It Takes A Vigil



Every weekday at 1pm pro-choice activists are assembling outside government buildings to urge a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, in a protest organised by Amnesty International.

Their number includes Carol Hunt, who writes:

Who knew the American anti-choice brigade were such wimps? Don’t they have the courage of their anti abortion convictions?

Donald Trump came out with the logical deduction this week that, if we view abortion to be a crime against an innocent being, then it follows that women who commit this crime should be punished for it.

Yet they all seemed shocked and terribly upset that the man could even think such a thing.

Trump had to do several U-Turns and admit that criminalising women for having abortions was never going to be a winner – not even in the most rabidly anti-choice states.

To which the million, trillion dollar question must be; “Why not?”

If anti-choice groups believe that abortion is murder – as they tell us all the time – then surely justice demands that a woman who procures one is a criminal – of the worst kind – and must be punished accordingly?

The anti-choice lobby are made of much sterner stuff over here. Up until 2013 abortions were punished under the archaic 1861 Offence Against the Person Act. A woman who “procured” one could get “penal servitude for life”.Yes, as I said, archaic.

And so in 2013 the Fine Gael/Labour government replaced this life sentence with… up to 14 years in prison for any woman who had an abortion in this jurisdiction.

Maybe Donald Trump heard about this on his last visit here – the one where they rolled out the red carpet and the Irish colleens for him.

But no-one will ever be sentenced, say our own home-grown anti-abortion rights groups. Really?

Well, yesterday in Northern Ireland, where they still apply the old Offence Against the Person Act, a 21 year old woman was given a three month suspended sentence because she had bought drugs online which induced a miscarriage.

She hadn’t enough money to travel to the mainland and abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland. While she was suffering this awful trauma her housemates called the police – I kid you not – and she was then subjected to an investigation which found her guilty of a serious crime.

Many people in Ireland don’t know that we introduced a 14-year sentence when the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill was brought in.

Actually less than one in 10 of us are aware that a woman who has an abortion could face a 14-year prison sentence. But I bet every single one of those 12 women who leave here each day to travel abroad for medical care they are denied here, do.

They know damn well what the consequences are.The logic seems to be that if they do their “dirty work” in a different country it isn’t classed as a crime at home.

But then we realised that we couldn’t jail everyone for travelling out of the country, so the “right to travel” as well as the “right to information” [about abortion] was decriminalised.

Which was great, because it meant the customs lads didn’t have to confiscate every copy of Cosmopolitan that came into the country (with ads for Marie Stopes clinics in the back pages).

But it’s still a crime to have an abortion in Ireland – unless your life, as opposed to your health, is at risk. This, despite the fact that two thirds of people living in this country want abortion to be decriminalised, according to a recent Red C poll commissioned by Amnesty Ireland.

Asked whether the Irish Government should decriminalise abortion, 67% agreed and 25% disagreed. And 81% are in favour of significantly widening the grounds for legal abortion access in Ireland.

Yet repealing the 8th amendment [which criminalises abortion in all cases except when the life of the mother is at risk] is not part of any of the main parties agendas as they discuss forming a government.

And so currently, Amnesty Ireland – and a whole host of other people – are staging a series of protests outside Government Buildings.

Every day the 12 women who leave the country to avoid a possible 14 year sentence are represented in a lunchtime vigil.

The numbers participating are growing and the tone of the gathering is upbeat and positive. We know that we can’t be ignored forever. If we want to call ourselves a functioning democracy we will have to have a referendum soon on repealing the 8th amendment. It’s that simple.

So, come on down and join us. Every day at 1pm. At Government Buildings. Bring your mates. Bring your Mammy. Bring your lunch. Or coffee. Or even cocktails if that’s what you’re into. We had balloons on Sunday. And chocolate cake.

Maybe some local businesses would like to send us down tea and sandwiches, or coffee or, dammit okay, cocktails would be fine too. We’re not going away you know. Because if even Donald Trump realises that criminalising women for having much needed abortions is disgustingly inhumane, cruel and unjust, then why can’t we?

