Abortion in Ireland: Replacing the coat hanger with a pill


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During the summer of this year, the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme (then known as the Crisis Pregnancy Agency) said that there had been a fall in the number of Irish women travelling abroad for abortion services. During 2001, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, 6,673 women gave Irish addresses to abortion clinics abroad when availing of services. This dropped to 4,422 in 2009. Despite an overall decrease in numbers, figures for under-16s seeking abortions actually increased. Some of these women went to Britain; some went further afield to the Netherlands. Crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counselling services have expanded by over 55% according to the Crisis Pregnancy Programme and at least 12 women a day leave this State to seek abortions elsewhere. These figures do not include the number of women who provide British addresses to British clinics.

One of the mandates of the Programme is to decrease the number of Irish women seeking abortions by making other options more attractive, and the anti-choice lobby applauded the 2009 figures and said that they were “very encouraging”. However, what the figures did not demonstrate were the number of women who were forced to carry unwanted or unintended pregnancies to full term as a result of not being able to access or afford to travel abortion services. Neither did they tell us anything about the number of women who are availing of backstreet abortions in Ireland, or inducing miscarriages at home by ordering the abortion pill on the internet through a safe website such as Women on Web or other, possibly less ethical suppliers.

Following the publication of these figures, the Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association Niall Behan said that the recession had led to more women reporting difficulty in accessing services. Finances are a major issue and it now appears that many women are caught in a catch 22 situation regarding crisis pregnancy. It is too expensive for them to raise children so they wish to opt for termination, but it is too expensive for them to get travel and get an abortion.

Now Irish women have turned to the internet for help. A Freedom of Information request submitted to the Irish Medicines Board by a pro-choice activist group Choice Ireland showed that 1,216 abortion pills were seized during 2009. What is clear about these particular figures is that these seizures represent attempted illegal DIY abortions. Had it not been for the Irish Medicines Board and Customs Authorities actions, there would have been two dozen illegal abortions here in Ireland every week during 2009. These were only the failed attempts, and while enforcement may have stopped 1,216 pills getting to the women that ordered them, it is unlikely that they could have stopped every single order.

The reality is that Irish women who want or need to terminate their pregnancy must spend large amounts of money to make the silent and lonely journey outside of Ireland to do so. Immigrant women who are in precarious residency positions may not have the choice to travel. Working class and low income women, and very young women and teenagers, can scrimp and save the money, or borrow from friends or family, or take a loan from a Credit Union or the local money-lender to make that miserable journey. Or they can do what at least a thousand of Irish women are now doing and attempt to purchase an abortifacient on the internet and make a lonely, silent journey to their bathroom to ingest pills that could contain absolutely anything. There is nothing to indicate the numbers of women who turned to different methods to procure an illegal abortion. If women are willing to take the risk of terminating a pregnancy using drugs bought online that could contain anything, who knows what other methods they are willing to use. Or more appropriately, are being forced to use by a state that does not provide safe and legal abortion services.

For a long time, many have considered the hypocrisy of making women travel for an expensive health service, criminalised on this island, to be perfectly acceptable. Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney was questioned about this and said that “we don’t provide abortion here” as it is a “decision that the people of Ireland have made“. A decision that the Minister maintains “we have to respect“, so there will not be another referendum on the issue for the foreseeable future. One has to ask whether the Minister for Health was aware of the figures of seized abortion pills at the time she made those comments. Those figures, in combination with an awareness of the number of women still travelling for abortions, displays either a complete ignorance of the situation that raises huge questions about her ability to do her job (not that these questions are not there already, but I digress) or displays a callous disregard for Irish women forced in to a situation where they are attempting to perform abortions on themselves because Ireland refuses to recognise a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. If the Minister for Health was not aware of these figures at the time, then one has to ask why these figures were not brought to her attention by the Irish Medicines Board. Gross ineptitude on their part, or wilful holding back of information? And who in the Irish Medicines Board made that decision to withhold the information and why? Surely the seizure of enough imported drugs to carry out at least two dozen illegal and possibly unsafe abortions per week is something a Minister for Health ought to have been informed of.

