Messy Fergusson Detractor



Cathal Mac Coille spoke with Professor Patricia Casey on today’s ‘Morning Ireland’ in response to the Iona Institute’s use of Professor David Fergusson’s research. Professor Fergusson of Otago University in New Zealand said that until the research has been done, “it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does or does not help suicidal women“.

This what she had to say:

Cathal Mac Coille: “Earlier in the programmme, we heard from Professor David Fergusson, a psychologist at the University of Otago in Christchurch who is unhappy with the way he believes his views and in particularly the results of his researchs are being used by those opposed to the introduction of abortion legislation in Ireland and we specifically put it to him a number of remarks made to him, made rather, about him by the Iona Institute which of course opposes abortion legislation and he made clear his unhappiness with the way his views had been ah interpreted and he specifically said that he has not carried out any research at all into women who say they are suicidal and who are looking for an abortion. We’re joined by Professor Patricia Casey of the Iona Institute, clinical psychologist thank you very much..”

Patricia Casey: “Clinical Psychiatrist, Cathal.”

Mac Coille: “Excuse me.”

Casey: “Consultant Clinical Psychiatrist in UCD and the Mater.”

Mac Coille: “Consultant Clinical Psychiatrist at UCD and the Mater. Now the professor is ah saying that things are being said and interpretations are being placed on his work which are not..not accurate. Do you accept that?”

Casey: “Oh no. He didn’t say that at all. He, in fact what he is saying is what I have being saying as a psychiatrist since this debate began. There is absolutely no evidence that abortion is a treatment for women who are suicidal. The evidence just isn’t there because it hasn’t been investigated and in fact I em, I emailed Professor Fergusson over the weekend when this ah news story hit..when this story came to public attention in the Sunday Business Post and here’s what he said “In response to your comments I think that it is drawing a long bow to claim that abortion may be an effective response to suicidal thoughts in pregnancy. As far as I know there is no evidence to support this view and claims of direct evidence seem far fetched”. That’s what he said to you. Em then in relation to the possible effects of abortion on mental health and again you quoted two clips from the Iona and he he em said…”

Mac Coille: “Specifically one was the statement made on the website on the 15th of April, “abortion is of no health benefit”. He says clearly there is no research about that and…”

Casey: “No he no he sorry he has done research about that and he’s said that his latest research found that there was no mental health benefit. It was published on the 4th of April…”

Mac Coille: “And that statement went on. The Iona statement went on “poses more risks for unwanted pregnancies”.

Casey: “Yes because he has found some evidence of mental ill health. What he says here and again he says to me, he said to me in the email “I think that the facts of the matter are relatively simple. There is curently no evidence to suggest that abortion reduces mental health risks. There is suggested but contested evidence that abortion may be associated with modest increases into mental health problems when compared with the outcome of women coming to terms with unintended pregnancies. These considerations suggest that the use of mental health grounds for abortion is highly questionable and that broader criteria that reflect the women that seek abortion are required”. So there is absolutely no disagreement whatsoever.”

Mac Coille: “So when he says as he did that it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women. You accept that?”

Casey: “No. He says there is suggestive evidence and that’s what I’ve…”

Mac Coille: “He says that specifically that it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women which I understand you ah and others who take a similar view, have said repeatedly that abortion does not help women. He’s saying it’s misleading for anyone to say state that emphatically.”

Casey: “Well look he has said there is no evidence that abortion helps women’s mental health. He has said it in the most recent systematic review that he published and indeed I sent a copy of a letter from em from em Peadar O’Grady of Doctors For Choice to him and he said it presents a more or less standard pro-choice reaction by seeking to denigrate the findings of his study while arguing for the validity of other reviews. Now look we..”

Mac Coille: “He is a man who has never studied women who are seeking abortions because they’re suicidal. Therefore, is there…”

Casey: “That’s right. We have never…We we have never”

Mac Coille: “What’s the point…what’s the point in quoting him at all except to say there’s no research?”

Casey: “No nn-no you you are getting things confused. There are there are several aspects here. The first is women who are suicidal. He has said there is no evidence about them and in…”

Mac Coille: “He has said there…he he has carried out no research on this area. If he’s carried out no research..?”

Casey: “Exactly. There is no…there is no…evidence. You cannot say that something is beneficial if there no evidence to support it and there is..”

Mac Coille: “Exactly but…isn’t the opposite side of the coin that you cannot state that it is the opposite because there isn’t evidence or research to show that there to show that it is?”

Casey: “Well the government is proceeding as if there was evidence that it was beneficial and there is no evidence. The second point that he makes in his studies is that when you study women who have had abortions for unwanted pregnancies and compare them with women who give birth there is no evidence of benefit.”

Mac Coille: “When he says that there is…”

Casey: “And thirdly…”

Mac Coille: “….it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically and I’m quoting directly what he said “it would be misleading for anyone to state emphatically that abortion does not help women”. Do you accept what he says?”

Casey: “If he’s saying..if he’s saying that in relation to suicidal women the answer is yes but only because there is no evidence. No studies have been done. That is the problem and that’s what we have said all along. There is no evidence to back up what the government is doing even though the government is proceeding as if there was evidence. There isn’t any evidence.”

Mac Coille: Professor Patricia Casey, thank you very much for talking to us. A minute to nine.”

Listen here.

Listen to Professor Fergusson’s interview here.

Earlier: Rumbled

Previously: A Little Light Reading


174 thoughts on “Messy Fergusson Detractor

  1. Medium Sized C

    I would like to take everyone from either side who has used the phrase “abortion as a treatment for suicide” and hurt them.

      1. cluster

        Yup, this is the point. Abortion as a ‘treatment’ for suicide ideation is a deliberate re-framing of the argument by the ‘pro-life’ brigade.

        1. SiriusBrowne

          No of course its not. The principle established in the constitution is that abortion is only allowed to save the life of the mother. The x case clarified that this also included the case of a mother being suicidal. You therefore have to prove that abortion removes suicidal tendencies/saves a womans life in order for it to be justified- otherwise its not in line with the supreme court rulign and the constitution.

