Voting Prochoice in the Roscommon-South Leitrim By Election-UPDATED Oct 5th

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Content Note: this post contains some very extreme anti-choice views from certain candidates that may be upsetting.

On October 10th, the voters of Roscommon-South Leitrim will be voting in a by-election to select a replacement for new MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. I will be contacting all the candidates to ascertain their position on abortion, and more specifically, repealing the eighth amendment.

Why I Am Voting Pro-Choice For me, reproductive rights are non-negotiable. I’ve written before on why we need to repeal the eighth amendment, and many people have put it far more eloquently than me here, here, and here, and there’s a whole playlist of excellent speakers here all making the case for repeal aswell. Simply put, opposition to changing Ireland’s abortion laws is a dealbreaker. Any person who would oppose my right to bodily autonomy and my dignity is not someone I would want as my representative in Dáil Éireann. Luke Flanagan had a fine track record on reproductive rights and other issues, and I would like to elect someone who will continue in this vein. I will be sharing my responses from candidates here as I get them.

Fine Gael-Maura Hopkinscontacted

Fianna Fáil-Ivan Connaughton-contacted

Labour- John Kellycontacted

Sinn Féin-Martin Kenny-contacted

INDEPENDENTS:

Emmett Corcoran

I’ll be perfectly honest with you, and I’m not going to give you a rehearsed political answer. I don’t believe that as a man I can give you a simple answer on this issue. Naturally if I was a father to be, I would want have that child, under any circumstances. However, I also believe that it is not my place to tell a woman what to do with her body. I wish I could tell you more but this is a very complex issue and one that as a man I am terribly under qualified to answer with a simple for or against.

Tom Crosby-contacted

Des Guckian:

 I’m personally concerned that there is a big attempt being made, now, to overthrow The  Eight Amendment to the Constitution,which was passed in 1983, and which recognises the equal rights of the mother and of her unborn baby. Abortion is the deliberate killing of an unborn baby.  I’m against the state condoning abortion and enshrining it in law. This applies, also, to babies in the womb who are regarded as being likely to be disabled, those counted as having fatal foetal abnormality etc. Mankind cannot act as God and decide to deliberately take away their lives. A baby conceived through rape is also entitled to be protected. Why should another crime, i.e. murder, be added to the crime of rape. Again, mankind cannot predict the outcome and should not attempt to act as God. Masters of our leading maternity hospitals have put it on public record that they do not see abortion as a solution to the suicidal feelings of an expectant mother – in fact, they argue that, in the end, it will be most destructive to the mother’s health.     It is natural that a mother- to-be would wish to have and to hold her baby. Even if that baby is born and lives for a very short while, there is great consolation for the parents if she can hold it, even for a few minutes. On a wider scale, I’m very opposed to the creation of “a culture of death” in Ireland. If it is the unborn that are being deliberately killed today, then it could be the elderly or some ethnic group that will be next. That is not civilised living, but savagery worthy of Hitler.

Michael Fitzmaurice-contacted

John McDermott-contacted

Gerry O’Boyle-

UPDATE: OK, as you can see, radio silence from all but two candidates on the contact front. I’ve been looking for contact details for Gerry O’Boyle, but he doesn’t seem to have any online presence.  However, I found this advertisement on the Life Institute website, and it also featured in some of the local papers:

anti choice rosslSo, Ivan Connaughton (FF), Des Guckian (Ind) and Gerry O’Boyle (Ind) are anti-choice. 

P.S. this little mission is inspired by the efforts of the wonderful @sharrow_ie back in may, see how she got on here!

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Reproductive Rights Are Non-Negotiable

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.”

 The intrepid folk at Broadsheet.ie asked O’Flynn if the quotes attributed to him were correct. 

O’Flynn went on to expand on his opinion on his blog.

He stated:

ABORTION

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.

 

  

 

 

The Year in Misogyny (Irish Edition)

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Content note: rape, violence against women, anti-choice rhetoric, misogyny

It’s that time of year when we’re all casting our minds back over the last 12 months and reflecting on the highs and lows, and what we’ve learned as we’ve gone along. I’ve been looking back at my bookmarks, blog posts and tumblr scribblings and have been struck by how depressingly far Irish society still has to go in terms of achieving equality. Here are (in no particular order) some examples of the misogyny that made women fume this year.

