I am loathe to give any credit to anti-reproductive rights organisation The Life Institute, but they very thoughtfully compiled this little list of candidates that they deem suitable to represent the good holy people of Ireland in Europe. The candiates were asked two questions:
- Do you support the repeal of the legislation which permits abortion on suicide grounds, and support making Ireland a place where unborn children are legally protected and mothers get all necessary life-saving treatment in pregnancy?
- Will you oppose measures in the European Parliament which seek to liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws and support pro-life measures such as the One of Us campaign?
The independent candidate for Ireland South, and activist with the ‘Ballyhea Says No’ campaign Diarmuid O’Flynn replied as follows:
“On a purely personal level I disagree with that particular legislation and the suicide clause but as stated in the original mail, it is not a European issue, it is a national issue.
The second, absolutely I would oppose any such measures. There are some questions that are for a nation to decide for itself; this is one.”
O’Flynn went on to expand on his opinion on his blog.
The ugliest word in the dictionary, leads to the ugliest arguments, the most vile and vitriolic of exchanges. In the recent debate leading to changed legislation following the X-case I stayed out of that debate. I had and have my opinions but they were nobody’s business but my own. I accept however that is no longer the case, that many people have a genuine concern about how I might vote should the subject arise in an EU context. Herewith then, my thinking, and undoubtedly a host of lost votes!
The only occasion on which I can foresee abortion arising in the EU is as an equal rights/civil right issue. I would vigorously oppose any such imposition on Ireland.
We have been too slow as a nation to introduce and implement equal rights and civil rights legislation over the decades in this country and in that respect our membership of the EEC/EU has been a benefit – they haven’t so much shown us the way as dragged us kicking and screaming into becoming a truly equal society. However, I believe there are already far too many areas in which the EU is now dictating policy that properly belongs to a sovereign government, far too many diktats coming down from on high on issues minor and major.
Abortion is an area in which we should remain sovereign; this is an issue for Ireland to decide, on its own.
I have further been asked if I would work to reverse that recent legislation on the above-mentioned X-case. This could happen only if I stood for the Dáil – that won’t happen, now or ever. I’m giving politics this one shot; win or lose, that’s it.
Again, however, I can see why people would want to know where I stand on this, even if there IS nothing I can do about that legislation in an official capacity (if elected as an MEP) one way or the other.
Over the years I’ve argued many an issue with my family – my mother, my four sisters, my wife, my daughter, my father, my four brothers, my son, all strong-minded strong-willed independent people – and with my many friends. Abortion has figured occasionally in those discussions. We’ve agreed on various topics, we’ve disagreed, but we’ve always got on, respected each other’s thinking and each other’s decisions.
To sum up my thoughts on such a complex issue is difficult but has to be done.
There are lots of things I don’t know for certain, which is why dogmatism has never appealed to me. I don’t know if there is a concerned God who watches over everything we do, I don’t know if there’s not; I had all religion battered out of me by the Christian Brothers by the age of 14 (they weren’t too keen on the kind of questions I was asking, not in the 60s) so content myself now with my own spiritualism, my own wonder at and appreciation of the world around us.
I don’t know when life begins. I do know I don’t like to see it deliberately ended. There is life in a foetus, helpless life that needs nourishing and protection. Everything possible should be done to bring that life to the birth stage.
I believe in the equal right to life of the mother and child. If there is a threat to the life of the mother there should be timely medical intervention to save her life. Every effort should also be made to save the life of the child; if this fails, it fails. Life hurls such tragedies at us and in this family, we haven’t been immune.
I can see why many people believe that such a threat to a mother’s life should include suicide. I don’t agree. I believe this then makes the life of the unborn foetus subservient to the life of the mother.
Even for the most stable, mentally strong woman, abortion is surely a highly emotive decision. A suicidal prospective mother is already suffering serious emotional stress. An abortion will add to that stress.
In the situation where a suicide threat is deemed real (and I can’t imagine a situation where a professional is going to put her/his entire career on the line by saying ‘Ah, I don’t believe you’), the unborn foetus is aborted, its life ended. But how do we know the threat was real?
On the other hand, if the suicide clause is removed there will certainly be cases where a suicidal prospective mother will take her own life, in which case – even allowing for the fact that very often no-one really knows what triggers such a drastic decision – those of us who would push to have that clause removed stand accused of helping to cause this death.
It’s a lose/lose scenario, a most divisive argument and for very obvious reasons. But there it is. I know that in a situation where I’m going to need every vote I can get this will cost me but given that I’m coming out of nowhere I believe it’s only right people should know who I am.
The last paragraph of the piece struck me as fascinating.
So there we are. If those are your do-or-die issues for your favoured MEP candidate I’m probably dead in the water and either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael will take a second seat in the Ireland South constituency, or Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour will take one each. If you take a wider view and prioritise the issues on my manifesto, the issues I see as critical to a new and better Europe and a new and better world, I have a chance.
For me, O’Flynn’s comments here epitomise so much of the rhetoric we hear from supposedly “progressive” men. How many times have we heard that feminism is so divisive, and that we should set aside issues like abortion, women’s rights, race, LGBTQ issues and so on to fight a common foe.
O’Flynn is campaigning under an anti-austerity banner; in his campaign literature he pledges to campaign to reduce the bank-debt burden, to help Ireland move out of recession, and to force retribution from those responsible for the crisis. However, there cannot be economic justice without reproductive rights; the two are inextricably linked. The idea of Reproductive Justice, developed by women of colour activists in the United States, based on the idea that
reproductive oppression is a result of the intersection of multiple oppressions and is inherently connected to the struggle for social justice and human rights. Women of low economic means suffer consequences from the lack of access to complete health care. Source
Abortion restrictions disproportionately harm marginalized people. This brilliant post on Feminist Ire illustrates this quite powerfully.
Have you been to the doctor? How far along are you? Do you know the further along you are, the more expensive an abortion is? Can you get a loan from a Credit Union? Or will you go to a money lender? Do you have anything you can sell to raise the money? Can you lie to your parents or friends to borrow money? Can you max your credit card? Do you even have a credit card? Are there any bills that you can get away with not paying this month? Have you gone through all your old coats and looked down the back of the sofa? How long will it take for you to get €1,000 together? Can you get an extra €20 off the Community Welfare Officer? Can you not buy coal for the next few weeks? Are you on the dole? Can you use your savings? Can you defer your year at college and save the money for your Master’s Degree again? Is it Christmastime? Can you return any gifts for a refund or sell them for cash?
Women with money have options, women with nothing have babies.
You cannot claim to be a voice for marginalised people if you mean to oppose reproductive rights. I myself am not in O’Flynn’s constituency, but if I was, I am afraid he would not be getting a vote from me. Any person who would oppose my right to bodily autonomy and my dignity is not someone I would want as a representative.