I do not pay my taxes for this bullshit.

As I watched the news breaking today that Lord Justice Girvan ruled in favour of the notoriously self-interested Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child and ordered our first ever piece of coherent guidance on abortion law and practice be withdrawn, I was stuck by how bloody pleased with themselves they were.

Pleased that, as Breedagh Hughes from the Royal College of Midwives noted, medical professionals in Northern Ireland are back in the dark with absolutely no guidance in the difficult field of reproductive healthcare, finding the best way forward for vulnerable women whose pregnancies have put their health at risk.

Pleased that, at a time when the health services is under intense pressure with the fear of cuts that could put lives at risk, their little act of impudence has been charged to DHSSPS – a fact they proudly state in their own press release. This part disgusts me the most. Because after all, as a tax payer I am happy to hand over a portion of my salary every month knowing that it will contribute to better schools, more hospital beds, better community healthcare provision… I don’t fucking pay it for SPUC to piss it up the wall of Belfast High Court marking their territory in some right-wing show of strength – “Your wombs are ours bitches and don’t forget it!”

So what were the issues that have led to this mess? Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard on the BBC or whatever other outlet you get your news from, 6 of SPUC’s 8 objections were rejected but Judge Girvan upheld their complaints about statements on 1. non-directive counselling and 2. conscientious objections.

Let’s break this down: firstly, ALL counselling should be non-directive. That is fundamental to the nature of counselling. The reason that statement was included in the first place was that some anti-choice support services defile the name of counselling by directing women towards their agenda and giving biased advice that limits their choices. But, as Audrey Simpson from the Family Planning Association pointed out, Judge Girvan displayed what can only be described as ignorance (my word, not Audrey’s) in appearing to misunderstand this most basic principle of counselling. I can just about deal with the knowledge that many of the decisions about my life as a citizen of Northern Ireland lie in the hands of religiously conservative judges acting out of a plethora of prejudices and stereotypes. It is just infuriating when they let you down out of mere stupidity.

Secondly, there appeared to be contradictions in what the guidance said about a practitioner’s right to not take part in the provision of abortion on moral or ethical grounds. On Evening extra (about 17 mins in) Breedagh tried to explain the issue in terms of the difference between having no statutory right to object to a legal procedure based purely on your own ethical objections vs. your own legal right as a citizen to not take part in an apparently illegal act. Granted it is complicated and perhaps Judge Girvan is right and it needs a bit more work before it’s clear enough to be useful to medical practitioners. However, I’m not convinced it’s that tough to get your head round. Think about it… there are a range of conditions under which abortions can be performed in NI. As I have mentioned before, there were 99 such legal abortions in 2007. That means on 99 occasions doctors, midwives etc were able to identify that a woman’s condition fell within the criteria for a legal abortion and they signed the paperwork, arranged the procedure and carried out the operation. What this statutory/legal right to objection seems to refer to is that, in any of those 99 legal abortions no doctor involved in those women’s care would have had any right to refuse to take part purely on the grounds of a personal moral objection. It is a legal procedure to be performed for the care of a patient and therefore under their statutory duty to provide that care they must take part. On the other hand, any practioner who felt a request for an abortion fell outside the criteria would have a legal right as a citizen to refuse to take part in something they would believe to be an illegal act. Geddit? Moral refusal to provide care a woman is legally entitled to – not allowed. Legal refusal to take part in abortion that doesn’t fall within the legal criteria – allowed. Easy peasy. Except that now medical practitioners have NO GUIDELINES it’s much harder to make that all important decision about what falls within the legal criteria. Cheers SPUC.

But you know, rather than hate on them and rise to the provocation of Liam Gibson’s smarmy grin in the face of such a colossal waste of public money and offence to the autonomy of women, I will remember that the guidelines weren’t ‘quashed’ but merely withdrawn with a requirement that those two points be revisited and a new version submitted. So the journey continues. AND I’m extremely curious about the fact that the BBC Newsline website have posted a full copy of the guidelines as a pdf document that can be downloaded and saved so all of us can have our very own copy. All my faith in the good people at the BBC is sustaining my belief that it’s a subtle act of defiance. If any of you have friends in the medical profession why not email them a copy. Given that many GPs in Northern Ireland are driven to phone the Family Planning Association’s crisis pregnancy helpline, you may find they really appreciate it.

One last thing, on Day 6 of the 16 days of action on violence against women I can’t discuss this issue without stating clearly that the denial of the right to legal and safe abortions that we suffer in Northern Ireland is an act of violence against women. I say this because it forces women into poverty, puts their lives at risk, denies them the space and dignity to make the right choices for themselves and their families when faced with a pregnancy that is going to cause them distress. It’s an act of violence perpetrated by the selfishness and ignorance of blinkered people who, as one blogger at forth lamented, shout louder than reason.


