As promised, some kittens before we start. Trust me, you’ll need ’em. Part one of my recap of the meeting is here.
Before the discussion began, speakers reiterated meeting guidelines, code of conduct, and that this was a pro-choice meeting, not a meeting to debate whether or not abortion should be legal. Commenters were asked to keep questions relatively brief, on-topic and to-the-point.
The first comment, from someone who seemed not to have been listening, was from a man from a group called Parents for Justice. He began with the accusation that every organ from aborted babies is sold to paracetamol companies, and asked Dr Favier to account for this. He went on to accuse abortion doctors of being murderers and saying that there was no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ pro-choice person, before becoming loud and aggressive toward the speakers and having to be ejected from the meeting.
Next to speak was Joe Moore. He pointed out that abortion is a woman’s right to choose, and is also a class issue. Asylum seeker women legally can’t leave the state at all. He told a story of how he was once contacted by an asylum seeker woman bleeding heavily as a result of a botched abortion. He was able to get her the medical assistance she needed, but shouldn’t she have had the right to access safe abortion services here?
“How many people need to hit the streets for Praveen Halappanavar to get an inquiry into his wife’s death? And what part did racism play in Savita’s doctor pointing out to an Indian couple that Ireland is a Catholic country?”
The next speaker was a woman who had come to the meeting with her 5-month-old baby. She said that she herself was a midwife and a mother, and went on to state that everyone in the room was disgusting. She asked the speakers when they draw the line between calling killing a baby abortion and calling it murder? Where is the line? Clare Daly responded by stating that abortions should take place as early as possible and as late as necessary.
Another person had a question for Dr Favier. Are there backstreet abortions in Cork? Hoe many? Dr Favier responded that, while she herself was unaware of any backstreet abortions in Ireland, the only reason for this was the proximity of the UK.
Next, another pro-life person. He stated that while a woman has a right to live in the Constitution, we voted just this year for children to have a voice too. You should neither murder a mother to save a baby, nor a baby to save a mother. Dr Favier, again, answered by stating that a woman’s life must always take priority. We must always save her life.
Paul McAndrew spoke next, pointing out that we had agreed earlier to respect women who have had abortions. Describing these women as murderers is not respectful. He went on to add that these terms were similar to those which have been used against him as an openly gay man. This kind of bullying language cannot be condoned.
Another anti-abortion man spoke next. He did not appear to have a relevant question for the speakers, but stated that Irish destiny lay in its future citizens before accusing the speakers of not attending Mass.
“You do not know the person who has had an abortion. You do not know why they had an abortion. You do not know their history. And it is none of your business.”
Someone had a question for Dr Favier. Women in Ireland are buying medical abortion pills online. How many do this? Can you advise on how to take these in an appropriate and safe manner? Dr Favier’s response was that there is no data on how many do this, but that large amounts of abortificant medications are seized coming into Ireland. While she understands why a woman would do this, Doctors for Choice cannot encourage women to take medical abortions illegally without medical supervision. Continuing, she made the point that many of these women, if they experience complications, will not say what had happened because of experiencing hostility and judgement in A&E. According to her own anecdotal evidence, non-Irish doctors working in A&E are often far more empathetic and understanding towards women suffering from abortion complications.
At this stage, it was almost 10pm and there was only time for one more comment. The woman who spoke told her story of how, 45 years ago after she had had her first baby, she had to travel all the way to Waterford to get a prescription for the Pill. She described searching Cork city for a pharmacy that would sell the Pill, and how shamed and judged she felt every time she picked up her prescription. Although Ireland still has a long way to go, at least we’ve come a long way in the past 45 years.