ROSA – Reproductive rights, against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity – launches the Bread & Roses Festival with a table quiz TONIGHT at 7pm in Sin É. 15 Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin at 7pm.
Keishia Taylor writes:
Funds raised will support the Bread & Roses Festival, a key event in preparation for the upcoming referendum on Repealing the 8th Amendment.
Bread & Roses Festival, on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th September, is a feminist-socialist gathering with discussions on how to win abortion rights and the separation of church and state, and workshops on topics such as gender-based violence, LGBTQ oppression and sex education in schools.
Table quiz will take place on 7pm (Admission €5/€10 per person, teams of 4).
11 women a day travel from Ireland to the UK to access termination services because the 8th amendment renders abortion unconstitutional in Ireland.
That’s 11 women who have to pay for tickets for ferries or planes, as well as the hefty cost of food, internal transport and possibly hotels. It’s a fortune, especially for someone who doesn’t have it.
This is one yoga class held to help those women. You don’t have to be a gymnast (you don’t even have to touch your toes)- this is about getting bums on mats to help women who have been abandoned by the Irish state.
Tickets are £12. All proceeds go directly to the Abortion Support Network, a charity which helps woman cover the cost of travel when travelling to access an abortion.
Yoga for Choice at The Tram Depot, 38 Upper Clapton Road , E5 8BQ on Saturday (August 19) at 10am.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Queen’s University, Belfast this morning
At Queen’s University in Belfast.
Leo Varadkar gave a speech during his first official visit to Northern Ireland since becoming Taoiseach.
After giving a speech he agreed to take questions from the floor.
One woman (second from the right pictured above) asked Mr Varadkar:
“Taoiseach, on the topic of North/South relations, we know that students from the Republic of Ireland study here and vice versa. Students have a very proud history of advocating social justice issues, as seen in the marriage equality referendum on May 22, 2015 – something you are a strong advocate for north and south of the border and we thank you for your solidarity at Belfast Pride tomorrow.
“Recently you announced your intention to run various referenda over the next 18 months beginning in June or July. The referendum on the 8th amendment is especially pertinent for students north and south of the border.
“As we all know a high percentage of students travel or work abroad over the summer. Do you agree with us that, in order to fully engage students, this referendum should be held outside of the summer months?”
Mr Varadkar replied:
“Thanks very much. It’s a good question, I haven’t been asked that one yet. It is, we have a process that we’ve agreed involving a Citizens’ Assembly, involving a Oireachtas all-party parliamentary committee but what we’re planning for is a referendum probably May or June of next year.
“It’s not as straightforward as just having a referendum, we have to have wording legislation, a referendum commission and a campaign. So, if we don’t have it before the summer then it’ll probably not happen until the latter part of the year.
“So we haven’t set a date yet. We have had referendums in June before. I think the Good Friday Agreement was a June referendum, if I remember correctly. So was the Fiscal Treaty and we’ve had elections in June as well.
“But I definitely take the point and get the message that younger people would like to have the referendum happen at a time when they’re in the country so that they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar talking to the media on his way into the Data Conference at the Convention Centre Dublin
Amid the news of a new Taoiseach in the Dáil and the announcement of his Cabinet, the news that Leo Varadkar had confirmed an abortion referendum, seemed to slip through the cracks.
Yesterday he confirmed that the referendum will take place sometime next year.
He said Health Minister Simon Harris would be responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for the referendum on the eight amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn….
All I know is that I don’t know nothin’. And that’s fine.
There’s a certain peace and restfulness that comes from admitting that the more you learn and more you know, the more aware you are of just how much you don’t know.
Each bit of knowledge and education only opens up a whole other area of knowledge and information about which you are ignorant.
At this point you could insert one of numerous Richard Feynman quotes on learning, life and everything like, “Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.”
He’s right, it doesn’t matter. It is much more interesting to have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned (Feynman again). Sorry seems to be the hardest word, but it isn’t as difficult a phrase as “I don’t know.”
All politics, all ideologies and all religions are all about easy answers. You can rest easy because we’ve done the difficult thinking for you and here are our answers. All we ask is your unconditional support and belief.
Except, it turns out that they don’t have the answers either.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (PLDA) 2013 was supposed to be an answer. But what was the question? It wasn’t how do we protect unborn life and it wasn’t how do we protect the life of women after Savita Halappanavar.
The question was how we protect doctors when making a decision that might conflict with the Constitution. Doctors shouldn’t need the enactment of legislation in 2013 to help them make a judgement on what is best for the life of the patient. And yet they insisted they did.
But the Supreme Court insisted they didn’t.
In its decision on the X Case, the Supreme Court discussed at length the conditions that would permit abortion under the Constitution. For 22 years doctors had some clarity that where there was a real and imminent risk to the life of the mother, they could perform an abortion.
The death of Savita had nothing to do with lack of legislation and was all to do with doctors not wanting to make a decision.
The PLDA was bad law enacted in haste and yesterday we saw that doctors still won’t make a decision, even when the Supreme Court and the law says they can. Suicide is a risk to the life of the mother, PLDA allows for this and for an abortion.
