Get Your Rosaries Off Our Ovaries


From top: St Vincent’s Hospital; Anne Marie McNally

Sometimes I wonder why, as a nation, we seem to be obsessed with what happens to anything pertaining to female body parts yet simultaneously obsessed in doing everything possible to avoid dealing with the many complex matters involving said biology. These last few days have been a particular doozy in this regard.

Where to start?

The ongoing Repeal debate where NO campaigners want to control uteri everywhere?

The Cervical Check horror story where clinicians took decisions NOT to inform women of negative results – decisions which it has now been proven have cost lives.

Or what about the revelation regarding the governance structure of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) where we’ve learned that the directors of the company that will take ownership of the new campus on which the NMH will be located, will be obliged to uphold ‘the values and vision’ of Mary Aikenhead and the religious order she founded, namely the Sisters of Charity.

Yes, those same ‘Sisters of Charity’ who were most uncharitable when it came to their Magdalene Laundries. The same uncharitable order who ran five industrial schools best described as torture camps.

The same Sisters of so-called Charity who told the Ryan Commission that they felt the definition of abuse was too broad and who would only commit to paying €5 million in redress. That was 2009. To date they have only paid €2 million. Full of charity so they are.

And now it appears that a long overdue state of the art and publicly funded €300million euro maternity hospital is about to be handed over, in all but name, to the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) which is 100% owned be the Sisters of unCharity.

The proposed structure ensures that the SVHG will have 100% control of the Board of Directors of the campus as well as 100% ownership of the company. In effect, the Clinical Director of the hospital will have to answer to a board controlled by the nuns. The same board which must ensure that the ‘values and vision’ of the religious order are upheld.

But that presents a problem see? Because I’m willing to bet that those so-called ‘values and vision’ are the same values and visions which condemned women to a life of torture and servitude for daring to have sex outside of marriage.

The same values and vision which withheld pain medication to young women in childbirth so that they might ‘pay for their sins’.

And the same values and visions which seeks to continue to deny sexual and reproductive healthcare to women in this country by their vociferous defence of the 8th Amendment.

By any standard these are not the type of people you want to put in control of a modern National Maternity Hospital. So why is it even under consideration? A legitimate question but one so complicated in an Irish context that it would stagger the mind of anyone from outside this country or not involved in religious fundamentalism.

It’s because 21st century Ireland still hasn’t managed to separate Church and State. It’s because our State has such an ingrained culture of farming out responsibility for basic public services to charities and religious orders.

This is why we have a battle to free our children from a dogma-delivering education system. It’s why we are still working through the legacy issues of our social care being farmed out to these orders over the years.

And it is why women’s healthcare in this country, when it comes to anything below the naval, is continuously second rate.

It is not because many of the medics working in the system want to treat women as second-class citizens, it is because they are forced to work within a system governed by religious ‘values and visions’ and the reality is that such fundamentalist values and visions derive from a religious base whose sole purpose is to propagate the dogma that the only women worthy of praise are those who are virginal and who exist to serve men.

Ireland is not that place anymore yet in so many ways it still is. The need to separate Church and State has never been more obvious nor the timing so right.

If we don’t intervene now to stop the transfer of a major public asset, and with it women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare, into the control of a religious order, then we may as well walk away from any pride we might have felt when the Magdalene women got their much over-due apology in the Dáil.

We may also accept the shame every right-minded person felt when Savita died in one of our maternity hospitals because to go ahead with this transaction upholding the religious ‘values and visions’ will guarantee more tragedies like Savita’s and that is a vision we cannot abide.

Anne Marie McNally is Social Democrats Political Director and General Election candidate for Dublin Mid-West.

Top pic: Rollingnews

55 thoughts on “Get Your Rosaries Off Our Ovaries

  1. TheRealJane

    It’s bizarre to be having a referendum on the 8th and at the same time, creating a situation where legal abortions may not be available in a newly built maternity hospital.

    Because if these clowns aren’t planning a concience clause in the legislation, I’m reading their gutless approach to everything else all wrong.

      1. The Ghost of Starina

        Oh great. Because when a woman is in a situation where she already feels a paranoia that everyone is judging her, it’s best to make sure she’s right.

        1. Listrade

          I think the clause is fair, same way a Scientologist doctor could conscientiously object to psychiatric treatment or prescription of anti depressants to a patient or a Jehovah’s Witness doctor could refuse a blood transfusion to a patient….

          Hang on. Turns out you can only object to a woman’s health.

          1. The Ghost of Starina

            Exactly. don’t want to deal with an aspect of your job? Don’t do that career at all.