Regardless, illegal abortion is now happening in Ireland. The question is, when are the Government going to do something about it? The idea that there is no demand for abortion services in Ireland is laughable. As Sinead Ahern from Choice Ireland said,

These seizures further demonstrate that the issue of abortion has not gone away in Ireland. It is time to face up to the reality that Irish women will go to desperate lengths and take huge risks to end pregnancies they feel they cannot continue. It is time to stop turning our backs on these women.”

Criminalising abortion does not prevent it happening and if the Government had even a modicum of feeling for these women, they would hold a referendum to introduce safe and legal abortion in this State.

One other thing is certain, if women in Ireland are trying to procure illegal abortions at home at a rate of over three a day, it is only a matter of time before there is a fatality. Unsafe abortion can kill and can cause serious injury. Is the Irish Government waiting for that before it will act? It is bad enough that women in Ireland must suffer the humiliation and degradation of being prevented from accessing a treatment which is readily available in other states, but the State is now actively placing them at further risk by preventing them from availing of safe abortion services. Presumably the anti-choice lobbyists will also find this “very encouraging”.

So while Youth Defence can hysterically wave their placards at the GPO on a Saturday morning, and picket the Marie Stopes Clinic in Dublin, pray outside of the IFPA Clinic, and accuse women who had abortions of being “baby-murderers”, spineless politicians can remain silent and happy that they do not have to deal with this issue, and women must as always face the risks of not having their human rights upheld. 67,000 women die each year as a consequence of unsafe abortion. The Irish Government seems to be aiming to make sure that next year, a few of them are in Ireland.


18 Responses

  1. Bridget Dillon

    October 30, 2010 10:10 pm

    The majority of these women have actively engaged in the decisions which led them to become pregnant in the first place. Now it’s an inconvenience for them to take responsibility for their decisions so they’re looking for a quick fix solution. If abortion is legalised in this state, who is going to pay for these abortions? Me. That’s who. If the reason that these women cannot pay for their own abortion is because they are low income or no income earners then I am already paying to put food in their mouths, a roof over their heads, and their medical expenses. That’s enough thanks. I have to take responsibilty for my own financial circumstances and my own stupid decisions. I also have to pay for my own food, the roof over my own head and my own medical expenses. I don’t expect anyone else to foot the bill. Neither should they. This opinion does NOT apply to the TINY percentage of women in these situations who genuinely have little or no choice. However harsh it sounds, I don’t want to foot the bill for these women either. The people have spoken. Twice. Loud and clear. During the last referendum on this matter there wasn’t ONE political party or politician that I could find that wasn’t in favour of abortion. ALL of them were. How can you blame the politicians? For ONCE, they’re not responsible for this. The PEOPLE of this country are. Here’s what they’ve said. There are other ways of dealing with unplanned pregnancies. These women are ordering unsafe pills off the internet? Try taking a safe one in the first place. Like the rest of us have to. Responsible behaviour is the route forward. In all things.

  2. Wednesday

    October 31, 2010 8:55 am


    I don’t suppose you’d like to get off your high horse for a moment about what you think to be proper human behaviour and address actual human behaviour, would you? The fact is that women are experiencing unwanted pregnancies and are taking dangerous risks to end them. What is your answer to this? That that’s what they get?