          Otherwise you are asking for any mother whos life is in danger (for any reason- ie. not necessarily connected to her pregnancy) to be granted the right to have an abortion.

    1. Zackersetu

      They are just infuriating!!! They’re like a little effin preach of popes (i don;t know is there a proper collective noun)… can they ever admit they’re wrong!!! sigh!

    1. nellyb

      Dr.Casey coming out with strong personal religious views is a good thing. Potential patients (beyond termination issues, men and women alike) can make a decision for themselves – whether or not they want services of a consultant with particular views. So, I would like her to keep being vocal for foreseeable future. As well as other IONA affiliated professionals. Let them talk for as long as they like.

      1. SiriusBrowne

        Where does she make religious statements in the interview? (Genuine question, in case I missed it)

          1. SiriusBrowne

            Yup, right you are, sorry, I mean where does she express strong personal religious views?

          2. nellyb

            To: SiriusBrowne
            No, you are right, she does not in this interview, which is an exercise in logic on both sides. She is, though, a member of IONA institute with catholic ethos, which is not known for accepting atheist/secular members.
            RTE should give IONA, Youth Defence, bishops-n-all a few weeks of uncontested uninterrupted talks. It will disclose who is of what opinions, especially medics. So the public can choose what doctor they want to consult. Terminations aside – we can still choose medical consultants for other matters, can’t we?

          3. SiriusBrowne

            She is a consultant psychiatrist- does religious orientation annul professional and academic views now?

            You rightly point out that she doesnt express religious views in this interview but rather it is based on logic. Would that not be an indication that she is capable of separating a personal religious point of view from the argument and making one based on logic? Tell you what the minute she pulls out the rosary beads in the middle of a debate I will denounce her jsut as fast as you.

            While i dont agree with the church or IONA on a lot of things- should be be denied the opportunity to comment? As regards YD- I think they should be banned- but thats kind of irrelevant here.

            Finally, “uncontested, uninterrupted”? Thats not really fair nellyb, VinB, PrimeTime and many others consistently give both sides of the argument. To suggest that RTE is onesided and prolife is a bit disingenuous at best.

          4. SiriusBrowne


            SORRY! I misread your comment in my excitement. Please disregard the last bit. Duh- im being a bit silly today.


            @ Gar
            Sure I’ll answer your question, suicide is a serious issue, the reason I bring up the flaw in the pro-choice lack of depth in this , is that when someone is found to have suicidal ideation, they should be offered mental health care, even if that entails protecting them from themselves.
            To say “oh she’s suicidal, sure give her an abortion so”, doesn’t deal with the issue of suicide ideation, it risks escalating it with post abortion regret and introduce a new level of self loathing and mental health issues.
            These small number of women should be counselled through their pregnancy and given every assistance possible with that.


          She doesn’t make any religious views at all, that’s the strawman there from the Pro-Choice side.

          A suicidal woman who is pregnant, is not instantly cured of suicidal ideation upon receiving an abortion. There are obviously deeper issues there in the first place. A suicidal pregnant woman upon receiving an abortion is now a suicidal woman who is no longer pregnant. Still suicidal and still in need of intervention or care. Unless of course she wasn’t suicidal in the first place. But isn’t that the whole point.

          1. Gar

            Is it not common sense that where a pregnant woman has decided that she would rather commit suicide than continue with her pregnancy ending the pregnancy is likely to reduce the likelihood of her committing suicide?


            @ Gar

            No Lifes not that simple unfortunately.
            If the pregnancy lends to the suicide ideation rather than other profoundly deeper issues, then saying the pregnancy is the real issue when it’s not is a fallacy.
            Let’s say a pregnant woman in her 7th month of pregnancy decides that she is suicidal due to the pregnancy, I’m assuming the pro-choice side would argue that that’s also grand to carry out an abortion that late in the pregnancy? What about mother’s of newborns suffering from post natal depression who are suicidal? Should the child be taken away from the mother in that scenario.
            There’s no depth to the pro-choice argument around suicide ideation in pregnancy.

          3. Nigel

            Do you even remember the case that sparked all this, and why the suicide risk and the pregnancy were so closely related?

            ‘I’m assuming the pro-choice side would argue that that’s also grand to carry out an abortion that late in the pregnancy?’

            So far as I know there’s no-one in favour of late-term abortions, even in those circumstances. It’s easy to challenge the depth of pro-choice arguments when you don’t seem to know what they are.

            ‘Should the child be taken away from the mother in that scenario.’

            Post-natal depression is a treatable condition, but if the mother was sufficiently disturbed to pose a risk to herself and her child, I would imagine the child could well be removed from her care, though it’s not a step that’s taken easily or lightly.

          4. Gar


            I think you are making some rather unreasonable assumptions and also obfuscating the argument by introducing invalid external comparisons such as postnatal depression.

            You say life isn’t that simple but you don’t offer any justification for that, in fact, rather than address my question, you change the facts to suit your own argument. I’ll put it to you again, where a pregnant woman has decided that she will commit suicide if forced continue with her pregnancy, is it not reasonable that an abortion will decrease the likelihood of her committing suicide?


            Post-natal depression is a treatable condition.

            So is suicide ideation with or without pregnancy. How would you offer care to a late-term suicidal pregnant woman?

          6. Nigel

            ‘How would you offer care to a late-term suicidal pregnant woman?’

            I would encourage her to go to her MD for a referral to a counsellor or a psychologist who would provide the appropriate care and treatment. What the hell would you do?

      2. AmeliaBedelia

        If there ever was a good reason for hospitals to be forced to relinquish religious management if in receipt of state funding, well there it is. The next hurdle once legislation is passed will be that hospitals with a ‘religious ethos’ will refuse to conduct legal terminations, the Bishops’ statement on Friday said as much – “The Bill also appears to impose a duty on Catholic hospitals to provide abortions. This would be totally unacceptable and has serious implications for the existing legal and Constitutional arrangements that respect the legitimate autonomy and religious ethos of faith-based institutions” (despite assurance by the government that only individual ‘conscientious objection’ will be entertained). Yeah, I know slippery slope argument, but this is what we are dealing with.
        And SiriusBrowne, don’t be pedantic. Patricia Casey’s religious affiliations are well-known and they clearly colour her academic and professional opinion. Resisting the urge to further engage with the stupid.