Carol Hunt is a 2016 Seanad candidate for the NUI panel. @carolmhunt



The Berlin-Irish pro choice solidarity group are holding a protest [details below] outside the British Embassy today, Tuesday at 5pm  to voice anger at the suspended  sentence handed down to a 21-yearold Northern Irish woman who miscarried after purchasing abortion pills online.

British Embassy Protest (Berlin-irish Pro Choice Solidarity)

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59 thoughts on “It Takes A Vigil

  1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

    Nice one.

    Can we just discuss her flatmates calling the cops on her?

    1. Frilly Keane

      I wouldn’t be too quick to judge

      They found the 4″ male feotus in the bin
      And the bloodied sheets
      Reactions/ Responses might have been impaired

      Sur I’d’ ve passed out

      1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

        True, it’s not clear but calling the cops? Would you not call an ambulance?

          1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            I meant for her….

            If someone seems upset, has bloodied sheets, has recently given birth, and has left it lying the bin, my first thought would be, hang on, maybe she isn’t coping and needs medical attention, not let’s call the rozzers

        1. Frilly Keane

          Here Don
          They’d be calling an ambulance for me if I saw that

          I have ta’ leave the room when they put Code Black on

          1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní


            And I get that but it just seems really really iffy to me. Though as usual, we are talking about a situation where we know less about it than we think.

          1. newsjustin

            It’s a really basic, obvious fact. The women committed a crime and she was convicted of it.

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Tbf, if you thought it was the crime you say it was news, you would support her being jailed. But you don’t because part of you recognises this is not a black and white issue despite your black and white arguments. Standing by your convictions eh

          3. newsjustin

            What do you mean “the crime you say it was”? It was the crime she was convicted of and she was sentenced for. Your response, and the main thrust of Carol Hunt’s piece above, appears to be a sigh of dissapointment that pro-life people aren’t as heartless as you would like to think. Shame on us pro-life people for not wanting to lock this woman up for life, eh Don?

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Pretty sure her point was that if abortion really is murder like you try to imply, you’d be looking for this woman to be imprisoned. But you’re not. Because you know abortion isn’t actually murder despite the inflammatory language you use, like “destroy”. It’s nowhere near it.

          5. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            I’ll ignore the victimhood and restate my question. It is clear you considered abortion to be the murder of a “baby”. Logic would suggest that if you truly felt this, you would support seeking the appropriate punishment, which in our society is jail right? But you don’t, the suspended sentence seems fine to you. That’s a massive logical fallback and I’m interested in why that is ok. Is it that there is a degree of murder – so that a foetus is alive but not really so the suspended sentence is fine because it fits a not quite alive person?

            This is interesting especially given what Trump recently said – it’s the same logical path that he took – you are pro-life as a party so why not support that viewpoint to it’s logical conclusion? And yet, the GOP got all in a twist when it was exposed for exactly what it’s viewpoint supports!

          6. newsjustin

            Compassion Moyest. You should try it sometime. The awfulness of what was done to her unborn child is not mitigated by imprisoning and vilifying another vulnerable person.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            That’s a lie, Justin. Last time we spoke about this, you insisted on saying that parents were “destroying” their ‘babies’. At least 3 times you used this word when I used the term abortion. You even appealed to me to use the word. You are definitely interested in vilifying parents. You are insulting my intelligence by pretending otherwise.

          8. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Then can’t you take that compassion to the next step and while being anti-abortion, also be compassionate in the right of the women to choose the situation into which she decides to have or not have children? To have compassion for those whose child will die shortly after birth not to put them through that? To ask women to carry their abusers or rapists child?

            It’s very cherry-picked.

          9. newsjustin

            Don. Quite simply, I don’t support the idea that someone who has taken this awful step of ending the life of her own unborn child should be locked up. I don’t think many people would. What people who take such awful steps need is compassion and mental health treatment, not lock and key.

          10. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Abortion isn’t a mental health problem. Women who have abortions do not have mental health problems as a result of abortions. You can have your viewpoint without lying.

