‘Overwriting Fact With Fairy Stories’

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking incorrectly about the 8th amendment in the Dáil earlier this month

Emer O’Toole, in today’s Irish Times, writes:

Ireland’s abortion regime is a kind of a fiction. It can only exist if its proponents resolutely refuse to see, overwriting fact with fairy stories.

Our laws effectively make the “unborn” a citizen from the moment of implantation, thus requiring an act of creativity to furnish the embryo with thoughts and feelings, or perhaps, dependent on one’s religious proclivities, an ideologically convenient soul.

Our fictions proclaim Ireland abortion free, when it has approximately the same abortion rates as other EU countries. We just like to torture the women a bit first: for moral reasons, you understand.

…We can expect of Kenny’s convention, in short, the same kind of “balance” we have come to expect of our national broadcaster: the kind that considers the issue of whether women should have human rights to have two equally reasonable sides; the kind that gives serious consideration to people who actively campaign to subject women to cruel and degrading treatment and calls this – incredibly – “fairness”.

This impartiality is also a fiction.

Emer O’Toole: What can we expect of Enda Kenny’s abortion convention? (Irish Times)

Previously: ‘The People Decided To Keep That Reference In The Constitution’

38 thoughts on “‘Overwriting Fact With Fairy Stories’

    1. topsy

      Can’t be saying such things about our politicians. your being very hurtful. You’ll be reported to the hate police.

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    The 8th amendement was brought in at a time when pregnant women and girls were still imprisoned in laundries for the “sin” of sex outside marriage. It was a lucrative time for the adoption market when a hefty sum could be “donated” to the convent in exchange for a healthy baby to the right kind of couple (catholic, with money to spend on an under the counter adoption). It was about controlling women and girls and making sure they knew their place.

    We don’t lock fallen women up anymore, but some people still look down on women who choose to raise their baby without a husband and demonise women who choose to abort. Those who are most vociferously anti abortion have no interest in sex and contraceptive education, it’s still about telling women what they’re allowed and not allowed to do with their own bodies and lives.

  2. Derek

    I don’t think its helpful at all to misrepresent what pro-life people actually think. Nobody has claimed that an embryo ro foetus has thoughts and feelings and is therefore a citizen.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Yeah they have. Plenty argue that a foetus is a human being and so has the same rights as the mother.

          1. newsjustin

            A late term foetus ie a baby clearly has thought and feelings. An earlier stage fodtus does not. I assume the author is taking about aborting early stage foetuses – an here the reason for protecting them has never been “because they have thoughts and feelings” it’s cos they are human, innit?

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I assume the author is taking about aborting early stage foetuses”

            Why?

          3. newsjustin

            I was giving her the benefit of the doubt. No one is in favour of late-term abortions……..wait…..unless you’re a fan Moyest?

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Fan? There you go again. Character assassination because you have no rationale nor facts to support your position.

          5. newsjustin

            So do you support late-term abortions of not? You like to avoid these questons by saying I’m trying to assassinate someone’s character, but if you believe these things are OK then why not be proud of your position and say it?

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            Again, you are trying to paint a picture of someone feeling good things about abortion. You are creating a strawman to bash because you have no facts.

          7. Daisy Chainsaw

            “Late term abortions” are the 1% carried out in cases of FFA where women, like Amanda Mellett, have gotten a diagnosis where the baby won’t survive to delivery.

            Newsjustin, do you think that little of women that we’d go through two thirds of the pregnancy and then decide on a whim that we don’t want it any more? Do you really believe women are that fickle?

          8. rotide

            Daisy, Women are people and people are capable of a lot worse than that, so yes the situation that you outline is possible, if not an everyday occurance.

          9. Nigel

            Medical staff are human too, do you think they might go along with it, just for the laugh, like?

          10. rotide

            Daisy did not raise the point of medical staff. Daisy did the usual thing of trying to imply that women are not magically without the ability to be idiots and/or cruel

          11. Nigel

            I suppose my point was related to the rest of the thread – is there anywhere in the world that performs late term abortions for anything other than medical necessity? Genuine question.

          12. Daisy Chainsaw

            Rotide, are you accusing the likes of Amanda Mellett of being an idiot and/or cruel?

            Do you have evidence of the everyday occurrance of heavily pregnant women walking into hospitals/clinics demanding and getting an abortion in cases that aren’t connected with diagnosis of FFA?