    2. cluster

      UCD, what the f*** are you at? How is this religious nutjob a professor in a scientific field?

      What is the point pumping money into research and ‘innovation’ if serious decisions are going to come down to Rome’s interpretation of Jewish folk tales?

      Is it even ok for faculty in a scientific department to be an open member of a Catholic advocacy group?

      1. Blobster

        Why not round them (the catholics) up and put them in “other positions”. You know, like members of the Labour Party proposed for the Civil Service in a draft of the Clontarf Report:
        Recommendation 15 in the report, says: “All senior officials in state bodies which are likely to have to deal with the Catholic Church should be screened to ensure that they will not show inappropriate deference to the Catholic Church. Those who feel they are ‘Catholic first and Irish second’ should seek promotion in other organs of the State.”

        Seriously Cluster, you’re on shaky groud if you’re suggesting this person is unable to or unwilling to do her job becasue of her religion.

          1. cluster

            JFK made clear that his personal beliefs as a Catholic would not intefere with his job as President.
            “I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.”

            The likes of Casey and many others in Irish life before her are seemingly unable to make these sorts of distinctions between personal theology and the rigour and detachment demanded in their fields. If they can’t, then yes, they should be removed.

          2. SiriusBrowne

            to make a link to my previous exchange with nellyb- thats why her interview was laden with biblical references and prayers and contained no logical debate whatsoever- LOL

            To sum up your point cluster, catholics are ok when they agree with you, when they dont they are clearly nutters with no critical thinking skills.

            Because lets face it NO ONE could possibly be against abortion unless they are a religious fundamentalist in the same way that no one could possibly be in favour of abortion unless they are a feminist lesbian anarchist.

        1. AmeliaBedelia

          Religious belief should be a private matter. What exactly is wrong with the Labour Party proposal that you outlined above? Absolutely civil servants should serve the state and its citizens first and Rome second, Patricia Casey included.

          Your ’rounding them (Catholics) up’ statement is ridiculous. If anything, in the historical case, Catholicity was favoured in constitutional, political, and social relations in the Irish state. Our constitution, so unequivocally based on Catholic social and political theory, guaranteed this ‘special relationship’ and status in law for a long time. Arguably, it still does.

          And as for JFK, the US constitution, via its founding fathers wisely separated church from state. JFK may have campaigned and won his presidency on the Irish Catholic vote via the DP nomination, but he clearly understood his role as a non religious partisan head of a secular federation of states. To suggest otherwise is to patently misconstrue historical reality.

          SiriusBrowne below:
          “To sum up your point cluster, catholics are ok when they agree with you, when they dont they are clearly nutters with no critical thinking skills.”
          You have no critical skills. This was not his suggestion at all.

      2. scottser

        UCD if i remember rightly, is a big opus dei think tank. isn’t there a clatter of their board are all members? only remembering this from a book i read yonks ago. i’ll tickle my google-thing into action and see what can be dug up.

        1. emzo

          John Henry Newman ….
          you I believe, are right here …
          UCD are also M3 motorway apologists – defending a route which protected the lands of Lismullin house (Opus Dei Headquarters) but destroyed pre-christian archaeology

  2. SiriusBrowne

    You see this is exactly the point, the prochoice movement wish to legalise abortion to save the life of the mother when her life is at risk from the threat of suicide.

    Therefore the onus is on that side to show evidence that an abortion will stop her from being suicidal/ save the life of the mother.

    The evidence shows exactly this- that there is no proof that abortion stops a woman from being suicidal ie. saves her life. Therefore abortion in the case of suicide does not fall under the remit of a life saving medical intervention.

    That is all Dr Casey is trying to say. The onus of proof lies with the prochoice movement and they cannot provide proof. I really dont understand whats so complicated or controversial about all this.

    1. Der

      The legal situation is the that abortion is legal when the woman’s life is at risk from suicide as laid down in the judgement of the X case, and reaffirmed in the following two referenda.
      This is irrespective to the moral debate that is happening at the moment. Therefore if the pro-life side want to change this, the onus is squarely with them to prove, beyond reasonable doubt that a termination will not contribute to the saving of a suicidal woman’s life.

      1. Blobster

        That was done at the Oireachtas Health Committee in January, wasn’t it?

        The thing is, the X case judges based it’s decision on the view of a single psychologist. Faulty evidence but it’s done now, the Supreme Court decided.

        1. SiriusBrowne

          Oh absolutely its the law as it stands. I guess im arguing from a moral point of view rather than a practical one.

          Either we legilsate and someone takes a case and tries to overturn x (not sure how that would work exactly). Or we have another referendum…or the government just leaves it out of legislation.

      2. SiriusBrowne

        Well as you seem to accept as there is no evidence that it saves the mothers life- that would imply that the x case judgement is flawed.

        Interesting hypotheticaI -if x is legislated for, someone could take a case to the supreme court on its constitutionality and have the x case overturned- as there is of course no evidence that abortion removes suicidality- abortion in suicidal cases therefore isnt a life saving intervention and therefore would be unconstitutional.

        The more and more we delve into this the more and more it seems to me that the x case ruling was flawed. Its also amazing that the court ended up making that ruling without any psychiatric evidence in the first place.

        1. cluster

          The X-Case ruling was flawed?

          You would have forced a 14 year old girl raped by her uncle to carry to full term and deliver her rapist’s child?

          1. SiriusBrowne

            The x-case wasn’t flawed?

            You would create legal precedents and new rights on a regular basis surrounding questions of mental health without hearing any psychiatric evidence whatsoever?

          2. SiriusBrowne

            Didnt say it was.

            Difference is that psychiatrists deal with more severe mental health cases.
            Psychiatrists can prescribe medication.

            Surely evidence should have been heard from several of both professions rather than making such an enormous decision based on one.

          1. SiriusBrowne

            I see so south park by way of wikipedia tells me that you mean my argument is a red herring :)

            I dont really see how?

            You want to legislate for abortion to save the life of the mother- im merely asking you to show me how in the case of suicide it would save the life of the mother?