          11. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            And again, that viewpoint is illogical. Which is interesting. I’m just trying to get at this in a way that I understand.

            You’re anti-abortion. Women who have abortions are murderers but you don’t think women should be punished with jail time but they should be punished in a “compassionate” way? I don’t get that at all.

          12. newsjustin

            Moyest. This woman did, of course, destroy her unborn child. That much, at least, is very obvious. The foetus even ended up in a rubbish bin to illustrate the point that it’s life had been ended and was to be disposed of.

            While I hate that fact and wish it weren’t so, I don’t see how locking up a vulnerable person who has committed such a desperate act can improve matters, for her or society. Nonetheless, I think it was important that the woman was charged and found guilty of the crime.

          13. MoyestWithExcitement

            “This woman did, of course, destroy her unborn child.”

            Do you really think anyone is stupid enough to believe your line that you aren’t trying to vilify the mother after reading that spintastic sentence?

          14. newsjustin

            Don. You and I clearly have very different views on the criminal justice system. I don’t favour the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” model. Especially when it comes to such fraught cases.

            And I don’t think OK’ing the abortion of unborn babies is in any way compassionate. It should only be an option where the mother’s life is at risk.

          15. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Compassion but with limits

            “You and I clearly have very different views on the criminal justice system. I don’t favour the “lock ’em up and throw away the key” model. Especially when it comes to such fraught cases.”

            It has nothing to do with our views on the justice system, I’m asking you why something you consider murder, and are very open about saying on here and clearly very emotive about given your language that you chose to use, is suddenly then not murder and not deserving of the punishment of murder but instead is suddenly worthy of compassion despite it not meeting what you consider to be the only options for aborting your “unborn baby”. You don’t see the slip there? You don’t think that’s interesting?

          16. newsjustin

            It is interesting Don. You have such a black and white view on things.

            No two killings are the same. Any reasonable judge weighs the facts of the case with the options for sentencing.

            I’m sorry to dissapoint you. I don’t believe everyone who takes a life should be automatically locked away and not helped rehabilitate themselves.

          17. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            It’s not about being black and white, it’s about your logical argument behind your standpoint.

            For one thing, it’s really knock back your pro-life claims.

            “Oh its murder!! But wait, not really”

            Excellent stuff!

          18. newsjustin

            I really couldn’t care less about any perceived “knock back to my prolife claims.” There are real people involved here.

            If you can’t understand how someone can be anti abortion and also not want to lock up women during every waking moment then I can’t help you. You’ve clearly built a great imaginary stereotype of a heartless pro life monster that you’re keen to wage war against. Off you go and enjoy yourself.

          19. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            “I really couldn’t care less about any perceived “knock back to my prolife claims.” There are real people involved here.”

            It does make your opinion hard to take seriously. Yes, real people, not almost people or possible people. Great you see it that way finally.

            “If you can’t understand how someone can be anti abortion and also not want to lock up women during every waking moment then I can’t help you. ”

            No, I can’t because you haven’t done a great job of explaining yourself.

            “You’ve clearly built a great imaginary stereotype of a heartless pro life monster that you’re keen to wage war against.”

            I see heartless pro life monsters everyday, don’t need imaginary ones sadly.

            ” Off you go and enjoy yourself.”

            I will enjoy thanks. Compassionately of course.

  2. ahjayzis

    Time for Westminster to step in and legislate, I know they’re pretty hands-off with the North, but it’s unconscionable this woman will carry a criminal conviction for life for something that’s available on the NHS in England, under an archaic law that’s already been found to breach human rights.
    If the Assembly can’t vindicate citizens rights, the national government has to.

    1. Tired old refrain

      So you prefer a la carte implementation of the law of the land? Is that not what the Shinners like also?
      Ahjaysiz a Shinner- who knew?

  3. newsjustin

    “……the tone of the gathering is upbeat and positive.”

    Probably not dwelling too much on the foetus that was poisoned and dropped in the rubbish then. Keeping the discussion breezy – cocktails and balloons.

