‘It Is Right To Be Angry In The Face Of Injustice’



Emer O’Toole, in The Guardian, writes:

“This year, a suicidal teenage victim of rape and torture (Miss Y) was forced to carry her pregnancy to viability and deliver by C-section. And now we have a clinically dead woman being ventilated and fed for the sake of an insentient foetus, while her heartbroken family takes legal action in order to mourn her.”

“But we mustn’t get emotional. There’s no political appetite for another abortion debate. Kenny has already dealt with this issue. The passing of the protection of life during pregnancy bill last year was very difficult for him and his party. He deserves a pat on the back for legislating at all.”

“If you must discuss this case, do so cooly: in terms, perhaps, of its potential effects on the career prospects of male politicians? Is the ambitious Leo Varadkar, the health minister, using this case opportunistically? What might it mean for the future leadership of Fine Gael? That’s what matters here. Women’s bodies, women’s lives, women’s rights: those are messy, incendiary topics, best avoided.”

“However, you can’t just say “no comment” if you’re the taoiseach. It might look cold. “And so, Kenny, while carefully strapping his knees to the legs of a chair lest they betray some kind of humanity, recommends a careful measure of empathy: “Let anybody put themselves in the position of this family,” he says. And I can’t help but wonder if he can countenance this kind of empathy because it allows him a male subject position.”

“Let anybody put themselves in the position of this family. Then let anybody put themselves in the position of Savita Halappanavar, in pain, miscarrying, at increased risk of septicaemia, denied an abortion. Or of Miss Y, raped, seeking asylum in a country that bureaucratically continues her torture. Or of a woman told her foetus has a fatal abnormality but that she must continue to carry it. Or of a terrified teenage girl waiting for the abortifacient pills she ordered from some dodgy website. Or of a mother-of-two, going through a marriage breakup, who finds she is pregnant. Or of any of the women who contact Mara Clarke’s Abortion Support Network, asking for help to cross the Irish channel, each with their stories, each with their reasons.”

“Women’s experiences are routinely erased from Irish discourse on abortion. Our government and media won’t engage with the reality of living in a body that gets pregnant. When others do, they are dismissed as irrational, emotive: feminine.”

“Objectivity, historian Helen Graham once said, is not an equidistant position between any two points. It is right to be angry and upset in the face of injustice. 2014 has shown us the truth about the contempt for women underlying Kenny’s new legislation.”

“Be angry that a dead woman’s body is being used as an incubator. Be upset that Miss Y was forced to carry her rapist’s child to 24 weeks. These are women’s bodies. These are women’s lives. And that is what matters here.”

A brain-dead Irish woman’s body is being used as an incubator. Be angry (Emer O’Toole, The Guardian)

Previously: How Soon Is Now

‘The Role Of The State Is To Ease The Burden Of People, Not To Add To It’

Pic: Amplifyyourvoice.org

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58 thoughts on “‘It Is Right To Be Angry In The Face Of Injustice’

  1. aoh

    I love the fact that I’m Irish. There’s nothing like it. But there are times that I wish this country would wise up. We are all equal. I won’t tell you what to do with your life as long as (1) you commit to do the same and (2) you are not preventing me or anyone else from committing to the same conditions.

  2. DecR

    If I read it right …

    There was : subject + object
    There is now: object + object
    There could be: object + subject

  3. Someone

    This is nauseating to read, I can only imagine what it’s like for the family.

    Ireland is on the same level as Texas. Best little country indeed.

  4. SOMK

    Our bungling bastard government has made us all culpable in this sad little horror story, shamed by charges of murder against our country in India and abroad, they pushed through a ham-fisted legislation that when presented with the very situation it was suppose to deal with (raped suicidal girl) cut her open, rather than do the decent thing as per the will of the Irish people in referendum, polls and court.

    Here some quotes from a professor of clinical ethic about such cases from this article http://news.discovery.com/human/life/can-brain-dead-woman-give-birth-to-healthy-baby-1401101.htm note how he emphasises how important it is for the family to be consulted through-out.

