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Rape, Pregnancy, and Abortion in Ireland.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland has released a statement today detailing statistics concerning pregnancies resulting from rape, as well as the number of those women that chose to terminate their pregnancies. It is a timely item for discussion given the recent publication of Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill 2012, and the fact abortion is once again, on the minds of many. In saying that, the release of this statement in the context of this legislation demonstrates just how far behind Ireland is – this legislation, if passed, would not actually allow for abortion in cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape.

When pregnancy and rape come up in discussions, anti-choice activists tend to be fairly consistent in their willingness to withhold access to abortion for women when they have been raped, and they tend to anchor their argument in the idea that because pregnancy as a result of rape is “rare” that this somehow means that a woman who has been violated in the first instance should have her body further violated by being forced to carry to term the pregnancy of her rapist. The real meaning of that kind of rhetoric is, “Pregnancy from rape is rare; and you do not own your body anyway; therefore you will not make choices as to what happens with it.”

But even if the assertion that pregnancy from rape is rare was correct, the rarity of a pregnancy does not mean that it is a valid reason to withhold access to abortion for a rape survivor. It is bad enough that anti-choice lobbyists do not believe in the most basic self-determination of a person that would afford a woman a choice as to what happens her body normally, but it really does take a special kind of person to tell a rape victim that she should be compelled to carry a pregnancy of rape to full term against her will.

The RCNI Director Fiona Neary has said of the statistics,

“The RCNI would have concerns that any rape survivor would be subject to restrictions and would have to travel oversees to another jurisdiction in order to access a termination….. RCCs will continue to support survivors in making decisions which survivors feel are the right choices for their circumstances.”

The statistics are so disturbing they deserve to be reproduced here in their entirety;

“In 2010 1,545 survivors of sexual violence attended Rape Crisis Centres (RCCs). Of these, a small number became pregnant as a result of rape; in total 75 girls and women. These girls and women made different choices:

Ten survivors of rape chose to terminate their pregnancies (13%)

Ten survivors chose to place their child for adoption or fostering (13%)

Forty three survivors went on to parent their children (57%)

Nine survivors of rape miscarried or had stillbirths (12%)

Three survivors became pregnant more than once as a result of rape and chose different options in each pregnancy (4%)….”

What is important to note about these statistics is not only were there 75 girls and women who were made pregnant as a result of rape, this figure only represents the number of women who attended Rape Crisis Centres over the course of one year.

This of course does not reflect the total figure of women who were raped during 2010 and did not attend a Rape Crisis Centre – which is much higher, and which would logically leave the figure of pregnancy resulting from rape higher again, and in turn increase the figure of the number of women who went on to choose a termination in this scenario. These numbers may be small, but that does not mean that the experience or trauma of their rape and subsequent pregnancy is somehow lessened by that.

Naturally, for the forced-birth advocates of the anti-choice movement this trauma is utterly meaningless.

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24 responses »

  1. It seems to me that every generation has a time for another discussion on abortion,This time i went back to basics ,rather than read what everyone is saying,even though i did , i just googled ABORTION….never again…..Im a father of one lovely little boy,who makes me so angry, makes me cry,makes me laugh .one of my most favouriite times ,appart from when he is asleep/quiet,but, to go in to him in the mornings and get him up.
    We have been together since we were teenagers and never was ready for a child…It took 4 miscarriages and 10 years for everything to go ok..finally.
    for me the thought that as a person we are brought up to profess no harm to one another ,treat everyone as equalls,peace ,love and all that.
    There is no way i can express or be as emotive as i am at present,so,with respect ,ladies,I could never vote yes for abortion in any form,maybe the future will test me ,but who knows what is through the next door.
    i’ll give just two reasons
    1. my friend in our early 20’s had tow abortions,in her 30’s has not been able to concieve and has been actively trying for four years now,she now blames herself,as she put it she was selfish when she was young.Did not think of tomorrow,just today!
    2nd.i would not like any harm come to my child now or one i heard i might be a dad.im told by a consultant friend of mine that an unborn child in the womb does feel pain!!….SO…..NO…..

    Reply
    • Stephanie Lord

      Congratulations, you obviously love your kid. But the fact remains, that just because you had a child and you think it’s great, does not mean that you or anyone else gets a say in a woman’s decision to have or not to have children.

      “..I could never vote yes for abortion in any form,maybe the future will test me ,but who knows what is through the next door…”

      It’s a little silly to say “I’d never vote for abortion” and in the next breath imply that your view might change depending on what’s down the road.

      “1. my friend in our early 20’s had tow abortions,in her 30’s has not been able to concieve and has been actively trying for four years now,she now blames herself,as she put it she was selfish when she was young.Did not think of tomorrow,just today!”