The Slane Girl Controversy: The last few days of summer were dominated by discussion of this infamous Slane photo. I wrote at the time about the horrible slut-shaming double standard at play here, as did others. On a more positive note, the #slanegirlsolidarity tag was flooded with messages of support, and ‘I’m Spartacus’ type statements from other women who could empathise with the girl’s plight. 

The Irish Justice System: It seemed that hardly a week went by in 2013 without reading about a case of violence against women or girls that saw the attacker walk free, or face minimal sanctions. One horrifying case that was heard in Ennis court back in November involved a man attacking a woman in her own home with a metal  bar, who would walk away a free man, despite admitting his guilt. One judge, Martin Nolan has attained quite a reputation for his handling of similar cases, as a quick browse of the depressing ”judge of the day” tag on broadsheet.ie will attest. An Cailin Rua wrote a masterful piece on this very topic that I urge you all to read.

Rape Culture: This entry and the previous one are interchangeable in many respects. Rape culture is a term used to describe how society creates a hostile environment for rape victims, and often engages in apologism for perpetrators. There were several examples that I could pluck from the Irish media in 2013, but none exemplifies rape culture more so than the case of John Murray, the former Lord Mayor of Cork, and the priest who hijacked a funeral to urge the congregation to offer prayers that he would be cleared of sexual assault charges. We see this scenario time and time again; a powerful or wealthy man commits a sexually violent crime, and everyone from the clergy to the judiciary to the general public leaps to their defence, emphasising their family status and reputation,  with little regard for the feelings of the victim.

Anti-choice Nastiness: The last year has seen the anti-choice movement sinking to lower and lower odious depths. Youth Defence, as ever, have been central to proceedings, with antics ranging from the utterly hideous (the truck in question was parked close to a rape crisis centre) to the surreal (via OireachtasRetort’s tumblr). As legislation became increasingly likely and abortion once again became the subject of increased public debate, a succession of campaigners and politicians appeared on current affairs shows and proceeded to show their asses. It was the year of “abortion mills” and other choice epithets, as exemplified by Peter Mathew’s now infamous appearance on Vincent Browne. Thankfully, some light relief came in the form of this beautifully observed anti-choice bingo card and the Tara Flynn sketch ‘Judge, Jury and Obstetrician’.  

Our Abortion Laws (still): Legislating for the X case finally became a reality this summer (only 21 years on) with the passing of  the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. However, for many advocates of reproductive rights, it was a somewhat bittersweet occasion, the horrific section 22,  which recommends a jail sentence of FOURTEEN YEARS for those who have terminations outside of the law and the fact that the bill simply does not go far enough. Irish people will still be travelling to the UK and elsewhere in their droves, and until the reprehensible Eighth Amendment is removed, nothing will change in a meaningful way.

We’ve come a long way, but it’s clear we have a long, long way to go. Ireland, do better in 2014.

Victory?

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Content note: hostility to agency, anti-choice rhetoric, suicide

So, it’s happened. The Dáil has passed the second stage of Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill by 138 votes to 24. While I’m pleased that our elected representatives have finally ensured that pregnancy need no longer be a death sentence for a woman, I don’t really feel like celebrating. I’ve outlined in an old post why I believe this legislation does not go far enough, but having reflected on it more in the meantime, I’ve come to the conclusion that, not only is this legislation too narrow in its remit, it is actively harmful. It is too restrictive, too punitive, with its terms almost feeling like an Inquisition of the Pregnant.

The reprehensible section 22,  which recommends a jail sentence of FOURTEEN YEARS for those who have terminations outside of the law absolutely needs to go. It is cruel, inhumane and cements abortion stigma in the law of the land. It conjures up for me a vision of a future where a suicidal pregnant woman who has been denied an abortion, but survives an attempt to take her own life  is convicted under this law because the pregnancy was ended. It paves the way for a repeat of the horrendous story of Bei Bei Shuai in Indiana, USA. Even if this law is *never* fully enforced, its mere existence  it creates a climate of fear and shame, and places women who have abortions outside the terms of this legislation into a category alongside some of the most violent, most heinous criminals out there.