    “For Jeffrey Spike, a professor of clinical ethics at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School who was involved in the case of a brain-dead pregnant woman in the 1990s, so many unknowns mean it’s critical to involve the family in the decision-making.

    “There’s such a long period to have to keep her stable at very high risk that there’s no way I would ever say this is ethically obligatory for anybody,” Spike said. “It’s perfectly likely that after weeks of being very unstable, they can see she’s [in distress], and then decide to do a C-section in the middle of the night in the ICU, and then you have to do a C-section of a woman who’s been dead for weeks, and it’s a nightmare scenario. It’s a huge risk.”

    Even in the case of the baby of a brain-dead mother who was born alive (according to the family’s wishes) and discharged healthy after six weeks in the NICU, Spike says that to decide on the basis of viability alone is wrong.

    “I think that the woman’s preferences should be respected to the degree they can be known,” he said. “Even if she wanted to be pregnant, that doesn’t mean she wanted to have a child who would never know her, and she could never love and raise as her own. Allowing a fetal death while inside the womb might be the most peaceful, natural, and ethically appropriate outcome in such tragic circumstances.””

    Tragic circumstances indeed, I’m sure Catholic Ireland will be all prayers about this one, all prayers no responsibility.

    1. Newsjustin

      Just because the result of society’s responsibility is different from what you’d like it to be, doesn’t mean society doesn’t take responsibility. Currently doctors are responsible for keeping a woman alive so that her unborn child might survive. Society has taken responsibility for preserving the life over this child by enshrining their right to lifé, and others like them in the constitution. Society takes responsibility for sick, disadvantaged, vulnerable people all the time.

      Just because people don’t want to be responsible for destroying an unborn child, doesn’t mean they don’t take responsibility.

      1. Don Pidgeoni

        They are keeping her alive because they aren’t sure of their legal stance, not out of responsibility to the foetus. Get it right.

        1. Newsjustin

          Then they are behaving responsibly. It seems some people want them to behave responsibly by ending the development of the unborn child….as quickly as possible.

          1. Newsjustin

            How so? My point is that people choosing a different answer doesn’t make them irresponsible, as the original comment suggested.

          2. newsjustin

            I thought you might point out mistake anyway Steph?! Its too easy to say “I don’t know where to begin.”

  5. Artemis

    “Women’s experiences are routinely erased from Irish discourse on abortion. Our government and media won’t engage with the reality of living in a body that gets pregnant. When others do, they are dismissed as irrational, emotive: feminine.”

    I think some men (mostly brain dead morons) feel a sort of instinctual drive to protect the unborn, as they have no direct control of reproduction. It’s a sort of personal vanity themed view, that you’d have little sympathy for.

    In saying that, I also think some women are pro-life…But that has to be a personal stance, and women have to have control over their own bodies. They’re not incubators for mankind in general.. they have lives and stories, and they should in any decent society have control over their own lives and bodies.
    As said in the piece above, there are numerous reasons why a woman may want/need an abortion, and any grown up society would not treat women they way we do.

    You’d hope that even a nation of simpletons can broaden their horizons, and realise that their own personal view and what appears to be the decent, moral way to behave is not necessarily what’s right for everyone.
    Let women have control of their own bodies. It’s very simple.

    1. Stephanenny

      Agreed. I’ve never met a man who was anti-abortion but pro-choice but I’ve met many women who are anti-abortion but pro-choice (many of of whom became prochoice after having their first child).

      1. delacaravanio

        You’ve never met a man who’s anti abortion but pro choice.

        I’m scratching my head, so let’s try it again: You’ve never met a man who’s anti abortion but pro choice.

        How can a man be anti abortion BUT pro choice? Unless he (and you) live in a parallel universe where social issues are governed by the laws of quantum physics?! But you also say you’ve never met a man who is in that position, so that means this Schrodinger’s cat of the abortion world you talk of may not actually exist, and you exist on the same place as the rest of us. But then you say you’ve met MANY women who are indeed both anti abortion but pro choice.

        I give up.

