Advertising Abortions In The Irish Times


Waking up this morning, I flopped over in bed (almost exactly like how I imagine a sleepy walrus would) as usual, and picked up my phone for a bit of a browse of some news until I felt ready to face the world. I can’t be the only person who does this, can I? Somehow reading news articles in bed feels almost like I’m doing something productive. Almost.

This morning, I was treated to news of an ad in the Irish Times today. Doesn’t sound like news to you? Check this out:

bpas

That, my friends, is one hell of an advertisement. It’s more than an advertisement. It’s a gauntlet thrown at the Irish government to get their act together, grow a pair (of ovaries), and start providing women with the healthcare and bodily autonomy that are our rights. And it manages to simultaneously give essential information to people with crisis pregnancies. I’d have put a hat on just to take it off to them, if I weren’t, as I mentioned, still under my duvet at the time. It was a chilly Saturday morning- I wasn’t getting out of there before I had to, especially not to tip my hat to people who weren’t in the country, never mind the room.

Then I read the comments. I know- don’t read the comments. Unless they’re the comments on a blog with a silly name that seems somehow related to tea. You should read those. In those comments were a few things that I think deserve to be talked about.

What had the charming anti-choice masses of the internet to say?

You’re all a bunch of filthy murderers, tearing babies apart limb from limb

Ah, this old chestnut. The charming characterisation of pro-choice people as slathering, bloodthirsty hordes who love nothing more than dismembering innocents. I imagine that we also take the time to perfect our evil laughs before an entertaining evening spent kicking puppies, stealing sweets from children and then chopping the heads off their favourite teddy bears, yes? Oh, and we never use our indicators, always hold our umbrellas at your eye level, and turn the volume on our headphones up so loud that you can sing along to our earworms from the other side of the bus.

While all of that is of course perfectly true, there is one factual inaccuracy here. It’s the bit about “tearing babies apart limb from limb”. You see, while Irish people have abortions at about the same rate as our UK counterparts, there are a couple of important differences in how it happens, both of which can be traced directly back to the Irish abortion ban.

Irish women have abortions later. And we have more surgical abortions.

We have abortions later- two weeks, on average- because travelling to the UK for a medical procedure is not a simple process. Finding money. Finding a clinic. Finding money for flights- ever had to book Ryanair on short notice? Booking flights and other transport. Can you afford a place to stay? Have you friends to stay with? Getting time off work. Have kids or other dependants? You’ll need to find someone to care for them. Oh, and remember that bit about the money? Time is ticking, and the cost of an abortion is rising with every passing week.

Even when Irish women manage to have abortions early, though, we still end up having surgical abortions far more than our UK counterparts. Why? Medical abortions- that’s the abortion pill- take more time than surgical. Those pills take time to work, and controlled miscarriages can be as painful as natural ones. Despite the fact that many women would prefer medical abortions to having surgery, they often simply can’t afford even more time away from home, as well as the cost of days of accommodation.

So let’s get something straight: if anyone is encouraging women to “tear their babies limb from limb” (a description that is as unpleasantly graphic as it is, in the vast majority of cases, inaccurate), it’s the people who force Irish people seeking abortions to have their abortions weeks later, and to endure more invasive procedures than they need. That’s anti-choicers and the Eighth Amendment, by the way.

But let’s move on, shall we? I have a couple more chestnuts to get through. How about this one:

noplane

Who do BPAS think they are, sticking their noses into Irish business?

On the face of it, this seems legit. Us pro-choice activists are always banging on about how certain anti-choice groups active in Ireland seem to be a little.. further West.. than most of the rest of us. Y’know. A fair bit west. The kind where you set off from, say, Kerry or Galway, point yourself away from land and keep going till you get to the land of s’mores and Taco Bell. If we get to complain about how they seem to get shedloads of money from shady US backers, then they should be able to object to UK organisations taking out ads in our papers. Right?

Wrong, actually.

