‘The Judge Appears To Be Ignorant Of The Biology’


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Independent Senator Ronan Mullen and Socialist Party TD Clare Daly speaking with David McCullagh, on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night

On Monday, following a challenge by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Northern Ireland High Court ruled that the North’s abortion law is ‘incompatible with human rights’.

Judge Mr Justice Mark Horner told the court in Belfast that, ‘In the case of a fatal foetal abnormality there is no life to protect’.

Further to this, two Senators criticised the ruling yesterday – Ronan Mullen, on RTÉ’s Prime Time and Paul Bradford, in the Seanad.

From Prime Time…

Senator Ronan Mullen: “I think there are political classes that get a big hearing in the media whenever there’s a development. But what we’re not hearing, for example, and I think this is the sad thing about the judge’s decision up North is that he appeared to be ignorant of the biology. I mean it was really quite chilling the language of ‘there is no life to protect’. I know, and I have brought families in Leinster House who would be deeply hurt by that because they think there’s a perception that babies and that case are either dead already or are in some kind of pain. I know a family, for example, where there baby lived for 17 minutes; they cherished every minute; they made memories; and they were terrified.”

David McCullagh: “That was their choice.”

Mullen: “But it’s more than just a choice because they believe that why should the law say that their child matters less than any other disabled child. And they believe that if you take away legal and social protection for those children, that families like those don’t have a future. There’s no talk about perinatal hospices, the supports that we need so much.”


Claire Daly TD: “The scenario outlined by Ronan, the very sad case of a much wanted pregnancy, which only lasted for 17 minutes, I think anybody watching the programme, their hearts would go out to those people and they would hope that that was the best decision for that family. And nobody is altering that decision. What we’re talking about is providing for the other families who can’t go through…”

Mullen: “Let me tell you about another little child who I know, personally, called Louise. Her mother was told that the child would not survive and now the child is six, enjoys ballet and so on. The truth is that doctors can never be sure how long a child is going to live for. You can generally say not very long in some cases but even there, there can be surprises…”


Mullen: “If you can say that you can take away that child’s life because that child is severely…”

Daly: “Sorry, sorry, David, this is going to be incredibly distressing for…”

Mullen: “How is that fair? No, we all have to be caring for everybody.”

McCullagh: “Finish your point, finish your point, Ronan, please.”

Mullen: “I think it’s fair that we would have, that families that get that distressing news, for example, would not have to sit in maternity wards or info meetings with families who have a healthy baby. We haven’t begun to talk about how we could support those families…”

Watch Prime Time in full here


“Language is not only powerful; it is a very strong weapon. When we say the easy phrase, “fatal foetal abnormality,” we are talking about babies who have a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. They are human beings. At least one grouping representing parents who had such babies, who might have lived for a day, a week or a month, attempted to make their views known to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children two years ago but were not allowed to do so. We need to be sensitive.”

There are no such babies as babies with fatal foetal abnormalities. There are babies with serious, profound, life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, but they are still human beings.”

Renua Senator Paul Bradford in the Seanad yesterday…


Previously: ‘Incompatible With Human Rights’

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129 thoughts on “‘The Judge Appears To Be Ignorant Of The Biology’

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    As someone who lost a baby who had a fatal foetal abnormality (luckily it died before I had to make any decisions about anything) I would take issue with Senator Bradford’s statement.
    He can fupp the fupp off. You can never EVER understand this issue unless it happens to you.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Thanks guys! Luckily I got knocked up again very soon after and am now on maternity leave.

      1. Zuppy International

        So the man who makes a statement which cherishes human life is somehow inhuman?

        Is up down?

        Is black white?

        Is meaning dead?

          1. Zuppy International

            You forget Drogg’s peculiar tautology in this instance…

            the man who makes a statement which cherishes human life is somehow inhuman…

            That’s a new one on me.

          2. Drogg

            But how does he cherish human life? he does nothing to support actually people after they are born he is nothing but a champion for his agenda which in a lot of cases causes families already going through tragedy even more suffering so yeah i stick by what i said he is inhuman.

          3. Zuppy International

            And what’s your agenda? Shoot the sick, the crippled, the unhygienic, the unemployed, the homeless? Are you searching for some kind of genetic Nirvana?

          4. Zuppy International

            @ Droog

            So you support bodily autonomy for women, fair play.

            Now how do you feel about the introduction of commercialised abortion mills?

