How To Dismantle The Eighth Amendment


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Pro-life protesters in Dublin last Summer; Pro Choice protesters in Summer, 2014; Anne Marie McNally

Repealing the Eight Amendment is a fundamental human rights issue but people want and need clarity in relation to the legislative framework that comes after it.

Anne-Marie Mcnally writes:

I’m thinking of booking myself a little holiday. More an exploratory mission than a holiday really. I’m thinking of heading off to this revered, mystical (or mythical?!) place colloquially known as middle Ireland. No, not middle earth, just middle Ireland.

Unless your rock has remained in place above your head in recent weeks you will be aware of the re-emergence, with a vengeance, of the abortion debate in Irish public discourse. As someone who has been out canvassing I can categorically say it is the one issue that has come up for me on every single canvass. Sometimes it’s pro- sometimes it’s anti but it’s always there.

As election fever increases so too does the fervour surrounding this eternally controversial topic and its place in Irish politics. This time out it has to be different. We cannot and should not succumb to another ‘heated debate’ about the rights and wrongs of having this downright dangerous amendment in our constitution.

There is no denying just how dangerous it is, take your pick from most letters of the alphabet at this stage – they almost all represent a woman and her family who have suffered unconscionable heartache and pain under the behest of the eight amendment to our constitution.

Nobody disagrees that the constant ‘he said, she said’ tennis match style of debate is tiresome and full of rhetoric but we need to be careful that rhetoric does not creep into our proposals for legislative solutions in the event of the eight being repealed.

The familiar refrain of ‘rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities’ has become ubiquitous and we’re regularly told that this is likely to be as comfortable as ‘middle Ireland’ is prepared to settle for in terms of abortion legislation. But has this really been thought through?

One of the most significant of the many failings of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was the complete impracticality of its proposed ‘solutions’. Aren’t we potentially running the same risk if we trot out rhetoric about rape and incest?

How exactly do we propose to deal with a situation where a sexual encounter occurs, a charge of rape is made, an arrest happens, an investigation takes place and a conviction is secured – all in the space of roughly 18-20 weeks? Is that honestly realistic? If only our justice system worked so expeditiously. Same goes for incest.

Then we’ve the situation regarding Fatal Foetal Abnormalities where medical opinion can vary widely. A few weeks back we had Renua Senator and GE16 candidate Paul Bradford telling us there’s no such thing as ‘incompatible with life’ – many of our, let’s face it, very conservative medical profession would likely subscribe to such a theory and so who gets to make the final decision?

Are we back to the scenario of a woman going through unimaginable turmoil being dragged from pillar to post to secure the abortion that is the right decision for her at the right time in her life and for her body?

We need to have the conversation but we need to have the real conversation devoid of snappy tag lines or things that are deemed potentially offensive or inoffensive to ‘middle Ireland’.

Repealing the eight has got to be a priority – it is a fundamental human rights issue – but what comes next is equally important and while I agree that people want and need clarity in relation to the legislative framework that comes after it, I want that framework to be agreed in consultation with an Irish public who are not taken for granted or presumptions put upon them about ‘where they are at’ in terms of compassion and understanding for women in vulnerable and often tragic situations.

I want a framework that is not based upon what sounds acceptable but rather on what is actually practical and will ensure that we don’t add yet another letter to our depressingly full alphabet soup of mistreated women.

Anne-Marie McNally is a political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and will be a candidate for the Social Democrats in the forthcoming General Election. Her column appears here every Wednesday morning. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

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217 thoughts on “How To Dismantle The Eighth Amendment

  1. Neilo

    Y’see once we let the Dorises get married, it was only gonna be a matter of time before the babykillers got all uppity: I’m Ted Cruz and I approve this message.

          1. Neilo

            @Caroline: I wasn’t aware that existed! I’m more a Weekly Standard man, he said surprising nobody. Thanks.

          2. rotide

            Saw that and it’s astonishing that some people are surprised by it in any way.

            Do they think a cameraman just goes out, presses record for 60 seconds and bingo, there’s a commercial?

            Ignoring the fact that that piece is edited for effect, the same footage exists for everything and everyone that appears on your tv and the same hatchet job can be done.

            I don’t even know who ted cruz is!

          3. Caroline

            I don’t think anyone is surprised by it. They probably just enjoy laughing at someone they already thought was creepy. Or they just like it when pretty much anyone is made to look awkward while trying to project invincibility and perfection, and that it’s Ted Cruz is just a bonus.

            But in any case, I think some of the outtakes are a little creepy in their own right – I’m thinking in particular of the exchange with his mother.

  2. newsjustin

    The 8th amendment is a fundamental human rights issue. It protects the equal right to life of two people.

    In the case of rape, most people, I believe, would not support the death sentence for a rapist, as vile as they are. So I fail to see why they would allow for the death of an innocent as a consequence of rape.

    1. Rob_G

      Most people would also not want to force a rape victim carry her rapist’s offspring around inside her for 9 months.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Well. Cells are definitely human, they’re just not A human. Religious fanatics like Justin who want to impose their morality on the rest of us can’t/don’t want to see this.

          2. newsjustin

            We’re all just “a bunch of cells” fluffy.

            A distinct human life is more than that too. You’ve seen early ultrasounds – head, body, arms, legs……

          3. sqoid

            Humans and all animals are not so much individual life forms but a mass of billions of symbiotic cells and bacteria.

            If an abortion is a deliberate killing then a dose of antibiotics could be considered a genocide

          1. Nice Anne {Dammit}

            Really? Scientifically vindicated proof or you are talking out of your bttom (or being so blackly sarcastic that I missed it)

          1. Clampers Outside!

            No Justin, the debate has been done numerous times.