Except if someone is suicidal and a genuine risk to themselves, then they should be committed to a mental institution. The former requires three medical opinions, the latter just one.
Oh, but not when you jump in a river and actually try and kill yourself. Then you’re grand. No risk there.
The problem with narratives is that when you have them, they become like a hammer and everything looks like a nail. It’s easy to read a lot into what the psychologist did in committing the girl to an institution. We’ll probably never know and so shouldn’t speculate.
But to repeat an old mantra, never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
The problem with narratives is that we can’t discuss abortion as we should. Not religion, not ideology, just ethics. Unfortunately, we’ve let ethics become synonymous with religion.
We’ve allowed a situation where one specific branch of one specific religion gets to be the dictator of ethics. We need a debate free from that. Unfortunately, no politician would be brave enough to have that discussion.
If you were to do a list of who has an abortion and why they have an abortion, the results of that list might be swayed by your views on abortions. Are the women old or young? Married or single? Is the abortion due to their health or the foetus’s?
Our only basis for answering this is to look to the statistics from those countries that do have legalised abortion. Great Britain (not UK as many in the UK have realised recently due to legislation not being enacted in Northern Ireland) is probably the best comparison.
Any legislation is likely to be the same where abortions require medical approval and a similar set up. From the statistics available, we know that in 2015 185,824 (3,451 from Ireland) abortions were performed.
· Based on 2015 births, approximately 20% of pregnancies were terminated in England and Wales.*
· 80% of abortions are performed in the first 9 weeks and 98% within the first 19 weeks (69% and 97% respectively for Irish women)
· 70% of women are in a relationship (65% for Irish women)
· 77% of women are white.
· 54% had been pregnant in the past through to delivery (47% Irish)
· 38% have had previous abortions (19% Irish)
· 98% have abortions on the grounds of Category C “risk to the physical or mental or mental health of the mother” (96% Irish)
· 86% of women are over 20 (52% aged 20-29, 34% 30+) (91% Irish, with 46% 20-29 and 45% over 30)
· 3% of abortions were for serious abnormalities or disabilities to the foetus (Category E) (4% Irish)
· 3 abortions (number, not percentage) were performed in emergency situations to save the mother’s life (due to mental or physical harm).
· 629 (0.3% of abortions) were because the foetus was diagnosed with downs syndrome (1.1% Irish)
*very rough approximation
How do we interpret this? I don’t know. Looking at the statistics above: it’s complicated. It isn’t, as Leo claims, like the lads popping off to Amsterdam.
This is mature, rational women, in a relationship, many who have seen a previous pregnancy through to birth.
They are 98% of 185,824 who have weighed up the pregnancy and its consequences and a doctor has agreed an abortion is necessary. Over 180,000 individuals like the population of County Limerick.
There is no single group mind behind their decisions. The only common feature is they live in a state that allows them to make that decision in consultation with a doctor.
In Ireland, we’ve legislated for the three abortions that were medical emergencies. But someone had to die before we even did that. We haven’t addressed the issue of suicide risk, but then we haven’t addressed the issue of suicide risk in general.
Under the PLDP, it isn’t enough to be diagnosed with cancer; it needs two doctors to confirm the cancer. With mental health, we want three doctors to confirm your state of mind before anyone will make a decision.
Twenty two years after the Supreme Court said it was permissible without legislation, that suicide risk was a risk to life, that you can take the threat of suicide at face value, you do not have to wait until they are pressing a knife to their wrists.
One doctor can do that. One doctor can believe the woman and act. The constitution does not prohibit that. Doctors did not need to wait 22 years, we didn’t need legislation. Doctors didn’t need to lobby our legislators so that it required three doctor’s opinions.
You can make of the statistics above whatever you want. You can use them to support pro-life or pro-choice. But they are what they are.
All I know is that I know nothin’. It’s complicated. Life is complicated. Somehow, we’ve managed to make complicated the bits that aren’t complicated when it comes to permissible abortions under the constitution..What hope do we have with the bigger issue of abortion in general?
The only thing I can say for sure is that it’s time to listen to those who have had experience here. Not those who want to insert an ideology into other people’s decisions.
There are over 180,000 of them in Britain, over 3000 in Ireland. Maybe listen to them, not me.
Listrade can be found on Twitter @listrade where he mainly steals jokes from Keith Chegwin.
A girl deemed to be at risk of suicide who wanted an abortion was sectioned under the Mental Health Act because her treating psychiatrist said terminating the pregnancy was “was not the solution”.
In the case, which was before the courts last year, an order was made to detain the girl on the evidence of a psychiatrist who said that while the child was at risk of self-harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, “this could be managed by treatment and that termination of pregnancy was not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage”.
A few days later, however, a second psychiatrist said although the “young girl” presented as being depressed “there was no evidence of a psychological disorder”.
…An abortion would have been performed under the terms of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. However, it seems the Act was not invoked, despite her having been deemed suicidal as a result of the pregnancy by the first psychiatrist.
Further to this…
A petition – calling on Taoiseach-in-waiting Leo Varadkar to respond to the story – has been launched.