  3. Bridget Dillon

    October 31, 2010 10:05 pm

    If anyone’s on a high horse it’s you. You could have chosen a thousand things that the government are responsible for dire consequences for, yet you chose the one thing that they tried their very best to do exactly what you are suggesting. Yet you’re still having a go at them. And at me for having the neck to have an opposing opinion. Might I suggest that you don’t ask for lively discussion if you don’t want it. Yours answer seems to be two-fold. The first part is that you want me (and I use the term me to include all the other taxpaying me’s in the state). That’s actually the part I like more. The second part of your answer seems to be another Lisbon-type regurgitation. Which, frankly, is the bit that incenses me. Part of my answer, which I thought I was being perfectly clear about by the way, is for people to take responsibility for their own actions. Unless you think that ACTUAL human behaviour is to encourage people to continue making irresponsible decisions that the rest of the people have to continue to foot the bill for. I have never spoken to a woman who has had an abortion that isn’t haunted by the decision, sometimes decades later. My answer is not that that’s what they get, though it’s a measure of your high-horsed-ness that that’s what you’ve chosen to take from all that I went to the trouble to respond. Part of my answer (which I’m unapologetically saying) is that I don’t want to foot the bill. I am entitled not to want to foot the bill. If the numbers are going up and up as you seem to insist that they are, if you have to use my money on this at all, I would rather that my money is used in prevention. Not cure. There are many “Facts” other than the ones that you choose to highlight. You want to overlook the many other facts. Like, for example, the “Fact” that we live in a society where a woman feels that her only realistic choice is as you’ve described. When there are so many other choices available to her. Some of which she might have a hope of living a relatively normal life afterwards. But you don’t want to look at any of those other “Facts”. Or real alternatives. There are many other answers. So I don’t know why I’m wasting my breath. Thankfully, I don’t need to. Because, as I pointed out before, the people have spoken. Again. Maybe you should listen. And help to find new answers instead of the same old tired cliches. Adding to the problem instead of being part of a realistic solution.

  4. Bridget Dillon

    October 31, 2010 10:23 pm

    missing text from above….
    “The first part is that you want me (and I use the term me to include all the other taxpaying me’s in the state)”
    …. next part should read “to foot the bill. That’s actually the part I like more.”

  5. Wednesday

    November 1, 2010 6:47 am

    You seem to have confused me with the author of the piece. I’m not, although I would be proud to be.

    Your reply doesn’t make a lot of sense. (As an aside, paragraphs would at least have made it more readable.) You don’t want to foot the bill for abortion? You do realise that you’ll foot a much greater bill if the woman has to continue the pregnancy? Actually, though, maybe you’re on to something here: instead of means-testing child benefit, back to school allowance, etc, government should oops-test it. No money from the taxpayers for unwanted kids who you weren’t responsible enough to try to prevent in the first place!

    Most women do lead a “relatively normal life” after an abortion. You probably don’t realise this because you don’t know how many of the women around you have had abortions. I suspect most of them are unlikely to confide in you, if this is the way you react at the mere mention of the subject.

    On not wanting to look at alternatives, it’s interesting to note that most people in the pro-choice movement, including myself, are also pro-birth control, pro-sex education and pro-increased welfare spending to give women real choices. Have a read of Choice Ireland’s founding principles some time, or about the reproductive justice movement. The ones who are trying to deny those choices are nearly all on the anti-abortion side.

    My answer is not that that’s what they get

    Fine, but you still haven’t really answered the question. If a woman has engaged in what you deem “irresponsible behaviour”, and does wind up with a crisis pregnancy as a result, and is determined to end it – and all of these things will continue to happen whether you like it or not, just as they have happened in every part of the world and all throughout history – what do you propose to do about it? Just leave her to order her pills over the internet and take her chances?

    You keep saying “the people have spoken”. You might want to look at what they actually said. On one occasion they spoke out against abortion. That was almost 30 years ago (and at a time when they were still speaking out against divorce, I might add). The four abortion referenda since did not give the answers you seem to think they did.


    The second part of your answer seems to be another Lisbon-type regurgitation

    I have absolutely no idea what you mean by this. Does anyone?

  6. Bridget Dillon

    November 1, 2010 8:15 pm

    This will be my last response on the subject matter.

    Yes, I did confuse you with the author, since you didn’t bother to give your name on either occasion, I made a fairly logical assumption that that was whom I was speaking to. My sincere apologies to the author for this error.

    I have never in my life responded to a forum like this so forgive me if my lack of paragraphs is not to your liking, and my ignorance in understanding the format. Whoever you are.

    My reply probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you because what I implied, rather than stated, is that I’m perfectly happy for the taxpayer to continue to provide the financial supports that you outline. What I’m not happy to do is to introduce a new invoice to the taxpayer, under the blanket terms that the author was suggesting. I disagree completely that the bill will be much higher if the woman chooses to continue with the pregnancy. But if I go into the reasons for that, I might lose you again, paragraphs or no paragraphs, so I’m not going to.