          2. Chucky R. Law

            Each side in an argument will seek research that proves their point, But to suggest that a lack of evidence for something is evidence of the opposite is nonsense.

          3. SiriusBrowne

            I never suggested as such. I am saying that the onus is on the prochoice side to prove that abortion cures suicidal ideation in such cases if they wish to justify the according of the right to abort in these cases.

    2. Arla

      “I would rather die by my own hand than be forced to endure a pregnancy against my will”.

      There you go, Sirius. Where’s the problem with abortion as a solution to that state of affairs?

  3. A Sirius case of the ABMs

    Patricia Casey: Emphasises the importance of evidence, believes Catholic doctrine

  4. bogman

    I listened to that interview and it wasn’t quite the gotcha that RTE and Broadsheet hoped it would be. Strange you are not asking the pro choice movement for evidence that abortion is a treatment for suicide. Well not strange actually as you dont pretend not to be biased in fairness.
    Do any of your achingly hip, eye rollingly liberal readers have a clue as to why they are in favour of including suicide in the legislation or are they just going along with it so they fit in?

    1. Blobster

      Yes. The New Zealand academic certaintly wasn’t the smoking gun. He quite plainly stated that there was no proof that abortion is a treatment for suicide. Yet, as we know, the Government is seeking to legislate for that treatment.

      Professor Fergusson stated very openly that he was pro-choice (and atheist) but stressed that there was, as far as he was aware, zero evidence that abortion was either a treatment for the threat of suicide in pregnant women or not.

      1. Nigel

        ‘He quite plainly stated that there was no proof that abortion is a treatment for suicide.’

        More to the point he said his study doesn’t address the issue, so why have the pro-life movement referred to the study as proof that abortion is no treatment for suicide? Her argument above is the purest obfuscation. His study, which did not cover the issue, proves the point because it does not provide proof one way or the other and when asked he says there is no proof one way or the other therefore this proves there is no proof thanks to his study which did not set out to prove this thing that it did not prove. Point proven.

        1. Blobster

          So why legislate for abortion to treat suicide if there is zero evidence that it will help? Shouldn’t the Governement seek, you know, evidence to support their views?

          Or they could just rely on the Health Committee where every medic who was asked was able to say that abortion is never a treatment for suicide risk.

          1. Nigel

            Because there was one case all those years ago where it was a risk and where there was no good outcome and the unfortunate young girl was so determined not to bear her rapist’s child that suicide was a very real and probable risk. So the issue was never abortion as treatment for suicide, it was abortion because otherwise there was a high probability of the girl attempting suicide. ‘Treatment’ in this case is a misnomer, and because the pro-life side were so determined to tie off even this human response to an utterly inhumane situation, we cannot even say that should the situation ever be replicated we can respond humanely, because we did not subject this girl to enough rigorous psychological study and mind-reaming, instead we can mis-state the purpose of the whole thing and start acting as of abortion is being proferred as a kind of therapy, which embodies the utter dishonesty of Casey’s assertions.

          2. Nigel

            Also, in the absence of definitive proof one way or the other, there is a strong legal imperative, democratically endorsed by referenda, because the X case represents the type of situation where it MIGHT be a necessary option, and not the idea that a woman’s depression and her pregnancy might coincide therefore abortion.

          3. Huppenstop

            Because it it is the law as it stands. Why have the Supreme Court as the interpretation of the constitution if our legislature feels it ok not to codify those interpretations, a disservice to us as citizens as there then exists no legal framework in which we can assert our rights under the constitution.

          4. cluster

            Well said, Nigel.

            This semantic bullsh!t of re-framing the argument as ‘abortion is a treatment for suicide.’ really starting to get on my wick.

    2. droid

      Show me where the pro-choice side is deliberately misrepresenting research to further their own agenda and you might have a point.

      The rest of your comment is beneath contempt.

      1. Bob

        Because he doesn’t have enough faith in his own argument, and so resorts to insults.

        1. SiriusBrowne

          …..and the pot remarked on the magnificient work pierre soulage had done in the household appliances department…..

          1. Pedanto

            Accurate or not, that’s a magnificent twist on that particular saying. Kudos, Sirius.

          2. SiriusBrowne

            Cheers Pedanto, even fundamentalist bigots have an appreciation for the arts…

    3. Bangalore

      The x case judgement affirmed the legality of it, two referendums subsequently re-affirmed the legality of abortion to save the life of the mother including the risk of suicide.

      Any law which omits this is unconstitutional. Do the medieval pro life crowd actually understand this or do they not understand anything that doesn’t come in the form of a papal bull?

      1. General Waste

        They don’t want to understand it because they are fundamentally anti-democratic – Referenda? Don’t count; Supreme Court rulings? Don’t count either.

        As even Enda Kenny has been at pains to point out this is a republic. What it certainly is not is a Catholic theocracy although the anti-choice brigade dearly want it to be.

      2. SiriusBrowne


        You have it in one my friend “to save the life of the mother”.

        So if the abortion doesn’t remove the suicidal ideation/ save the life of the mother- then it isnt constitutional.

        Precisely what dr casey’s interview and this thread are all about.


      1. Bangalore

        Maybe its due to their funky belief in jesus coming back from the dead or something. But you would think suicide is quite a difficult thing to cure short of some sort of wizards curse.

        1. SiriusBrowne


          Dude you are just after contradicting yourself.

          2 comments up you say the basis of the legislation is to save the life of the mother, now your saying its impossible to cure suicidal ideation with an abortion……

          You’re not making sense man.

      2. Blobster

        So why (if we ignore for a moment the X case judgement…which can’t be ignored, I know) is it a good idea to legislate for abortion as a treatment for the risk of suicide?

        1. Nigel

          It’s an awful bloody idea, but it’s a direct result of pro-life hardliners trying to shut down every single instance of medical termination of pregnancies in certain circumstances running smack against a case so horrific it was blatantly and inarguably inhumane to do anything else. Hence the legal impetus to provide for cases so rare there doesn’t seem to be enough of a sample size to do any sort of definitve study, but which the pro-life side see as a massive set of floodgates. If it weren’t for access the UK there’d have been a ton more of these – not necessarily suicide related, more like the C case, perhaps, and we’d be shouting and screaming over them, too, if there was an obligation to legislate for cases like that.

