriots who drafted the Proclamation prior to Easter Week and the sacrifices that were made in pursuit of universal equality for everyone. Suffice to say, their intentions remain as needed today more than ever. Oiche Mhaith.

  16. Free, I don't know where you got that from. I understand very much that the signatories guaranteed equal rights. They were way ahead of their time, particularly with regards to women's rights. Maybe we should ask ourselves are we now behind the times when it comes to women's rights? I am not getting into an argument on abortion.

    My annoyance was down to something else entirely. Surely the Proclamation is known more for reaching out to unionists than it is for campaigning for the rights of the unborn child? I accept your right to interpret universal rights to extend to the unborn child but not to completely misread the parts about citizens as being about the under 18s.

    I see my pointing out the obvious has fallen on deaf ears.

  17. Simon,

    SCOTUS in 1965 ruled that there was a right to privacy in the US Constitution, but it had to be found in the shadow and penumbra. Shadow and penumbra are so stretched that as concepts they are tenuous. I think it is the same with the Proclamation being a foil against abortion. It hardly matters what the Proclamation has to say on it, no more than medicines for illness in 1916 are hardly suitable for treatments in 2018. If the Proclamation stood four square for Abortion in unambiguous language, it should not have any consequence on how we think about it today. We would still have to take the anti-choice case on its merits, consider the arguments made and not dismiss the case because the Proclamation agreed with abortion.

  18. Simon,

    I also think it is dubious to claim that the Proclamation stood for the foetus any more than it stood for God. No republican today is bound to believe in God just because the Proclamation "In the Name of God". None of them had any right to speak in god's name or in the name of Puff the Magic Dragon.

  19. AM, As men of their time, and you are right to point out they were from a certain era, invoking God was par for the course. Just as Pearse gets vilified for his poetry which often refers to blood sacrifice that was of a time too. Many of the greatest first world war poets talked of blood sacrifice in the same manner.

    However, saying that, they were astonishingly progressive for their time. The Proclamation has much value, even today because of this forward thinking.

    I think we can allow it to guide us today but not to make decisions for us.

    However, I guess ultimately you are correct in saying that even if they were unambiguous towards abortion it wouldn't necessarily apply today. We have to look at the argument on its merits.

  20. "let the most intellectually coherent argument win"

    If only it were as straight-forward.
    Yes, AM's aspiration is an intelligent one. Yet as with most issues the referendum will be, for by far the largest part, decided by sentiment.

    As a rule moral positioning is firstly a matter of sentiment, only then followed by post hoc reasoning. Breaking though or out of fast thinking requires open-minded reflection; reflection with some degree of courage and effort. Slow and more critical thinking will tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

    Whereas the sentiment of social conservatives will predominately strive to preserve the institutions and traditions which sustain a cohesive moral community, the sentiment of libertarians will almost exclusively support change which favours greater individual autonomy.
    Left wing liberal sentiment also values personal autonomy though their sentiment is largely concerned with care for the oppressed too. Some on the left may feel that their duty of care is equal between that of the unborn and that of the mother and will vote accordingly.
    Its not beyond the bounds of possibility either that some of those who label themselves on the left (think here about a substantial cohort of Sinn Féin voters) are in reality ethnocenterists whose sentiment, moral and political stance is largely shaped by allegiance to "those like me". The moral matrix of this group is essentially similar to that of the social conservatives. They may vote to maintain the constitution as it stands also.

    All in all, this could be a more tightly contested referendum than many on the 'Repeal' side realise ... more tightly contested with the outcome most likely influenced by sentiment rather than by coherent reasoning.

  21. irishmen and irishwomen, in the name of puff the magic dragon and the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of colonyhood, ireland, through us, summons her children to the abortion bucket and strikes for her slavery.....signed on behalf of the professional government; george soros, colm o gorman, mr panti, kitty holland, leo varadkar, micheal martin, ml macdonald, mary robinson, the royal institute for international affairs, tavistock, bob geldof, the trilateral commission, RTE, the irish times, glaxo-smith-klein, the spare parts industry, dessie ellis, lynn boylan, pearse doherty, martin pigsabortion ferris, gerry adams and all the other freaks in sinn fein the abortion party.


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