Bellicose and Belligerent

Bernadette Smyth exudes a baleful aura. It is probably part of her job requirement as head of Precious Life. It is a body that wants to deny women the right to choose and in the most obnoxious manner force its view down the throat of those who do not share it, and who might want to make different choices or merely access information about the range of choices that are available. When Dawn Purvis of the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast asked Smyth to stop harassing her the response she got was pregnant with menace: 'You ain't seen harassment yet, darling.'

As a result of her persistent attempts to bully Purvis out of carrying out her very valuable work a judge this week directed that she carry out 100 hours community service. Earlier he had convicted her of harassing the Marie Stopes worker. What Smyth and Purvis now have in common is that both perform a service to the community, Purvis because she wants to, Smyth because she is compelled to do so by court order. Smyth was also ordered to stay at least twenty yards away from the front door of the clinic for the next five years and to pay Purvis 2000 pound. She must also refrain from pestering Purvis over the same period. 

The spectre of religion with its associated intolerance was also hovering around the case: in the hallway of the court around twenty supporters gathered to pray. They might as well have sacrificed a goat for all the difference it made to the outcome. Gawd had ear plugs in that day.  The religious undertones were reinforced by Smyth's solicitor who described the court verdict as 'a disappointment for Christians worldwide.

From the judge’s comments it seems that Smyth was behaving like some type of morality peeler:

stopping people, questioning them about why they were going into the premises.  I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not feel it's appropriate for anyone to be stopped outside this clinic in any form, shape or fashion and questioned either to their identity, why they are going in there and being forced to involve themselves in conversation at times when they are almost certainly going to be stressed and very possibly distressed.

Commenting on how she mounted her legal defence the judge said it was in a 'no holds barred, vicious and malicious fashion' in which there was 'a concerted attack on anyone seen as getting in the way of Mrs Smyth.’ Standard fare for the bully and bigot.

Although Smyth’s barrister objected vehemently in court to a probation report that suggested there was a high probability that she would reoffend, within days of her conviction she was cautioned for being in breach of the court order – she was back at the Marie Stopes clinic harassing women who don’t agree with her.

Some have taken to defending Smyth’s actions on the grounds of free expression. This is a misnomer. There is no more free speech involved in this than there was when a mob of thugs gathered to protest against the children of Holy Cross School. Dawn Purvis best summed up the freedom of expression perspective:
I fully respect people's right to peaceful protest, but it is totally unacceptable to intimidate women accessing a legal health service or the staff that provide their care ... I have both witnessed and been subjected to a culture of daily harassment, and seen these protesters' tactics become increasingly aggressive.

Do not confuse freedom of expression with freedom of repression. 


  1. If Purvis had been aborted would it have been right or wrong?. Suppose some will never know. Personally I know it would have been wrong but some might disagree. Maybe some of them things being aborted would have turned out not to our pleasment.

  2. Pat,

    I think to have denied Dawn Purvis's mother, my mother, any mother the right to choose in relation to any of their pregnancies would have been wrong. In my view Dawn Purvis does a great job in that centre and should be protected from people like Smyth. Women need access to the wide range of services provided there.

    And yet the process of abortion sits very uneasily with me. I imagine it sits even more uneasily with many of the women who decide to have them.

    While hard case makes bad law I always find myself thinking that there is no way I can find merit in the argument that the bishop can rape my daughter and then insist that she must be compelled to bear his child. Preposterous.

  3. Smith another form of Whitehouse why do we tolerate these control freaks, have we not enough of the bastards in Stormont , abortion today ,sheep shagging tomorrow , I,m away to fill my boots ,fuck her,Nollaig Shona Daoibh...

  4. Talk might be cheap, - since we weren't aborted we are here to express an opinion. Does it follow that who would who argue for abortion might have mixed feelings or no feelings at all as to whether they were born or not? Just a thought

  5. Anthony,in my opinion the bishop deserves one behind the ear,but then that would be against the law which we all know is always right. The baby(I know,is it a human being or is it not debate)has no protection. If abortion had been as freely available years ago how many less friends would you have today?,don't think the bishop could be blamed for them all. I knew a few girls who did go to England and without exception it fucked their heads. Maybe society had a lot to do with that but I don't think it is worth the risk. This is a debate which has went on for years and will continue for years to come. There is really no middle ground,I don't agree with abortion and would do all in my power to stop it,if this offends some so be it. I think these clinics are the start of a very dangerous,slippery slope. Were will it all end?. Babies by design?. A few years back ,if I recall blue eyed blonds were all the rage. I am led to believe that tests can now predict if your baby will probably suffer from a variety of medical conditions throughout life,would it be appropriate to cut out the years of waiting and just get rid of it?.I for one would not be here.
    Be under no illusion this is leading to abortion on demand. Is that what your mother would have wanted? It is what the future will get. Great choice. Worth fighting for?.

  6. Pat,

    I think because we are here is not an argument against abortion. The amount of people not here I suppose because of the condom or whatever dwarfs those aborted.

    Is the right to choose worth fighting for? I think it has to be. And not just in terms of abortion which most men probably would not want to fight for. But as they often say if men could get pregnant abortion would be a sacrament.

    I don't favour abortion either but do think it is very much a woman's right to choose.

    As you say it is a debate that will continue forever and a day and has been conducted on TPQ without any of us emerging any the wiser.

    The human argument against abortion I can listen to but never the religious one. Yours seems a human one. I just don't share the view.

  7. Anthony,religion does not come into my thinking now as regards anything. The years of being brow beaten by hypocritical cunts saw to that. A very old friend,now departed used to sat to me "the prayer goes our father who art in heaven,not in the parochial house". I don't think the right to choose is always worth fighting for. This would do away with the basic idea that there is right and there is wrong. Should we have the right to choose what countries we should bomb into oblivion? Should we have the right to choose which neighbour to burn out?should we have the right to choose who eats and who starves? As human beings we can choose between right and wrong,this is what distinguishes us from the animal. A hypothetical question,if you could get pregnant would you make abortion a sacrament? The debate on abortion can be very emotive and better thinkers than me can articulate better arguments for and against. My view is,and I am going to get slaughtered for this,women alone cannot have the right to choose. If society is to survive with any sence of humanity.
    We must agree to differ but I know I'm right.��. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  8. Pat,

    the examples you put forward seem to be more about denying the right to choose rather than being a defence of it. I think implicit in the concept of a right to choose is a limitation on any choice that seeks to limit the choices of others and by doing so cause them harm.

    Right and wrong are often socially determined: having the ability to reason does not always lead to the right decisions being made. Opposing armies often think they are right. There is no inerrant biblical truth that we can go by as morality evolves and changes.

    I believe abortion is a sacrament without needing to get pregnant! In the sense that I agree with the right to choose.

    I don't think I have the right to tell a woman that she cannot control her own body and deny her the choice to have an abortion. I would agree that men should have a say if men could get pregnant. But until they can it is a matter for those who do get pregnant to decide.

    Happy Xmas to you and yours as well Pat. May it be a good one.

  9. Genocidalists have a right to population control. I hope the likes of the 'baleful' smyth are there to stick up for me when the corporate medical profession deem me unfit for living and move me to the euthanasia ward , which will probably be called the peaceful parting room. Coz I'm not counting on the pro abortion lobby. Life is sacred from conception to death. Two ethics professors in England recently published a paper advocating post birth abortions as they call them, because by their own twisted ethical logic, the baby is not fully human . Lovely stuff altogether.