A Soundbite or An Argument
Reading time: 3 mins
You have to give it to them, the repeal campaign do one thing right: soundbites.
How someone could frame the ending of a human life as some sort of progressive, pro-woman issue is really quite impressive. However, let’s take a moment to peek behind the curtain of the compassionate persona that pervades and, perhaps, replaces pro-abortion logic.
Will we find an argument worth contesting, or just a dressed-up, Wizard-of-Oz argument that will melt the moment it is probed?
“Pro-life that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die”
This argument would be compelling if, quite essentially, it were true. However, our friends the World Health Organisation have, thankfully, done the homework for us. 2015 figures show that Ireland has a maternal death rate lower than either the UK, which has abortion, or the US, which has abortion.
Wait, that means Ireland is a safer place to be pregnant? Does that just blow the repeal's favourite argument that “women are dying because of the 8th Amendment” out of the water?
Yes, it does.
First of all, under the current law, a woman is always entitled to any life-saving medical treatment that may as a consequence, but not an intention, end the life of her unborn child. That is not an abortion; it’s a life-saving medical intervention aimed at saving a life instead of losing both.
This may be rocking your world if you had previously believed that women die because of Ireland’s abortion laws. That is the narrative most people hear, but you don’t have to be duped any longer.
Our maternal death rate is lower than any of our neighbours’, which have abortion. Let’s stop listening to hollow soundbites and talk about whose lives really are ending — by the thousand — everyday.
“My body, my choice”
The whole idea of bodily autonomy sounds very righteous and liberating. Who would ever want somebody else to be in charge of their body?
Yet, in the context of pregnancy, bodily autonomy is completely anti-fact and anti-science. I’m not sure about you, but, the last time I checked, my body only had one set of limbs. One heartbeat. One brain. One face.
This bodily autonomy argument doesn't really add up.
We know from Junior Cert science that there are two bodies involved in a pregnancy. Even a five-year-old could tell you that. Yes, one body is dependent on the other for survival, for nutrients, shelter, etc.; but so is a newborn, and unless you want to explain why infanticide is morally permissible, that argument doesn’t really stack up. Just because a newborn relies on someone else for nourishment, does that mean it should be acceptable to neglect that child? All in the name of bodily autonomy?
We women are autonomous. Power to us. But there is no “right” to take a forceps to someone else’s body just because it’s inside of us and depends on us.
“Keep your rosaries off our ovaries”
And just to round it off, a pro-repeal advocate will usually take any sort of stab, jab, or even just reference to the Catholic Church. They know the Church is widely unpopular in our cultural psyche and, if they can just sew together in people's minds “pro-life = Catholic”, then they know they’ve won a major portion of public opinion. It’s some game, and in fairness to them, it’s effective.
It’s no wonder why The Irish Times decided to use a photo of three nuns at a 1,000 person pro-life conference back in December. It’s no surprise that the BBC show footage of old, bearded men holding crucifixes while a young, pro-life spokeswoman is trying to make a point.
Framing the pro-life argument as regressive and stuck in our religious past is very beneficial for repealers. They know it, and they exploit it at almost every given opportunity. It’s a cheap tactic, and I only mention it so that every time you see a pro-life article written by a bishop or a priest in The Irish Times (their go-to authors for that topic), or you see coverage of a pro-life event that looks more like a mass, you can identify this cheap tactic and reject it.
Let's settle this once and for all: there is nothing particularly religious about believing in and standing up for human rights.
Religion in this debate is a red herring that only benefits one side: pro-choice. So please, for the sake of honest debate, let’s stop the stereotyping and get on with actually discussing the issue.
The pro-abortion argument, embellished with its empowering fist pumps and trendsetting sweatshirts, boils down to empty rhetoric. Women don’t die without abortion. Babies do. And religion (to repeal's disappointment) has nothing to do with it.
Instead, let’s vote to keep our 8th Amendment and protest against a repeal argument filled with soundbites, hollow logic, and not much else.