            It’s time for a referendum. A REAL one, not some half hearted dangerous tinkering and meddling with legislation because a party does not want to be labelled the govt that brought in abortion – that IS what it comes down to. Fupp parties, focus on the right of women to bodily autonomy, and allow Doctors to do their job without having to run for legal advise.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            How Many times do we have to debate it News? We saw all the lies and misinformation from the likes of IONA last time, and the time before that, and before that… why do we have to be subjected to their despicable lies and nonsense again. Just F**K OFF “!

            There’s nothing new they can bring to it.

          3. rotide

            There will be a debate whether you like it or not because whether you or I agree with it or not , pro life people see it as just that, life and the legalised taking of life. This is also why the bodily autonomy argument bounces off the pro life side like confetti

            Saying stuff like ‘no debate’ doesn’t help anyone.

          4. newsjustin

            Clampers, your rage and rude dismissal of alternative points of view is really silly.

            If there’s to be a referendum, let’s debate it. Shocking though that idea might be to you.

          5. Clampers Outside!

            Look guys… my point is the debate has been done. I’m not dismissing it. What new lies and bullcrap can the anti-women nut jobs bring to it – NOTHING. just like they brought nothing new to the last debate.

            There’s nothing new to bring to it after twenty plus years of batting the same crappola back and forth.
            I’m not being disingenous, I’m not being dismissive, the idea is not shocking to me… but do were have to go back and start again…. FFS… the repetition of the points on the anti-women side is for the insane, and forgetful and self deluded.

            I know there’ll be a debate, I just believe that all the points have been made at this point.

          6. newsjustin

            You’re being a little bit dismissive to be fair clampers.

            “What new lies and bullcrap can the anti-women nut jobs bring…..”

          7. Clampers Outside!

            @News… well… only going by past form as was proven in the last debate.

            Are you going to deny the lies and misinformation that IONA spreads and that they have a disclaimer on their website specifically for the reason of misinterpreting information in order to mislead people… are you going to deny this?

            Fupp off.

          8. newsjustin

            I’m sure you’re right. I wouldn’t take Iona’s view on anything as the last word. And I’m sure you’re right about the disclaimer. I haven’t seen it but have heard about it (maybe on here).

            But because Iona upset you with their antics you don’t want to have a debate about a referendum on abortion? That’s sad. Ions have really done a number on you Clampers.

            And why the bad language?

          9. Clampers Outside!

            Sorry me eye, you are not. I’ve heard no one on the ‘no’ side give Quinn a going over for his lies. Nor call for him to be removed from the debate for his lies.

            That’s why the language.

          10. Dόn Pídgéόní

            You just cherry-pick everything don’t you news? Clampers specifically said he shouldn’t be included in the debate because he lies. You choose to, very conveniently, leave that out to make Clampers look like the irrational one.

            Plus we all know what the good book says about liars – “The venom of asps is under their lips” is a good one to sum up this crowd of fupping jokers

          11. newsjustin

            Don, it’s crazy to seek to exclude people from a public debate because you’ve declared them unworthy, even if it were proven they have not told the truth.

          12. newsjustin

            Then you must be looking in the mirror.


            *Stands up and high-fives everyone. Then carried shoulder high from the building.*

          13. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Cute, you’re trying to have a personality.

            “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”

            Do you think your arguments, repeated over and over ad nauseum, change anyone’s mind? It’s boring having these comments taken up with people having the same old arguments with you. I get you have a position but what’s the point? You never listen to what others say unless it’s to wheel out the same old response to it, you cherry-pick pieces of other people’s arguments, you don’t reply when someone posts something that challenges your point and you can’t get away from and you aren’t going to change anyone’s mind. What can you possibly get from this?

          14. newsjustin

            It’s odd that you would criticise me for commenting on abortion related posts on Broadsheet when you do the same.

            I am pro-life. Therefore I like to put a pro-life point of view across in this debate.

          15. MoyestWithExcitement

            “It’s odd that you would criticise me for commenting on abortion related posts on Broadsheet when you do the same.”

            She’s not criticising you FOR commenting, she’s criticising your comments. You’re not the centre of the universe….although if you think like that at your age, you’re a write off.

          16. ReproBertie

            “I am pro-life. Therefore I like to put a pro-life point of view across in this debate.”

            This is not a debate. This is yet another thread where people restate their positions on abortion. It’s utterly pointless and the time would be better spend setting up a committee to count the moon.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            No, but if you have a zygote living inside you that is affecting your physical or mental health, you certainly can.

          2. Anomanomanom

            Those stupid comments don’t help a rational talk on the issue. I agree with abortion for certain circumstances. But i don’t agree with as an open walk in clinic type procedure. I know that’s not what most people want. The comments of “baby killers” and “her body her choice” really make no sense, it’s simply not that simple

          3. kellma

            Choice and what choices you have are defined by the society to which you belong/want to belong. The question is whether that society sees the cells living inside the body of a woman and dependant on the body of a woman as having an equal right to life as that woman or any other cells existing independently of another person.
            You don’t have a choice to murder someone because you happen think it was justified. Society prohibits that. Even here this will differ from society to society and has evolved e.g. defence of the home from an intruder. Is this the same?

            My personal opinion is that its not. And yet some will say it is the same because for them that foetus is a human. Some of the argumentation, in my opinion, borders on batty but some of it does resonate. So too do the stories of woman in despair effectively carrying corpses around inside them.

