When Is A Termination Not A Termination?


When it’s an early delivery.

Kind of.

You may have heard Pro-Life campaigner Caroline Simons (above) on RTE R1’s ‘Morning Ireland’ earlier speaking to Rachael English.

Caroline Simons: “Our first concern is that all women will be entitled to whatever intervention they need to deal with any complication of their pregnancy as I myself have availed of and is currently the practice in all the maternity hospitals within Ireland.”

Rachael English: “And if that includes a termination then, so be it?”

Simons: “Let’s be really clear, people have different understandings of that particular word, termination. All pregnancies terminate. Mine all terminated with interventions. Two of them were interventions before term in order to deal with the complications of pregnancy. If it involves or needs an early delivery that’s what a woman should have.”


Listen here

96 thoughts on “When Is A Termination Not A Termination?

  1. Jess

    When is an abortion a good abortion? When nobody in their right mind would support an organisation that opposes abortions in all forms period.

    Oh, but let’s give it a different name so we can still say abortions are evil and wrong. That’s not disingenuous in the least…

    1. JD

      Very different medical meanings I believe.
      Abortion: specific term intended to end the life of the fetus. For example, a failed abortion would have the fetus survive.
      Termination: ending the pregnancy, irrespective of the end of the life of the fetus. For example, a failed termination would mean the fetus is still inside the woman, maybe be dead, may be alive.
      Interchanging the two terms has significant differences in meaning.

      1. droid

        Not true. Abortion is the de facto medical term all over the world for any termination of pregnancy which results in the death of the foetus.

        1. JD

          Hi there, I don’t see where this contradicts my statements? I agree that an abortion is just a subset of terminations is it not?

      2. Jess

        As has been mentioned further down this very page, an abortion is just a non-viable termination, ie, one that ends in the death of the foetus.

        A miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion, an abortion to save a woman’s life/remove a doomed foetus is a therapeutic abortion, an abortion because you won’t want to be pregnant is simply an induced abortion.

  2. Paul Moloney

    “Mine all terminated with interventions. Two of them were interventions before term.”

    Ultra-Catholic pro-lifers have so tied themselves up in semantic knots that no-one else is able to understand what they’re saying.


    1. Blobster

      She’s saying all pregnancies terminate/end at some stage.

      Two of her’s terminated/ended in some sort of medical intervention before her due date.

      Not that complicated.

      1. Lisa

        “Term” != “due date” – it’s around 37 weeks, the point at which everything is “cooked”, as it were, apart from some final fattening. My younger son was born at term but two weeks before he was due.

        Before term doesn’t necessarily mean an abortion (a 35 weeker would be pre-term but very likely to surviive), but if it was, say, at 18 weeks…

      2. Paul Moloney

        “Two of them were interventions before term.”

        Is it’s that clear to you, Blobster, perhaps you can tell me if these two survived?


        1. JD

          Hey Paul
          Very different medical meanings I believe.
          Abortion: specific term intended to end the life of the fetus. For example, a failed abortion would have the fetus survive.
          Termination: ending the pregnancy, irrespective of the end of the life of the fetus. For example, a failed termination would mean the fetus is still inside the woman, maybe be dead, may be alive.
          Interchanging the two terms has significant differences in meaning.
          (Yes that JD ;)

          1. Paul Moloney

            Do you have a reference to these usage of the terms? I’ve given Black’s Medical Dictionary defintion of “abortion” somewhere else in this comments page, which fundamentally disagrees with Simons’.

      3. Caroline

        But a pregnancy can’t terminate in an intervention, unless she gave birth to a forceps. It can be terminated by means of an intervention; the question remains what the outcome of the pregnancy was.

    2. woesinger

      Look – if they want to call the procedure required to save the life of a woman an “early delivery”, even when the doctors know that the foetus will not survive the “delivery”, then I’d eat baloney for a week just to get that enshrined in law.

      It’s a game of semantics – let anti-abortionists play it if it makes them happy.

      1. Jess

        Letting people make up their own medical treatment terms to suit their agenda is, whatever side of the debate you’re on, a poor precedent to set.

        1. osie

          She’s not making them up, that’s the exact medical term – the termination of a pregnancy. Can mean birth, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or intervention such as C-Section.

          1. Jess

            The problem here is that people have been so scared off the word ‘abortion’ that when Rachel asked “And if that includes a termination then, so be it?”, she was actually talking about an abortion. Because nobody is going to quibble over whether or not letting somebody give birth is allowed.

            Simons took the opportunity to dance around that question by giving the definition of what ‘termination’ actually means and not actually answering the question.