    I don’t know what evidence you have that most women go on to lead a normal life after abortion. I’m sure some do, but it’s a huge stretch to say that most do. I realise that you find it difficult to read without the benefit of paragraphs so let me clarify some things.

    What I said was that of the women I have spoken to who have had abortions, none of them have been able to reconcile themselves to the decision afterward. Let me put that in percentage terms so that you can use it for statistical analysis if you so desire. It’s zero percent. Nada. Not even one.

    From the 12 year old child whose mother forced her to have an abortion that she didn’t want (who then went on to have 3 children who the taxpayer is now having to give the allowances etc that you refer to); to the woman who had the affair with the married man who bullied her into having an abortion that she didn’t want; to the 18 year old whose boyfriend’s mother bullied her into having an abortion that she didn’t want.

    I could go on and on. Because, my dear, contrary to the opinion you appear to be in a hurry to formulate about me, I have done a little research. Qualitative research. And I know many women who have had abortions. Some have had multiple abortions. And have managed to tell me about it, just fine. Without fear of judgement.

    But I won’t. Go on and on that is. Because for every story I have, I’m sure that you, and people of your opinion, have a dozen other.

    History has proven that when a person doesn’t have to contribute financially towards resolving the consequences of a behaviour, more people choose the same behaviour and it escalates into a social problem to be financed by the taxpayer. At least in the west. Our prisons are full of wonderful examples of this.

    You’re right about one thing though. Of the cases where the reason for the abortion is not related to the physical life or death of the mother, I would never try to prevent those “kids” being born in the first place. It is of some comfort to me that at least you are acknowledging that they are kids. I wouldn’t try to prevent it because it’s not my responsibilty. Nor yours. Nor anyone’s. Because you are very wrong about them not being wanted. They are all wanted. It’s just that some of them aren’t wanted by their birth mothers. Which personally, I have little issue with, however, I do have an issue paying for it. When there are so many others out there who are also in pain.

    In relation to this aspect of the subject, (which is a lot broader than pregnancy termination) my sympathies lie with the women that feel compelled to have abortions when they don’t really want them. Where are your statistics on those women? Where is anyones? While there is even ONE woman out there that has felt compelled to have an abortion that she wasn’t sure about, I don’t want a cent of taxpayers money used to fund this potentially lucrative industry. And I won’t apologise for this opinion.

    In relation to your reference to divorce, which is, of course, an entirely different matter, I don’t want to pay for people’s divorces either, but I’ve been forced to. I didn’t speak out then because I didn’t see the writing on the wall. I’m speaking out now. Have an abortion if you insist. Have a second one if you must. But don’t ask me to pay for it.

    The author of the beautifully written, inciteful piece refers to women having to take the “silent and lonely” journey. Well I know a lot of people who have taken the silent and lonely journey to Russia, to China, to Vietnam, to Romania. Not to have terminations, but to bring children (that you might label unwanted) home to Ireland, at enormous cost. I don’t see anybody running to the government wanting the taxpayer to pay for that. They take responsibility for the circumstances they find themselves in and they do something about it. And they don’t ask me to foot the bill. And those that can’t afford the thousands of euro that it costs to adopt a foreign baby don’t come knocking on the taxpayers door either.

    I thought I was perfectly clear about what I propose to do about those women who are determined to end their pregnancies and insist on risking their lives in the process, in the manner described in the piece. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They have lots of other choices. They do not have to make that choice. Unlike the other people to whom I refer below in the penultimate paragraph of this response. Those who genuinely have little or no choice.

    The people for whom I propose that I will do nothing for don’t need me to do anything for them. Because they have you on their side, (of course, I’m assuming that you are actually DOING something to help them) and the author of the article, and lots and lots of other people who won’t leave this alone until they get their way. So I don’t need to do anything about it. I’ll just let time pass, and eventually you will have your way. Just like the Lisbon referendum. That also went on and on until the people behaved like good little sheep and voted the way they were told to. Maybe that will assist you to understand the reference to the Lisbon-ite regurgitation.

