Is The Right To Life A “Women’s Issue”?

Dr Anne Mc Closkey explores the role of men in the debate around the abortion question.

“Cherish all the Children Equally” is a progressive, secular, republican pro-life group. We defend the ideals proclaimed by the men and women of 1916, and affirm that they are as relevant today as ever.

The notion that the removal of the constitutional protection for the right to life of unborn children is purely a “woman’s issue” makes no sense. Abortion, by definition kills the unborn child, and robust studies now show that it can cause real and lasting harm to women also. But it also affects fathers, extended families and wider society.

If the child in the womb is just a part of the woman’s body, then what is a father? The very concept of fatherhood, with all that it entails, is reduced to mere sperm donation. We are each created by a 50:50 mix of DNA from both of our parents, and inherit physical and mental characteristics going back generations from both families. My mother was beautiful, but I unfortunately am a ringer for my father.

When their child’s life is ended by induced abortion, men are often left bereaved and traumatised by a decision they have no control over, and in my experience often suffer the same grieving process as they would following a natural miscarriage. I don’t know of any research in this field, but in seems likely that at least some of the excess mental health problems we see among males are related to this loss of role as fathers, and equal partners in parenthood.

The narrative that the unborn child is not a new life created by both parents, but merely part of the woman’s body and subject to her autonomy alone is one which many men do not accept, and with good reason. For others, abortion absolves them from responsibility for the outcomes of sexual activity. I haven’t come across a pregnancy yet that didn’t have male input. Men surely have a responsibility not to put the women they claim to care for at risk of unplanned pregnancy. What about her bodily autonomy?

I hear there is a new group called “Lads for Choice”. Lads offer their women abortion, whereas real men cherish and care for them. Abortion offers men what James Joyce called “copulation without procreation” - the opportunity to use women as mere objects of gratification, without regards for the consequences. Recent high profile court cases on both sides of the Atlantic demonstrate how many “lads” hold these deeply misogynistic ideas about women and their value in society. The cover of “choice” is also a useful tool to hide abuse, violence, exploitation, trafficking and other crimes against women and children.

For the vast majority of our people, fathers are their friends, mentors and role models, a central and irreplaceable part of their lives. Similarly, for most, our partners are equal collaborators in life’s journey. They are the co-creators of our children, and share responsibility for their health and wellbeing.

Irish men need to consider carefully before subscribing to the narrative of militant feminism to describe their lives. In the upcoming referendum, they should vote to defend their role as fathers, and to preserve the lives of their children and those of unborn generations of Irish men and women.

Cherish all the Children Equally.

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.

13 comments to ''Is The Right To Life A “Women’s Issue”?"

  1. "Lads offer their women abortion." That is a particularly offensive construction of masculinity and gender role. It reduces presumably single men to wayward predators who sek just one thing from women. Dr McCloskey's Joycean quote of "copulation without reporoduction" carries the implicit belief that all sexual activity must have childbearing as its outcome.

    The right to engage in consensual sex without fear of social and legal consequences (mostly for the unmarried woman) is a fundamental human right and is one of the principal rallying cries of feminism. Not all men are partners or parents either through choice or circumstance.

    The term "unborn child" is nonsensical as childhood only begins at birth. What comes before birth begins with the zygote, then the fertilised ovum and then the foetus. I respect the right of Anne McCloskey and other pro-lifers to articulate the sanctity of prenatal life. Just be honest and us the correct nomenclature.

    Regarding the slogan "Cherishing All the Children"; it has been pointed out before on this site that the expression "Cherishing All the Children of the Nation Equally" from the 1916 Proclamation is a rhetorical device meaning that all religious faiths and cultural traditions on the island of Ireland. For an anti-choice group with its implicitly punitive attitudes to non-procreative and extra-marital sex to adopt this moniker amounts to a mockery of the untold thousands of women and children abused in Church and State run institutions in the island of Ireland in the last century for transgressing Ireland's one sin - sex.


  2. And there you have it, disagree with the good Doctor and you are a 'militant feminist'.

  3. the 1978 italian law is excellent. A proposal to repeal the law was considered in a 1981 national referendum, but was rejected by nearly 68% of voters; another referendum aimed at eliminating the restrictions was rejected by 88.4%

    here's what the law says with regards to paternal involvement in the decision. It leaves the woman free to decide without needing the father's consent.