    1. Kim V

      Because apparently, and this is insane but I’m not making it up, Holles St is a ‘baby first’ maternity hospital. That means what you think it means. The Rotunda is a ‘mother first’ hospital.

      1. DNS

        I’d always heard that Holles St/Baby – Rotunda/Mother thing over the years. Never thought to question it, everyone I’ve ever heard say it said it matter of factly.

        1. woesinger

          It’d be appalling if that were the case, but this the kind of thing that needs evidence to substantiate – either in written policies, statistics or personal testimonies.

      2. Spaghetti Hoop

        I heard that also – but dismissed it as rumour at the time. Interested to see if it is somwhere within the hospital charter.

        1. oconnee

          Well, given that the current Chair of the Executive Committee of Holles Street is listed as… Dr. Diarmuid Martin (Archbishop of Dublin, Chairman), i think we can safely say it’s not a pro-choice institution!

          1. woesinger

            Not the same thing. No maternity hospital in the Republic is pro-choice. That’s not what’s at issue.

            The accusation is that the hospital either implicitly or explicitly puts the life/health of a foetus before that of the mother.

      3. Kim V

        You know what, I feel bad saying this and having no hard facts to back it up. I apologise. I was told this by some mothers who were having a chat on a message board. What’s weird is that this is either true or a very pervasive rumour, because lots of people hopped in on the conversation and agreed with them. Like you, DNS, I was really shocked by the matter-of-factness of the conversation. I don’t know what to tell you.

        But it shocked me and gave me pause. I’m sure I’m not alone. SH’s hospital, or at very least her team, clearly were baby first, or else genuinely didn’t know what they were doing. I think this is why the Dail thing on Weds is so important: any ambiguity around this absolutely has to go. If I am ever pregnant in this country, the first question I will be asking my obgyn is, if sh*t goes south, I’m going to need you to put me first: is that going to be a problem for you? But if you think about it, it’s insane that I’d ever have to ask my doctor that. It’s insane that I regard Irish obgyns with suspicion now. This is why we need the laws to change.

        Again, apologies. I don’t believe in rumours. The truth is enough.

        1. woesinger

          Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.

          It is unacceptable that women in this country cannot trust that their doctor will put their interests first in directing treatment.

        2. Caroline

          This is a long-standing urban legend type thing, certainly my mother repeated it to me (rather too gleefully) in a totally matter-of-fact way. Her take on it is that the Rotunda has a Protestant ethos, and therefore won’t slavishly follow Catholic teaching in its medical practice and so will perform whatever “interventions” are necessary to save the mother, and Holles Street, being the national maternity hospital, and therefore Catholic, er… mightn’t.

          My reaction was to smile and nod – I advise everyone else to do so too.

          (But just to be on the safe side, I had my kids in the Rotunda.)

          1. droid

            I think some research into the history of Holles street wouldn’t go amiss here. Some nasty skeletons in that closet.

  3. WTH

    Did anyone hear on the interview where the pro life lady said something along the lines of “lets take an example, example X….”; which I thought an odd choice given that particular letters history in this issue.

  4. KeithFahey’s Moustache

    The religious nutters have realised with the tragic incident in Galway that the ship has sailed and people are not going to tolerate a reoccurrence of this.

    Now it is damage control they are now campaigning not to stop termnations for mothers in danger but for a campaign to stop the use of the word abortion or the contagion that would allow wider scope for abortion’s to women that want/need them.

    1. Blobster

      The prolife campaign have never wanted to prevent medical care that would save the life of any mother. That’s always been a very clear position.

      The argument over the word “abortion” being applied to certain means by which a pregnancy is terminated is important for parents who go through it.

      It is also important for both sides of the wider abortion debate. Both sides will use it to push for more stringent and more liberal abortion regimes respectively.

      1. KeithFahey’s Moustache

        You sure about that!

        Abortion/termination/ induced delivery; if the unborn is not going to survive the procedure they all equate to the same thing. Intervening to end the pregnancy for medical reasons on the part of the mother or the unborn.

        No matter what you call it Pro Life nutters don’t want it to happen and believe God’s law should be allowed to see how it works out. I am too lazy to search but I am pretty sure there was a quote from some pro lifer or other last week on here that said as much.

      2. woesinger

        I think that’s slightly disingenuous, in fairness, Blob.

        When an anti-abortion group puts out a media campaign saying “abortion is never the answer” or “abortion is never needed to save the live of a woman” knowing that there’s not a clear consensus among the public about what the word “abortion” means, their position is anything but clear, and could be argued to be deliberately obtuse.