7 Responses to “I do not pay my taxes for this bullshit.”

  1. 1 Orlagh Turtle December 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    This article also makes me very angry. Its all about me me me, my “rights”, my life…well what about the “rights” of the child, and such violence against the child, in many cases, amputating body parts, and ” sucking” out brains as late as 7 months ( my taxes/ money is funding this holocaust against the children, and that definitely makes me furious !!!)justifying killing is never the answer to societies problems. Is it the childs fault that it was conceived, whatever the method??so its ok to kill it…thats certainly is loving and peaceful don’t you think? soooo if you are happily pregnant you chat about your baby as a living active vibrant little person, BUT if you don’t want the child…then its just some goo from the zoo…soooo kill it, rather barbaric …and that is scary ! When abortion was first introduced, it was supposedly to be used ONLY in extreme circumstances, now, in 2009, its just another means of family planning! they kill babies in many cases just because they are not “perfect”, sounds a bit like what Hitler recommended, to me.
    Now, I know ( been a midwife myself) that much needs to be done to improve this very distressing situation for all involved, and definitely going on some sort of rant (both sides), is fAR from resolving issues.One needs to take into consideration the ramifications many women suffer years later, when they become aware exactly how their baby was killed. I believe, if one chooses to kill their baby, they need to know exactly WHAT is taking place, and in most cases they don’t know this….they think their baby is just a blob and doesn’t feel a thing, and this is definitely not true…..so lets be “fair” here, I think women should be encouraged to have an ultra sound to see their baby, listen to their heart beat, and then make an INFORMED choice, so they can’t turn round and say they didn’t know what they were doing as is often the case…and then if they choose to kill their baby they kill their baby !!!!However, there definitely NEEDs to be a much better compassionate ( for both sides)service available to all involved…and that is another blog, but once a woman becomes pregnant, it no longer remains just about her…and thats just life !!

  2. 2 Kate December 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    What I find interesting about organisations like SPUC and Orlagh is that whilst they are almost fundamentalist in their persuit of protecting the life of the unborn they are universally silent when it comes to protecting the lives of the born.
    Whilst SPUC has succeeded in ensuring NI women will continue to be treated as mobile incubators I have not seen any evidence of them campaigning to improve the provision of affordable chldcare for example. Perhaps if they focused some of their efforts in ensuring better provisioning of services for children and mothers, this might be considered more useful than trying to muddy the waters and wasting tax payers money which could have been put to better use.

    Orlagh – over 1100 women traveled for ‘safe’ abortions last year, the numbers are down on previous years, which may be down to the availability of abortion inducing drugs on the internet. Women have been exercising choice over their own bodies by deciding not to have children since the days of the stone age whether through inducing abortion or infanticide – That’s life.

  3. 3 Lynn Malcolm December 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    This is such a delicate subject – so many prolife & so many others feel it’s better to kill the ’embyro’ but ranting & using foul language is so much a part of our violent society in discussing anything – and it never accomplishes anything other than hurt & confusion & anger. I feel that if human life – continues to be meaningless – no matter what the circumstances or excuses to terminate it – then we’re interfering with the very fabric of our society & perhaps its already too late – but I agree with the opinion to inform women exactly what will take place at the abortion – physically – and I’m quite sure in most cases – they will decide to go full term – no matter the circumstances – abortion is such a cruel / sadistic / form of “Torture’ to the unborn baby – it grieves me to even think that so called intelligent people can be in agreement with it. Most women are born with an internal desire to protect their children – and even in the animal kingdom – they’ll go to extreme measures – but in our HUMAN society – life is expendable – shame shame shame – so many couples would be delighted to adopt – because they can’t have children – so many couples – are losing partners’ children’ to aids in Africa – that to me the thought of exterminating an unborn baby – is disgusting no matter what the circumstances. Cruelty to animals have more support than most of the causes affecting our children today. GOD HELP US & FORGIVE US for taking the gift of life so casually. And seems to me any excuse to blame christian beliefs – for all the evil in this world – is simply ludicrous.

  4. 4 soisaystoher December 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    I’m not going to get into too much debate here about the rights and wrongs of abortion. For one thing I find the anti-choice argument difficult to engage with because it’s narrow and shaped by propaganda which bears very little relevance to the reality of the vital service abortion clinics provide.

    But mainly I’m not going to get into it because the article I wrote is not about that, it’s not a case for liberalising abortion law. It’s about the fact that in Northern Ireland we need guidelines so that doctors can actually understand what the law is to help them make decisions in very complex situations. I was expressing my frustration that the anti-choice movement are so paranoid that they can’t even cope with the law being clarified for people.

    The only thing I want to say (carefully as I don’t want to offend given that both Orlagh and Lenore are my favourite aunties!) is that I was really distressed to read “BUT if you don’t want the child…then its just some goo from the zoo…soooo kill it”. I have friends who may be reading this that have taken the difficult decision to abort… Believe me, many pregnancies that are aborted are eagerly desired and prayed for but things go wrong and sometimes abortion is the best, if the most painful option. If I was reading this and I had been through that I would be extremely upset. So some people have a problem with so-called ‘foul’ language – I have a problem with insensitive language.