    "Where the woman applies to a physician of her choice, he shall: carry out the
    necessary medical examinations, with due respect for the woman's dignity and
    freedom; assess, in consultation with the woman and, where the woman
    consents, with the father of the conceptus, with due respect for the dignity and
    personal feelings of the woman and of the person named as the father of the
    conceptus, if so desired taking account of the result of the examinations
    referred to above, the circumstances leading her to request that her pregnancy
    be terminated;"

    We could look at laws in other EU countries but would probably find they are similar.
    A supportive partner would probably agree with the woman's decision to continue or terminate the pregnancy.
    Otherwise, her decision prevails.
    Remember:neither Church nor state nor any man has a role to play in regulating women's bodies

  4. The more I read of Dr Mc Closkey the better I like it.We are living in an era that our ancestors could scarcely imagine.Our era is characterized by many changes but precious few transformations.Changes to Irish Culture and Society and Ancestral Tradition, disguised as 'people-centered', are now being imposed under various guises: 'social justice', 'progressive educational policies','equality'.The policy mandarins are just doing their job of course and that role never changes-their job is just to do what they are told and that means to ensure that YOU do what THEY tell you to do.It is a fascinating thing to observe; a kind of modern version of the old West Brit stratagem used in the early years of the 20th century known as "Killing Home Rule with Kindness".Except that, in this instance there is no kindness whatsoever. Instead, the sugar on the pill is composed of a form of ideologically imposed brainwashing which costs nothing and serves several purposes, the most important of which is to divide and rule the people.Some commentators refer to this as the ideology of 'cultural marxism' and this is all to the good as long as we recognize that it is just one root of the current powerplay. And none of this is being done for your benefit, my benefit, or, perish the thought, the benefit of any woman or unborn child. It is so mindbogglingly cynical that the only word I can think of which might do justice to this mindset is the word "Evil".
    And how is this mindset, this ideologically formulated sugar-pill, administered to the patient population?
    Well the sales pitch goes like this-and it's a very simple patter= "YOU'RE SPECIAL".And because you're special your needs must be attended to, and, guess what? We, your masters, have got the cure for anything you need and desire or, indeed, any other of those millions of things we will be happy to suggest to you by way of advertising and social media! All you have to do is surrender!-hand yourself and your identity over to us!Thousands of years of history-that's what we want. Whether its your sexuality or your nationality or your traditions we can tailor any fantasy you have and superimpose it on your UNIQUENESS.
    The truth of the matter is, of course, that you must never be allowed to consider that you are UNIQUE.
    How do they test the viability of defeating the notion of UNIQUENESS within our ancient culture?
    How do you legislate for 'UNIQUENESS'? All the legalese in the European Court of Human Rights will never come close to a definition-but it will surely define how SPECIAL you are in terms of what your RIGHTS are.On the other hand, creating and developing a form of just Irish society which nurtures UNIQUENESS almost automatically includes an environment and educational ethos which demands and prioritizes RESPONSIBILITY as the basis for ENTITLEMENT.
    Quote all the garbage you like-there's is nothing in the world as unique, as vulnerable, or indeed, as special,as a child.

  5. well said Seamus Darcy. its tragic that irishmen now use the same tactics as the empire used on us. the old enemy dehumanized us and portrayed us as a sub-human thick skulled species of apes and indeed published artist impressions of us in their media as they carried on their relentless genocide. now phd scholars like barry gilheany, who consistently try to portray this as a church vs women issue, dehumanize the little child in the womb. and thats if they acknowledge the child. most dont acknowledge the child anymore. the woman is pregnant alright - but not with a child - she is pregnant with a choice. the most annoying thing now is that they have managed to label us as - anti-choice. back in the day there was two sides - pro-life and pro-abortion. but that was not good P.R. and they knew it so they managed to change their title to pro-choice. recently they have successfully rebranded our side into anti-choice. and people who u think would know better have fallen for this blatant orwellian bullshit. well done to the pro-abortion propagandists indeed! funny though that we have plenty of choices for women in crisis pregnancies, whereas the pro-choice side have only one - an agonising death for a child that leaves some mothers damaged for life. not to mention traumatised abortion clinic staff like these three young american ladies. this is perhaps the most important 15 minutes on abortion that anyone reading TPQ will ever see. this is the reality of abortion folks. this is why the likes of barry gilheany and doctor david grimes have to speak acres and acres of intellectual mumbo jumbo mixed in with medical misinformation and legalese bullshit in an effort to try and trick the public that this is all about 'rights' and 'healthcare' and to disguise the brutal butchery of abortion. 'abortion service providers' as the likes of gilheany and grimes call them are in fact nothing but slaughterhouses and these three young women are proof of that.

    watch it - there is no footage of abortions. you will just see three decent working class women talk about a job they once did that has changed their lives for the worse. please watch and please share. YOU ARE BEING LIED TO ALL THE TIME. its time to hear the truth. listen to these three ladies - please.

  6. after you've watched those three ladies, maybe you should listen to these young irish ladies - educated and respectable(to their mumsies and dadsies anyway) young irish ladies i might add too, try and answer some simple questions on abortion. this is what we are up against.

    and Anne, 'lads for choice' says it all. these are dark times.