        Blaming other people for not knowing what you meant by “abortion” is no excuse. The onus of clarity is on the communicator not the audience.

      3. droid

        Let’s be clear about this. Ireland is almost alone in the prohibition of the word ‘abortion’ to describe terminations. Miscarriages are ‘spontaneous abortions’, or ‘incomplete abortions’ everywhere else, but the fact is that almost every doctor in the world calls any kind of termination (not by birth) an abortion of some kind.

        There may be some element of sensitivity to the needs of patients but this semantic game takes place primarily to provide legal and ethical cover for doctors working in mostly catholic institutions in a ‘catholic country’ and to disguise the fact that some kind of abortion takes place here on a daily basis. Because if we were to admit that ‘terminations’ are abortions, regardless of the ‘intent’ of the procedure would be to destroy the hypocritical moral position of the hard catholic right, and would doubtless have a negative effect on their funding from US fundamentalists.

        The ‘medical adviser’ of the pro life campaign got smacked down over this on the primetime last week. There was a UK doctor repeatedly referring repeatedly to miscarriages as a form of abortion.

      4. Jess

        The reason women are afraid of having their experiences called abortions – induced, therapeutic, spontaneous, whichever – is simply because the word has evil connotations attached to it by hectoring pro-life activists.

        If there was no shame being firmly hung round the neck of every woman who opts for an induced abortion, there would be no fear of the word itself and all the situations it describes.

  5. Blobster

    That’s not what she said.

    She said two of her pregnancies terminated/ended in some sort of medical intervention before her due date.

    She doesn’t say if the intervention resulted in the death of her baby.

    1. Nigel

      No, she’s blurring the usage of the term to ham-handedly suggest that there is no need for clarification on the issue performing abortions to save the mother’s life because if we use the term ‘termination’ to cover any intervention then there’s no need for any abortions ever, despite the fact that this same nudge-wink approach is rife with ambiguity and the potential for more unnecessary tragedy. They want it both ways. ‘Oh, the mother will get all the medical attention she needs, BUT NO ABORTION -coughcoughterminationscoughcough.’ It’s a horrible fecking joke.
      AND I just heard Willy O’Dea on the radio who seemed to be suggesting that allowing abortions if the mother is at risk of suicide would lead to abortion-seekers faking suicidal tendencies by the thousand. Good to see the politicians trust the electorate (and women in particular) about as much as the electorate trust politicians.

      1. General Waste

        Two FG TDs on the News last night saying the same thing re suicide as a risk to the life of a mother. Utter disregard for both mental health and women’s health.

        These scum would rather put their own twisted religious beliefs ahead of the welfare of Irish women. They are beneath contempt,

        1. Steve

          After the march last week I contacted my 3 TDs in Dublin North East (who I gave my prefs for in 2011) saying if they didn’t legislate for X, after 20 years, that none of them would get any of my prefs at the next election. I know I’m only one vote but in the grand scheme of things they all add up. In fairness to Broughan and Kenny they responded with the automated email to the probably hundreds of emails they got…..but Flanagan, the chap on the news, never responded.

          Lets not bulls#@t ourselves when politicians say that this issue is troubling their moral compass and would worry about a ‘liberal UK-esque’ abortion regime in Ireland, what they are really worried about is the fact that their election campaign in 2011 was funded/supported logistically along by pro-lifers and so will their re-election campaigns if they hold strong and delay/impede legislation on this.

          After Six One news last night Flanagan wont be getting my vote and the thing is he would want to be very careful about such a public/resolute stance. Especially if he ruling out compromise with his parliamentary colleagues (as should the rest of the resolutes in all parties). Dublin north East is largely progressive (2 labour TDs) and there might not be that many people in Baldoyle, Howth, Portmarnock, Raheny, Sutton etc who would take such his stance. If he wants re-election he should have a re-think. And do it publicly.

          1. General Waste

            Flanagan, that’s the chap. He’s a Dublin TD? Sweet sufferin’ Jesus. I hope the good burghers of Dublin NE f**k him out on his ear next time.

            Clare Daly has been relentless in her assertion that abortion is not as divisive an issue as the pro-lifers and the media make out. I think she’s right.

            My unscientific polling of four rural 70-somethings last week showed that they all wanted legislation for X and were shamed and distraught at what happened in Galway.

            Niamh Ni Bhriain’s ashen face on Prime Time last week showed that they know that the major battle is lost and we’re now onto semantics. Hence the bullshit from Caroline Simons above,

          2. droid

            Hence the aggressive pamphleting, political lobbying and robo calling. Theyre throwing all of their dollars into the battle now.