            As a woman who has had two beautiful children and who is so grateful for the happiness that I have been afforded because of that, I don’t underestimate the power of sentiment there. But it still doesn’t make me think that I have a right to tell another woman what she should do. We all have choices and they all have consequences. If those are consequences that you have weighed up and feel you can live with, then that is your decision.

            My personal opinion is that its your choice and fine it may not be a choice that some women (and men) are comfortable making/ don’t see it as a choice but then I don’t think that is their business. Make your own decisions and mind your own business. You will have enough quandaries in your own life where you need to ensure you are taking the right path. Don’t interfere in other peoples lives. Jeez there are times when I worry if I have made the right decision for myself. I certainly don’t feel comfortable telling someone else what they should and shouldn’t do….

          4. Nice Anne {Dammit}

            You can’t “kill” a a zygote, it is not a sentient being.

            I sneezed… quick jail me for leaving my poor snot bubbled to die of neglect on the pavement below.
            Has a morning ‘pick me up’ MURDERER! You suffocated them in a bin where they died on a disguarded sheet of kleenex.

            This maudlin association of cells with life is preposterous. I had a miscarriage once when my body said the cells that I was growing were not viable with life. Would you like to have my reproduction system placed under house arrest.?

            Tell you what, give me your address, and in future, I will send you all the cells I disguard – hair, skin, wee, poo, ear wax, snot, that female orgasm juice, you can have the lot. Then you can try to fashion life out of them like some sort of Frankenstein alchemist. Let me know how that goes for you.

          5. Clampers Outside!

            I’ll help too News, next time I murder some sperm after knocking one out, I’d happily send you the evidence of my murder.

            Just leave the address with BS. Sorry BS, you’ll have to handle the delivery :)

          6. Kieran NYC

            Anne, the argument of ‘a fetus = a sneeze’ is definitely not going to win it for the pro-choice side.

            They have to be as clever as the marriage equality people were. The hardline is never going to win over Middle Ireland.

          7. Nice Anne (Dammit)

            Fine. You can’t “kill” a a zygote, it is not a sentient being and equating it as such is as logical as trying to breed a human being from snot, sperm, toenails, danfruff and hair clippings.

            Is that better for you?
            /rolls eyes so hard they spin

      1. ahyeah

        That whole ‘the state has no right to tell me what I can do with my body’ argument is utterly bogus. Would you also support the legalisation of heroine? It’s my body so I should be allowed do what I want with it, right?

          1. scottser

            the actual taking of any substance is not illegal. all the rest of it, posession etc. may well be, but the actual taking of it is a medical issue.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          “Would you also support the legalisation of heroine? It’s my body so I should be allowed do what I want with it, right?”


        2. ahjayzis

          The wisdom and failure of drug use criminalisation is a whole other matter and completely irrelevant. Heroin is self harm, abortion is the taking of a tablet, or a simple outpatients procedure.

          As a man, there’s no simple outpatient medical procedure available in most developed nations that is denied to me on religious grounds – I have bodily autonomy. If you’re a pregnant woman, your innards are essentially a ward of court, the state has them nationalised.

          At no time in my life will my worth or value be balanced on a scale against a cell cluster. Women are every day.

          1. scottser

            arguably, the taking of heroin for many is an act of self-preservation and pain relief and likewise, who the hell are we to judge one person’s medication from another’s?

          2. Anomanomanom

            I must say that’s a well written piece but i don’t agree with “the government controlling” my body comments. Honest question, Do you think abortion should be allowed if a women decides she doesn’t want a baby, no other reason just she doesn’t want it?

          3. Lorcan Nagle

            Personally, I absolutely do think a woman should be allowed an abortion because she doesn’t want to be pregnant

          4. Anomanomanom

            Thats what contraceptive is for, but anyway Ok so what if the other person the Man is responsible and wants the baby and all the responsibility that comes with it, so he has no say. Yet if the Man decide he wants nothing to do with the child, so doesn’t want it, he’s branded all sorts for leaving and can be brought to court. Seen very fair that it’s only the female choice till they want something from the father. ……. I must state If you do walk out in your child I personally think your a waste of space. ….but the point is valid.

          5. ahjayzis


            Yes. It’s her womb, why do I get a vote about what she does with it? I don’t even know the girl!

            Do you oppose the morning after pill? Why is the abortion pill taken a week later such a crossing of the Rubicon?

          6. Nially

            “Honest question, Do you think abortion should be allowed if a women decides she doesn’t want a baby, no other reason just she doesn’t want it?”

            Of course. Seriously, how can you justify forcing a woman to stay pregnant when she doesn’t want to be? Pregnancy is physically debilitating and is still, in spite of medical advances, extremely dangerous. And that’s without even getting into the mental effects of being told that you can’t control your body, that you *must* go through with the pregnancy, because we see that clump of cells as morally equal to you.

            You clearly don’t think abortion is murder (since you’re OK with it in some circumstances), so for you it’s just about whether the woman’s reason is ‘good enough’ to meet your person moral code. That’s disgusting. Genuinely, I find your position even worse than the nutjobs like Marian and newsjustin. They’re dangerous fanatics, but they genuinely believe it’s an equal life, and they argue based on that. You implicitly accept that, push come to shove, it’s just not an equal life; despite that, though, you feel uncomfortable with the idea of women running around having abortions all willy-nilly for reasons you don’t approve of, so you’d like the law to tell them what they can and can’t do with they’re bodies. You’re scum, basically.

          7. Anomanomanom

            I’m slow clapping, I wish you could see. But your mental Ness would probably blind you. No body needs an abortion just on the bases of I don’t want a baby and deciding the partner you had consensual sex with should just put up with it. Use condoms, the pill so on so on.