        1. Clampers Outside!

          He did not just make such a statement, he thinks he’s a Dr now too. He’s a feckin’ career politician who knows nothing else. His ridiculous statement that there are no babies with “fatal foetal abnormalities” is akin to saying man never walked on the moon.

          He’s a dick. Just ask someone who knows… like Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    1. manolo

      Worse than that is this stupid ‘balance’ that RTE claims to offer by bringing the same old, regularly defeated, bunch of holy self pleasurers. I used to watch RTE for Irish current affairs, but this just killed it for me. Not far from getting rid of the TV altogether at this stage.

      1. ahjayzis


        The same people who’ve consistently been massively outvoted get first call to condemn other people’s sex/love lives and bodily autonomy whenever the issue arises, experience isn’t a factor.

        I’m boycotting any social issues discussions on RTE and other channels that continue to give Senator Single Childless Virginal Man-Child and his similarly joyless, prurient chums a platform on other peoples freedoms around sex and procreation.

      2. 3stella

        Tis grim alright, RTE daily national output revelers in misery, It’s constant staples of death, disease and God are only punctuated by yowling of various self interests.

  2. Drogg

    How do these two have jobs in the seanad? seriously how many people actually support the agenda of these two?

    1. DubLoony

      Mullen got 6,000 first preference votes on a barely there campaign that had none of his views clearly expressed. Every cleric in the country must have been given the word that he was “their man” and told to vote accordingly.

      1. Drogg

        But in a country of 4 and a half million 6000 is .0013 of the population, Is that really enough support to hold onto your position in office?

        1. pedeyw

          His constituency is NUI so he doesn’t need many. It seems quite hard to get figures on the size of the constuency but according to wikipedia 33,831 was the total number of valid votes. That’s a good chunk.

          1. Drogg

            Oh Sorry i thought the 6000 votes where from his campaign for Europe not his Seanad election. My Bad.

          2. classter

            It isn’t really a ‘good chunk’.

            Graduates of 17 different institutions can vote in the Seanad NUI constituency – from UCD/UCC/NUIG/RCSI/NCAD to msot of the teacher training colleges to theShannon College of Hotel Management.

            There must be 15,0000 new ‘constituents’ every year, asssuming they all register (which they don’t). Even if you take account the fact that university admissions have increased an avergae of 2% every year since the mid-60s, ther must be >500,000 potential NUI voters alive today.

  3. Kevin

    In Ronan Mullen’s head, are women forced into an abortion the very second a fetal abnormality is detected? Gleefully skips over the choice aspect at every opportunity. Or is the choice aspect that REALLY rustles his jimmies.

    1. Bobby

      He’s preaching to his choir. They don’t want to know that it’s not a black and white issue. He simple needs to reassure them that anyone who isn’t 100% against abortion is a monster. That’s what they want to hear, facts be damned.

  4. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    As I watched that fool pontificating in a very patronising manner last night I thought ‘I would have liked you to have joined me in the clinic to see the scan of the baby with its head and chest misshapen with fluid (it had either Downs, Edwards or Turners Syndrome) and its heart struggling to beat. I would have liked you to then tell me that your morality is superior to my morality’.
    It’s so enraging. I can only imagine what it’s like for people whose babies don’t die at 20 weeks like mine did. Horrendous.

    1. meadowlark

      I had a similar situation when I was 18 and going to be sitting my LC. I made the trip to England. It is disgusting to hear a man, with no idea of how bloody hard it is, talk about this abd effectively TELL me what I should have done. Dealing with an abortion, which I know was right for me, even if it was horrible, was easier than dealing with the death of a baby carried to full term. Because of my decision I sat my LC and got to continue to live my life and go on to have opportunities I may not have had if I had carried the child that would not live.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        It’s a disgrace that you had to go abroad to get that done. I’m sorry you had to go through that but admire your strength.
        Life can be pretty crappy.

          1. ahjayzis


            Brave women and couples sharing their experiences is the antidote to the crap spewed by Mullen and his band.

            It’s how every social battle is won – absolutist theorists spouting maxims about issues they have never and will never have experience of have no chance against real people telling their stories. Well done, ladies.

          2. meadowlark

            Thank you. When I found out that the baby was effectively dying in the womb I was told I would have to wait it out. That is what you’re dealing with. So I took on the expense of a trip to England. And while I do feel guilt and pain when I think of it, I do not regret my decision. Women should at least be accorded the respect of a choice. It galls me, it really does.