A referendum needs to be held to repeal the Eighth Amendment.  We absolutely need to legislate for abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities and for pregnancies arising from rape and incest, that’s a given; I’d go further, and argue that we need to legislate for abortion on request. In my ideal world, a person who was pregnant and no longer wanted to be should be able to end their pregnancy safely and legally.

In an Irish context, given our oppressive history and long-standing hostility to abortion and reproductive justice, the success of this bill is a massive breakthrough, I accept this. However, I’d have a bit more of a spring in my step this evening if this legislation was less, well, anti-choice.

A Final Insult

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Content note: anti-choice propaganda

Today Broadsheet.ie shared this image of a truck displaying an billboard ad from extreme anti-choice organisation Youth Defence, which was parked opposite the Dublin rape crisis centre. A truly reprehensible to do, unquestionably. It puts paid, once and for all to the notion that they are “pro-woman”, but why a rape crisis centre? Even by Youth Defence’s abysmal standards, this is a despicable move.

My theory is this: Youth Defence have realised that they have lost the political battle. Opinion poll after opinion poll shows that the overwhelming majority of respondents are in favour of legislating for the X case, if not further. Youth Defence are cognizant of this, and the only avenue left to them is to simply cause as much offence and hurt as possible, a final slap in the face. Abortion in cases of rape is not provided for in the legislation currently being proposed, but YD are no doubt aware that many women and girls who have conceived as a result of rape will be contemplating abortion, whether in the UK or by ordering pills online. The slogan on this poster is a direct message of abuse and intimidation to these women. Youth Defence’s political power is limited, but creating an atmosphere of misogyny and shaming may be good enough for them at this stage. 

I’ve said in the past that Youth Defence are low-hanging fruit in terms of agents of misogyny and woman-hating in Ireland. There are more insidious forms of misogyny in Ireland; institutional sexism and rape culture is runs through the fabric of Irish society, and abortion legislation will not remedy that overnight. However, what Youth Defence does have is a healthy bank balance, courtesy of their friends in the United States. Their legislative influence is not what it used to be, but while they can afford to beam these dismal, taunting slogans into the view of vulnerable eyes, they’ll be satisfied. 

I Refuse To Call Them Pro-Life

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How did we let the term “pro-life” slip into our lexicon as the standard synonym for “anti-abortion?” As a phrase, it is utterly redundant. Also, that opposition to abortion is the metric for being considered pro-life is utterly ridiculous. One might oppose abortion but perpetuate oppressive ideas and structures that are anti-life. For instance,  politicians may be dyed in the wool “pro-lifers” favour austerity measures which may cause deep personal hardship and psychological trauma; more of that later.

In discussions surrounding pregnancy and abortion, anti-choicers tend to pay lip service to the lives of women, but their main concern is with the fate of the foetus.

What was pro-life about the treatment Savita Halappanavar received?

What is pro-life about forcing people to endure a pregnancy that may irrevocably damage their health? What about denying sick pregnant women lifesaving medical treatment, as in the cases of Michelle Harte and Sheila Hodgers?

What is pro-life about forcing a person who has been raped to carry that pregnancy to term?

What of the twelve people who travel abroad on a daily basis for terminations? Where’s the compassion in forcing someone to go through the stress of arranging flights, accommodation, organising time off work,  perhaps childcare?

I could go on an on. These examples underscore the dis-ingenuousness of a  pro-life position for whom a foetus  trumps the suffering of pregnant individuals.

These so-called “pro-lifers” are also disingenuous and cowardly. They know as we all do about the incessant traffic to the UK, and are quite happy to see women slipping away in the night like criminals, without the support of their families. These are women with the means and wherewithal to do so. What of the women who don’t? Do these people, who claim to cherish life, think that suffering an unwanted or harmful pregnancy is somehow a fitting punishment for these women? Do they think that physical, emotional and psychological torment is an appropriate sentence for the crime of being female and poor?