    In the meantime, I will invest my time, my money and my energy in the people on the other side of the coin. Those for whom it is illegal to become married because they are in same sexed relationships, for example. And even if there were babies available for them to adopt (which of course there aren’t because they have all been aborted) they probably wouldn’t be allowed to. Those who have to bring home foreign babies because there are none available here to adopt (because they have all been aborted). Those who have been told that they are too old (at 35) to adopt in this country, even if there were a baby available to adopt. But most of all, those who feel compelled into abortions that they either don’t want or aren’t sure that they want, because of the pressure from people outside of themselves. Oh, and by the way, they are financing their own abortions. They generally don’t come running to the taxpayer either. Though, they will do of course, when you have your way. (Apologies if that last paragraph is a little long).

    You have no idea what I think the four abortion referenda gave answers to, because you haven’t bothered to ask. You’re just full of assumptions. What I do understand, (since this is the last time I’m going to speak on this piece, I’ll repeat myself again. I’ll say it a third time) is this. The people said NO. There were things that concerned them that weren’t resolved and they said NO. AGAIN. So here’s my suggestion. You work on finding another way to help the people you seem to be concerned about. Oh, and please don’t use my money in the process. If you come up with anything even remotely sensible, I’d be very interested to know what that might be. I’ll continue to work with the issues surrounding this matters that concern me most. (I wonder if you’ve or the author has ever given any of them a passing thought). And let’s leave it at that.

  7. Stephanie Lord

    November 1, 2010 9:52 pm

    Essentially what this comes down to is that you do not believe that women should be allowed to have an abortion if they wish to do so, and if they do have one you don’t want to have to pay tax to pay for it. I presume you also hold the same views for public funds being used for other healthcare procedures as they aren’t your “direct responsibility”. I presume your unwillingness to pay for the consequences of unwanted or unintended pregnancy also extends to the public funding of the Adoption Authority of Ireland to facilitate adoptions for those who do wish to carry their unwanted or unintended pregnancies to full term and place them for adoption? After all, you go to great lengths to state that you take issue with the *funding* aspect of unwanted pregnancies.

    Part of the good thing about being pro-choice is that it means we in the pro-CHOICE movement are *not* in favour of forced abortions, which you seem to imply we are. No woman should ever be forced to terminate a pregnancy against her wishes. Equally she should not be forced to carry a pregnancy against her wishes. Women should be allowed to have or not have children, according to their choice.

    Also your “qualitative research” about how your “friends” allegedly felt about their abortions, all referred to cases where these women did not have a *choice* in the matter. This is tragic, but is not a reason to prevent other women from terminating a pregnancy if they wish to do so. Perhaps you should have your “qualitative research” published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    There are no statistics presented in this article on women who have gone through forced abortions as, quite simply, this was not the subject of the article and it was not relevant to the issue I wrote about. This was about women who are driven to desperate measures because of the actions of a Government that does not care about women’s health or human rights, or control over their own bodies.

    Abortion should be treated like any other medical procedure and no woman should be forced to go through it against her wishes – as with any other form of medical treatment. Again, no women should have abortion withheld and be faced with forced pregnancy. Further to this, if you don’t want an industry to become “lucrative”, the answer is very simple – have it run through a public health system.

    The key issue here is one of choice. It is hard to ascertain what your problem is with this. On one hand you don’t want public funds used to pay for abortion services, and yet you complain that the Government does not fund inter-country adoptions.

    However, the taxpayer does to a certain extent fund part of those processes. If you wish to opt for inter-country adoption you need to go through an assessment process with the Health Service Executive, and the Adoption Authority – both publicy funded bodies. To attach blame for the costs charged by adoption agencies in foreign states to the Irish Government, and then provide that as a reason why Irish women with unwanted pregnancies should not be allowed have abortions is as ridiculous as it is heartless.

    In any event, seeing as you don’t believe your money should go anywhere towards paying for unwanted pregnancies, the logical conclusion of some of what you have said is that you would like to see the Adoption Authority (whose running you “foot the bill” for) shut down, or privatised at the very least. And yet you talk of investing “time, money and energy” in trying to help people adopt. I applaud your laudable goal of trying to help same-sex couples and those over-35 to adopt, but it is peculiar that you are willing to both recognise and fund their *choice* and not those of women in crisis pregnancy situations.

