Tag Archives: Abortion


As part of the Knickers for Enda campaign, you can put pen to panties paper and post your smalls to:

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Government Buildings
Merrion Street
Dublin 2

Give him a frill..

Speaking of Imelda (facebook)


The Pro Life Campaign held its national conference in the RDS on Saturday. One of the issues raised was media bias.

Caroline Simons, legal consultant for the Pro Life Campaign said:

“For over two years now, every time this issue comes up in the news there has been an almost exclusive focus on abortion. This is doing a massive disservice to women. How many women end up going for abortion in this situation having heard nothing whatsoever about the extraordinary support which perinatal hospice care offers to the mother and baby for whatever short length of time the baby may live? There is urgent need for more balance in this debate.”

Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign said:

A majority of people in this country consistently say that they want to keep a pro-life model in Ireland. Put simply: we’re not into ending lives here. We are into saving them. Recent polls claiming widespread support for abortion fail to take into account the fact that the evidence shows abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings. The Government ignored this when introducing abortion last year.”


According to today’s Irish Times, 68% are in favour of referendum in cases of rape or where the foetus will not be born alive.

Majority of voters want abortion law liberalised (Stephen Collins, Irish Times)

Previously: No Direction Home

Pic: The Scientist


Last night, Prime Time ran an item on TFMR (Terminations For Medical Reasons) with Katie Hannon revealing correspondence between the Master of the Rotunda Hospital Dr Sam Coulter-Smith and the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health highlighting safety concerns of women who travel to Britain for a termination and return to Ireland half-way through the procedure.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of The Life Institute described it “as abortion in the case of profound disability and the misinformation needs to be dealt with….where we’re talking about bringing in abortion because a child has a disability however profound.”

David McCullagh was then joined by Dr Peter Boylan of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street and solicitor Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign for the inevitable FIGHT.

Watch in full here.

Abortion: Medical concerns over new trend (Susan Mitchell, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: “Bad Law Makes Hard Cases”

When Dr Boylan Met Dr Kiely

Dr Peter Boylan and Breda O’Brien: The Transcript

“Would He Prefer For Both Of Them To Die?”




Greystones GP Dr Ciara Kelly and member of RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, writing in today’s Irish Independent outlines how her views on abortion have changed.

Like most people my age in Ireland, I was brought up in a pro-life household. My 12-year-old self accepted without question the explanation, that abortion was bad and I saw the tiny brass feet worn on jacket lapels in 1983 as cute rather than macabre.

Despite being otherwise liberal, I was slightly appalled when someone suggested to me that their solution to a theoretical, unplanned pregnancy was a flight to the UK. “Never,” I thought. My self-righteous teenage self believed that having a baby in every circumstance was the right thing to do.

I entered my 30s. I was now a GP and a parent. I’d four healthy children born into a loving home. I was lucky. But I saw many pregnant women who weren’t. Women on their own, unable to cope. Women who were sexually assaulted. Women with cancer. Women with foetal abnormalities. I saw the harsh reality that in a crisis pregnancy, there’s an incredibly private, personal and difficult choice to be made. I became, over those 20 years, pro-choice.

Because we don’t have ‘no abortion’ in Ireland, we merely import the service, by exporting our patients. This is a continuum of the treatment of women that saw mother and baby homes, forced adoptions, a ban on contraception and still, to this day, the mighty legal framework of the constitution imposed on what should be a deeply private and personal decision.

We wouldn’t force someone to donate an organ against their wishes, to save someone’s life – even if they were the only one who could save them. Because we respect a donor’s autonomy and right to choose. But that’s what we force on women: The legal right to life of one, at the expense of another’s body.

You will never convince me that an embryonic being is equal to a sentient grown woman. It’s like comparing an acorn to an oak tree. And I fail to understand why we’ve been so fixated on this single issue – but part of me feels it’s punitive. Feels it’s about punishing those ‘easy’ women, the way we’ve always done in this country. Heaping shame, misery and a good dose of guilt onto them Irish style. The way we’ve always done.

I’ve never been in the position where I needed to consider an abortion – lucky me. But not every woman is as lucky. And unless you walk in those shoes you shouldn’t get to decide about her body and her life. These women are not vessels to be forced into pregnancies against their wishes. They’re independent adult women who will likely agonise more about their decision than all those who lecture them.

It is for these reasons that I must add my voice to the increasing clamour to repeal the eighth amendment. A foetus is not equal to a grown woman and only a strange mind-set would think it was. The same mind-set that ironically would ban contraception but punish girls for unplanned pregnancies.

Dr Ciara Kelly: ‘The harsh facts that saw me change my mind on abortion’ (Irish Independent)

Previously: Critic Proof

90069420Jim Wells MLA

Behold the new NI Minister for Health Jim Wells.

He replaces Edwin Poots.

What can we expect?

Jim pictured with Bernie Smyth of Precious Life [above] in their efforts to stop the Marie Stopes clinic performing abortions in NI.

What could possibly go wrong?

Previously: Some Men’s True Hate

Love Them Both

Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland


St Ciarán of Saigir


Land of saintly termination.

The roots of lay and clerical anti-abortionism in Ireland would appear to be a modern phenomenon as medieval sources indicate a country in which abortion could be seen as a less severe offence by clerics, for example, than bearing an unwanted child or committing ‘fornication’.

In the middle ages women commonly underwent abortions in Ireland and the fact that they did so is reflected in numerous sources. Enshrined in the medieval Irish legal code is that fact that a wife could be divorced if she had procured an abortion for herself. This prohibition is part of a long list of grounds for divorce which included infanticide, flagrant infidelity, infertility, and bad management.

Thus the circumstances in which a man could divorce his wife were obviously quite severe but even still the wife was allowed to receive her marriage-portion back (even after an abortion).

Ireland has four saints who are recorded as openly and miraculously carrying out abortions, Ciarán of Saigir, Áed mac Bricc, Cainneach of Aghaboe and Brigid of Kildare.The life of Saint Ciarán (c. 6th century) told the story of a young virgin, Bruinech, kidnapped by King Dimma who raped her, and she became pregnant. Bruinech appealed to Saint Ciarán, who miraculously aborted the foetus. Later, versions of this Life told of Ciarán making the foetus disappear rather than aborting it. Áed blessed a nun who was pregnant and the foetus disappeared, similarly with Cainneach. Brigid was the only female saint to carry out abortions. She is also the premier female saint of medieval Ireland.

The Penitential of Finnian written c. 591 CE lists the punishment for women who abort

  • If a woman by her magic destroys the child she has conceived of somebody, she shall do penance for half a year with an allowance of bread and water, and abstain for two years from wine and meat and fast for the six forty-day periods with bread and water.

It is worth noting here that the penance is quite a lenient one and was much less for example than the time assigned to penance for childbirth which demanded six years fasting on bread and water. These sanctions appear to indicate a society where women were certainly acquainted with reproductive choices, exerted agency in choosing to abort and in which the penalties for doing so were quite minor.

Knowledge of abortifacients must have been passed down through the (female) generations and were thus greatly feared by the (male) Establishment because “they subversively aimed the devious weapon of spells and potions at the patrilineal kin group, the community, and all orderly, congenial gender relations.” Thus the killing of the foetus was not so much the issue at stake rather it was the power of the women who chose to do so (and had the means to do it) that was feared as it lay outside male knowledge. Making the link between a woman’s reproductive freedoms and witchcraft ranks as a severe challenge to female reproductive agency.

Abortion in Medieval Ireland (Dr Gillian Kenny)

With kind permission.

Thanks Ciara