Welcome to another Weekly Roundup, where each week our MediaWatch team highlights how abortion is discussed in the media at home and abroad. This week, we’ve heard responses from around the country to Fr Kevin Doran’s assertion that carrying out lifesaving abortions would go against the Mater hospital’s ethos. Elsewhere, polls show that Irish people largely support liberalisation of our abortion law. And internationally, abortion access continues to be under threat.
A Mater of Life and Death
Last week, we heard an avowed celibate man in a position of power state that the healing ethos of the hospital he helps to govern prevents them from carrying out life-saving abortions. Fortunately, this position did not go unchallenged this week.
Deirdre O’Shaughnessy reminded us that this Fr Dolan’s position is by no means unique. Religious-ethos hospitals have been allowed to refuse lifesaving treatment to women and halt potentially-lifesaving research with impunity, and this impunity can exist because the State has never bothered to invest in our health system.
Equally scathing was Liam Fay, lambasting the Mater’s willingness to “deny an extremely ill woman a legal, life-saving procedure because of some mystical “ethos”” as “grotesque”, but placing blame squarely at the feet of our politicians failure to act to take control of our public hospitals. The Church’s “entitlement to [their] own opinion is inarguable, but [their] apparent determination to impose those beliefs on others is outrageous”.
Gene Kerrigan took a slightly different angle, questioning what exactly we mean by ‘ethos’. He argued that not only is the Catholic Church wildly inconsistent when it comes to ethical principles, but that ‘observing our ethos’ means nothing more or less than imposing the beliefs of some on all.
Meanwhile, Paul Hosford pointed out that while the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act allows for conscientious objection by individuals, this right does not extend to institutions, or to situations where a pregnant person’s life is in immediate danger.
In a recent survey by the Student Marketing Network, 83% of students polled feel that abortion should be legal in Ireland. A readers poll at IrishHealth.com showed similar results, with 90% in favour of legalising abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality or rape.
Enforcing Youth Defence?
The question of how anti-abortion group Youth Defence fund their prominent advertising campaigns has some to a head again this week. The group have repeatedly refused to declare their funding sources to the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO), stating that they do not believe they need to register, and that there is no penalty for refusing to do so. In response to this, SIPO have written to Environment Minister Phil Hogan to increase their powers of enforcement to cover unregistered third party organisations such as Youth Defence. Watch this space for further developments!
Around the World
In a reminder of how class and income affect our ability to access the services we need in peace, a post on Trust.org about ‘Saturday women in Alabama. Women who can’t take leave from work are often forced to have abortion procedures on Saturdays, and don’t have the option to escape running a gauntlet of anti-abortion protesters who tend to demonstrate at weekends.
A UN conference in Uruguay has, for the first time, declared that reproductive rights are human rights which governments have a responsibility to uphold.
Rural Canadian women face increased barriers to abortion access, according to the Globe and Mail.
Being Pro-Choice Around the Country
Galway Pro-Choice wrote in the Galway Advertiser this week in advance of their upcoming campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, explaining the current state of reproductive rights in this country and why constitutional change is necessary.
Looking for pro-choice events to support? ARC’s monthly Open Meeting will be held this Monday evening. Come along, show your support and get involved!
Next month, thousands of Pro-Choice and Pro-Change people will take the streets in Dublin for the 2nd annual March for Choice. The event is part of the Global Day of Action for Safe and Legal Abortion. Later that day, a documentary following the four doctors performing late-term abortions in the US will be premiering in Ireland. Take a look at the trailer and prepare for an action packed day for choice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?