The following is a list of TDs that voted against a motion to reverse the cuts to home help hours. I’ve somewhat arbitrarily chosen this particular set of cuts, as there was a neat list available online;  I could just as easily be talking about a myriad of other cuts to services, such as the mobility allowance, respite care and special needs assistants. Among these names you’ll notice Peter Mathews, Brian Walsh, John O’Mahony, Peter Fitzpatrick, Damien English, Michael Creed and Billy Timmins, all who have, according to this Irish Times article, have expressed reservations about the abortion legislation. Let’s focus on Peter Mathews for a minute. Mathews has been most vocal over the last few weeks and months about the life of the unborn, not least on this unforgettable star turn on Tonight with Vincent Browne. Clearly, for Mathews, women and girls register a good few points lower than unviable foetuses on the scale of things that are worthy of concern.

Home help services are provided in order to assist people to remain in their own home and to avoid going in to long-term care. It is imperative to the quality of life for families throughout this country. Now, Mathews sees himself as a champion of life, but what about life as it lived on a day-to-day basis? How can you claim to be pro-life when you are actively approving measures that are making life more difficult for people? Would it be audacious to suggest that in straitened circumstances may opt for abortion in order to feed the family she already has? Of course, as I’ve written elsewhere, that is an avenue closed to women in Ireland without the means to travel. Women with money have options, women who don’t have babies.

I’m pro-life, I don’t know anyone who isn’t. I am also pro-choice. I don’t think being pro-choice is the opposite to be being pro-life. On the contrary, I believe that the pro-choice position is inherently pro-life, as it respects the nuances of life and people’s various lived experiences. Anti-choicers who have anointed themselves custodians of the pro-life cause are not only supremely arrogant; they are the term a great disservice.

I don’t know what I expected-John Waters & his putrid misogyny

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I’ve spent the last while trying to process this unbelievably misogynistic word-turd in the Irish Catholic by John Waters.  I’ve read enough Waters to be desensitized to his odious views by now, but this was so terrible, so nakedly anti-woman that I just had to respond.

In the lede, Waters quotes a letter from a correspondent, which he subsequently describes as “very good” and its premise “entirely reasonable”:

‘What is the difference, in human rights terms, between a situation in which a distraught male goes in to his doctor and says that his partner is making him suicidal and that he fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the partner killed he will kill himself, and a situation in

which a distraught female goes to her doctor and says that her unborn child is making her suicidal and that she fears that unless he/she (the doctor) arranges to have the child killed she will kill herself?”

From the outset, we have an equivalency between the life of a foetus and the life of a woman or girl. Indeed, further on, Waters states that,

“there can be no moral distinction between the idea of killing an adult woman and killing an unborn child.”

Having firmly established that women are not full human beings, Waters bravely goes on to make an impassioned plea for mercy for disenfranchised cis white men everywhere.

At a superficial level, the refusal to publish the letter might be deemed ‘sexist’, but this would amount to a naïve understanding of things, since it has long been obvious that ‘sexism’ is a concept available only for the protection of females

John, “reverse sexism” is not a thing, anymore than anti-white racism or heterophobia. Sexism and other “-isms” only have impact when perpetrated by the  institutionally poweful group, i.e. men against the disenfranchised group, i.e. women.

From October 2012 to the present – approximately 300 Irish men have ended their own lives, roughly one for every day of this debate.

Indeed, the spectre of male suicide in this country is a deeply tragic one, however, nowhere does Waters address issues that may be at the root of this-austerity, economic woes, inadequate mental health services, homophobia, expectations of conformity and rigid gender roles, to name but a few. No, Waters does not truly care about these men or challenging the status quo, the suicide statistic is merely another weapon in Waters’ crusade against feminism.

And yet, discussion about male suicide – as a discrete phenomenon, which it is – has been accorded the tiniest fraction of the energy given to the theoretical idea of a pregnant woman wishing to kill herself because she is pregnant.