    But if your main bone of contention here is about the money, your position on this is as hypocritical as it is utterly heartless.

    On the question of whether I, as the author of the article, have given issues of adoption of children a “passing thought” – yes I have. You can refer back to the previous article I wrote on children’s rights on this website in which I spoke of children in marital families in long-term foster care. Furthermore, if you take a look at the founding documents of Choice Ireland, you will see that the pro-choice movement is about campaigning for all facets of reproductive health, as well we increased supports for single and low-income parents (to help those who wish to become parents), increased protection for working mothers, free access to quality childcare, and choice in the method of childbirth. I encourage you to read them.

  8. Bridget Dillon

    November 2, 2010 12:29 am

    Stephanie, thanks for your response. I have no more to say on the matter except what’s already been said.

    But my goodness you and your friend make a lot of assumptions and presumptions about what I think and feel even though I’ve gone to great lengths to explain how I actually think and feel. And yes, I do hold similar views for other public funds. In relation to your article though, I was making the point that I don’t want ANOTHER invoice for the taxpayer. To answer your question, like the majority of the residents of this country these days, am not happy with a variety of aspects of how public money is spent.

    In response to your article, I was referring to the extra expenditure involved in making something that is currently illegal, legal. Had you written a similar article on the legalisation of euthanasia, for example, or making illegal drugs legal you would have received a similar reply. The taxpayer simply cannot continue to carry the burden. Personal accountability must be included in future planning.

    On a point of clarification, none of the people that I referred to above were friends of mine. None of them were even known to me before the matter of abortion came up. And there are many others that I could have referred to.

    It is interesting though how the points that I make are ridiculous, heartless, and allegations to you, and you are able to provide us with fascinating statistics, apparently from peer review journals which are only used to highlight legalising abortion. Where, in your statistics, have you accounted for the women that regret their decision? Or who were coerced? Do you even accept that they exist, or will you continue to wait for me to publish my findings?

    For example, how many of the under 16 year olds that you refer to had the capacity to make an independent decision about whether their abortion was the right choice for them? You use your statistics as if abortion is the only choice. I don’t see you using these self same statistics to suggest how many of these women had abortions against their will. If, indeed, you believe that not having an abortion is a legitimate choice.

    Thank you for clarifying that you have a whole movement behind you. I didn’t understand that when I posted my initial response or I wouldn’t have bothered. I realise now that you are obviously an educated woman, with a movement that you belong to, probably a political affiliation as well. I am none of those things. Just a citizen. With a few concerns. And an opinion.

    I won’t be reading the founding documents of any organisation or movement since I was responding to your article not a movement.

    I have referred back to some of your articles as suggested, and haven’t found any references to the question I actually posed. Which was that I wonder if you have given a passing thought to the countless women who have had abortions not wanting them, and not able to move on with their lives afterwards.

    I am very happy that you concern yourself with children and families rights etc. I guess I was looking for the articles that referred to a woman’s right not to have an abortion if she doesn’t want to. And what protection is in place for her going forward, when abortion is legalised. If you could refer me to those articles, I would love to read them. If no such article exists, (and I genuinely hope that it does) then I would love you to write one. Sincerely. If you really are pro-choice (as I am) then this allegedly hypocritical, heartless and ridiculous taxpayer begs you to write these women’s stories.

  9. Wednesday

    November 2, 2010 8:54 am

    I disagree completely that the bill will be much higher if the woman chooses to continue with the pregnancy. But if I go into the reasons for that, I might lose you again, paragraphs or no paragraphs, so I’m not going to.

    Please do. I’m genuinely baffled as to how you think the cost to a taxpayer of an abortion can outweigh the cost to a taxpayer even of pregnancy-related health care, not to mention all the costs that the taxpayer incurs after the child is born.

    I don’t know what evidence you have that most women go on to lead a normal life after abortion.