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            And that’s what they don’t get – it’s not about killing babies who survived for 17 minutes or made it to 6 years of age, it’s about giving women the choice! They are willfully stupid.

          4. meadowlark

            I have spoken to people who made the choice to continue an pregnancy when the baby would not survive. They are braver than I would be. And the moments they got with their child are infinitely precious. I would never denigrate their decision, it is their own to make, and the harder one in my opinion. Not everyone would choose this path. But neither would everyone choose an abortion. The choice should be there. Choice being the operative word.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        No!! I must have worded it badly: I meant I would have liked him to have had to sit there and look at a scan of a baby that was struggling to breathe and still hold to his beliefs…

        1. ahjayzis

          Condolences on your experience, Mrs :o(

          But the sad fact is, it wouldn’t move him a jot. There’s no compassion there, it’s a black and white thing for these zealots. Your suffering, to him, would be for a greater good – i.e. his smugness that his world view is imposed on everyone else.

        2. DubLoony

          Ah, sorry! My bad.
          He and others like him never seem to deal in real life or with real women.
          A family member was waiting for test results and the hardest part at that time is that she couldn’t talk about it with anyone. People need to understand that doctors are limited in what they can say and pregnant women fear other peoples judgement of what they face. So she didn’t tell anyone what she was going through until after. Awful situation.

  5. nellyb

    “We haven’t begun to talk about how we could support those families…” – that must be the royal ‘we’, since “we-plural” have been talking about it for ages.

    1. DubLoony

      Why haven’t the pro-life crew used their substantial network and money to set one up? Make an actual change if that is what you genuinely believe.
      But that would involve dealing with real people I suppose.

      1. ahjayzis

        Once you’re born you’re on your own. Then these formerly-unborn babies fast become welfare drains, the offspring of unwed fallen women and people they wouldn’t like their little angels sharing a classroom with.

        1. newsjustin

          That’s an oft-mentioned notion – that pro-life people don’t care about anyone once they’re born. It’s silly for a number of reasons:

          a) It ignores the fact that any given pro-life citizen is as likely to be involved in caring for the poor, feeding the homeless, teaching kids from poor families, etc as anyone who happens to be pro-choice.
          b) It fails to understand the nature of a campaigning group. It’s a bit like asking someone from the Yes to same sex marriage campaign why they are not now running marriage counselling services.

      2. nellyb

        No, this must be done with taxpayers money, it’s a public service. Even when terminations are legal, some ladies will want to carry to term, and we must afford them due care, dignity and privacy to get through. Either choice should be respected and facilitated, it’s a given.
        One concern though – such facility could be easily overrun by radical clerics and become unsuitable for non-religious people.

  6. Joe cool

    Whomever voted for Ronan to be part of the seanad, needs rounding up and corraling in a special island off the coast. The guy is stuck in the dark ages, bead rattling fool

  7. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    I heard Cora Sherlock telling Ivan Yates about a woman who aborted twins and commited suicide afterwards with the guilt of it.
    It was that simple to Cora. No nuance, no shades of grey. She used that tragedy to make her point.
    I’m not an advocate of abortion on demand and I’m not religious but the lack of compassion showed by Catholics is depressing. It’s far more Old than New Testament.

    1. newsjustin

      It can, of course, be insensitive to speak about a tragedy like this. But on the broader point of catholic’s (if we can generalise) compassion around the abortion question, it should be said that there is no amount of compassion that could convince someone who believes that abortion is a deliberate killing, that an abortion is a compassionate solution for anything.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        I know. I would have been pretty strongly anti-abortion when I was younger but life teaches you a few things: I think a lot of people craw-thumping about this haven’t had to face up to difficult life decisions like these and can’t take a step aside to try to understand other people’s viewpoints.
        It was heartbreaking to see the scans and I genuinely believed that baby was better off dead. It was much-longed for and hard fought for so this was not a thought process I took lightly.

  8. newsjustin

    Paul Bradford has a good point when he says: ” there are no such babies with fatal foetal abnormalities. There are babies with serious, profound, life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, but they are still human beings.”

    If we used similar terminology for older babies and children it would be regarded as similarly inappropriate eg fatal baby abnormality, fatal child abnormality.

