Anyone got any good abortion stories?

Or bad ones? Or any? Thought not. Welcome to Ireland and the fact that we as a country are obsessed with voting on abortion yet for a country that has sent an estimated 120,000 Irish women abroad over the past 30 years, there doesn’t seem to be anymore to the discussion than right, wrong, age of foetus and the definition of “unborn”. Five referenda in 20 years and it feels like another one is right around the corner again. 120,000 stories yet do we hear of any of them except the ones from the various Court cases?

Both sides seem to concentrate their time on legalising it or further removing the right of people to get an abortion where it is legal and can be carried out. I really don’t seem to see either side working hard and especially not together in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Are they too enraptured with taking polar opposites and getting personal? It seems they are. 30-40 years of battling seems to have polarised both sides too. The fact that there are “sides” says it all.

One of the groups (via Suzy) has decided to take up blogging and video making to talk about the lack of talk. The videos are a good idea as is the blog but I think they made a large enough error with the videos. Where to next? It shouldn’t be ended with everyone saying the same statement. That’s just an advert. Where’s the call to arms? We get the idea of the silence and the taboo of abortion so what now? There should have been an action point there and then for people to leave a comment, sign up to a list, make a call etc. The most opportune time is the seconds after the video.

11 Responses to “Anyone got any good abortion stories?”

  1. The only story I have is that Slattery’s bus down our way was nicknamed the abortion bus in the 80’s (it went to the UK via ferry). It’s a touchy topic that is bound to be emotive. I used to have a completely open view of it, but now I have kids and I feel differently. I don’t foist my opinions on others mind you, I just reckon that it is preferable to use the multitude of ways of avoiding the situation rather than be faced with the choice. Not always that simple though.

  2. Adam says:

    I think it’s vital that there is a dialogue on when life begins – not just in the context of abortion but also in the context of stem cell research, embryonic research and the destruction of embryos held for potential personal use.

    Any debate on abortion in Ireland has been cloaked in fear – the fear stoked up by campaigners about what will happen if we do/don’t do something and the fear of politicians to give even a whiff of an opinion on the matter.

    I’m constantly annoyed by the lie that we as people have been given the opportunity to shape the constitution in relation to abortion in any way we choose but have decided not to. The reality is any vote on abortion amendments has been extremely narrow in its scope and has usually been a choice between tighter laws or more of the same greyness.

    What I would love to see eventually, and only after an honest debate, is a proper referendum on the issue to end it once and for all (for the time being) – one that actually gives voters choice rather than a narrow range in which to give their opinions.

    Of course there has to be an improvement in the underlying factors too such as education in relation to safe sex.

    All in all, though, I think it’s about time we got our fingers out of our ears on the matter and dealt with it properly once and for all.

  3. John B says:


    “I think it’s vital that there is a dialogue on when life begins – not just in the context of abortion but also in the context of stem cell research, embryonic research and the destruction of embryos held for potential personal use.”

    I’m with Dawkins on this one. I was very fuzzy on where I stood on the ‘When life begins’ question but I like the clarity of his suggestion that life begins when the embryo forms a nervous system, which is at about 8 weeks.

  4. Adam says:

    That seems like a far more rational opinion than ‘when the embryo is formed’ or ‘when the baby is born’.

    I’m equally fuzzy, I must say… sometimes I think that perhaps something could only be deemed a life when it is capable of existing independently (by that I mean its body is able to function without assistance, biological or mechanical, rather than when it’s able to go out and get a job) however I don’t even believe that fully and even if I did, there is no general time frame when that can be guaranteed. Some premature babies survive against the odds, others die when they shouldn’t have.

    Of course it doesn’t really matter what I think for the basis of this discussion, and I’m no scientist, all that matters is the discussion is had. I don’t think you can talk about protecting life (the mother’s or the baby’s) until we decide what life is and when it begins. Then the discussion can move onto the rights and wrongs of abortion in a more reasoned and considered way.

  5. Elle says:

    Hiya Damien

    I think you are asking pertinent questions, and you are bang on with the videos, much as I was pleased to see them I was also left at the end feeling like I’d just watched a party political broadcast rather than the opening of a debate.

    I have a story (And this is why I’m not leaving a link to who I am – as of course a story is never just your own).