  7. Grouch

    Was the rape victim in the X-case impregnated by choice

  8. you want to kill the innocent child - by 'choice'. u can ask these three ladies about the x-case;

  9. What happened the other day -
    In a lecture comparing the applcation of EU Directives in different EU countries, I mentioned to my MSc students (from an EU country with legalized abortion) that abortion was available for Irish women who had the money for the procedure itself, money for tickets to England or an EU country as well as money for accommodation and meals for a couple of days, presuming no complications or problems ( the last items needed to be multiplied by 2 for a friend, partner, sister or mother to accompany the woman and help her out).

    there was silence.
    Then one lady (they are all mature students, full-time workers), said "so abortion in ireland is only available for the well-off? how appalling that is"

  10. Anne Mc Closkey writes

    Barry Gilheany either completely misunderstood, or is deliberately misconstruing my case. Barry, in my book people can have sex till their noses bleed as long as it's consensual. Choice is great, when it doesn't harm anyone. I spend a significant part of my working life helping people of all ages control their fertility, and encouraging them to have healthy and fulfilled sex lives. It's their right, and copulation without procreation is fine by me.Tear away. Just don't make babies and then kill them. Men have responsibilities and rights in the process of procreation. That's all.
    Also I get it that "all the children " was originally intended as you describe. Abortion wasn't a hot topic in 1916! We're using it rhetorically too!

  11. Anne McCloskey

    Contraception does fail which is why there has to access for abortion services for women as a back up certainly in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

    I am glad to see that we both agree that there is nothing morally wrong with consensual sex. Can I therefore ask you do you think that women who have been victims of non-consensual sex e.g.rape (as in the X-case) or incest (as in the case of Anne Lovett) should be forced to carry a pregnancy to full term? Does your opposition to legal abortion also mean opposition to the morning-after pill as many pro-lifers regard it as an abortafacient?
    You frequently claim that the absence of elective abortion in NI has led to 100,000 people
    living who would not otherwise have been born. I do not know what your evidence base for that statistic but I do know that, according to evidence given to nthe Oireachtas Committee
    on the Eighth Amendment, 150,000 + women from the Republic of Ireland have travelled to Britain for abortion between 1970 and 2006 so obviously the 8th amendment is not fit for purpose.

    We both agree that men have rights and responsibilities in reproduction but the ultimate decision-maker on whether a problematic pregnancy proceeds has to be the woman and not male dominated institutions like the State, Church, medical and legal professions. It is in that spirit that "Lads for Choice" was formed not to facilitate objectification and exploitation of women.

    No woman takes a decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly; the driver for abortion reform in Ireland, North and South is the lived experienced of women denied choice over this aspect of her fertility and agency, not the "abortion industry" or "body parts industry" of some of the more febrile anti-choice lobby.

  12. " Just don't make babies and then kill them"

    So what is a miscarriage then? What's the difference between interfering were nature has failed and helping those who perhaps shouldn't (for genetic reasons) be parents conceive?

    Both artificially helping conceive or abort is you playing 'God', ie; it's 'unnatural'.

    Why should your opinion matter more than someone else's?

  13. "Contraception does fail which is why there has to access for abortion services for women as a back up certainly in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy."
    so abortion is contraception back-up now. tell that to the baby being burned alive barry.

    and is your only answer to pregnancy by rape or incest abortion on demand, which has killed 50 million babies in America since the gigantic FRAUD of roe vs wade in 1973 and which now kills one in five of all britains unborn children. and you guys in practically the same breath will lambast the church over child abuse. you are the child abuse monsters and genocidal maniacs stalking the land now. you think ur on the civilized side of this debate and you are on the verge of wiping out our Downes brothers and sisters and eventually all children deemed unfit for life by the demigods in the medical profession. pure unadulterated evil. and you're going to go out and vote for it!!! thats democratic tyranny folks - well done for doing that with your God given vote - decide to use it against the poor and disabled. you can tell ur grandkids when your old men that its thanks to you there are slaughterhouses up and down the country wiping out the poor and disabled. why dont you all buy shares in the abortion industry, because shares will go up if we repeal.
    if you're only concern is rape and incest barry you must vote no in the upcoming referendum as abortion on demand is too wide a target for what concerns you. but its not about that is it. ur using rape and incest to introduce abortion on demand and its blatantly obvious at this stage.
    once again, you never mention the child. but sure why would you, its not a child its a choice.
    Steve, the British empire portrayed us irish as subhuman apes while they were carrying out genocide against us. im sure they didnt want us to conceive for genetic reasons too.

    I am the febrile anti-choice propagandist you are referring to i presume - (anti-choice, we have plenty of choices for a woman in pregnancy crisis, you have one - ergo its u who are anti-choice - but these are orwellian times so im not one bit surprised to hear us pro-lifers being labelled anti-choice). but guess what barry, we are winning and the repeal campaign is a TOTAL shambles. all the abortion industry and spare parts industry spindoctors and all the lies from feminist propagandists cant compete with these three young womens story - they actually WORKED in an abortion clinic and more and more Irish people are seeing and hearing their story. if every irish person heard these three girls stories it would be a landslide for pro-life. the abortion industry is evil. end of.
    and in case any of you are wondering what the spare parts industry barry is referring to, here it is-


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