      1. newsjustin


        But, in this case, where we’re talking about using sensitive language, I’d take my lead from the parents. I note that any time I’ve visited a maternity hospital, the thing in the lady’s tummy, no matter how small it is, is always referred to as a baby – often just “Baby”.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Actually, it isn’t. It is human but it is not a human being and it is most certainly not a “baby”.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            That’s easy to say when it’s not yours. It might make it easier to make a decision if you think of it as a foetus but, in my case certainly, I thought of it as a baby.

          2. classter


            This is why we should let the mother (upon whom the foetus/baby is entirely dependent) decide.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I thought of it as a baby.”

            As is your right. My point is though that it’s a completely emotional term and we shouldn’t be passing laws based on how we *feel*.

    1. Aoibheann

      We might not say that but we do talk about terminal illnesses and we do turn off the life support machines of babies, children and adults who have no hope of survival except in a vegetative state due to disease, illness or injury. It’s not pleasant but people have to make these difficult decisions all the time. Why is before birth different?

      Furthermore, I think Mullen and Bradford have a limited knowledge of pregnancy. Something like a fifth or a quarter of all pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage, mostly (though not all obviously) because of abnormalities in their development, which are quite self evidently fatal and/or incompatible with life. Sometimes they don’t miscarry naturally, and in that case a woman (in discussion with her doctors and in many cases her partner) should have the choice to end the unviable pregnancy early. She is in effect shutting off life support to a potential life which cannot exist on its own.

      People must have choice to deal with these situations in ways that work with their own values, beliefs and emotions. No one should be forced into either continuing with a pregnancy, or ending one. Choice is key.

      1. newsjustin

        But you agree that “fatal foetal abnormality” is an insensitive term that should be replaced (the point of my comment)?

          1. newsjustin

            To people who have children born with such life-limiting illnesses. There have been a number of fairly low profile media campaigns by such parents in the last while.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            And how many of these people have you spoken to? How many people have told you they find that insensitive?

          3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I don’t find it remotely offensive. I find Mullen & Bradford offensive. Well, their views.

          4. newsjustin

            3 in the last 12 months Moyest. But you’d be surprised how seldom it’s brought up in conversation.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            And just above your comment you have someone who’s directly affected and *doesn’t* find it offensive. Why do you not care about her point of view?

          6. newsjustin

            Why do you assume I don’t care? I’m glad Andyourpoint doesn’t find it offensive. Some people directly affected do. But I’m not going to accuse you of not caring about them.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            In fairness to you, you’re probably not realising what you’re doing. Cognitive bias came up earlier. This is another example of it. It’s quite common for people to express displeasure at something they find *personally* offensive but express it as concern for other people when it’s simply not. You probably don’t realise what you’re doing. Probably.

          1. newsjustin

            Its just language Don. And it can be changed. One rarely hears of young children being “terminally ill” anymore, but rather, having “life-limiting illnesses”. Of course the outcome is the same but the more sensitive language is appropriate.

            Or would you rather a more clinical phrase?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Its just language Don.”

            So you shouldn’t have any problem leaving it as it is then.

            “One rarely hears of young children being “terminally ill” anymore”

            Here’s a google search for that; https://www.google.ie/#q=child+terminally+ill So, if you don’t hear it, it doesn’t happen?

            “Of course the outcome is the same but the more sensitive language is appropriate.”

            Appropriate to whom? You?

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            What is more clinical than a phrase that is clinical? Why should doctors change the language they use because you suddenly don’t like it?

          4. Anne

            I wouldn’t have a clue what ‘life limiting’ would mean.. I’d be more inclined to figure out what terminally ill means though.

          5. Dόn Pídgéόní

            And life-limiting makes it sound like maybe you have trouble getting around or things that make life more difficult, not that you are going to die soon.

          6. Anne

            Doctor giving a patient with a terminal illness the bad news:

            Doctor: It’s not good news..You’ve got a life limiting illness I’m afraid.
            Patient: Oh right, give it to me straight doc
            Doctor: Your life, it’s limited now.
            Patient: What’s that mean doc.
            Doctor: I don’t want to upset you now.. brace yourself.. your life has hit it’s limits.. we’ll leave it at that. Thanks, all the best.

          7. newsjustin

            “It’s just language”

            Meaning it isn’t written in stone and can be changed. Doctors have and will have their own vocabulary.

          8. Dόn Pídgéόní

            You should compile a list of all the medical terms you don’t like and send it into the IMC, the BMA, the AMA, and all the other medical institutions and schools and clinical and non-clinical researchers and I’m sure they will change it just for you.