    Last year my son and his girlfriend split up after a 2 year relationship. 2 months after they split she discovered she’d got pregnant the last time they’d had “make up sex” when they’d not used any form of protection apart from the good old “withdrawal” method which brought so many of us into existence! She didn’t want to continue the pregnancy. They were both 20. Neither of them where they want to be in terms of job security/financially/educationally/home wise. It broke his heart because above all things my boy wants to be a dad some day. But he helped her book the clinic, he flew to the UK with her, held her in bed at night, came home with her. They got back together over all of that shared trauma, they are still together, but still neither of them are mature enough to become parents. They know this now and understand it, and take action to avoid it.

    There are very few people, including her own mother, who know about this, with very good reason. The reviling that women who have terminated pregnancies receive, the whispering, the guilt laying … as a woman who hasn’t had an abortion but has had children outside of a relationship I really understand that. It’s unbearably hard enough already. She’ll carry the weight of making the right decision all her life anyway. To do so in this society where the life of the unborn is generally regarded as of higher value than the life of the woman carrying it would be more than most can bear.

    As to what age does a life become a life? My best guess would be when it becomes independently viable – i.e. it could survive outside the womb.

  6. bob says:

    “As to what age does a life become a life? My best guess would be when it becomes independently viable – i.e. it could survive outside the womb.”

    A case for euthanasia? There’s plenty of people who can’t survive in this outside womb environment without external help. Can a baby survive without his or her parents help?

    Look at it this way, a baby is born. Now rewind 2 seconds, is it still alive? go back another 2 seconds… still alive? yes. Ok… keep regressing in 2 second intervals… at which of these does it cross the threshold of been a life/just a mass of tissue? Who of us can make this call?

  7. Damien says:

    This is not a debate about when life starts or the right or wrongs of abortion, if it descends into that from here on in, I’ll simply delete the comments. There’s plenty of sites where that happens. Go there.

  8. S says:

    Abortion is a massively difficult decision to make individually or as a couple. It has long lasting ramifications. Should it be the individuals choice to abort? This clearly raises more complex issues on the ability of the inseminator to veto an abortion decision when half of the genetic makeup of the foetus is “technically” theirs. Is this even a valid point? Where does the “It’s my body, I’ll do what I like” argument fit in here? Would it be right to force a full term delivery? I simply don’t know. I am sure that every situation is different and deserves the courtesy of decision acceptance on its own merits.

    Should we, in Ireland, provide an actual ‘a la carte medical abortion service’ though? I simply don’t know, though my gut would say no. In the cases of a rape, incest or underage sex induced pregnancy I feel I might have a different stance but is that hypocritical? This issue is not clear cut. Does improving access to services serve reduce the problem or does it cheapen the decision to abort because it’s just a bus trip away? Cynically I might ask whether such procedures would be covered by private health insurance, a medical card or as a tax deductable expense! Eeks!!!

    This is probably why we haven’t been able to reach a conclusion through multiple referenda. It’s simply not a B&W thing. It’s very personal, it’s very complex and it deserves a real and protracted debate to explore it from every angle. This has been lacking as you’ve rightly pointed out.

  9. “I think it’s vital that there is a dialogue on when life begins – not just in the context of abortion but also in the context of stem cell research, embryonic research and the destruction of embryos held for potential personal use.”

    At risk of straying a bit, (feel free to dump this comment, no probs), the Church’s view on when life begins is causing us a few dilemas at this moment in time.

    We are trying to start a family, unsuccessfully so far, and the possibility of assisted procedures such as IVF comes ever closer and more real.

    As the crux of the issue is the point at which life begins, any unused embryos would mean that us, as a couple dedicated to creating life, would be condemned to ‘hell’ for doing so.

    The discussion on abortion, in it’s various forms, is rife at legal level, but in it’s infancy for the people it affects daily.

  10. John says:

    Pretty Interesting Documentary series completed last year in Ireland (North and South) called “Like A ship in the Night”. Like you said in your post, it is not necessarily the act of abortion which is the controversy in the Republic, rather it is the taboo to discuss Abortion.

    The Angry Hedgehog: Bodily Integrity? Whose choice?

  11. S says:

    I haven’t seen this documentary, but I might second guess a viewing and ask where these taboos found their origins in Ireland? In religion of course…

    An atheist must wrestle with the morality of an inherently human decision to abort or not, whereas a theist must do this _and_ deal with the threat of eternal damnation in a firey hell if they do.