Saturday 3 December 2016

Ellis O'Hanlon: Slogans are no help in dealing with heartbreak

Abortion campaigners on both sides are smug in
their certainties, writes 
Eilis O'Hanlon, but most of us are in the muddled middle


Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Pro Choice supporters hold a protest on O'Connell Street calling on the Government to repeal the 8th amendment. Picture: Arthur Carron
Pro Choice supporters hold a protest on O'Connell Street calling on the Government to repeal the 8th amendment. Picture: Arthur Carron

There are two sides to every story. Sometimes there are even two stories, one for each side. First there was the story of a pregnant woman who presented late and was refused a termination. Pro-lifers liked that story as confirmation of their own fears that the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, hurriedly enacted in the wake of the death of Savita, could potentially be misused to end the life of a healthy child.

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The second story which emerged was of a young non-
national, pregnant after rape, with no money and limited language skills which would have allowed her to avail of the services available to other women, who asked for an abortion at eight weeks, was refused, and had to wait for a further 17 weeks before being forced to agree to give birth by Caesarian section.

Pro-choicers liked the second story much better, as it allowed them to present once again an image of Ireland as a backward, misogynistic country which forced rape victims to bear their rapists' babies to term, as if they were incubators rather than human beings. In this version, "force fed" became the new "dumped in a septic tank", with the most sensational aspects of what happened being cynically exploited to present a caricature of the country to the world.

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