“Theoretical idea?” I can assure you, John, that there is not merely “theoretical” about women for whom the idea of carrying a pregnancy to term is a scenario end their own life. However, since abortion is merely an academic exercise for you, I doubt you’ve contemplated this.

If all that wasn’t suitably horrendous, Waters goes on to do the unimaginable and cross his Misogyny Event Horizon:

We have been conditioned to think about the idea of pregnancy as some kind of imposition on a woman and her life. This idea actually runs back through Irish culture, predating even the earliest clamouring for abortion rights.

When you’ve been pregnant, John, in your womb for nine months and faced all the attendant risks it poses, come back and talk to me about it being an imposition.

It is related to the victim-status claimed by and ceded to women in Irish culture, which has long disguised the true nature of power structures in the domestic realm of Irish life.

HA HA IT’S ALMOST AS IF WE HAVEN’T BEEN LIVING IN A PATRIARCHY FOR CENTURIES

Because women are prone to more extravagant shows of emotion than men…

Oh, he DID NOT

our society is far more willing to concede their demands than it is those of males.

LOLWUT?

Not only that, but, almost regardless of how much we claim to repudiate abortion, we refuse to criticise or question the women who seek this remedy for themselves. We will condemn the abortionist who wields the knife, the politician who implements the abortion-facilitating law, the campaigner who demands the change, and so forth.

But the person who obtains the ultimate ‘benefit’ from all this activity is regarded as some kind of enfeebled innocent, upon whom the ‘necessity’ for an abortion is always thrust by unfortunate circumstances, for which the woman has no responsibility herself. Even the priests and bishops who lead the moral crusade against abortion will never speak a word against those on whose behalf abortion is being sought.

 

You can almost visualise Waters hunched over his desk, frothing with misogynistic hatred. These words could only be written by a creature that truly despises women and their sexuality.

Do you think women who avail of abortion aren’t stigmatised, John? Why do you think it’s been TWENTY-ONE years since the X case and we’re only legislating for it now? Why don’t most of the women who’ve had abortions in the UK feel they can be upfront with their GP about it? Why are women and girls slipping off in silence to the clinics in the UK without whispering a word to a soul? Why, when the women of @TFMRIRE went public on the Late Late for the first time did I see tweets in my timeline calling them “murderesses?” I think it’s fair to say that women who have abortions are pretty fucking stigmatised.

Let’s revisit this sentence:

But the person who obtains the ultimate ‘benefit’ from all this activity is regarded as some kind of enfeebled innocent, upon whom the ‘necessity’ for an abortion is always thrust by unfortunate circumstances, for which the woman has no responsibility herself.

In John Waters’ world, no woman or girl is ever raped. No woman ever endures a pregnancy that will endanger her life or do grievous harm to her health. No woman has ever experienced fatal foetal abnormalities. No, in John Waters’ Good Catholic Ireland, a women who has sex  must be prepared for the “consequences”, and abortion is the preserve of brazen harlots who don’t deserve human dignity.

As Waters ploughs on to his conclusion, he makes a stab at a semblance of  analysis:

There is no reason to assume that a pregnancy ought to be anything other than a source of joy to the woman involved. In the vast majority of the very limited number of cases in which this is not so, the factors underlying the difficulty usually relate not to objective circumstances but to either intuited societal disapproval

He actually acknowleges that every woman or girl may not be thrilled to be pregnant! Incredible! He also concedes that we need to change society! YES, YES, YES! Let’s dismantle patriarchy, ensure that everyone has access to sex education and contraception and OH WAIT HE DOESN’T WANT THAT AT ALL

selfishness on the part of the woman involved.

Yeah, no let’s not do that, let’s shame the sluts for being slutty, I mean that’s so revolutionary and totally not what we already do!

This article, and Waters’ oeuvre as a whole isn’t concerned with abortion per se. I’m sure Waters’ anti-abortion sentiments are genuine, but what really seems to be at the fore is a sort of rage against women, against difference;  middle-class, middle-aged, white Catholic men like Waters are having their position and ways of thinking challenged, and they don’t like it one bit. John Waters is hankering for a simpler time, when the world made sense to him, hence his rage. Let’s stride purposefully in the opposite direction.