There are times when I read something that is so wrong I just shrug my shoulders and fling it from my mind. Sometimes it’s so bad I draw attention to it so other people can share in my disdain. Then there are pieces of writing that are so woeful I feel the need to dive in and swim in the noxiousness of it, so I can fully understand it. This is one of those times.
Donal Lynch has written something I can’t turn away from. It’s just too egregious. He describes himself as supporting the repeal of the eighth amendment and in favour of a woman’s right to choose, but thinks every other pro-choicer is doing it wrong.
“…that I felt the pro-choice movement consistently fails to deal with the central argument of the other side – that abortion ends a life.” The pro-choice side ceaselessly deals with the fact that an abortion ends a life. Unfortunately, the complexity of this issue does not lend itself to soundbites. Nor does our media allow for uncontested examinations of an issue so steeped in philosophical, ethical and moral ambiguity. And in a campaign where our opponents are allowed to fill their 50% of allotted time with lies, an in-depth discussion of this issue is impossible. How does one, in sixty seconds or less, explain that yes an abortion ends a life but what exactly is that life? What value do we put on that life and how exactly does that that value alter over time?
Yet we, as a movement, are successfully encompassing so many different groups and women who have varying experiences of, and attitudes to, abortion. There are women that mourn the loss of their babies (aborted due to fatal foetal abnormalities). Women who had abortions to protect their own health, women who had abortions because the time wasn’t right for them to be mothers or never want to be mothers and others who have never had an abortion and would never have one, but feel it important for women to have the right. The continued existence of this incredibly broad coalition speaks to an understanding that abortion ends a life but that the meaning of this is ambiguous. Why not use your 1500 words in a national newspaper to tease this issue out rather than harangue campaigners who get abused for their efforts?
“I get the argument that “demand” makes it sound like a consumerist whim, but doesn’t the phrase “on request” sound like a timid plea by comparison?” Pro-choicers do want abortion on demand. Many others within the coalition want abortion to be limited to certain circumstances. Either way, the phrase has been poisoned by anti-choicers. As a soundbite it is used as a stick to beat women who experience crisis pregnancies. Perhaps one day the phrase will be reclaimed by pro-chociers, but someone who writes for a national newspaper should know, that at this point in time, ‘on-demand’ has been shaped to evoke images of wanton women who want abortions instead of keeping their knees together.
“For the shrill Repeal sisterhood, it’s not enough to want the same thing, we have to want it for the right reasons.” In my experience, people who generalise about women using epitaphs like ‘shrill’ tend to be tiny brained and tiny dicked man-children. But I don’t have the peer reviewed studies to back up what is essentially anecdotal evidence, so I must just leave this as an opinion.
“the least successful abortion-rights movement in Europe is finally getting its act together.” This is a statement that rings true as long as one doesn’t actually, you know, look at the facts. In 1983, Ireland was a fundamentally different place than it is today, and even then, the eighth amendment passed with just 35.9% of the electorate. Since then, there have been four referendums related to abortion, and the anti-choicers lost them all.
This current phase of campaigning is relatively new and despite the overwhelming conservatism of our politicians, some progress has been made. Why Ireland is one of the few nations in Europe to so oppress women is worthy of sociological, demographic and cultural study. All wonderfully rich topics someone with access to a national newspaper could delve into. Though not as easy as tossing insults at people who brave abuse as they campaign for abortion rights.
“nobody is silencing women” Are you fucking kidding me? Is your head entirely up your arse? Did it occur to you to ask any of the women who spoke about their abortions about the abuse they’ve experiences from anti-choicers?
“They have always won.” No they haven’t. Remember the 12th, 13th, 14th and 25th amendments? Remember the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. Do your bloody research.
“The most basic question of all is, of course, the actual death of the foetus. Just as the pro-life brigade never fully engage with the experience of the woman, so pro-choice activists ignore the idea of the unborn child.” I refer you to my response to your first quote with an addendum. More people in Ireland want increased access to abortion than realise that to get increased access we need to repeal the eighth amendment. And if the eight amendment was repealed tomorrow, access to abortion in this country wouldn’t change. Have you noticed yet how complicated this is? Engaging with the pricks with the placards is less important than explaining to as many people as possible that nothing can change before the eight is repealed and when it is repealed a whole new campaign must begin.
“So how does the average person reconcile this vista and the knowledge that, hairsplitting aside, something with a heartbeat and a face must be a living thing, with support for abortions for those who want them? The answer might be in the last place the Repealers would think to look: in the idea of redemption and atonement.” Do you really want the 95% of women who have an abortion and don’t regret it, to begin to feel guilty just so you can be taken seriously by the shrill sisterhood? Are you that needy? And again I refer you to the first quote.