        1. Lilly

          As in they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves but feel they have absolutely no right to impose their preference on another woman – or influence her decision. Duh.

          1. delacaravanio

            Then they are pro choice. Simple as. Calling them anti abortion because they didn’t personally choose to have an abortion, but pro choice because they don’t want to keep abortion illegal renders both terms meaningless. For example, I support gay marriage, but I am not gay, so obviously I don’t plan to marry someone of the same sex. Would you thus describe me as an anti gay marriage pro gay marriage person? I don’t think so.

          2. Stephanenny

            Amazing how you focus on the “man” part of what you perceive as a contradiction when, if you consider it a contradiction, I applied said contradiction to both men and women.

            Gosh, I do wonder why you did that.

  6. Odis

    Kenny doesn’t really understand the concept of people having principles.

    We can see this in his appointment of an FG shopkeeper to the board of the museum of modern art.
    We can see this in the notion that if he makes water only three quid a week, people are going to think Irish Gravy is a great idea, or at least reluctantly accept it.

    He doesn’t see any problem here, because he doesn’t have much of a moral compass. Hey he’s given it his best shot what more can a chap do. Wring your hands a bit, try to look serious and carry on.

    1. Artemis

      because he doesn’t have much of a moral compass

      Ah, but what about that poem he wrote about the homeless.
      Are you saying it was a possibility that he was only showing off his poetry/writing skills?

      1. Odis

        As SOMK so eloquently puts it (above) “all prayers no responsibility”.

        He’s never had to think about morality or principles, These have been handed to him on a plate by the brothers or whatever. So he’s never had to work on his humanity, from first principles.

        He doesn’t understand it all. And yes, I guess I am saying just that, about that piece he wrote about the homeless, sadly.

  7. Pro

    All prayers , no responsibilities. Religion In law is a dimness, a sickness. Shame on those in power again

    1. ABM

      Seeing as you know best, why don’t you go set up your own hospital and/or get elected?

      Nothing stopping you campaigning for constitutional change.

      I’m sure young voters will love that you want to kill granny. I’m sure granny will love that you want to kill her grandkids. I’m sure John and Mary will love that you want to force gender brainwashing and gay identity down the throats of their offspring at primary school level.

  8. Gerry Johns

    This isn’t about abortion. The woman cannot choose so why do the SO ANGRY people want to make that choice for her? The SO ANGRY people get very OUTRAGED when pro-lifers want to make choices for pregnant people [i.e. persuade them not to have abortions but to give birth no matter what].

    Why is this any different?

    1. delacaravanio

      Of course it is about abortion. It’s entirely due to the fact that the pro life campaign had the eight amendment inserted into the constitution that this situation has arisen. This legal fiction of the unborn child (whatever that is supposed to mean in a tragic situation like this) was foisted upon doctors by the anti abortion hardliners (or, as you describe them, SO ANGRY people) in a misguided attempt to force their moronic idea that life begins at conception on the rest of us that don’t subscribe to Catholic theology. Despite numerous warnings that the constitution was not the place for something as complex as abortion, or that the shoddy wording would result in exactly this kind of situation occurring, the pro life campaign pressed on. And here we are.

      The real people who want to (and should be allowed to) make the choice here are the family and the deceased woman’s doctors, not the SO ANGRY people you speak of, but the next of kin have been prevented from making this choice due to the intransigence of the pro life campaign and their poor grasp of the law of unintended consequences.

      1. Leas

        This whole thing of that it should be a woman’s “choice” to abort a fetus because it couldn’t survive without her, is absolute bull.

        I propose we also allow abortion for 2 weeks after birth as well, seeing as the baby is still dependent on someone else to survive. Yay for Darwinism!

        Seeing as you think doctor’s are okay with it, why don’t you volunteer to be the one to yield the knife?

        Doctor’s want to save lives, not end them.

        1. dan

          You’ve got that the wrong way round, a viable feotus can be removed and so the woman’s choice, to not have a baby, no longer requires an abortion.
          The cut off for abortion tends to be at the point where there’s a functional nervous system, not at viability.