    I totally agree with Kate that groups like SPUC are one-trick ponies and not deserving of the term ‘pro-life’.

  5. 5 Shirley December 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Just wanted to say that some of the horrible judgemental language used here should make people ashamed to call themselves Christians (I’m assuming that’s the standpoint you’re coming from). I’m thinking of people I know (one of whom was a 14 year old child when she got pregnant, another whose child was severely disabled) who have agonized over the decision to terminate a pregnancy (yeah, loads of people queuing up to adopt babies that are going to live painful and short lives). Sadists? Cruel? Where’s your Christian love? Or have you bought the lie that women who have abortions are only out to have a good time and maybe they feel their ‘blob’ of ‘goo’ will spoil that all? Your language puts me right off your Jesus, frankly.

  6. 6 Orlagh Turtle December 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Shirley, you are assuming that I am christian, I am actually, However, while I worked and practiced as a nurse and midwife I was not, therefore how I viewed difficult delemmas regarding abortion and termination of life have not changed, MEANING that you do not have to be a christian to believe these facts, soooo taking your personal anger out on christians persay is not always wise or informative.Our modern day atheist/scientists frequently refer to the growing embryo as exactly that..goo from the zoo; meaning we have just evolved from some sort of slime to the fish state, and then eventually grew legs etc, etc’til you became you…putting it very simply, so, if my reference to this offended you, I do apologise, but that is fact, and yes, you are right, there are many difficult and tragic situations of which we need to be extreemly sensitive to, and compassionate towards, I just don’t think killing one’s baby is the answer to the problem or situation ( and out of interest…Jesus isn’t MY Jesus so to speak…HE actually is the Jesus of the Bible, the complete revelation of God Himself… you should check it out for yourself. Check out C.S.Lewis’s ” Mere Christianity” it might give you a sightly clearer view of christianity)
    Again, if someone (baby or other) is going to have to “suffer” a painful and short life, who gives someone the right to “play” God? there are many successful ppl today, whos mother’s were brutally raped, abortion was not available to them, and these” unwanted..or however you want to refer to them” babies grew up into amazing adults, with qualities and gifts that we would have never been able to have availed of had their mothers choosen to kill them.Originally, abortion was legalized to try and avoid tragic back-street abortion deaths, and the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy and the dangers thereof, to be used only in life or death situations for the mother…..However, back in the 70’s and 80’s when I practice it did become a means of ” family planning” for far too many ppl.Don’t get me wrong, I love people and try my best to be of help and encouragement in whatever situation I find myself, and indeed MUCH needs to be done to make this situation for all involved as compassionate as possible.Women who have already experienced an abortion, need to know that they are still deeply loved, by the Jesus of the Bible, and by committed followers of the Way, the Truth and THE LIFE, We are ALL sinners, and Christians are no different, and are in as much need of His Mercy and forgivness as everybody else.
    ….By abortion, the mother does not learn to love but kill even her own child to solve her problems.And by abortion,the father is told he does not have to take ant responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world…Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion….Mother Teresa

  7. 7 Orlagh Turtle December 6, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Hello Kellie…..interesting as always “chatting” with you, and you do have some very valid and interesting points, but as you know, any discussion on abortion is bound to have controversal opinions, so bare with me !!
    It is the first time I heard the pro-life movement refered to as the anti-choice movement, puts a different slant on it, and definatly makes the supporters of this group seem rather militant wouldn’t you say. I wouldn’t word it like that myself, as, in many cases, I am definatly PRO-choice…..but I am Pro-LIFE in every aspect, for the yet unborn, ppl with exceptional needs who often cannot speak for themselves etc, etc.,you state this group is paranoid, what exactly do you mean by that? the fact that they don’t support abortion but possibly word it insensitivitly? I myself, have had good friends and indeed family members who have choosen to terminate their pregnancies, I do not love them any the less, but I do believe in calling a spade a spade, and no matter what you say…abortion IS ugly. What is “their”propaganda ? Is this law in N.I. going to force medical practioners to kill babies even if it is against their moral conscience, regardless of their faith belief or not, sounds like a socialist state !!!!!
    I also would like to apologize for what appeared as ” insensitive language”, unfortunatialy language can often be a “problem” for both sides when the topic of abortion is discussed…as I already stated, abortion is not pretty, and therefore the languaged used is not often pretty, or is it meant to be !
    ..”.many pregnancies that are aborted are eagerly desired and prayed for, but things go wrong and sometimes abortion is best..” best for who? definatly not the baby ! Yes, I agree, some people will be upset, but that is what abortion does, upsets people, and thats life….but I will always fight for the rights of the unborn and the people who cannot speak for themselves, and I will never say that even sometimes, that the killing of one’s baby is ok.
    Regardless of our difference, I hope all is going well for you, and that you have a wonderful Christmas with all your love ones !

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