          1. Blobster

            So “lack-of-evidence be damned”. Getting suicide into the legislation is just about getting a “win” for the pro-choice side?

          2. Nigel

            Do you even remember why it’s an issue? Can you remember the particulars of the case? THAT’S why it’s an issue. It was the issue in THAT case that led to the decision not non-existent studies or broader mental health concerns. There is no ‘win’ here. The fact that we’re fighting so bitterly over a case where discretion should have been allowed is a loss for everyone. The pro-choice don’t win because the process is so tied up in knots chances are there’ll never even be a single case presented. Nobody would submit their patient to such an inquisition. The pro-life crowd lose because they’re convinced this represents a slope so slippery we’re already halfway down. They’ll keep agitating as their support base shrinks and sooner or later enough people will be horrific by the notion of forcing women to carry dead fetuses to term that the floodgates might well actually start to open.

          3. cluster

            The fact that the suicide rate of pregnant mothers fell drastically after abortion was itnroduced there is some evidence I would have thought.

          4. AmeliaBedelia

            Absolutely. All this dancing on the tip of a pin-head is a result of women not being allowed to decide for themselves their reproductive options as citizens of this supposed democratic state. But for England.
            We would arguably not be in this situation if not for the 8th amendment and the AG’s required response to it in 1992. More ‘eye of the needle’ than ‘floodgates’ over twenty years later.

        2. timbot

          We can’t ignore the X case. It’s the reason that the issue was legislated on in the first place.

          Ignoring the X case is the Anti Choice dream position.

      3. SiriusBrowne

        OMG LOL -thats the point- you HAVE to argue that in order to justify legislation!

        Otherwise you are asking for a unrelated and inappropriate “medical treatment” for illness.

        1. cluster

          There has been a referendum on this. Legislate for the will of the people is all that is required.

        2. DAN

          X causes Y, prevent X prevent Y.
          That’s the argument for abortion in the case of suicidal ideation caused by pregnancy.
          No empirical evidence for either side? Go with the logic. The logic says allow abortions in those cases where pregnancy results in suicidal ideation is in line with the mothers wishes.

          1. SiriusBrowne

            The problem then becomes how can u prove that X and only X have caused Y.

            The xcase itself was an rape case, also previous mental health issues have to be taken into consideration.

          2. DAN

            “The problem then becomes how can u prove that X and only X have caused Y.” That’s an entirely different problem, and if you’re willing to move on to that problem, then you’ve accepted that IF X is causing Y then removing X is a reasonable step in treatment.
            There goes the “not a treatment” argument. It’s not a treatment, it may still be an effective action in treatment.

            “The xcase itself was an rape case, also previous mental health issues have to be taken into consideration.” I don’t see your point. The question here is about when a woman is suicidal DUE to pregnancy, introducing other concerns is simply shifting the context so that we’re no longer talking about such a woman, in other words, it’s simply redefining the terms to suit your preferred outcome.

  5. DNS

    Abortions for all.
    [crowd boos]
    Very well, no abortions for anyone.
    [crowd boos]
    Hmm… Abortions for some, miniature Irish flags for others.
    [crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]

  6. Oisin

    If I lost my job and became suicidal over that I don’t think anyone would question if giving me a new job would help me to stop feeling like I’d be better off dead. Suicide is not the preserve of those with enduring mental illness. Many people who commit suicide never had a mental health issue before certain external factors came into play such as unemployment, financial difficulties or some very specific trauma. If you could solve these issues they would undoubtedly have a massive benefit to the person experiencing suicidal thoughts. If you can’t follow that very simple logic you are lying to yourself or others.

    1. nige

      well said Oisin.

      And this thinking ties into the psychologist’s evidence in the X case. The psychologist found that Miss X was rational, not mentally ill but it was possible that she would kill herself due to the circumstances she found herself in.


      Well said Oisin, so in the case of a pregnant woman who’s partner leaves her for another woman in the last few weeks of pregnancy, she is overcome with emotional pain and suffering, she threatens suicide and believes that the pregnancy is now a bad idea because it didn’t fit with her plans. What should happen in that scenario? Would she qualify on those grounds? Or is it one rule for one type of suicidal pregnant woman and another for a different one?

      If you can’t follow that very simple logic you are lying to yourself or others.

      1. Chucky R. Law

        Apart from the fact your scenario is utterly contrived, the pregnancy is clearly not the source of her suicidal thoughts. No professional in their right mind would suggest so.

  7. DNS

    I agree completely that the risk of suicide shouldnt be grounds for an abortion in the legislation.

    There shouldn’t be any grounds for the option of a woman having an abortion other than “Does she want an abortion?” in the legislation.

    We need to seperate church from state. I believe over the last few days a new act was passed that means a coffin is no longer necessary for burial in Ireland as the previous requirement was contrary to (I think) some Muslim customs. Good – now lets change the abortion legislation so non-Catholics can have an abortion if they so wish.

    1. Blobster

      Jaysus the coffin thing is a tenuous link!

      Was the catholic church holding a firm line of coffins all along??
      A number of catholic religious orders traditionally don’t use coffins to bury their members. How do you explain that?

      1. DNS

        I don’t need to explain it – that was the law in this country until the other day, you can look it up yourself if you want. And I wasn’t necessarily trying to (tenuously) link the two.

        What I was saying is that a lot of people in this country don’t follow the rules of the Catholic Church in day to day life (some non-Catholics, some lapsed Catholics) and they shouldn’t be forced to by the State.

    2. Ted

      +1000 This is a personal choice and should be treated as such. You can have a coffin/abortion/(insert personal option here) if you choose but the operative word here is ‘choice’!

  8. ZeligIsJaded

    There seems to be something ironic abut the pro-choice movement ardently defending the right to choose of the mother (I agree with them on this by the way – so hold your fire).
    Yet when it comes to suicidal ideation, their right to choose goes out the window. Here, we all step in and explain to poor misguided soul that they are…well…they are mentally unwell. Delusional. We understand they want to end their life, but we know better.
    I’m expecting to get shot down, and fair enough.
    Its just pro-choice, in this context, seems oxymoronic.