  9. Gerry Johns

    I know that this is usually a taboo question to ask in the shitstorm of feminism around here, but does anyone know if the father of the baby has made his wishes known?

    And one more thing
    If the woman wanted to continue with the pregnancy [and the chances are she did] then why don’t you respect her wishes and see if the child can be saved?

    1. Lilly

      Keep up Gerry. The father is in the High Court seeking to allow his partner die with dignity. This is his right – and that of her parents. The State should butt out.

    2. Lorcan Nagle

      In the absence of a legal decree otherwise* and unless the couple were married the parents are the next of kin, and the father gets no say at all.

      *I forget the name, it’s not the Last Will and Testament, I know that much.

      1. Jane

        Which is only right. Someone being your next of kin is really serious and a decision you have to make in life. One of the reasons I married my husband is that I know he’s the person who I would want making that decision for me if I were on life support.

        Not getting married is a signal that you aren’t choosing that person to make the choice for you.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          An aunt of uncle of mine, who were living together for decades and have three kids were actually looking into this a few years ago and wanted to ensure that one of them and their children would be best taken care of if something hapened to the other one. They discovered the quickest and easiest way to do it was to get married.

          The pair of them being agnostics and not into pomp and ceremony had a small civil ceremony followed by a dinner with like 8 close friends and family members.

          I shoudl point out that my personal opinion this case is not that the father should automatically get a say on what happens. The lack of mention of him in any article other than the Daily Mail’s hand-wringing exercise yesterday makes me think he’s either not around or is on-board with the parents.

          It’s deeply disturbing that a dead woman is literally being used as an incubator, and I wonder what the health risks to the foetus are. This could be another case like Migrant Y’s child, where it was delivered with an 80% chance of dying before the age of 3, and another 80% chance of developing severe developmental isues if it does manage to live.

          1. Jane

            The reason why I think he shouldn’t have an automatic say is that we don’t know what her wishes are with regard to it. And I think really, it’s her body being treated in this massively undignified way, we should at least give some weight to who she thought would make this choice. Imagine if she’d had a one night stand. Would the father then also feel entitled to force her to stay on life support for god only knows how long?

          2. newsjustin

            How can one be worried about health risks to the foetus while proposing aborting the foetus as the solution?

          3. Lorcan Nagle

            Compare to the case of Migrant Y’s child, where an enforced C-section at the minimal viable age of the foetus had massive health risks, such as an 80% chance of death in the first 3 years, like I mentioned in the very post you’re replying to.

            In that instance, the mother’s desires were rejected, she was subjected to an invasive procedure that leaves horrible scars, especially in the aftermath of the violent assault that left her pregnant. All for a foetus that has a 5% chance of surviving to early childhood in full health.

            So in this situation, we have a woman who is actualy dead, her body being kept alive, literally being used an an incubator. And do we know what the health risks for the foetus are, being brought to term in this situation? Are they going to try and keep the mother on life support for 26 weeks to deliver the child? Or will it be another C-Section at the minimal viable point? Who will be the legal guardian? The woman’s parents are past retirement age, and we know nothing about the father.

            Being Pro-choice isn’t about wanting abortions to take place, but rather to have the facility available when it is the best (or least worst if you prefer) option. Quality of life is a big part of that.

  10. Emigrant

    The headline of this article in the Guardian is “A brain-dead Irish woman’s body is being used as an incubator. Be angry”. I find it hard to be angry about this sad and difficult situation. I find it easier to be angrier about the callous language used in the article: the woman is now “a cadaveric incubator”, it seems. Nice. I don’t see how connecting this case to other cases of live women seeking abortions is helpful to the pro-choice cause. What if the dead woman had made an express request that she be kept on life-support for the sake of the foetus? Would she still be dubbed a cadaveric incubator? The article reads like the author has a moral difficulty with the concept of a baby being born to a clinically dead mother. That’s fine, but argue honestly on this point rather than linking it to the abortion debate.

    1. Don Pidgeoni

      The same legislation prevents abortions in Ireland and has forced the family to go to the high court to have their rights as nok be listened to

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