          8. Anomanomanom

            I don’t like tea. It’s an irish paupers drink, I prefer sipping champagne while being scummy towards women’s bodies.

          9. Cup of tea anyone

            For the pro life people,
            Pregnancy starts off as a Zygot and is clearly not a life. Everyone is ok with the morning after pill at this stage.
            It ends with a baby that is clearly a person. And terminating the baby is clearly wrong.
            My question is at what point in the during the 9 months does the lifeless lump of cells become a person?
            Surely if you figure out the time period for this, abortion would be ok up to that point?

          10. Lorcan Nagle

            Anon – Abortion as contraceptive is a myth. With the exceptions of France and Spain, no country that has decriminalised abortion has seen an increase in the abortion rate. And in those two cases the abortion rate only increased slightly, and dropped again after two or three years. Furthermore in France and Spain there’s no evidence that the slight increase was people having abortions in lieu of practising safe sex.

          11. Anomanomanom

            Well that’s completely wrong. I know for fact it’s used like that. I personally know of 3 women,sorry girls who between them have had 11 yes ELEVEN abortions, the youngest was 14 when she went for her first she’s had 4 before she turned 18. It’s just never reported, you can use stats to prove both sides points. But actually experience shows the real truth. Both sides in my opinion are NUT JOBS. If you don’t won’t kids use protection it generally works.

          12. Orlita

            @ Anom. Seriously? Are you saying that a child should be the punishment for an unplanned pregnancy?? Do you not realise the enormity of becoming a parent, even if you decided t ogive the child up for adoption, that’s a huge decision after carrying to full term? If a mistake is made just put up and shut up, and raise a child. That’s some messed up logic there. And, on top of all that, no form of contraception is 100%, even when used correctly

          13. Nially

            Anom – “Use condoms” is just such a deeply facile response, without even getting into the fact that the pill is (a) not medically suitable for everyone and (b) also fails. In fact, there’s no fully effective form of birth control, short of total abstinence. If someone uses the pill and condoms and still gets pregnant, then can they have an abortion if they want one? Or will you still take your pursed-lip, smug, sanctimonious approach of “Well, you made a mistake, now live with it”. The way you talk about it (with your anecdotes about some girls you know who’ve had, like, 6 million abortions each, and deep concern for the man who won’t have to undergo any of the risks or downsides of pregnancy) shows how little regard you have for women in general. The majority of women who get abortions are already mothers. They’re not tabloid cartoons; they’re real women living real lives who cannot, for whatever personal reason, continue being pregnant. The way you judge them when you support a ban on abortion is disgusting.

            Rotide – you know, I think I’d be more inclined to listen to your lectures on being ‘conciliatory’ if only you were a bit nicer about it. I mean, you’re just being so rude and abrupt in that post that it’s hard to take you seriously. Maybe you’re just getting too emotional about this?

          14. Anomanomanom

            So should we stop using protection. I find it impossible to believe there is a women or man that has found out ever contraceptive does not work for them. So your whole take on this seems to be : Women has total say regardless of relationships or partners thought and even if a couple plan to have a baby the women has the right to just say “Sorry about this “partner” but iv changed my mind now. I’m having an abortion so you’ve no say”.

          15. meadowlark

            Anom, can you answer me a question? If I, or my 19 year old sister, say, or my 15 year old cousin, has an abortion tomorrow, for any reason, be it ffa or just that a child is not right for her, does it affect you directly? If yes, can you tell me how so?

          16. Anomanomanom

            I honestly get your point i do. And Il answer it honestly. In no way does it effect me directly if YOUR family do it. But if the law was changed in such away that My partner could just say “I’m aborting this baby we planned, I dont have to give you any reason’ then that effects me.

          17. meadowlark

            And I see what you’re saying. But you need to give women some credit here. There are very few women who would make the decision to have an abortion lightly, and few who would fail to take the father’s views and feeling into account (I do not count rape/incest here). That said, there are women who do behave in that way, but just because a minority do that does not mean that all women ought be tarred with the same brush. My final point, and I don’t mean to be unpleasant here, is that you are consulting only your own feelings on this (so it seems to me) and disregarding the feelings of the women, who are the very ones who carry the child. I won’t go into the attending affects of that because other comnenters have done a better job before me.

          18. Anomanomanom

            First off, brilliant response. When people resort to point scoring nobody gets a valid opinion across, nice to see some intelligence in a response. I agree it would be a minority and I don’t believe a woman would abort just like that. Maybe some might. But for once Il admit iv no come back or counter to your comment. I actually agree ,but I do think a man needs some sort of input.

          19. meadowlark

            Thanks. I believe you’re right about needing a proper and reasoned debate on the subject, as opposed to just scoring points. Because both sides have valid arguments that should be listened to, not just heard. Otherwise it will just descend into a case of who can shout loudest. And something has to be done, something that will effect actual change because this has been a problem for a long time and is not going away.

          20. rotide

            So the lesson is Nially, Run around calling people SCUM and expect other people to be just a bit nicer to you?


          21. Lorcan Nagle

            Anom – that’s not what anyone is actually saying though. Access to abortion doesn’t lead to fewer people engaging in safer sex – there’s literally no correlation.

          22. Nially

            “So should we stop using protection. I find it impossible to believe there is a women or man that has found out ever contraceptive does not work for them. ”

            That’s a total mis-reading. Use protection, sure, but no protection is foolproof, so there will always (until someone invents a prophylactic that is utterly free from technical or user error) be unplanned pregnancies even when people take reasonable steps to avoid them. You seem to think think the two choices are “Planned baby with long-term partner” or “Wanton hussy who’s already three abortions in and doesn’t care about #4”

            “But if the law was changed in such away that My partner could just say “I’m aborting this baby we planned, I dont have to give you any reason’ then that effects me.”