      2. david

        That dose not alter the fact
        Savitas will be refused ,rape victims will be refused ,incest victims will be refused.
        Get it Bertie
        And in a hospital built with our money
        Still cannot argue black is black and white is white
        So lets remove the protection of the unborn from our constitution
        Soon it will be the rights of the born?
        Oh sorry we already have that in some cases depending if you are poor
        The right to housing
        The right to a decent health service
        The right to water

    1. david

      Oh deary me Houston we have a problem
      Passed or not thanks to the repeal lobby trying to make it abortion on demand it will fail and if it passes still savita’s will die
      As usual paddy makes a hash

  2. ahjayzis

    If selling a mobile phone license is corruption. Why is GIVING a 300m euro public building to a private company not robbery?

    1. b

      well it’s going to be built on their land and they are going to help run it – regardless of the questions around ethos, its not like the state are getting nought in return

      1. david

        And we swallow this
        Ever hear of ground rents when a person owned the land and the owner of the house paid them rent
        This is hog wash and how this country operates
        A rip off country where an elite and KAPOs control us
        No accountability
        Its time trump was brought over here to wield his you are fired
        Imagine using taxpayers money to build a national maternity hospital and hand it over to a landlord, and also be prevented by the landlord to provide the terminations that the repeal mob are fascist in their bulying
        And this is the mentality that will be leading us into brexit
        Boy Harris must not be allowed to weather this and varadka has questions as regarding when he was minister of health, were these smear test scandal cases being buried on his orders?
        We need resignations sackings and individuals in jail now

      2. ahjayzis

        If the state builds a road through my land I don’t get a seat on the National Roads Authority and the right to enforce my ‘ethos’ on motorists.

          1. david

            I knew a customer who bought up thousands of land rents off Irish life
            Every year he sent out the demands for ground rents
            Each year no one paid
            When the government brought in that you could purchase said ground rent from landlord for twelve times the annual amount people ignored it and still did not pay
            This guy was rich and sold them all off just before the bust for 600 odd million that put him on the rich list
            You see everyone had to pay in the end because when selling their home all these taxes rents had to be paid before completion of the deal
            No pay no sale
            All registered on the deeds of the house much like mortgagee
            By the way he bought them for less than 50 grand in the seventies

        1. david

          I see your sarcastic wit dose nothing but saying that not to question what could be corruption
          If you them are so pro abortion and knowing the ethos will deny women having abortion in our national maternity hospital I rest my case
          Please lay off the cider
          As we see already before we have a referendum we will see the result will still be savita’s denied treatment in our hospitals
          So a waste of time

  3. Lilly

    Every single person who has their child baptised to get them into the local school, and lets them make their first communion to keep the grandparents happy is part of the problem. We need to collectively grow a backbone.

    1. Cian

      Yes. But why should *my* child suffer not getting into a school because *I* have a backbone.

      It’s easy to talk about backbone, but more difficult to “walk the walk” when faced with the prospect of not having a school place available to one’s child.

      1. postmanpat

        Unbaptized kids are still let into schools. It really is just the grandparents thing that Lillys is talking about that is the real reason “atheist” parents do it. I have an un baptized two year old and I’m “walking the walk”. My cousins kid got a place no problem and that was years ago.

        1. Cian

          Pat, I hope it all works out for you and your two-year-old.

          But when I had to make that decision I decided to go ahead and baptise because it would give us more options on schools.

          1. postmanpat

            One more catholic for the Vatican census. Sure if the law changes your child’s younger siblings will “have” to be baptized too anyway, You know, because jealously of the communion and the money, attention etc , excuses excuses. If your agnostic, just say so. The baptism barrier is irrelevant for all intents and purposes.

          2. postmanpat

            I did assume, didn’t I? Point taken. but you are Catholic, right? No matter, it’s all made up anyways!

        2. Brother Barnabas

          not necessarily, pat

          if the school or particular school year is over-subscribed, priority goes to children who have been baptised. even baptised from outside the catchment area are ahead of non-baptised children from within the catchment area.

          1. postmanpat

            Technically yes , but when it comes to actual cases, The baptism barrier is a myth. I have heard no story from anyone who has had difficulty getting there child into a school. And in the next few months the law will be changed to make sure kids aren’t being excluded. The talk of such laws in writing has been universally praised. Plus there was never a problem in the first place. Parents just do the baptism because of one or both Grandparents/ God/ social pressure, you know…cowards! It’s lot like these parents opt out of communions later on. In two years, Ill send my child to the nearest school ,educate together or a catholic school whichever’s is more convenient and admission will be no problem.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            my child was refused entry to local national school on the basis of not having a baptism cert – “sorry, oversubscribed this year”. as it happened, an older sibling was already in the school so they had to take him. but wouldn’t have.

          3. postmanpat

            The part where you say your child was refused entry but got in anyway. “but wouldn’t have”.(?) How exactly did it play out? Did you get a written refusal , then written acceptance?