When we object to things like overseas funding and a strange unwillingness to publish where certain organisations get their money, the point isn’t that some people who happen to live outside Ireland are giving people some money. The point is, in fact, twofold. It’s inappropriate and harmful for people with no stake in, or knowledge of, contemporary Ireland to try to influence our laws- it’s quite frankly none of their business. And hiding that you’re doing so, while pretending that you have vastly more local support than you do, is unethical and dishonest. If you can’t make your point while fighting fair? GTFO.

BPAS, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. Ireland’s ban on abortion doesn’t mean that Irish people don’t have abortions. It means that Irish people get our abortions from English doctors. English hospitals, nurses and doctors do what their Irish equivalents will or can not. They provide the care and services that we need. By banning abortion, Ireland forces itself into a symbiotic relationship with our neighbours. UK hospitals, whether we like to admit it or not, are an integral part of Irish health care.

BPAS aren’t strangers to Irish women. They are the people who, for decades, have stepped up where our country has abdicated responsibility. When Ireland talks about statistics and anonymised cases, BPAS provides services to real people. They are as part of Irish healthcare as my GP down the road. And as the people who care for Irish women, who hear our stories and show us the respect and compassion that our country denies us, they have as much a say in this issue as anyone on this island.

And they write their name on their ad.

This is just a cynical move by those murdering scum to make more profits from killing cute little babies who have toesie woesies and things

This one makes no sense. BPAS are challenging the Irish government to actually get off its butt and decriminalise abortion already. BPAS are a British organisation. Britain is where Irish pregnant people go to get abortions now. Irish pregnant people don’t get NHS treatment, so we have to pay privately for our abortions. If abortion were legal in Ireland, we would have abortions in Irish hospitals and clinics. Not British. This would mean that they would be paid less money by the 12 people a day who wouldn’t need to travel.

It’s called logic.

You know what else, though? I took a look at BPAS’s site today. They have a specific Irish website which I found through their main site. While Irish women cannot access the NHS, BPAS charge us significantly reduced rates than UK private patients. They can waive consultation fees in several circumstances. They link to non-directive pregnancy counselling, free post-abortion medical and counselling services, and to the Abortion Support Network for people who need assistance with funding or accommodation.

Does that seem like the actions of uncaring people who care about nothing but profit to you?

29 thoughts on “Advertising Abortions In The Irish Times

  1. We have the same morning news reading ritual 🙂

  2. What a load of drivel. You seem to be missing a point, abortion is killing innocent babies. What kind of civilised society can see that as acceptable in ANY way?

    I hope abortions one day get banned here in England as you have over there in Ireland. Killing a baby is no different from killing any other human. The correct response to abortions would be to ban all abortions, and anybody who defies that should face the same punishment as anybody else who is convicted for murder.

    Why do you think that killing other people is acceptable behaviour?

    • I guess this was inevitable, eh? I’ll give you one thing- at least you’re consistent. Most antis I’ve spoken to balk at the idea of throwing people who have abortions in prison for decades.

      However, let’s take what you’ve said, eh? “Abortion is killing innocent babies”.

      Babies are not aborted. By definition. Fetuses and embryos are. You can’t say that you ‘abort a baby’, any more than you can say you ‘abort’ an adult, or a pensioner. Words have meanings.

      You are correct about one thing: killing a baby is no different from killing any other human. Absolutely. The moment a fetus becomes a baby- that is, the moment it is no longer dependant on a specific someone else’s body, blood, nutrients to survive, then ending its life is criminal and immoral.

      However, there is a difference between actively killing a baby, child, or adult, and removing a fetus from a pregnant person. That difference lies in the same principle behind why we do not mandate organ and blood donation: you do not, under any circumstances, get to force me to use my body against my will to sustain your life. That is frankly nothing more than torture and slavery.

      Also, I find your use of the word “innocent” interesting. I assume this is because you do not see women who seek abortions as innocent? Which is interesting, because I never saw consenting to sex (assuming that the pregnant person wasn’t raped, of course) as a crime.