      That’s sad for your friend, but do you know what – women can conceive after abortion. It is unfortunate that your friend is in this situation, so I would suggest if you are actually a friend, and this isn’t a made-up example that you would be better to direct her to the IFPA for counselling.

      2nd.i would not like any harm come to my child now or one i heard i might be a dad.im told by a consultant friend of mine that an unborn child in the womb does feel pain!!….SO…..NO…..

      1. Nobody is suggesting that harm should come to your child. Legalising abortion would not require your partner to have one.
      2. I hope your “consultant friend” has nothing to do with maternity or antenatal services because there is no scientific consensus as to when a foetus feels pain.

      Reply
  2. The current controversy in England demonstrates why I am opposed to abortion. It’s clear that it has become exactly as you want it, de facto death on demand for a child unfortunate enough to be conceived by some women.

    In the age of contraception (which I’ve never had a problem with, unlike a lot of the Bible Bashers who come on here), standards of personal responsibility should be higher in my opinion. I know there a cases where personal responsibility doesn’t come into it, such as rape where the woman has no choice in the matter, and in my view the option should be there for a woman in that situation, and it is there presently in Ireland virtue of the X case which is established precedent.

    Abortion on the whimsical basis that, “oh I had unprotected sex, knowing the risks and am now pregnant, I don’t want a child so should be able to choose to kill it”, or because the child is not the gender they want etc., is quite frankly disgusting and is really the last straw for me in how far society truly sinks in terms of the value it places on human life, or as you’d rather see it, a potential human life.

    Anyone who would be that irresponsible and correspondingly cold should not be permitted to participate in society, again in my view, and I really think they should be placed in a psychiatric institution as they cannot possibly be normal.

    Reply
    • How are you the arbiter of what is “normal” for a woman with an unwanted pregnancy? Have you ever been one?

      It sounds to me as though you think motherhood should be used as a punishment for women who acted (in your view) irresponsibly by not using contraception. Leaving aside the facts that many pregnancies occur as a result of contraception failures; that many (particularly younger) women have unprotected sex not fully understanding the risks, or under pressure; and that abusive men often deliberately sabotage their partner’s birth control, your position makes no sense whatsoever from a logical perspective. If someone isn’t “responsible” enough to prevent a child how on earth do you think they are “responsible” enough to have one?

      Reply
      • Motherhood shouldn’t be a punishment, but action + unmitigated risk = consequences. Let’s not pretend here that people aren’t capable of understanding the possibility of themselves becoming pregnant if they have unprotected sex. It just doesn’t wash and it’s morally unacceptable to say that any person is incapable of forging their own outcome. After all, life is what you make it.

        Should the child be murdered because of irresponsible parents? No. If they are incapable of raising the child then the State must step up to it’s constitutional duty to provide for the child, an area which people would be better focusing their energy upon reforming rather than jumping to the easy answer, to erase the innocent child that is unlucky enough to be conceived in such circumstances.

        @Eleen, I will try to read up more from the other angle, but it is hard and I’m not the only person in this country that finds it a difficult issue to confront because it’s almost morally repugnant to even entertain or give such ideas the light of day. I mean you might as well call the murder of an constantly relapsing drug addict a “medical treatment”.

        Reply
        • Motherhood shouldn’t be a punishment, but action + unmitigated risk = consequences.

          One of those potential consequences being abortion. It’s only if a woman doesn’t get pregnant at all (or contract an STD) that she actually escapes the consequences of having unprotected sex. Your argument makes it sound as though you wish there would be more unwanted pregnancies, after all, how else are those wanton harlots going to learn their lesson?

          Let’s not pretend here that people aren’t capable of understanding the possibility of themselves becoming pregnant if they have unprotected sex.

          I didn’t say they weren’t capable of understanding, I said that sometimes they simply don’t understand. A lot of people, especially young people, do believe that they can avoid pregnancy simply by having sex in particular ways or at particular times. A proper sex education programme in schools could help to address this problem, oh but guess what, the anti-choice brigade largely opposes that too…

          Incidentally, your avoidance of the other issues I raised has been noted.

          If they are incapable of raising the child then the State must step up to it’s constitutional duty to provide for the child, an area which people would be better focusing their energy upon reforming

          I’m almost gobsmacked at the idea that the care system could be sufficiently reformed to cope with the births of an additional 5,000+ unwanted children per year. If the resources were available for that, surely they would be better put to use anyway in giving women the supports they need to raise their children.

          rather than jumping to the easy answer

          Ask anyone who’s ever had an abortion how “easy” it was. Your comments really do betray a remarkable contempt for women.

    • Until you have properly educated yourself on the reasons women want and need abortions, your opinions will be harmful and hurtful.

      Reply
  3. At the end of the day responsibility is the issue here, and I was probably seemed biased against the female in particular, but that is only because it should go without mention that the male is equally irresponsible and has a lot to answer for in those particular situations.