    The absence of any evidence that they don’t. Abortion is a global phenomenon, very common in a lot of countries (including countries where it’s illegal such as in Latin America) – the sheer numbers involved make it extremely unlikely that it could cause “inability to lead a normal life” in the majority of them without that being detected in the research. Indeed, you probably wouldn’t need research to tell you that if it were the case.

    But it hasn’t been detected. The most comprehensive review of the research that I’m aware of, here, concludes that most women experience no mental health problems after abortion. Even the studies that say otherwise don’t tend to go as far as saying women cannot lead a normal life after an abortion. That’s such an extraordinary claim to make, it’s really up to you to provide the evidence for it. I look forward to the publication of your research, which I assume will contain a full statement of your methodology and, as Stephanie says, be peer-reviewed.

    If the research you are doing is into women who were coerced into abortion, then I welcome it. It’s clearly a subject that does need consideration. It is, however, important to be clear about the differences between these women and those who had abortions because they did not want to continue the pregnancy. It does women in neither category any good to treat their situations as identical. Incidentally, I presume you’re aware that some women are also coerced into having children they don’t want.

    It’s a shame that you refuse to read CI’s founding documents, especially since you say that you want to see references to a woman’s right not to have an abortion. CI’s founding documents state that women should be able to make whatever reproductive choice they wish to make. By definition this includes the right not to have an abortion against their wishes – or indeed the right not to have sex against their wishes. The founding documents are explicit about that.

    On the issue that women cannot adopt other women’s children because they have all been aborted. Are you suggesting that women should be obliged to bear children simply because other women want them? I find that horrifying. A woman’s uterus is her own – it is not something she should be compelled to lease out to strangers.

    Your argument also suffers logically, since the abortion rate in many of the “supply” countries for adoption is actually higher than it is here.

    Oh, and by the way, they are financing their own abortions. They generally don’t come running to the taxpayer either.

    I assume you meant to write “adoptions” here. As Stephanie points out, the taxpayer does fund the agencies that deal with adoption. The taxpayer also funds the child benefit, etc, that these children will receive.

    The people said NO. There were things that concerned them that weren’t resolved and they said NO. AGAIN.

    Putting it in capital letters doesn’t make you less wrong. As I said, you need to go back and look at what the people actually said in those votes. After the first referendum, there were two in which the people voted to liberalise the abortion law and two in which they refused to re-impose the restrictions that were believed to exist prior to the X case. How on earth do you reach the conclusion from those votes that they said no “again”?

    The simple fact is that the only time in which the people have actually voted to prohibit abortion was in 1983. And an entire generation has passed since then. Data exists to show that the new generation entirely disagrees with the decision taken in 1983. Many polls have shown that even those old enough to have voted in 1983 do not, at this point in time, agree with the blanket prohibition that amendment imposes (for example, there are large majorities in favour of allowing abortion in cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormality). Is it really your contention that those views should not matter because a referendum in 1983 said differently? That there should never be another referendum to allow the people give their say on what they believe now?

    I thought I was perfectly clear about what I propose to do about those women who are determined to end their pregnancies and insist on risking their lives in the process, in the manner described in the piece. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. They have lots of other choices. They do not have to make that choice.

    … and if they end up bleeding to death, well, that’s what they get. You denied earlier that that was your view. Here, you’re making it clear that it is. I’m glad we’ve straightened that one out.

  10. Stephanie Lord

    November 2, 2010 11:11 am


    The presumptions I made about your views were correct. You confirmed that. So I cannot see what you are taking issue with. I stated that I presumed that you felt the same way about funding other health care procedures and the Adoption Authority. You stated that you “hold similar views for other public funds”.
    It is unfortunate that you do not want “another invoice for the taxpayer”. This position is illogical. There are plenty of people who are unhappy with aspects of how public money is spent and the logical thing to do then, is rectify that and ensure that public money is not misused. Using your line of argument, the public would have to make do with the health service available to them permanently. For example, new medications for treating anything from Cancer to HIV that become available which have not yet been licenced by the Irish Medicines Board (thus falling in to the same *illegal* category as RU486) would not be given a licence for dissemination as this would be “another invoice”. Unlicensed medications are currently “illegal”, and to licence them would be a “burden” on the taxpayer. So yes; saying that a person should not be allowed have any new treatments, and we should focus on “personal accountability” is both ridiculous and heartless. Actively advocating that people have treatment withheld is heartless regardless of whether you dislike that term or not.