    2. Daisy Chainsaw

      Derek, you’ve never heard of the “Fetal Pain bill” where anti choice legislators in the US have created this fallacy that a foetus can feel pain before the nerve endings form in the brain from the 24 week mark. 99% of abortions occur before the 24th week. In excess of 90% occur before the 20th week when the foetus has no awareness of anything,

  3. Derek

    No they are not, I’ve never heard a pro-lifer, pro-choicer, or impartial scientist/philosopher say that the criteria for being a human, or the criteria for when human life begins is having thoughts and feelings. A whole array of non-human animals meet those criteria anyway.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Really? You’ve never heard anyone define the difference between a foetus and a human being as sentience? You’ve never heard anyone say that? OK then. It’s pretty much everyone’s definition so I don’t really know what to tell you. Anyway, you’ve clearly misread the OP. Note her use of the word ‘effectively’. What she’s saying is our laws *effectively* make a foetus a human being and, given the implied definition of human beings being thoughts and feelings, it would need an “act of creativity” to “furnish” the foetus with those.

      1. Derek

        No I haven’t actually. Pro-lifers usually don’t offer a reason for belief that a foetus is a human life, and pro-choicers usually use the criteria of being able to survive independently of the mother’s body. I have heard pro-choicers say “its just a bunch of cells” which at a stretch one could interpret them as having “thoughts and feelings” in mind, but any argument that having thoughts and feelings as a criteria for humanity could easily be debunked by reference to a dog or cat who clearly have thoughts and feelings.

        What the author actually said is that pro-lifers have fictions (a nice way of saying they either lie or believe in lies), and one of these fictions is that foetuses have thoughts and feelings. This is clearly a fiction on the author’s part.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          “Pro-lifers usually don’t offer a reason for belief that a foetus is a human life”

          Nobody is arguing that a foetus isn’t human. One of the arguments for abortion has always been there is a difference between a foetus and a human being.

          “I have heard pro-choicers say “its just a bunch of cells” which at a stretch one could interpret them as having “thoughts and feelings” in mind”

          It’s not a stretch. It’s one of the main points. They are telling you as a pro abortionist, that a foetus is just a bunch of cells with no thoughts nor feelings and thus is not equal to a human being.

          “but any argument that having thoughts and feelings as a criteria for humanity could easily be debunked by reference to a dog or cat who clearly have thoughts and feelings.”

          No. A canine foetus is different from a dog given the canine foetus has no thoughts nor feelings. That does not imply that dog = human because they both have thoughts and feelings. I can’t fathom how you can think that “debunks” anything.

          “This is clearly a fiction on the author’s part.”

          Wrong. Anti abortionists believe that a foetus is equivalent to a human being and put this equivalence in law rendering that belief *effectively* true, as the author clearly states. The problem with that though, again as argued by the author, is that a human being has thoughts and where as a foetus has none.

          1. Derek

            “Nobody is arguing that a foetus isn’t human. One of the arguments for abortion has always been there is a difference between a foetus and a human being. ”

            Yes and that has never included having thought and feelings. I just browsed some pro-life sites and every single one of them acknowledged that a foetus is not sentient. I can provide you with links if you like.

            “It’s not a stretch. It’s one of the main points. They are telling you as a pro abortionist, that a foetus is just a bunch of cells with no thoughts nor feelings and thus is not equal to a human being. ”

            Even if you interpret the statement as referring to thoughts and feelings, this would be a criteria used by pro-choicers, not pro-lifers. The author claims that it is the pro-lifers that are engaged in a “fiction”, but as I’ve said, pro-lifers do not claim that foetuses have thoughts and feelings.

            “No. A canine foetus is different from a dog given the canine foetus has no thoughts nor feelings. That does not imply that dog = human because they both have thoughts and feelings. I can’t fathom how you can think that “debunks” anything.”

            I was pointing out that if someone used having thoughts and feelings as a criteria for human life then it would be debunked by the example of other animals. I take your point that you see it as a distinction between human life and human non-life. However, since pro-lifers are not making a claim that foetuses are sentient it doesn’t really matter.

            “Wrong. Anti abortionists believe that a foetus is equivalent to a human being and put this equivalence in law rendering that belief *effectively* true, as the author clearly states. The problem with that though, again as argued by the author, is that a human being has thoughts and where as a foetus has none.”

            But here is what the author ACTUALLY says:
            “It can only exist if its proponents resolutely refuse to see, overwriting fact with fairy stories.”