          4. Brother Barnabas

            verbal refusal – in fact, told no point submitting application. when i was submitting, principal of the school flicked through application to check everything was there, then asked, “hang on… where’s the baptism cert?” i replied, “there isn’t one”. he said, “well, then, sorry – we’re oversubscribed, priority is given to catholic children and we already have more than we can accommodate”. i asked to see the written guidelines on entry. on it, siblings of current pupils come first. so i said, “well we’re ok so because his sister is already a pupil”. and he said, “oh, well that’s different”.

            so if he hadn’t had a sibling in the school, he wouldn’t have been admitted – purely because of baptism rule.

            from what i understand, it’s only an issue in a small number of places where schools are over-subscribed. but if you’re unfortunate enough to be in one of those areas, there’s obvious pressure on parents to baptise. and this shouldn’t be the case.

        1. Cian

          Both. But it was mostly primary school – once they are in a school there is a certain element of feeder-schools and the like.

          If I’m honest when looking at a little baby it is hard enough thinking about them going to primary school – nigh impossible to think of them as a teenager going to secondary school.

      2. david

        The only way the general public can show backbone is to vote them out
        Sadly a real party has not emerged
        I was going to attract the monster raving loonie party here but we need 300 members all in Ireland and eligible to vote the branch would be the Munster raving loonies party
        Our manifesto would be to make heckling a national pastime and send a tourettes delegation to Brussels to negotiate our future
        We would ban flashy socks
        But seriously we just got left wing and one great disappointment was Stephen donnelly

    2. Johnny Keenan

      + 4 Million Lilly.
      That’s the problem right there.
      It’s quite simple process really.
      80% of the population ( 4 million) profess to be Roman Catholic. Yet no one goes to mass apart from the usual ‘a la carte’ catholic events.

      500,000 concerned citizens (20%) of the population decided to tick the NO RELIGION box on the 2016 census form.

      The reason Catholic Church get money and autonomy to run 80% + of schools
      And hospitals is because the Sheeple tick the box to say they are Roman Catholic.

      It is a simple process really.
      People in Ireland need to start informing themselves.
      It’s the job of the Catholic Church and The Neo Liberal government to make sure you are not informed. Hence the docile establishment media.
      Worse than that they are lying to us on a daily basis.

      People have to take stock and then we all need to rise up together.
      Information Is Knowledge
      Knowledge Is Power
      Power To The Peaceful
      Because Peaceful People Are Reasonable People

      If you’re not part of the solution then you must be part of the problem

      1. Cian

        If you’re going to quote census figures – by all means be vague – but please be accurate:
        vague: about 80% of the population (4 million) profess to be Roman Catholic, another 500,000 (10%) ticked No Religion and another 500,000 (10%) were other religions.

        Or be precise:
        3,729,115 (78.3%) said Roman Catholic; 468,421 (9.8%) said ‘No Religion’; 564,329 (11.9%) were other religions.

        But either way – be accurate. You completely ignored the 500,000 non RC religious folks.

        1. Johnny Keenan

          Sorry Cian I should have said 10%.
          But I’m not to far off.
          Thanks for bringing it to my attention anyway.
          Hopefully by highlighting it other people will realise that my typo is not the real issue that needs highlighting.

      2. Listrade

        Not sure I agree fully with the sentiment. I mean, those numbers didn’t exactly have as much on an influence on the marriage referendum.

        I think the special position of that was afforded by the Constitution has more effect, especially on matters of public policy. I think the fear by politicians of a vocal minority and their votes back at home has more influence than people going through a few token ceremonies for cultural reason.

        80% of people may tick a box as to which religion they identify with, but I think we’ve proof they’re able to make a choice separate from that cultural identity.

        The issue is when the people don’t have a say and it is left to the politicians to decide.

    3. Spaghetti Hoop

      A lot of children want to make their first communion. Think about inclusion, the dressing up and most importantly, the MOOLAH.

    4. david

      Actually if your faith is so fragile then you have none
      What you need to do is demand government to what they are elected to do
      They the state are colluding in this and are as guilty as the church
      At this rate the only religion in this country will be Islam
      Demand from your government as they are the only ones that hold the power

  4. GiggidyGoo

    So the exact opposite of what Simon Harris said this time last year – obviously to take the heat off himself. . ‘Copperfast’ he said. ( a bit like a ‘backstop ‘)
    Leo the Liar and Simon the Spoofer
    Golden Share? Or golden sh….er?

  5. Cian

    The Cervical Check horror story where clinicians took decisions NOT to inform women of negative results – decisions which it has now been proven have cost lives.

    Can someone provide a link that backs this up? Because there are very vaguely worded reports.