    Any liberalisation of established norms in an effort to deal with a problem which shouldn’t exist is the wrong answer, and should be viewed as nothing less than a cataclysmic, world ending failure of our society. Education, contraception, and both parties to the intercourse being made deal with the consequences of their actions. Inevitably this will lead to harsh results for some who would go as far as seeking out a “back alley abortion” or one or both parents commit infanticide, but that can be dealt with accordingly under the law and an example made.

    So, in other words, keep your change. I want responsibility, morality, and consequences. What puzzles me greatly is that Sinn Fein is opposed to abortion, but leaves it down to individual members to make up their own minds, yet you actually campaign for abortion in conflict with the party policy.

    Reply
  4. all this ‘for abortion’, isn’t it supposed to be ‘for choice’??? people who argue in favour of abortion instead of choice just hate women and want to contro our fertility.
    For example the swp young swedish girl can stand up and ‘irish girls age 16 need access to abotion’- i find this so deeply offensive and insulting-you may as well tell large numbers in communities were everyone is a teenage parent or the child of a teenage parent that they should be dead-they should have been aborted.
    I should not be writing now as the child of a teenage parent , i should have been aborted apparently!
    the other sick thing is the lies we were told on the left that abortion is a walk in the park and what is taken out is just a little lump of snot not the reality of such a gruseome experience. Im in favour of the abortion pill up the 9 weeks but late abortion is just a continuation of violence against women.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Lord

      all this ‘for abortion’, isn’t it supposed to be ‘for choice’??? people who argue in favour of abortion instead of choice just hate women and want to contro our fertility.

      Nobody is arguing for forced abortions here. If that’s what you took from that piece, I suggest you go back and read it again. Slowly.

      For example the swp young swedish girl can stand up and ‘irish girls age 16 need access to abotion’- i find this so deeply offensive and insulting-you may as well tell large numbers in communities were everyone is a teenage parent or the child of a teenage parent that they should be dead-they should have been aborted.

      As far as I, and all other pro-choice people are concerned (you see, the key word there, is choice) all pregnant women need supports and choices – whether that is to terminate their pregnancy, or carry their pregnancy to term and parent themselves. It is the height of dishonesty to attempt to portray pro-choice people as being somehow inherently against teenage parenting.

      I should not be writing now as the child of a teenage parent , i should have been aborted apparently!

      Eh, no. Once again, I suggest re-reading the piece. If you believe that pro-choice activists believe that, it’s either a clear lack of understanding of what *choice* means, or wilful dishonesty.

      the other sick thing is the lies we were told on the left that abortion is a walk in the park and what is taken out is just a little lump of snot not the reality of such a gruseome experience.

      Who said it was a walk in the park?

      Yes, abortion in the sixth week and a late term abortion are different procedures but for most women, the “gruesome” element, is the unwanted pregnancy and not the abortion itself.

      Im in favour of the abortion pill up the 9 weeks but late abortion is just a continuation of violence against women.

      That doesn’t even make sense.

      Reply
  5. I agree, it could be argued that abortion is actually more anti-woman than actually making men faced up to their equal responsibilities in terms of the home and childbirth.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Lord

      Do you know what is “anti-woman”? Forced pregnancy, that’s what.

      As for making men faced up to their equal responsibilities in terms of the home and childbirth – I’m going to gloss over the nonsensical childbirth part of this, but please explain to me how making a man pay child support (I presume this is what you’re referring to here) somehow makes forced pregnancy and forced birth not anti-woman exactly?

      Reply
  6. Abortion should be a choice for every woman regardless. I highly doubt such an invasive procedure would ever be considered an easy choice – and even if it is, we’re talking about a human being and their body.

    Whether you believe in life at conception or at any other time inside the womb, your beliefs cannot override another person’s beliefs. Every woman has their own beliefs about this issue and those against abortion can choose not to abort. I understand that it is a moral issue but the even bigger moral issue here – that people seem to overlook – is whether people have a right to make decisions over another person’s body.

    Pregnancy is NOT easy. It has many major health risks, it changes everything about your body and let’s not forget the emotional and hormonal toll it can take. If you are told that you are forced to undergo these changes no matter what you may feel about them, you lose bodily autonomy: you are a slave. Do we really think we as a society should have that right over people – over women?

    Granted, there are no doubt very uneducated and/or irresponsible women who practice unsafe sex, get pregnant and chose to abort, but they are probably a tiny proportion of people out there. Let’s be real about this now. There are millions of very valid reasons for a woman to chose to have an abortion. Everyone who wants to have an opinion on this matter should look into them if they want to have an informed opinion at all.

    If you feel that abortion means killing babies, or killing life, fair enough. Not everybody believes that. Up to a certain time, it most definitely, scientifically is NOT a baby in any way and this is the time-frame in which most abortions take place.