            Yes, she could. My god, what on earth is the alternative?! Should she have to stay pregnant because you tell her to? Is she allowed to smoke or drink or do anything that may endanger the foetus during this time? Can she fly during the third trimester? I’d just like to be clear on exactly how much control it is you’d like to exert over your partner’s body, and why you think you get to decide what happens to her. Because she thought at one time that she wanted to have a kid with you? So what? I mean, right now, your imaginary partner could go to England. Should we stop her at the airport and ask her to present written permission from you to confirm she’s allowed to fly? What on *earth* is wrong with you that you actually think your relationship with a woman gives you a right to own her body?! (And I don’t care if this is “point-scoring” that stops a “valid point” – your misogyny isn’t valid, so I don’t really care if I’m not giving it as much credence as you seem to think it deserves)

            Rotide – “So the lesson is Nially, Run around calling people SCUM and expect other people to be just a bit nicer to you?


            Actually, the lesson is that you’re a hypocrite who demands civility from others and that all discussions be conducted on terms that you consider ‘rational’ or ‘respectable’, but are perfectly happy to throw in snide digs yourself when it’s someone you don’t like. I was being sarcastic, you goon. Though really, I should have expected that to fly right over your thick skull.

          1. Clampers Outside!

            I thought you were aiming at heroin is a dirty drug that leaves people crippled and their bodies crumbling.

            It doesn’t. “Street heroin” does that.
            So I was suggesting that if heroin were legalised, and real heroin was used, your body wouldn’t fall into being a junkie mess… which I believe is what you were alluding to. Maybe I read that comment wrong….

          2. rotide

            No clampers, that’s exactly what the video DIDN’T say.

            Regardless of the purity or type of drug used, the addcition is caused by other sources.

            ANd Ahyeah’s point was to do with the right to do any drug he wanted rather than addiction.

          3. ahyeah

            Not sure about that, Clampers. My point was about corporal autonomy – and, specifically, how it absolutely doesn’t exist anywhere (that I know of, anyway).

            [just to clarify – I support the right to abortion, but just find the arguments invariably put forward (“get your rosaries off my ovaries” for one) to be puerile and naive]

          4. ahyeah

            What ive always understood from that is that all opposition to abortion is religiously-motivated (and, thus, irrarional). I know plenty of completely non religious people who have good reasons for opposing abortion. I don’t agree with them, as it happens, but I can see where they’re coming from – and it’s not silly religious superstition.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I know plenty of completely non religious people who have good reasons for opposing abortion.”

            Can you share some of those reasons?

          6. ahyeah

            Well, again, these aren’t my arguments because, as I said, I’m in favour of legalisation. But…seeing as you ask – I’ve a friend who campaigns against abortion clinics in the US. Her argument is this is one area of medical care that shouldn’t be allowed be commercialised (so no private clinics). This is all based on her experiences as a gynaecological consultant – abortions leading to a rake of medical complications later in life (including ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and pelvic inflammatory diseases, and depression, anxiety etc). She reckons it’s so severe that it’s simply an unsafe and unsound procedure. And that’s it’s even worse when private enterprise gets involved – in, job done, credit card and out. Token gestures towards aftercare and counselling but, fundamentally and ultimately, they don’t give a sh1te.

            She’s serious in her opposition to abortion on this basis. It has noting to do with religion.

          7. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Your friend should go back and read the research that shows no evidence for any of those things.

          8. ahyeah

            Lots of research showing lots of evidence for that. I’m not going to give links because I couldn’t be bottomed, but it’s easy enough to find. WHO for one have published research proving link between abortion and depression 2-5 years later)

          9. Caroline

            Her view is it’s too dangerous when carried out privately, so it shouldn’t be done at all?

            Even if this is true – and let’s just say citation very much needed – it seems fairly ridiculous. If every medical professional who provided risky treatment (i.e. all of them) took the same “never try” attitude, well… it’d still be leech o’clock for most of us.

          10. ahyeah

            She reckons that private clinics can’t be trusted to do it right, so shouldn’t be allowed do it. And public health services generally won’t provide it [I don’t know whether that’s the case in Europe or not, but if we did legalise it, I doubt the HSE would startle us with their competence]

          11. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Can’t be bottomed or can’t back up your claims? The best review to date is here.

            Abortion does not cause depression, depression may be made worse in those who have depression already but its not causal. If anything, the evidence is too poor to actually make any firm conclusions. What there is suggests there is no difference and given that crisis pregnancy is going to be more common among women with a history or predisposition to mental illness, how are you going to pull apart the different factors influencing those outcomes? If I am pregnant with a baby with a violent man for example, I might well be depressed after having an abortion, but that may be because he bashes my face in every night, not because I had an abortion.

            Let me know your doctor friend’s name so I can avoid her poorly informed medical advice.

          12. ahyeah

            And I’m sure you’ll recognise, Don, that there’s research finding for and against both arguments – just depends on who commissioned and paid for it.

            And, again, I don’t even know why I’m arguing this. I’ve already said that I don’t agree with accept what she’s said. I’m just making the point that not all opposition is for religious reasons. that’s all.

          13. Dόn Pídgéόní

            You might disagree but saying there’s lots of research showing lots of evidence for an effect suggests you don’t. Those that do show an effect are poor studies, they don’t account for things they should, like previous mental health. It is wrong to claim this.