    If you really stand by the motto, A woman’s body, a woman’s choice – maybe you should keep out of it, regardless of whether the decision relates to abortion or suicide.

    The argument might be considered facetious, but it seems that everything is in this debate

    1. Bangalore

      I don’t follow. The legal position is that abortion is legal if the person is suicidal. Pro choice people would always rather that there was no need for such a caveat and women had full access to abortion as they do in every other civilised country in the world.

      Assessing someone as suicidal is not the same as saying they are delusional, quite the contrary.

    2. Nigel

      ‘Yet when it comes to suicidal ideation, their right to choose goes out the window.’

      Are you saying that pregnant women who are suicidal will be somehow forced or pressurised into having an abortion? Are you high?

      1. ZeligIsJaded

        No, I’m saying why would you get in their way when it comes to deciding to end their life.

        Their choice. Just wondering how far the idea of choice extends.

        1. Nigel

          One tends to intervene in cases where depressed or mentally unbalanced people attempt self-harm or suicide precisely because they are depressed or mentally unbalanced. They are not rationally making a choice to hurt themselves, they are acting on impulses from a brain that is operating at a sub-optimal level and which can, with treatment, be made to operate at a more optimal level. You understand? The only point where this becomes controversial is with end-of-life care, a whole other can of worms.

          1. ZeligIsJaded

            So if the brain is operating at a sub-otimal level,or if the individual is mentally unbalanced, can we really trust their decisions regarding the choice to have an abortion.
            I’m not suggesting I have the answers, but I fail to see the clarity in yours either.
            The whole thing is predicated on a strange paradox, whereby pro-choice advocates are using the argument that the woman, in this case, does not know best. Drawing a satisfactory conclusion from that position is impossible

          2. ZeligIsJaded

            I don’t believe in either of those terms by the way (sub-optimal level, or mentally unbalanced – they don’t sit well)

          3. Nigel

            Well, I’m trying to err on the side of objective, technical jargon, but I hope you get my point. Nobody is going to offer a depressed woman an abortion as therapy for suicidal ideation. That is a pro-life framing of the issue, and would be grotesquely irresponsible. The cases where abortion may be a necessary option are rare and usually horrific. The cases where pregnant women are ‘merely’ suffering depression are rather different, and while such women can always go to the UK, the likelihood of them doing so with the help or approval of their doctor, counsellor or psychologist seems remote.

    3. Niamh

      Ridiculous comment. I’ve been following the abortion debates for over a year now and I have NEVER come across anybody who thinks that women should be forced have an abortion if they are suicidal. It all comes down to a women CHOOSING to have an abortion if she feels that the pregnancy is adversely effecting her mental health.
      I’ve never come across any pro-choicer in person/online that states a woman should have abortion under any of the categories be it incest, rape etc.
      The pro-choice argument is that a woman should be able to CHOOSE if she wants one or not. It’s not about having an abortion, it’s about the choice – hence pro-choice and not pro-abortion.

      The only people forcing a woman to do anything are the anti-abortion side.

      1. ZeligIsJaded

        I’m not talking about forced abortion.

        I’m talking about the freedom to die by suicide.

        I’m just curious about the idea of pro-choice, as an idea in and of itself. And, how far it potentially extends.

        Just curious why the reaction. from a pro-choice perspective, to suicidal ideation on the part of a pregnant woman is to dicuss the possible benefits of an abortion.

        If one truly believes in a woman’s right to choose, surely one should be taking her decision to die seriously, and discussing the benfits of that also, not simply writing them off as delusional. I mean if you truly want to respect autonomy

          1. ZeligIsJaded

            Thats a pretty out-there question.
            Are you talking economically?
            Are you suggesting ‘women’ are a homogenous group?
            That one woman dying is the same as any other dying?
            Or are you suggesting that each life is precious, just like David Quinn might?
            Just trying to get to the crux of your inquiry.
            I guess one of the certain benefits of suicide is that it ends mental anguish, and psychic despair. That is, its certain unless you believe in an after-life – which, judging from your question, I think you might.

            So from that viewpoint, it is a much more effective tool for the alleviation of suicidal ideation than abortion is.


            Yeah but you are clearly a misogynist trying to tell other women, how to tell other women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

          3. droid

            I know you think you’re making some kind of important and overlooked point here, but its really coming across like stoned, smug sophomoric philosophy 101 nonsense.

            Suicide is legal in this country. The fact is any woman who decides to kil themselves does have a choice.

            And if you think its a good idea for counselors, psychiatrists, healthcare professionals and other advocates to discuss the ‘benefits’ of suicide with a woman, then that’s your prerogative. The vast majority of people think its a bad idea unless there is some extremely serious, irreversible and intractable reason otherwise.

        1. Bangalore

          Nobodys righting off anyone as delusional. Nobody is forcing anyone to stay alive against their will.

          I don’t know where on earth you are getting any of this from.

        2. DAN

          It’s because most suicidal people are not making a rational decision. Most pro-choice people (afaik) also support the right to die in certain circumstances.
          Talking in broad general terms isn’t very helpful here as in both cases (right to abortion, right to die) individual circumstances are paramount.

  9. Drogg

    How is this woman an educator, she should immediately be removed from her position in UCD.

    1. ZeligIsJaded

      She may even be a witch.
      She should immediately be tested for bouyancy also

      1. droid

        In theory, deliberate misrepresentation of medical research might qualify as some kind blot on an academic record. Also, being patron of an organisation that does the same. More a reputational than a professional blot though I would think.

        BTW, Is the Iona institute the only group in Ireland that has been called out twice in one month by academic authors to stop misrepresenting their work? Has to be some kind of record:

        1. Blobster

          She semed to give a reasonable account of herself (or her organisation) in the interview above.

          1. Nigel

            Actually, she didn’t. She leaned heavily, completely, in fact, on one thing the guy said which had nothing really to do with the study.

        2. droid

          Uh-Huh. I guess if you accept that the continued use of a research paper to back up your argument even when the author himself claims this equals misrepresentation is somehow valid, then you’ll believe anything.