    1. ahjayzis

      Here’s a question you’ll break bones contorting yourself into not answering;

      Was the punishment for this woman fair? Or should it be a full murder charge? Should women who avail of an abortion receive life sentences?

      Really appreciate an answer, though I realise it’s like nailing jelly to a wall asking people who call abortion murder whether women who’ve had abortions are guilty of murder.

        1. newsjustin

          So, anyway. I do think it’s fair or, more to the point, appropriate.

          Parents who kill their offspring are a tragic but real part of life. I don’t think many people would like to see this people like that locked up. It is right that she was held accountable for her actions though.

          1. ahjayzis

            Cheers for actually answering that, it takes guts. I actually agree with you completely.

            However this woman didn’t drive her ten year old off a pier – she didn’t kill anything, nor had she any offspring. If we’re getting etymological then by definition offspring must spring off – this was a first trimester foetus, and it’s her body.

            Driving a car into a river with your ten year old in the back seat is not analogous to taking a pill.

          2. newsjustin

            Don’t believe the hype ahjayzis, I always try to answer questions.

            I have to take issue with you when you say “she didn’t kill anything”. She clearly did. The human foetus was alive and then it was not alive and in a bin.

            Yeah, the abortion of an unborn child is naturally different to killing a 10 year old. The 10 year old has made so many human connections, been part of the lives of a whole circle of people, created things, 3 pressed themselves, etc. But these are all things that likely lay in store for the aborted 10 week male foetus. That’s sad.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            “But these are all things that likely lay in store….”

            Right but until those things happen, they are just a dream in your head; imaginary. Do you see how an imaginary life for a potential human is different from an actual thinking human being?

          4. newsjustin

            Anything in the future is just imaginary for all of us. Is it not possible to grieve for an unfulfilled future? Why do you think people tend to be more upset when young people die, “whole life ahead of him”, etc?

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Is it not possible to grieve for an unfulfilled future?”

            Sure it is. You just don’t get to label women as borderline murderers because they made a decision that ended that *potential* and *imaginary* future that only exists in your head.

          6. Junkface

            Oh God! So stupid! A foetus is not a fully grown human, its not even a baby yet. Its not murder, its a neccesary option in modern life for many women, and many couples.

          7. newsjustin

            The reason it will only ever “only exist in my head” is that the woman ended the life of the foetus. That foetus had a future. You can try to deny it but you’re wrong. It’s like looking at a baby and saying it’s ok to remove it’s legs. After all, any future that includes walking or running is just a notion in our imagination.

          8. MoyestWithExcitement

            “The reason it will only ever “only exist in my head” is that the woman ended the life of the foetus.”

            Irrelevant. That future hadn’t happened. The *fact* is, it’s imaginary and *only* exists in your mind.

            “It’s like looking at a baby and saying it’s ok to remove it’s legs.”

            Well, no. That’s an actual thinking human being. A foetus is a *potential* human. Aborting a clump of cells that is only a human *in your mind* is not the same as doing *anything* to an actual thinking human. Didn’t we go over this 5 minutes ago?

          9. ahjayzis

            That foetus had a future if the woman consented to using her body for bringing it to term. A sperm and egg have futures if a woman consents to unprotected sex. We don’t mourn for condom use.

          10. newsjustin

            As I regularly have to explain to people on here, sperm and ova are not = zygote or foetus.

            Jizz as much as you like ahjayzis. Just mind the curtins.

            On a serious note, I’m sad a foetus ended up dead in a bin.

  4. Peter Dempsey

    Why is Carol (a self-professed pro choice activist) so keen to see women locked up for having abortions?

    I am pro-life but I recognise that abortion is legal in some countries and is not defined as murder.
    My objection is that I think an abortion is morally wrong.
    But I am sensible enough to realise that you can’t prevent people from travelling to countries where abortion is legal.

    It all goes back to this wise mantra:
    Don’t like abortion? Then vote to retain the 8th Amendment.
    Don’t mind abortion? Then vote to get rid of the 8th Amendment.

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