          14. Caroline

            Her position is so extreme it only makes logical sense if she has an underlying opposition to abortion not based on the facts presented. If private clinics are terrible at providing abortions, then you could campaign for them to improve, or for the state to take over the provision of abortions, or for additional funding for aftercare, or for more research into improving the procedure etc. To adopt the position “no, things can never improve and all abortions must cease” really does scream of an ulterior rationale (even accepting that due to her job she’s more exposed to any ill effects of abortion, with an inherent risk of bias). I don’t doubt that there are non-religious opponents of abortion though. I just wouldn’t pin my hopes on this gambit.

          15. ahyeah

            @Caroline I’ve read your comment over a couple of times and I’ve gone back over the thread, and, yes, fair enough, I can definitely see how you’d come to that conclusion. All I can say is that I know that’s not the case – very much not the case; just because I know her personally and pretty well. I know too that she has a lot of personal experience with abortion (not herself, but a sister and two friends), and I know that she’s been very involved in their ‘after care’. I asked her to come on this thread herself (obviously she could explain her views a lot better than I could), but she doesn’t want to. What she did add is that abortion is among the most profitable medical procedures there is – more so than botox, even. And that the priority for private clinics is $$$, despite what they pretend. And that, according to her, is where the danger is. Last thing she said was – the actual procedure is about 10% of what should be the involved, with the other 90% coming in the 2 or 3 years after (physical and psychological care).

          16. Caroline

            Fair enough. I still think that the conclusion she’s drawing is an extreme response, especially given what we in Ireland know about the false utopia that an actual ban on abortion creates. For me there is little to choose between an argument based on religious absolutism and one based on what I think is a skewed interpretation of the data. I would no more trust someone who claimed abortion had no ill effects whatsoever “because I know several people who have been fine after them” than the converse. Lastly, if you believe that a person’s right to do something should be removed from them because of the harm you think they could potentially cause themselves, that’s a tricky road to go down. Alcohol has a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health and on those around them. I can accept that as a fact and still refuse to take seriously someone calling for it to be banned outright.

    2. ahjayzis

      “The 8th amendment is a fundamental human rights issue. It protects the equal right to life of two people.”

      Also, it doesn’t do that. It expressly allows a termination if the mother’s life is in danger. It’s just her health that doesn’t matter a jot.

    3. Clampers Outside!

      It’s a flawed piece of dangerous legislation, shoe horned in by a useless govt unwilling to tackle a problem head on to avoid being seen as “the party that brought in abortion”.

      Remove it.
      It’s a completely daft and unworkable piece of legislation akin to putting a zebra crossing on a four lane motorway.

  3. fluffybiscuits

    Politicians are making these moral judgements when most of them are not even qualified to sweep the street. Women make these decisions (they have bodily autonomy) and the doctors help give advice. FG/Lab wont rock the boat as its election time and frankly nothing much else can be expected from scared middle aged white men, the dominant demograph in society.

  4. Dόn Pídgéόní

    I’m sure the comments section here will differ from every other comments section on an abortion piece

    *gets mulled wine*

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            And cinnamon for fluffy and a lash of brandy in there as well because news is here so frankly we need it

    1. ReproBertie

      Well speaking of terminations I watched Terminator Genisys again last night and I enjoyed it. I know it didn’t do terrible well at the box office but it was head and shoulders above Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. While Terminator Salvation wasn’t great it was an entertaining and interesting take on things but Genisys was definitely a return to form showing that the franchise may be old but it’s not obsolete.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Maybe the clinic could be called Bunch o’ Cells and the doctors could do call outs in the Terminator van?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            Didn’t Arnie carry Danny DeVito’s baby? He definitely should be consulted on this matter at least.

  5. nellyb
    ” the obligation imposed on the State by Article 41.2.2 to endeavour to ensure that mothers are not obliged to work outside the home through economic necessity has been described as a “duty of imperfect obligation” ”

    “Duty of imperfect obligation” been slapped by judges on that. If 41.2.2. can be bent into loops, than the rest can do to, including the 08th. We just haven’t gotten a skillful lawyer to take on that. This issue does not rain money like inheritance litigations would.

  6. DubLoony

    Can everyone agree just not to use cliches? they are tired, lazy and avoids people having to think for themselves.

    Pours a large sherry.

  7. Ms Piggy

    One of the problems with this debate is indeed the focus on rape, incest and FFA. She’s right that some of the problems are practical ones, but they’re also about the underlying assumptions, especially with regard to rape and incest. Why exactly are we making an exception for those two situations? It actually isn’t logical. Either you think abortion is right or wrong – if you argue that it’s wrong but we’ll make an exception for rape and incest then what you’re arguing effectively is that we’ll make exceptions if the woman didn’t consent to sex, but if she did then she’s on her own. That isn’t an argument about the rights and wrongs of abortion, it’s about women’s sexuality – and as such it’s informed by exactly the kind of thinking that has led us to the repressive situation we’re in now. I see why people are campaigning on this issue, they think it’ll get more support than a broader right to abortion access. But I think it’s a mistake both conceptually and practically – I think it underestimates the voters’ attitudes to women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

    For what it’s worth, my own position is that for as long as a foetus can’t survive independently, it has no legal standing and abortion should be available ‘on demand’, no questions asked except necessary medical advice, and it’s of no more ethical importance than having tonsils removed, and is only a decision for the woman concerned. Once the foetus can survive outside of the womb then it begins to accrue legal rights, but even then they must always be secondary to both the mental and physical health of the woman, who is an already existing legal entity with the right to protection, as opposed to the foetus who is still only a potential legal entity.

    1. Nially


      Though I think the Venn diagram of “People who try to sound less misogynistic and heartless by saying they’d allow abortion in cases of rape” and “People who barely believe ‘rape’ exists and would cheerfully put up countless practical and legal barriers to anyone actually accessing that right” is pretty much a circle.