            The author is clearly claiming that pro-lifers have “fairytale” beliefs and that this is one of them. The constitution makes no reference to certain criteria for being a human, or thoughts and feelings, so under your interpretation of what she says she is massively wrong.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Yes and that has never included having thought and feelings”

            That’s incredible that you think that. It was *always* the argument.

            “Even if you interpret the statement as referring to thoughts and feelings, this would be a criteria used by pro-choicers, not pro-lifers.”

            Again, the author said that putting equivalence in law between a foetus and a human *effectively* attributes thoughts and feelings to an embryo. Effectively.

            “I was pointing out that if someone used having thoughts and feelings as a criteria for human life”

            OK but nobody is saying that. They’re saying thoughts and feelings are the difference between an embryo and a human being. Same for a cat embryo and a cat or a dog embryo and a dog. You have completely misunderstood the argument.

            “However, since pro-lifers are not making a claim that foetuses are sentient it doesn’t really matter.”

            It matters quite a lot. You are claiming that an embryo is equivalent to a human being. You need some rationale for it. The only rationale you could possibly have to equating abortion with murder is that the embryo has thoughts and feelings. You obviously can’t point you that so you need something else. Otherwise it’s just a private belief for based on emotions rather than facts and as such has no place in Irish law.

            “The author is clearly claiming that pro-lifers have “fairytale” beliefs and that this is one of them.”

            If you can’t give us rational reasons directory regarding a foetus the same as a living human, then yes, it is about fairy tales. I understand you feel offended by the choice of language but nobody is obliged to respect your beliefs. Rational people need rational reasons. The author is correct.

          3. Derek

            “That’s incredible that you think that. It was *always* the argument.”

            Then show me examples of pro-life people saying foetuses have thoughts and feelings because I drew a blank. I did find sites acknowledging foetuses are NOT sentient andusing another defense.

            “Again, the author said that putting equivalence in law between a foetus and a human *effectively* attributes thoughts and feelings to an embryo. Effectively. ”

            And she would be incorrect there. How does a law “effectively” do that? For example, some babies are born without a full brain. They are incapable of thoughts and feelings. Does the law “effectively” say the baby has thoughts and feelings? Of course not, as the law makes no reference to thoughts and feelings. This “effectively” qualifier you and the author are using is undefinable and is based on your own personal feelings about the law, nothing to do with the law itself.

            “It matters quite a lot. You are claiming that an embryo is equivalent to a human being. You need some rationale for it. The only rationale you could possibly have to equating abortion with murder is that the embryo has thoughts and feelings. You obviously can’t point you that so you need something else. Otherwise it’s just a private belief for based on emotions rather than facts and as such has no place in Irish law.”

            Then why are no pro-lifers saying that foetuses have thoughts and feelings. Its not the only criteria. Another criteria would be that if left to develop, it will become a human, regardless of sentience. A dog embryo will not become a human, nor will bacteria or any other random clump of cells. The idea that sentience is the only valid argument is your opinion.

            “If you can’t give us rational reasons directory regarding a foetus the same as a living human, then yes, it is about fairy tales. I understand you feel offended by the choice of language but nobody is obliged to respect your beliefs. Rational people need rational reasons. The author is correct.”

            I’m not offended, I was simply pointing out that pro-life people do not believe this particular “fairytale”. If you don’t consider their arguments rational thats absolutely fine, but pretending they believe something they don’t is not a valid way to oppose them.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Your whole argument here ignores her use of the word ‘effectively’. She’s not saying they believe ‘x’, she’s saying they “effectively” believe in ‘x’. That is a perfectly rational interpretation of anti abortion arguments. Arguments like ‘abortion is murder’ and referring to foetii as babies makes the anti abortion primarily based on emotion and narrative as opposed rationale and facts. It is written into law that a foetus is equivalent to a human being. There is no rational basis for that equivalence. If there’s no rationale for that belief then what is the belief based on? I mightn’t use the term fairytales myself but reality is in that neighbourhood. If you believe that a foetus is equivalent tof a human being, that’s fine but without rationale, you cannot impose your personal beliefs on the rest of us.

          5. mildred st. meadowlark

            This is the best post-off commentathon I’ve ever seen. Take a bow, you two.

  4. newsjustin

    “This impartiality is also a fiction.” = “I do so hate when I’m confronted by opinions different from my own.”

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