      • My views on many things have changed drastically over the last few years, but abortion has always been one of those issues that has been difficult for me to “back.” Of course I know there are grey areas, such as rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger, but I’m still not sure if I am “ok” with abortion simply being a form of birth control, especially in later terms. However, not being a woman, I know it is not, nor will it ever be, my decision to make. If asked my opinion, I would give it honestly, and on your article, I have to say yours is the best defense I’ve read in support of it. It is very well written and thought provoking.

        • Hi! Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for both your honesty and for listening to my perspective in good faith. I appreciate that!

          If you’re interested in reading more, I’d love if you could check out a longer post I wrote last year on why I’m pro choice. Here and here are links to collections of stories by people who’ve had abortions. Obviously, your views are your own! But learning more about the reality of what abortion is like for the women who have them is important.

          • Thanks for sharing the links. I read several of the personal stories on the other blog, which were very sad. It definitely shows things from a different perspective and helps you empathize more with women who have to go through such a thing. As I said before, my system of beliefs has been in quite an upheaval the last few years, and I’m still “holding on” to remnants I guess. One of the quotes that struck me the most was “Every child deserves to be wanted and to have parents as healthy and sane as possible” from the woman that was recovering from a mental breakdown. I think that is one thing many do not consider when they stand in their place of judgement. They don’t think of the life a child will have to live through if they are born into a family that is already struggling financially, or if the parent/parents just did not want a baby to begin with. Anyway, as I said before, your blog is very thought provoking, and it has definitely made me reconsider a few things. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it in the future.

    • One more thing, though.

      Banning all abortions leads to women dying. Why do you think killing women is acceptable behaviour?

    • Fuck the innocent “babies”

  3. Understandably, this is a more complex and gray issue than anything else in modern life today. However, I’m not quite sure what critical thought goes into such a one-sided argument, and the ad hominem attack against a pro-life proponent. There are of course flaws in their argument too, but as I’ve read you have no interest in truly listening to them. The biggest one, which you actually missed, is the danger of medical malpractice of illegal abortions — the pro-life side don’t seem to understand that.

    I would argue that an issue like this – amongst many other things that the state is involved in is not a function that government should control. The big issue I have with abortions is that I shouldn’t have to appropriate any more money to the state, and I’m going to have to if the HSE takes over (and we all know that they do a SPLENDID job with our money).

    Back to the point at hand; if abortions are allowed, as per the will of the populace, should we stick to first trimester only? Where do we draw the line? What happens if a doctor refuses to carry out the procedure, due to some oath that they took?

    It’s great to advocate for the pro-choice-abortion-leftist-begrudging-collectivist-feminist-egalitarian drivel that we’ve come to expect from this generation’s “education”, but thinking about the consequences is something we seldom do.

    As for the ad, the british government can do what they like.

    If you don’t like the paper for doing it, don’t buy the paper. Who even buys newspapers anymore?

    • I’m not sure where you get the idea that I’m unwilling to think critically or engage with opposing views? I’m also not sure where you get the idea that I don’t think about consequences? Or that I don’t like the paper who posted the ad? Also, if you’re going to characterise my perspective as “pro-choice-abortion-leftist-begrudging-collectivist-feminist-egalitarian drivel”, I’d like it if you could actually back up that assertion.

      To be completely honest with you, I had to read your comment several times, and I’m still not entirely sure what you’re on about.

      However, responding to what I think you may be saying:

      If your main objection to decriminalising abortion is that people who are entitled to free medical care might use their medical cards to access abortion services, do you feel the same way about other necessary medical care? Are you aware that if Irish people have their abortions here, it is almost certain that the majority of those will be early abortions, many of which require nothing more than a prescription for medical abortion pills? How do you feel about the many hundreds of thousands of euro Irish people spend each year outside Ireland obtaining abortion services?

      Regarding when abortions should be allowed: Personally I am in favour of full decriminalisation: that no person who is pregnant should ever be forced to remain so. End of story.

      • “…I’d like it if you could actually back up that assertion”

        I’ve pretty much scanned most of your articles, and read your tagline at the top of your page. Plus, just the nature of your article makes you seem an advocate for the current modern-liberalism we have to all suffer through.

        If I’m wrong, feel free to correct me.