  10. bogman

    For what its worth, I believe that abortion should be available to any woman who wants it, but that is not the current debate. That argument would need a referendum. It would also demand a level of honesty from the pro choice movement. A question they need to answer is “Is there any circumstance under which you would prevent a woman from having an abortion and if so what is it?” That would at least demand them to articulate what they actually want.

    I dont find the pro life side medieval, they are articulating a conviction that is held by people all over the world and based on a philosophy and a belief. What is medieval is the witch hunting of pro-lifers that is undertaken by people who consider themselves tolerant and liberal. Argue with your intelligence, not your herdlike bullying.

    1. Bob

      The only pro-life people being targeted are those who are openly lying and twisting facts to trick others.

      You don’t let politicians away with lying, so why should you be forgiving to corrupt lobby groups?

        1. Bob

          And they represent the entirety of the pro-choice people, do they? Both sides have jerks who attack anything for the hell of it.

          1. Blobster

            I’m just pointing out an example of where people are abused and belittled becasue they hold pro-life views. Happens all the time.

          2. cluster

            I didn’t make the KKK comments but I would have no problem with somebody not having respect for a group of people who dress up in religious uniform and wave Vatican City flags on Irish soil.

            I think it is very reasonable to belittle those who have made a decision based on one interpretation of old Jewish folk tales and want to force that decision on everybody else.

        2. droid

          Yeah, because slagging someone off after seeing their picture online is the equivalent of a witch hunt.

          Oh, and if someone compared them to the KKK – maybe its because they wear the same clothes?

          If your contributions here are going to continue this decline in quality, maybe you should go back to using your alias?

          1. bogman

            It is considered bullying to constantly (day after day) pick on a group of people because of what they believe. It wouldn’t be tolerated by any other sector. So to continually post pictures, derive anagrams, and make comparisons to illegal racist organizations is in my opinion, bullying. To blame the victim for the bullying is also part of bullying.

          2. droid

            Plead ignorance all you like, but I caught you using a sock puppet last week and you know it.

          3. cluster

            @bogman, I think you need to look up your definition of bullying.

            I’ll agree the anagrams are unnecessary but only because they aren’t funny.

    2. Bangalore

      Rubbish. The pro life arguments are based 100% on misinformation. If they stop deliberately lying to support their position then we can have a civil discussion.

      And witch hunting? Sorry, are twelve pro lifers a day forced to go abroad to receive what is a right in every other civilized country and forced to stay quiet because of a stigma? Get some perspective

      1. bogman

        And do you think Irish people are so stupid that they are going to be convinced by 100% misinformation and lies? Im afraid this just illustrates the superior attitude of the pro choice movement. Anyone against them is medieval, backwards, out of date and “shameful”. It helps too if they are from the country.

        Maybe if they conducted their campaign in a more inclusive and honest way, they would get the secret supporters like me advocating for them. But hate for others is not an attractive part of any civilised discussion and just leads people to become just as nasty as those they fight.

        1. Bob

          You mean if the pro-choice campaigners were funded by US lobby groups trying to force their views on another nation?

          Be honest with yourself and answer this simple question: Has the pro-life campaign acted with nothing but honest?

        2. Bangalore

          Yes of course people will be convinced by lies and misinformation. Have you never followed a referendum debate before?

    3. Gar

      I think most “Pro Choicers” are very clear on the circumstances under which they would prevent an abortion, usually being the duration of the pregnancy. I don’t think thats an issue at all.

      Equally I don’t think the Pro Life side are medieval but they are doing more than articulating a belief of philosophy. they have repeatedly used emotional, manipulative and often incorrect language, they have deliberately exaggerated the proposed measures and have made unsubstantiated claims about the effects of abortion on women.

      If the prolife campaign comes across as hysterical, unbalanced and even “medieval” that is hardly the fault of the pro choice campaign.

      1. Blobster

        Correct me if I’m wrong – are you saying (in your first paragraph) that you believe most pro-choice people would allow abortion-on-demand up until 9 months? Is that what you’re saying?

        1. Gar

          you are utterly wrong. for clarification purposes I meant the stage of the pregnancy.

          1. Gar

            Really? none the wiser? As in what stage of the pregnancy? For how many weeks has the pregnancy been on going?

          2. Blobster

            So you answered Bogman’s original question without ever giving an answer at all really? You’re saying that:

            “most “Pro Choicers” are very clear on the circumstances under which they would prevent an abortion, usually being the duration of the pregnancy. I don’t think thats an issue at all.”

            So who gets to say at what duration/stage of the pregnancy abortion is to be allowed up to? Until that’s agreed, surely the pro-choice position is anything but “very clear”.

          3. cluster

            Blobster, I’d guess that 24 weeks would be a limit that many pro-choicers would agree on.

          1. Gar

            My Opinion is that this is all too 80s for me to put up with, economy in the toilet and abortion on the news all fecking day, its like some kind of nightmarish deja vu.


      Well said bogman, the hatred and hypocrisy here is so obvious. Someone offering a valid or differing viewpoint is shot down, calls for sacking etc.

      1. cluster

        Pointing out that a book written before the enlightenment is not the best basis for decision making which has an impact on the lives of women is not hatred.


          What enlightment is that to which you refer oh most enlightened one?

          Stuff your Bible, I’m an Atheist so your argument is invalid.

          1. cluster

            So, on what non-religious basis do you decided that an adult citizen should be forced to support a two-cell thick embryo without a brain?

            And, the Enlightenment? Look up Wikipedia.


            You can’t be an Athiest and pro-life?
            The basis that no-one has a right to kill another human intentionally. It’s about the greater good.

            The basis that that cluster of cells is a possibility of new life.

            As for lashing the Catholics or any other faith based communities out of it for having beliefs against abortion, at least 20% of us here can assume that we are only here because of those busy bodies telling us what to do with our own bodies lobbied against widely available abortion for contraceptive purposes.
            You should be grateful for their activism that you might have benefitted from, not vilifying them because they hold that ground or what beliefs they hold.

          3. DAN

            “You can’t be an Athiest and pro-life?” You can’t legislate your (nonsensical) metaphysical beliefs.