    Personally, I believe that as long as a life-form or potential life or whatever you want to call it, needs the body of a woman for its very survival, it does not have rights over that woman. I trust that woman to make the right decision because I don’t think I should have any power over that woman or her body. I believe that any decent, respectful human being will feel the same way.

    @Joe: If you find it so morally repugnant that you can’t look at it from “the other angle” then you honestly don’t have any place in this debate. And comparing a foetus to a living human being isn’t a logical comparison and indicates that you haven’t even looked into the realities of the situation. You can believe a foetus is a human being all you like, but your personal beliefs cannot inform the debate.

    Reply
    • Anything is better than murdering a child just because one person doesn’t want it. All this “choice” rubbish is irrelevant, Eleen, society as a whole does (and should in my opinion) have the right to regulate the behaviour and choices of others within a reasonable range of personal autonomy, it’s call “Law”. Sure otherwise you might as well say drugs should be legalised, etc., etc.

      The whole crux of the abortion issue from a the X case is in balancing the right to life of the mother with the equal right to life of the unborn child. So its really focused on the question of when life begins, but different people have different views on that which have to be respected too.

      @Steph: Maintenance payments and actual participation in the life of the child. If two people have sex, and a child is conceived, they should either have a legal obligation to accept their responsibility and raise the child or hand it over to the State for adoption/care where they are failing in this duty. Simple, no one or no thing has to die.

      Reply
      • Anything is better than murdering a child, Joe? No one is murdering children – that’s the whole point and a point you seem to miss again and again. You, once again, can believe a foetus is a child if you want but it is technically and scientifically not true. When a lump of cells can be considered a human being is perhaps part of the debate we’re having with the X-case but I think the real issue here is of personal autonomy.

        A reasonable range of personal autonomy. I think it’s reasonable that a woman has autonomy over her own body and her life. Becoming pregnant is not the same as choosing to take drugs, and frankly your analogy is insulting. I don’t know if you realise how hurtful you’re being here. I hope for your sake and everybody’s sake that you educate yourself on this issue with humility and some compassion before you give your opinion anymore.

        Reply
        • You, once again, can believe a foetus is a child if you want but it is technically and scientifically not true.

          You could have also said “and legally”. I don’t know of a single jurisdiction anywhere in the world that treats foetuses and children as the same. Ireland certainly doesn’t.

      • So its really focused on the question of when life begins, but different people have different views on that which have to be respected too.

        I respect your absolute right not to have an abortion if you think it’s taking a life.

        Reply
        • More of this “I’m a man, so I have no right with regard to this issue”. Excellent approach, but like it or not it comes down to one man, one vote.

        • More of this “I’m a man, so I have no right with regard to this issue”.

          Nope. I’d have said exactly the same to a woman.

        • Stephanie Lord

          @Joe

          More of this “I’m a man, so I have no right with regard to this issue”. Excellent approach, but like it or not it comes down to one man, one vote.

          Newsflash. A woman’s uterus is not a democracy, you don’t get a say, or a vote, in what happens in it.

        • @ Joe

          You’re demonstrating that you believe you have a right to decide over another person’s body and life with your vote. Abortion should be a private matter between a woman, her conscience, her doctor and whoever else she decides to bring into the matter. Do you not trust a woman whose whole life will revolve around this decision to make the best choice for herself and her family (if she has one)?

          As an outsider you, I and everybody else should have no say, and we certainly will not be able to make an informed decision for her because only she will know. This has nothing to do with you being a man, Joe. It has to do with you not being the person who has to make the decision.

          Please consider this for a moment. The point of this debate is whether people should trust a person to know what’s right for them, or whether the state should intervene and tell them what to do with their bodies. I don’t want to live in a country where there are outside parties controlling our basic, biological functions and our bodies in this fashion.

  7. @ Eleen: Then, with respect, move country.

    @ Steph: Oh, but of course a women’s uterus is not a democracy, that seems to be your cliched catchphrase of the year, however it present IS SUBJECT to democracy, and as far as I’m concerned that’s they way it should be. Exactly the same as the way as what I choose to put into my body, or where I choose to take my body or what I can say are regulated by those around me (the people being sovereign).

    Perhaps more frightening for you, I don’t consider myself to be a misogynist, in fact I would say that I am anything but one. I’m fully supportive of women if they choose to have a family or focus on their career, etc. and they should get equal pay and treatment with men, and have equal right to do what men do, should they wish to do so and I would clearly be supportive of a women who chose to do this.

    However, that shouldn’t be used to undermine the institution of the family or the traditional institution of marriage. I’m not sure how to put it, maybe the boundaries need to be moved but definitely not broken.

    Reply
  8. On another note, it’s great to see that the socialist feminists share a platform with the oppressors of the poor:

    http://www.youthdefence.ie/latest-news/the-us-billionaires-funding-the-push-for-abortion-in-ireland/

    Reply

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