“And as for God – whose presence and attitude she frequently considered during this time – she was convinced that if he really did exist, that he must have the compassion to understand.” Here you quote from a story to make a point about guilt. NO! STOP IT! The shrill sisterhood is done with religious guilt. That day has passed. It’s up to you to adjust to that, not for them to get back on their knees.
“And perhaps like a lot of Irish people, we simply yearn for a proper language for the moral struggle around abortion.” Why oh why is it important for you that women feel guilty or just plain bad for having an abortion? Why must they experience emotional pain just so you can feel better about them having an abortion? Have you any idea how sick and creepy that is? Cop the fuck on.
“There is a spiritual vacuum at the heart of Irish life. We have rejected the old Church – for good reasons – but in doing so, we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.” Really? You thought this phrase was a good idea?
“Paradoxically, this has caused retrenchment to a rigid morality that has made us the odd man out in Europe for abortion rights.” Malta? Poland? Northern Ireland?
“Abortion is a complex issue that affects at least three living beings in every case – the mother, the father and the foetus. It is about pain and death – this needs to acknowledged – and there needs to be a language of grief and respect around it.” Wow, you really can’t let go of the idea that women need to suffer for you to allow them have abortions. You can’t get your head around the idea that for every one hundred women who have an abortion there are one hundred different experiences. They range from relief all the way to regret with a multitude of other emotions mixed in. However, for the vast majority, the experience is a positive one.
“But acknowledging these issues not only shows respect for the terrible responsibility of the woman (her ‘choice’), it takes on the pro-life lobby on their own spiritual turf. It beats them with their own crucifix.” I can only guess here that you mean anti-choicers will stop hating women who have abortions if they say how horrible having an abortion was and how bad they will feel for the rest of their lives? Perhaps if every woman who has ever had an abortion came out tomorrow saying it was the worst thing they could have ever done, we will have abortion on demand the day after?
“It’s often presumed that if the Eighth Amendment were removed that we would eventually get what they have in England – where there are roughly 200,000 abortions a year and the procedure is basically used like a contraceptive (over one-third of UK abortions are for women who have previously had one).” And 66% of women who have abortions in the UK were using contraception at the time and over half of women who had abortions were already mothers. I hope they all felt bad about it too.
“Women, and sometimes men, come to stand before these mystical monuments to express their grief, sadness, confusions and hopes of forgiveness.” Your guilt fetish is beginning to scare me now.
“They will never acknowledge that, at the heart of abortion, is the fact that it is one life for another, an impossible decision – different for every woman – that must somehow be made.” Impossible decision? But these guilt free Irish harlots are having over 4000 abortions a year? It’s not impossible, it’s not even improbable. It’s basic health care.
There are occasions when it is an event of great tragedy, as in the case of fatal foetal abnormality. Or when the pregnancy is the result of a rape. But tragedy does not equal guilt. Women in these circumstances require support and compassion, not an expectation that they feel guilty or a requirement that they prostrate themselves at some shrine for having committed the great sin of making the best choice for them.
“This is a terrible shame. Facing up to these issues might go some way toward bringing along the ‘mushy middle’ of Irish society, who have long accepted we must change our constitution (just look at all the polls), but still can’t quite bring themselves to flag-wave for abortion.” Irish people will only repeal the eighth if women pretend they were traumatised by their abortions?
“And maybe one day, in the not-too-distant future, we principled, determined Repealers can take our own spirituality, candles and rosary beads (I have a beautiful set from my grandmother), and join the likes of Youth Defence in grieving for the dead.” You fucking clown.
Reading this I am left with the impression that Donal Lynch might actually support a woman’s right to choose but can’t get his head around the fact that women are not broken by the experience. It’s not an entirely uncommon fallacy. It’s that or he thinks women should feel broken by the experience. That’s also not an uncommon attitude. The first can, eventually, be countered by stats and women revealing more of their medical history than they should ever have to. The second, however, is a profoundly unsettling attitude that appears to animate much of the hate that emanates from the anti-choice side. That sexually active women are not penalised for being sexually active enrages anti-choice bigots beyond reason or restraint.
So swimming in this bullshit has had some benefit for me. I now understand better some of our ‘allies’ and equally I understand better some of our enemies. All we need now is for women to pretend to feel guilty and see if it helps the cause.