    Regarding your point of clarification on your “qualitative research”, I would love to hear more about this. These women weren’t your friends, and yet chose to talk to you, a person who is vehemently anti-choice about their experiences of abortion. Of course women who have been coerced in to abortions exist, the question is whether you have spoken to them or not, and if so – in what capacity? I would be interested to know if you met these women in some kind of clinical or counselling capacity or social work and these were clients of yours, and I sincerely hope that if this is the case, they consented to your using of them as examples in your “qualitative research” and it does not breach their confidentiality or right to privacy. However I await your publication of such important research in a peer-reviewed journal using scientifically sound research methodologies.

    As for under-16s and the capacity to consent to medical treatment, I’m not entirely sure what point you are trying to make. I do not believe that assigning an arbitrary age to medical consent is useful, but rather it would be preferable to use the Gillick Competency Test (See Lord Scarman’s judgment in Gillick v West Norfolk & Wisbech Area Health Authority) and the Fraser Guidelines are a good starting point to ascertain capacity to consent: If a child has sufficient maturity and understanding of what the treatment entails, the ability to make a reasonable assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment proposed, then they may be allowed consent to treatment. In cases where the child does not have sufficient understanding, decisions should be made in the child’s best interest (as per Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

    For you to imply that I use statistics as if abortion is the only choice, I can only assume you do not understand the point that I was trying to make. As Wednesday said in her comment, it does none of the women in either category any justice to treat them as if they are identical.

    Regardless of any of the points that I have made here, as I have said this article was about women who are forced in to a situation by a Government who have disregarded their right to healthcare and their right to control their own bodies.

    Finally, why would I write any articles on women who have been coerced in to abortion, when we can just wait for your high quality empirical research using sound methodology to be published in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal?

  11. Bridget Dillon

    November 2, 2010 5:24 pm

    To Nameless: Clearly the use of paragraphs haven’t helped your ability to read English any, or at least your comprehension ability.

    To Stephanie: No, dear, your presumptions are not correct. I will publish my research the day after you point me to the article you say you’ve written instead of twisting my words.

    This really is my last word on it. I am pro choice. For everybody. Not for some.

  12. Stephanie Lord

    November 2, 2010 10:25 pm


    Of course they were correct. You stated that you didn’t want to pay as it wasn’t your responsibility. Nobody twisted your words. That is what you said. If you don’t like seeing the logical conclusion of them in black and white perhaps you should give the issue more thought. Or at the very least, go back and read your own comments.

    And, I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and suggest your “research” doesn’t actually exist.

    Anyway, I am glad you have come round to agreeing with us and are now pro-choice. Dialogue really is a good thing isn’t it.

  13. Bridget Dillon

    November 2, 2010 11:19 pm

    I have always been pro choice if you bothered to actually read what I said. My research does exist. I’d be happy to give it to you. The after you show me your article.

  14. Wednesday

    November 3, 2010 6:15 am

    I guess we’ll just have to wait until your research appears in a peer reviewed journal. Although I suspect the only periodical it will ever appear in is Alive!.

  15. Stephanie Lord

    November 3, 2010 9:11 am

    “…where the reason for the abortion is not related to the physical life or death of the mother, I would never try to prevent those “kids” being born in the first place. It is of some comfort to me that at least you are acknowledging that they are kids…..”

    That’s anti-choice rhetoric.

    Next time Alive! comes through my letterbox I’ll definitely be sure to keep an eye out for your research!

  16. Lynn

    July 19, 2011 9:28 pm

    Very good article! I strongly agree, abortion has to be made available in Ireland right now. No more Irish draconian abortion laws, let’s give women the right they deserve, the right to choose when to become a mother and when not. Of course the ideal situation is not getting pregnant if pregnancy is unwanted. But life is not always an ideal situation.