    For example RTE says “RTÉ News has learned that an audit on the CervicalCheck controversy has found that around half of the 206 women affected were not told they may have had a delayed diagnosis and may have benefited from earlier treatment.”
    But can mean either (a) it would have been best for them if the original test result were correct and they received treatment at that time; or
    (b) HSE knew the women had cancer, but the women didn’t know. And by not informing them they didn’t start treatment.

  6. david

    In all honesty a hospital ran by the church cannot by its nature perform abortions and that’s their freedom
    I always remember when the head of the catholic church refused to shake Celia Larkin hand and there was outrage because the church cannot recognise divorce
    In a democracy freedom to practice your religion and your beliefs provided its legal is what a democracy is about
    Everyone including you accept that
    This is where the problem is in Ireland
    The state as in government has to separate state from church and they can
    But for some reason they do not want to
    No use blaming the church
    Blame the state and demand better
    The land which the hospital is on should of been bought by compulsory purchase or the site where the hospital was to be built on not owned by the church
    This little deal the state completed needs to be examined and those who came up with this crock of shit exposed and sacked
    How’s that for grammar and spelling and ranting
    And you pro repeal are prepared to tamper with our constitution to allow this crowd of corrupt KAPOs bring in abortion on demand
    I can see it now no handicapped as abortion ensures this will not add burden to the economy

    1. Listrade

      You were doing so well until the last bit too.

      Couple of things. I agree, church and state should be separate, fully separate. But then last week you used Israel’s abortion laws as an example of the right way (even though they actually supported repealing the 8th), but Israel is hardly secular. Far, far from it.

      Last, you’re either wholly ignorant of what is being debated or a liar. But there is nothing in the proposed legislation covering disabled or genetic conditions with abortion. So we won’t have your predicted eradication of disabilities.

      1. david

        Not really
        To let this shower let loose with our constitution
        The NMH clauses are now grounds to refuse abortions
        The clause of conscience
        So what will the women do when they can still refuse them termination?
        This is why its a disaster
        Check out Israel ‘s abortion laws
        Now I would vote for those
        The state must rein in the church and they have not so its a useless referendum saving no one but removing any rights from the unborn which could create an even worse situation
        Google Israel’s abortion laws they are clear concise compassionate and could be inserted into our constitution to replace the eight
        Also to make it an offence for any doctor to hide behind their interpretation with a gaggle of lawyers arguing black is white

      2. david

        Abortion on demand opens that door and it is a possibility
        What is being debated is proposed laws that can be changed
        It is this that I object to
        This government cannot be trusted and the latest NMH revelation is testament to this
        This is why changing the eight with the wording of Israel’s would both protect the unborn from abuse by abortion on demand and cover the women who are at risk as you keep pointing out.
        If the people were given that I am sure many no would vote yes like me
        We cannot allow this incompetent uncaring shower in power loose with our constitution
        Look at the smear test scandal and the bury the scandal route Harris is proposing
        We all wait until’ its a distant memory as all involved slip away scot free with taxpayers money
        17 women dead already and the woman who fought them having to pay for drug treatment after they have been found out in their attempt to wear her down and shut her mouth

      3. david

        Once abortion on demand is passed its open to abuse and parents will get tested and parents will be informed and under distress might avail of a suggested abortion to solve the problem
        I sound awful but this could happen
        Once a law is on the statute books ,its a law and that law could be abused
        You keep going on about how the eight amendment has created great injustice

  7. Sentient Won

    The 1980’s called…

    They want their cliched, hackneyed, stereo-typical anti-catholic bias back.

    1. SOQ

      Thats twice they called today so. They wanted church meddling in state matters this morning. We’ll give them that to start with eh? I am busy wrapping priests and nuns in bubble wrap at the moment. Wouldn’t want the poor things to get damaged in transit now.

    2. ReproBertie (SCU)

      Sadly, the stereotypical anti-women actions of the church mean we need it for a little longer.

    3. Listrade

      Given most cases of sexual abuse and their cover up in the Church went on until the 90s as detailed in such inquiries into the Dublin, Fern, Tuam, Cloyne, Raphoe and Limerick, the 80s can go fupp themselves and call someone when trying to score meaningless points on the internet.

      1. david

        Still going on do not be fooled
        The latest in foster homes Galway
        Then grace remember her
        Child abuse is timeless and state collusion has not changed

  8. Truthful Ulsterman

    “The Cervical Check horror story where clinicians took decisions NOT to inform women of negative results – decisions which it has now been proven have cost lives” Anne Marie McNally

    Nothing of the sort has been proven at all Mrs Phelan settled her action with no admission of liability and there is no evidence zero nada zilch that the failure to communicate missed diagnoses to women had a negative impact on their medical care.

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