    2. ahjayzis


      If I’m completely reliant on you, the only match, for bone marrow transplants – you’re still within your rights to refuse to undergo the painful procedure and suffer the limitations to your life.

      Even if we grant the odious notion that there’s no quantitative difference between a zygote and human being, the vibrant, living, dreaming, loving woman it resides inside, no person should be forced to surrender their bodily autonomy for the sake of another.

      We don’t compel kidney transplants or blood or plasma donation, we can’t compel pregnancies.

    3. newsjustin

      Why is “surviving outside the womb” such a deal-breaker? It’s a moveable feast. 53% of babies born in the UK between 22 and 26 weeks survived to discharge in 2006. The equivalent figure in 1995 was 40%.

      We’re the babies who were born but didn’t survive in 1995 less worthy of human rights than babies who survived in 2006?

      1. ahjayzis

        If a bone-marrow or kidney donor match is under no legal obligation to submit to providing you with a life-sustaining transplant, why can women be jailed for refusing to sustain a foetus?

      2. Ms Piggy

        surviving outside the womb is a deal-breaker because for as long as a foetus is dependent upon the woman, it is effectively part of her (as any of her organs are) and therefore she has 100% determination of what happens to it. Once it can survive without her, then it acquires person-hood, which is a prerequisite for legal rights. And the argument circles in the other direction too – because I am a person, I have legal rights, and those cannot be usurped by a non-person. And a foetus is not a person.

        1. newsjustin

          A foetus is not part of its mother.

          A baby cannot survive without the care of others. So is it a sliding scale? Foetus < newborn < toddler < < teenager < adult…..

          1. Ms Piggy

            A foetus is part of its mother, by definition due to its inability to survive without her. Not just anyone, but her. Which is relevant to the different situation of a born child, who can be cared for by others, and is not physically part of its mother. This is really crucial – the foetus is literally a part of the mother, embedded in her, attached to her by the umbilical cord, and only able to survive via her. If she dies, it dies. It therefore has no independent status, and never can have.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “A foetus is not part of its mother.”

            That’s just factually wrong.

            “So is it a sliding scale? Foetus < newborn < toddler < < teenager < adult…."

            Yes. And fathers are going to start marrying their sons since gay marriage came in.

          3. ahjayzis

            This is almost trolling at this stage.

            That’s not what Piggy said, try reading it twice and engage with her on the points she actually raised. Note the use of the word ‘effectively’.

            Even if we grant that a handful of cells in a cluster are equal to a grown woman (disgusting thought) – in no other sphere of life do we insist one person injure themselves or undergo a medical procedure or be denied a medical intervention for the benefit of another.

            In no other circumstances is one person’s bodily autonomy surrendered to the state for the benefit of another. If your life as a grown man depends on my surrendering some element of myself, even just my time, I am within my rights to refuse to comply. So should it be with the woman and zygote.

          4. Ms Piggy

            You know what I’m most struck by about this discussion – how rarely you see/hear it, despite the fact that this is THE discussion to be had about abortion rights. It’s not about individual cases, it’s not about when ‘life’ begins, it’s not about how a woman got pregnant. It’s about her bodily integrity, and precisely how and when the foetus can be distinguished from her as an independent person with rights. So I find it refreshing that we’re having the discussion at all, and I only wish it was one we saw more of in public discourse.

          5. scottser

            Ms Piggy’s point has also been proven in law. remember last year and the morbid case of a woman left on life support to keep a foetus alive?

  8. Drebbin

    While your fixing that typo in the headline, you might change it to The Hateful Eighth. It’s topical, like.

  9. Clampers Outside!

    From an earlier post…. comment by 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

      That’s an interesting comment on the specific issue of so-called fatal foetal abnormalities.

      It is light-years away from some of the positions here. For example Lorcan and Don who are happy to admit they support the abortion of any unborn baby right up to the day before birth at 9 months.

        1. newsjustin

          Do please explain your position then.

          Do you support a woman’s right to abort a pregnancy at any stage during that pregnancy because she no longer wishes to be pregnant?

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            I think that no term restrictions on abortions is better than term restrictions or a ban.
            I support the woman’s right to choose.
            I do not think any woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant is going to wait until the 9th month and go “hey, this isn’t for me after all”. It’s intellectually dishonest to throw that straw man up here and in other discussions on this site, especially when you said this elsewhere on this very page:

            Which extreme examples don’t you want? I don’t think anyone has mentioned extreme examples in this article. With the exception of the person who, quite reasonably, brought up the example of the woman kept alive on life-support last year.”

            (Emphasis added)

          2. newsjustin

            Thanks Lorcan.

            I took Clampers point to mean individual, specific examples. Fair point though.

            I don’t agree with your view that abortion should be available with no term limits. But I respect you being clear about it.

          3. rotide

            Why do you think that when faced with overwhelming evidence that people (not just women) can be complete bottomholes ?

            Just as the Savita and life support cases were extreme examples of our law that proved a point on how wrong it was/is , no term limits and trusting people (in this case women yes, but it would be the same with men) to make ‘the right choice’ is just leaving the door open for more extreme examples such as the recent badly run abortion clinic in the states

          4. Nigel

            No it doesn’t. Lack of proper regulation, oversight and enforcement along with the criminal neglect of health care provision in poorer areas are what led to that.

        2. rotide

          I have to say if it is a misrepresentation, I would be interested to hear how because my understanding of your position is that you ‘fully support a womans right to have an abortion at any time without any restrictions’. You pretty much stated that a few times.