          9. Dόn Pídgéόní

            People on this thread who have experience of this are saying they don’t find it offensive. Listen to them for once.

        1. classter


          I really hope that we do not reach the point where plain, basic medical terminology has to be complicated in order to suit a politcal agenda.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            This is news we are talking about, he can complicate a blank piece of paper if he thought it would make a somewhat valid point against abortion.

            And, it’s all the same arguments we have had with him before. Nothing to be gained.

        2. Aoibheann

          I don’t actually find it offensive. Actually I find fluffy euphemisms more offensive. For example I find ‘passed away’ for ‘died’ quite offensive having experienced my mother dying in my twenties. And if it happened to me, hopefully it never will, but I would say I miscarried not I ‘lost’ a baby. Luckily I have a CHOICE in the words I use though.

      2. scottser

        ‘we do turn off the life support machines of babies, children and adults who have no hope of survival except in a vegetative state due to disease, illness or injury.’

        i’m reminded of last year’s macabre decision to keep a dead woman on life support to ‘sustain’ a pregnancy. this had to go to court before we finally got a humane outcome.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          The Catholic Church and the like of Mullen, Bradford and Creighton all can get direct blame for that despicable carry on.

          Why? Because if we didn’t have the like of them interfering, we wouldn’t have had such a situation. And it took a Bishop to speak out before something was done, that in itself is disgusting that he’d have any sway in such a matter.

    2. Nigel

      It doesn’t really matter. You can’t possibly support forcing a woman to bring such a pregnancy to term. That is, to me, inhuman in its rigid inflexibility. It doesn’t matter what you call the condition or conditions. It doesn’t matter what you call the fetus. Obliging a woman to bear a child likely to be dead or die soon afterwards is monstrous.

  9. MoyestWithExcitement

    “Language is not only powerful; it is a very strong weapon. When we say the easy phrase, “fatal foetal abnormality,” we are talking about *babies* who have a life-limiting or life-threatening condition. *They are human beings*”

    So he complains about selective language controlling the narrative, and then immediately talks about babies and says a foetus is a human being. The problem we have is that the decision makers and influencers on this are INCREDIBLY stupid.

    1. DubLoony

      They are correct about the use of language though. Around this issue, its practically weaponised by them. e.g pro-life vs pro-aborts.
      Using cliched phrases quickly shuts down debate, which s the whole point of their trying to control the language used.
      Control language, control thought. See George Orwell for more.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Well they have a point that language can be manipulative but then this guy immediately uses language intended to be manipulative. In the next sentence, like. That’s too blatant to be anything other than stupidity.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          It’s playing to his audience, and specifically their biases. When your own cognitive bias doesn’t recognise the language being used, it’s easier to ostracise and reject the other side as manipulative no mater what they actually say.

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            To some degree – there are plenty of people in any debate that are ignorant of their own congnitive biases. But can you point to a prominent member of any Pro-Choice campaign who has blatantly done so in a manner similar to Senator Bradford’s quote above?

          2. rotide

            I see the zealots round these parts turn it into a feminst crusade all the time and use wording that goes with that, verging on the misandric.

            Like I said, both sides use the language that conveys their point. Talking about cognitive bias is giving it too much importance.

            The hardcore pro lifers actually do see 12 week foetuses as babies, the hardcore pro choicers actually do see it as the patriarchy exerting their control over women.

            Neither are correct imo.

          3. Nigel

            It is a feminist crusade. Feminists have been at the vanguard of pushing back against patriarchal control of women and their bodies for a while now. You may blithely forget that and wonder where all this passion and fore came from and why it’s directed at old conservative bulwarks that don’t seem as overwhelming as they once were. Other may not wish to see them reassert themselves. Not a feminist crusade? Good lord.

    2. nellyb

      They aren’t stupid, just windcocks. Whatever (they think) brings the votes.
      Should vasectomy become a thing of the day with majority, we would have a Vasectua party.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “Stop using manipulative language and stop killing babies” They are definitely stupid. We grew up thinking people in power were smart. Lots and lots and lots of them are not.

        1. rotide

          If they’re so incredibly stupid, why are ‘they’ in power making all that sweet bank and you’re here commenting on broadsheet?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Because I don’t want to work in politics? I’m sorry for offending your incredibly stupid friends.

  10. Sherriff Frilly Keane

    “Politicians should stick to filling potholes and leave the wimin of Ireland look after their own holes”

    30 years old

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