Twitter has been something of a battle lately, as we collectively watch and interpret according to our individual prejudices, The Oireachtas hearings concerning legislation for the X-case. It seems these hearings have let loose the dogs of our ever present Culture War. It has been interesting to watch, it has been ugly and it has been informative. It’s also the first time I’ve witnessed a twitterverse flame-war, where threats of lawsuits have been bandied about with wild abandon.

I’ve tried to not get involved in the exchanges. It’s not that I am unsure of my own opinion on the matter. I am pro-choice. More that I worry sometimes that I may enjoy the fight more than is appropriate and I cannot think of any useful purpose, to me engaging with anti-choice advocates. There will never be a meeting of minds in that exchange.

One issue however, had my fingers hovering, all twitchy over the keyboard. It seems that anti-choice advocates think that gender selective abortions is a stick to beat pro-choicers with. Do conservative societies and communities disproportionately abort female foetuses? The statistics speak for themselves. Some cultures prize male off-spring over female. I find this distasteful, backward and even tragic, but it has nothing to do with my stance on abortion.

If a woman presents for an abortion, there are only two questions she should be asked. The first is, ‘are you sure?‘ and the second is, ‘are you choosing this course of action, free from coercion?‘ That’s it. Any other, ‘non-medical’ questions are a violation of her privacy.

Not that I expect that level of physical autonomy to be offered to women in this country any time soon, if ever. No, I would be very surprised if Irish women achieved that kind of equality and freedom. The principle however remains, it is no one’s business what a woman chooses to do with her body. That conservative and patriarchal societies still denigrate women is a separate if unfortunately thematically linked problem. It is an issue that requires addressing, but it isn’t an excuse for anti-choice campaigners to deny Irish women ultimate ownership of their own bodies. Nor should it be confused and misused as an opportunity for anti-choicers to stake a claim to the moral high-ground.

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