        “Personally I am in favour of full decriminalisation: that no person who is pregnant should ever be forced to remain so.”

        Two women are beside each-other in a hospital, both at 28 weeks. Both women are having a baby – slightly premature but healthy and crying.

        One gets thrown into a corner, while 10 doctors rush over to the other woman and try to do everything to ensure the other child is healthy and survives, how is this right and moral? Think about it.

        “Are you aware that if Irish people have their abortions here, it is almost certain that the majority of those will be early abortions, many of which require nothing more than a prescription for medical abortion pills?”

        You spoke about the fact that Irish get abortions later than British counterparts. However to address your point, I do not object to a shot of estrogen in the case of a woman potentially having an unwanted baby. I could argue that first trimester abortions might be the compromise both sides will need to agree on. However getting the pro-life side to get off their self-entitlement horse is going to be a difficult thing to do.


        “How do you feel about the many hundreds of thousands of euro Irish people spend each year outside Ireland obtaining abortion services?”

        People are free to travel wherever they want and it is not my business to stop them from their rights as an individual (to which the pro-life side would say that an unborn child is also an individual).

        “If your main objection to decrimina…….but other necessary medical care?”

        This is sliding the argument. Everything always has to be paid for, by someone, somewhere. Including abortions. I’d rather not force people to pay for something they morally object to. The state should not be involved in this matter.

        Doctor, contract, and patient. End of story. No government involvement.

        • Please read the words that I write- because I was quite specific in what I said, and for a reason. I said that nobody should be forced to remain pregnant against their will. I did not say a thing about what would happen after that. I see no reason why medical staff shouldn’t keep premature babies born by elective late-term termination (yes, I’m happy to use the term ‘baby’) alive. I would, of course, raise questions about who is to care for them, but that is an entirely different issue.

          • So you are saying that third-trimester abortions are ok, correct? I’m confused. Am I reading a contradiction here?

            I understand this want for “women’s rights”, but I don’t think we are thinking this through as women. I think we are pushing the pendulum too far the other way and the consequences have not been fully thought out.

            In the end, my uterus is mine and I have to look after myself and not blame “patriarchy” for getting pregnant. I’ll use birth control that I pay for, because it is my choice to do so.

            • “In the end, my uterus is mine and I have to look after myself and not blame “patriarchy” for getting pregnant. I’ll use birth control that I pay for, because it is my choice to do so.”
              -I’m not an advocate for abortion by any sense, but your statement seems a little naive at best. You do realize that not all women who have abortions simply “chose” to get pregnant right? Birth control is not always 100% effective, accidents happen even while people are using birth control. Also, what about cases of rape?

              • “You do realize that not all women who have abortions simply “chose” to get pregnant right?”

                “Also, what about cases of rape?”

                Do these talking points have anything to do with what I am addressing? I get a feeling you are trying to get stuck on the rhetoric here, and are asking irrelevant questions that you already know the answer to.

                • I’m simply replying to what you implied, which was that if women just CHOSE to take birth control that they wouldn’t get pregnant. That is what your last statement seemed to be implying, if it’s not what you meant by that statement, then I apologize.

  4. Thanks for your blog on the BPAS ad. As an emigrant I wouldn’t have heard about it. As an Irish women living in London I am very aware of the abortion trail and the tireless support over the decades given by women like Anne Rossiter who is the author of the book on the Irish Abortion Support Group.

    Given the despicable role and influence of the Catholic Church it is still so surprising that there is such resistance to giving women control over their fertility in Ireland. It is shameful that Ireland knowingly forces Irish women to go to the British mainland for this aspect of their healthcare including women from Northern Ireland. It is indicative of a puritanical view of sexuality.

    Many of the impregnating Irishmen are ignorant of the fact as the women don’t tell them for various reasons. We don’t hear the impregnators speak out or campaign for women’s right to choose. It is only when Irish men speak out, take action and campaign on abortion in Ireland that things will change.

  5. This is bloody marvellous. Well done you.

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  9. Well, well, well done! I wish I could put a lid on my personal rage long enough to write and research something important like this. New follower and fan!

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