          If I’m wrong feel free to correct me.

          1. ahjayzis

            Because a termination after a certain time is called a birth.

            Inducing labour is a termination, it isn’t an abortion.

          2. Nigel

            As someone who frequently pops up decrying the rhetorical excesses of both sides, for you to lend credence to the accusation that anyone supports the idea of abortions up until nine months is a bit of a joke.

          3. newsjustin

            Nigel, Don has explained to me in previous comment sections how she supports late-term abortions and considers that it would be better if babies who happen to be born alive following this procedure (which happens) would get an injection of morphine to kill them rather than the “comfort care” of wrapping them in a warm towel, as currently done in the US.

            It’s just not true that no-one supports the right to abortion right up to birth.

            Ahjayzis – it’s a birth, but as you know, if the baby has medical problems, it will be left to die in certain jurisdictions.

          4. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Nigel, news called me a name once and it hurt my feelings and now I am sad and need therapy. Please advise.

          5. Nigel

            I’ll write a prescription for more photos of Christmas dogs. Take two every hour until you feel better.

          6. Dόn Pídgéόní

            “That response tell you all you need to know”

            I can hear your lips pursing in disapproval from here

          7. rotide

            As someone who frequently pops up decrying the rhetorical excesses of both sides, for you to lend credence to the accusation that anyone supports the idea of abortions up until nine months is a bit of a joke.

            I didn’t mention 9 months, other people did. Having said that, if you support the idea of abortion on demand with no term limits, then you must in principle support the idea of termination at all stages of pregnancy.

            If an ‘abortion’ at 9 months is birth, then is that the same at 8 months? at 7? at 6?

            Where’s the line where abortion goes from a caesarian and intensive care to the dark horrors that the pro lifers would have us imagine all abortions actually are.

          8. Nigel

            Sure, both sides commit rhetorical excesses, but the claims of one side who insists that the other supports terminations up until nine months should be taken seriously? That’s positively Ionian.

          9. rotide

            Both sides claim many things. Calling the pro-life side anti-women is rhetorical and point scoring imo.

          10. Nigel

            Extremish, but defensible since it’s a women’s health issue and is being spearheaded by vestiges of an institution historically known for its misogyny, while feminsm is still at the pro-choice vanguard, and feminism has been at the receiving end of anti-women abuse and propaganda for a log time now. You may disagree, but do you disagree because it isn’t defensible or because such strong rhetoric makes you feel icky? On the other hand as far as I can tell the nine-month thing isn’t defensible at all.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        You’re an intentional idiot, purposefully playing the dumb fool…. this is why I believe the debate is done. The anti-women side exaggerate, lie and just spin bullcrap from every orifice

      2. ahjayzis

        So-called… by the FUPPING MEDICAL PROFESSION.

        In other news, I think I have a so-called mole I should get checked out. And my poor grans so-called arthritis is flaring up.

        Beyond parody.

        1. ahjayzis

          A back-country senator is obviously the authority on this.

          Sure obstetricians wouldn’t know a foetus if it negotiated their consultants contract.

  10. Gaoithe

    Abortion should be available on request up to 12 weeks anyway. That would be 99% of the abortions.

    A high proportion of the others would be people who are given bad news about the viability of the foetus later than 12 weeks, but again, these abortions would virtually all happen at the earlier rather than the later end of the pregnancy.

    The images that scare people who are against legal abortions – of thousands of heavily pregnant women determined to dispose of babies days before birth – don’t represent the reality.

    1. newsjustin

      The reality of a foetus at 12 weeks, as any parent will recall from their ultrasounds, is one of an undeniably human looking form, legs, arms, body , head; reacting to external stimuli.

      It’s not ok to just declare that they may be aborted. 12 weeks is utterly arbitrary.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        In the same breath, why don’t your side quote real examples rather than picking obscure cases and trashing them out, and picking up on badly run clinics that neither side would approve of.

        This is why I believe the debate is done, the anti-women side won’t accept the extreme examples as being just that extreme, but will wheel them out when they want to shoot down a point on the opposing side, as if that were a counter argument.

        That’s not a debate, that’s being stubbornly stupid seeing the world in black and white when it is very very much a shade of grey.

        1. newsjustin

          Which extreme examples don’t you want? I don’t think anyone has mentioned extreme examples in this article. With the exception of the person who, quite reasonably, brought up the example of the woman kept alive on life-support last year.

          1. newsjustin

            I brought up the trial of Kermit Gosnell recently and the startling testimony of professionals describing what a legal late term abortion is like.

            But I haven’t mentioned it on this article. You did.

            You shouldn’t bring up issues if you dislike talking about them.

        2. Anomanomanom

          ANTI-WOMEN side, that’s the most ridiculous comment on here. It’s the same as PRO-LIFE it’s meaning less. People who don’t agree with abortion are not anti-women or pro-life. People just hijack words to bash the other side with a label.

          1. Nigel

            Holy flippin’ guacamole, welcome to the world of competing political and cultural agendas in the 21st century! Your criticism might be valid but you should avoid treating or expressing it as revealed knowledge!

      2. Starina

        who cares if it’s human-looking? So are various animal fetuses at 12 weeks. a 12-week-old fetus cannot survive outside the mother and is therefore a part of her and is therefore not a human being yet.

    2. rotide

      That would make total sense.

      I’m not against legal abortions. I probably would be against legalising abortion without term limits though (with all due regard to the life of the mother)

  11. Peter Dempsey

    25,000 Irish women travelled to Britain for abortions between 2010 – 2015.


    Rape – 48%
    Incest – 22%
    Fatal fetal abornormaility – 30%.

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