            “The basis that that cluster of cells is a possibility of new life.” And that possibility outweighs the actual person? That’s ridiculous, potential is nothing.

            “As for lashing the Catholics or any other faith based communities out of it for having beliefs against abortion, at least 20% of us here can assume that we are only here because of those busy bodies telling us what to do with our own bodies lobbied against widely available abortion for contraceptive purposes.
            You should be grateful for their activism that you might have benefitted from, not vilifying them because they hold that ground or what beliefs they hold.”
            Key phrase “for contraceptive purposes”. Irrelevant here.


            It’s irrelevant that 98% of procedures carried out each year in the UK, mental health concerns are cited as the reason?.

            Yet suicide is lower in women who are pregnant than those who are not.


            There’s nothing metaphysical about my views on life, if it’s exists it’s not metaphysical it’s real,your twisted narrative to describe potential as nothing shows the value you place on life. Nobody is trying to trump one life over the other, both are held equal by pro-life people . Pro-Choice on the other hand don’t hold that view. They ascribe false narrative to the issue to justify the outcome, claiming some like it should be some god given right because a State should create a legal framework to allow them to do that?
            Nah the notion of these rights are as for the birds just as any bible bashing catholic might “because it says in a book written by men”.
            Don’t kill , protect life. No need for religion in that message.

          5. DAN

            “It’s irrelevant that 98% of procedures carried out each year in the UK, mental health concerns are cited as the reason?.” Other than the word “irrelevant” this has nothing to do with what was said.

            “Yet suicide is lower in women who are pregnant than those who are not.” Same again.

            “There’s nothing metaphysical about my views on life, if it’s exists it’s not metaphysical it’s real,” You have no idea what metaphysics is, primarily, it’s concerned with what is or isn’t “real”, Anything you say after this is bound to be gibberish.

            “your twisted narrative to describe potential as nothing shows the value you place on life. ” It’s not a narrative, it’s a statement, and it’s not mine, it’s Sartre (see being and nothingness). Potential by definition refers to something which does not yet exist, and may never, in other words, something imaginary, therefore potential is nothing. Refute it if you can, deny it, and you’re just incorrect.

            “Nobody is trying to trump one life over the other, both are held equal by pro-life people.”
            Although clearly, since one is actual and the other only potential, they’re not equal. You’re free judge them as equal if you like, you’ve no right to demand others do the same, or accept rules based on your judgements. And for the record, value judgements are metaphysical.

            “Pro-Choice on the other hand don’t hold that view. ” First correct thing you’ve said.

            “They ascribe false narrative to the issue to justify the outcome, claiming some like it should be some god given right because a State should create a legal framework to allow them to do that?” This isn’t even a sentence. Gibberish, like I said.

            “Nah the notion of these rights are as for the birds just as any bible bashing catholic might “because it says in a book written by men”.
            Don’t kill , protect life. No need for religion in that message.” I never said you were religious, I said you’re free to hold your own metaphysical views, however silly, but not to impose them on others. That stands, no matter what argument you offer, although so far you haven’t offered an argument, just denial.
            So again, you can believe whatever you like about what’s a “real” life, or more to the point, a “real human”, or when life begins, or whatever else you like, you just can’t demand that others accept your views, or operate according to them. Especially not when you obviously don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

  11. Paul Moloney

    “witch hunting of pro-lifers”

    Yes, because it’s pro-choice people who are putting up posters of local TDs equating them to child killers.

    And it’s pro-choice groups who have a past record similar to Youth Defence.

    Give me a break with this false equivalence nonsense.


      1. Bangalore

        No, the pro choice side have not engaged in anything like the lies, misinformation and abuse that the pro life crowd have


          That depends on whether you think lies,abuse or misinformation only comes from one side.
          I know of a doctor with pro-life views who had his email account hacked in Ireland and fake emails sent on the topic, misrepresenting him. I consider that abuse lies and misinformation.

  12. commonser

    Posted this earlier in the original pre-transcript post this morning but it fits in better here.

    So basically there’s no research either way to state that there is a link, positive or negative, between carrying out an abortion and the mental health of a woman who has suicidal tendencies due to a pregnancy.

    And the only reason the Gov is legislating on this is because of a Supreme Court ruling.

    The pro life groups should be careful what they wish for if they’re calling for a referendum (which is what it would take as far as I’m aware) to tighten the law on this issue (ban it outright is what I can only assume they want). Could potentially pave the way for a more liberal regime with regards to abortion. I would say in a perverse way they’re lucky to have it reduced simply to the issue of suicide. Narrows the debate significantly.

    The proposed legislation as it stands seems to me to be still quite restrictive (not ‘on demand’, not in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, not in cases of incest nor in cases of rape) and in that case they should be happy with what they’ve got (Mothers life in danger and a three doctor panel in cases where suicide is the reason for wanting an abortion). The Constitution is quite clear on the right to life of the unborn.

    Most women wanting an abortion will still cross the water for one.

    And that’s the reality.

  13. Jandals

    I would be a bit cautious basing anything on a study with a small sample size – only 300 women out of about 1700 had had am abortion. Those having abortions also had higher initial risk of mental health problems – once thats taken in account, the results aren’t even that significant.

  14. Blobster

    I see Morning Ireland apologised this morning (Thurs 9th May approx 0850) for mistakenly saying that Prof Fergusson had been unhappy with certain statements from the Iona Institute about his work. I don’t have a link but approx 0850.

    1. Tom

      I know Broadsheet will be covering this later but here is the statement,

      ‘On Tuesday, May 7th, we broadcast interviews with Professor David Fergusson of the University of Otago at Christchurch, New Zealand and with Professor Patricia Casey, Consultant Psychiatrist at UCD and the Mater. The subject was the reported unhappiness by Professor Fergusson at the way his research was being interpreted by pro-life parties to the abortion debate here. In the course of the interview with Professor Casey, I said that Professor Fergusson had said he was unhappy at the way the Iona Institute had been citing his research. In fact, Professor Fergusson did not say he was unhappy with how the Iona Institute quoted his research and we’re happy to clarify that.’

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