          3. droid

            Hence the aggressive pamphleting, political lobbying and robo calling. Theyre throwing all of their dollars into the battle now…

      2. cluster

        Willie O’Dea is probably right that, ‘allowing abortions if the mother is at risk of suicide would lead to abortion-seekers faking suicidal tendencies’ but so what. No system will be perfectly balanced and a decision has to be made whether to fall down on the side of the mother or the foetus.

        1. Kevin

          It gets worse: following that logic, should the authority who says yay or nay to such a hypothetical request for abortion automatically trust the requester? On whom would the burden of proof lie?

          It’s pretty much for this reason that I support abortion on demand. When someone says abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, or risk of suicide, what they’re really saying is that women who request an abortion on those grounds should be distrusted and interrogated, and that’s about as grotesque a proposition as I can think of.

          The decision to abort a pregnancy isn’t a pleasant one; the most appropriate person to make that decision is the pregnant woman.

          1. Atticus

            The comments section is terrible on this site. It’s all over the place and quite difficult to follow the flow of debate if there are more than 10 comments.

          2. Jess

            This. Allowing it in case of rape/incest only leads to the ridiculous farce of ‘legitimate rape’ as we have seen in the US.

            If a woman wants an abortion, just fucking let her have it. Don’t second-third-swear-on-the-Bible-guess her about it.

        2. Nigel

          Yeah, but it’s typical that something wouldn’t be done because the concern that someone might get away with something overwhelms all other concerns, and then there’s the fundamental attitude about mental health being some sort of fakery and not a real medical issue at all.

    2. missred

      Saw her forcing her four school/college age daughters to wear “I’m Pro-Life” t-shirts outside the Dáil a few months back. They looked like they would rather stick pins in their eyes than be anywhere near their fishwife mother at that point

      1. Jimbo

        I’m sure you know they didn’t want to be there and spoke to them? Or are you just making that up to suit your own agenda?

  6. Atticus

    So a termination is now the word used for when a pregnancy has gone full term, or not gone full term, or is actually terminated?

    Well at least she was being “really clear” on the matter and cleared up any ambiguity.

  7. Clampers Outside!

    I wonder what Youthdefence, IONA, Mullen and Mulherin are going to say now seeing as the stats on the maternal deaths of Irish women have been shown to be DOUBLE the original CSO official figures.

    Yeah, double!


    I’ve asked Yootdefence / Mullen / Mulherin & IONA what they will be saying now. Not that they should’ve ever been touting that as a reason for anti-abortion in the first place. No response as yet, don’t expect one either.

    1. Sido

      @ Clampers – It should be pointed out that the fact Ireland still apparently “beats” the UK, has a lot to do with the honest analysis of statistics.
      The UK National Health model seeks correct and standard reporting of its failures, so that it can identify poor performance “hot spots” and move to investigate and improve the reasons for failure.
      I would doubt that the Irish HSE would necessarily adopt an approach that seeks to identify reasons for failure, with such rigour.. (Just sayin)

  8. brainwashed

    This is driving me insane. These people are not pro life, they are pro insane bullshit. I am pro life and yet also pro choice as most rational people would be. See you all outside the Dail on Wedensday night.

  9. Paul Moloney

    I’m amazed Irish anti-choicers haven’t edited Wikipedia in their determination to impose NewSpeak on us:


    “Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy.”

    Or Black’s Medical Dictionary:

    Abortion is defined as the expulsion of a
    FETUS before it is normally viable, usually before 24 weeks of pregnancy. (There are exceptionalcases nowadays in which fetuses as young as 22 weeks; gestation have survived.)

    Spontaneous abortion
    Often called mis-carriage, this may occur at any time before 28 weeks; …

  10. JD

    It might be worth pointing out that not every pro-choice supporter supports everything being said by every pro-choice proponent, just as not every pro-life supporter supports everything said by every pro-life proponent.

    Perhaps we need a 3rd grouping for “Maximizing the outcome of pregnancy for the most lives to be saved”, who’s on board?!

    1. Jess

      I don’t know, that sounds suspiciously like ‘you can’t have an abortion unless you are literally about to die otherwise’.

      Sometimes – sometimes! – abortions aren’t about saving lives, they’re just about letting a woman get on with her own life on her own terms.

  11. Steve

    Wow – just heard it there. Pretty impressive from Binchy on TV3.

    “The argument that you can draw any democratic inference….from those two referenda is bogus”.

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