No Country For Young Women

It’s Back to the Future for Ireland.  The whole country has climbed into a gigantic DeLorean and zapped itself back to the Eighties, where economic depression stalks the land and religious ideologues harangue pregnant women.

Last night on the Late Late show, three women told their stories of discovering that their unborn babies could never live outside the womb.  All of them wished fervently to bear a healthy child, but the reality was that it would never happen.  They asked to have their deliveries induced and they were refused.  In this God-fearing little country, they must bring their babies to full term, in the certain knowledge that those babies will be born dead.

What would you do?  They went abroad and had abortions.

Now let’s be clear about this.  Their babies did not simply have abnormalities, deformities  or disabilities.

In the case of these three women, their bodies were acting as life-support machines for babies that would never have survived outside the womb.  The mothers and fathers of these children give them a name.  They keep photos of the little life.  They grieve for them.  They bury them.  They tell their other children about them, children who also experience the bereavement, and they spend the rest of their lives loving them.  They spend the rest of their lives in a form of mourning that their emotionally-stunted religious detractors can never understand.

Anencephaly is a condition related to Spina Bifida.  It’s a neural tube defect in which the brain does not develop.  The baby shows all the signs of a living child, but has no brain and can in no circumstances exist independently.  When doctors determine that the victim of a road accident is brain dead, they can legally remove the artificial life support apparatus and allow the patient to die naturally, but when a woman in Ireland asks to have a baby with no brain delivered so as not to spend two, three or four months enduring the torture of such a thing, she is told NO.  You will become a life-support machine until such time as that child is delivered.  It matters nothing that you may be destroyed emotionally as a consequence.

That’s how our little republic treats women in such a heartbreaking fix.

It takes us right back to the Sheila Hodgers case, where a pregnant mother with cancer was allowed to die screaming rather than receive pain-killing drugs that might damage her foetus.  That happened in the Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, where so many other women were treated as lumps of meat, attacked, humiliated and defiled by the likes of Neary and Shine.  The Northern Ireland-trained staff nurse who blew the whistle on the extreme Catholic ethos of that hospital was hounded out of a job as a result.

On the Late Late Show last night, these women were called “murderesses”, a ridiculous word, revealing the antediluvian nature of the accuser, but that wasn’t the only debasement they experienced.  They reported being sneered at by a parliamentarian, Senator Ronan Mullen, who is of course inextricably bound up with the vile Youth Defence and Cóir and all the other manifestations of the Catholic extreme right in Ireland.

Make no mistake: Catholic or not, these people have little interest in  Christianity.  This is all about control.

The current government has had to make extremely difficult decisions on the economy.  While I disagree with many of their policies I don’t envy their task, but here comes the acid test.  Since they seem resolved to impose one savage budget after another, despite the extreme public backlash, will they have the balls to face down these heartless ideologues who would impose such suffering on young mothers?

Will we finally as a nation show some maturity instead of allowing decent, heartbroken women to skulk off like thieves?

Ronan Mullen, shame on you, and all those like you.

This isn’t the Eighties, though.  This time, people have the information and the means to fight back.


35 thoughts on “No Country For Young Women



  2. Good on you Bock! I was in awe of the courage and dignity shown by these brave women who just want to help others who face the farcical abbsurd situation which they endured! Any reasonable,rational person would have nothing but compassion for these brave women and the fate of their offspring! For a child to be born into a world with no possible survival seems cruel in the extreme!

  3. Thank you Bock, I lack words to express my feelings other than to say how much respect and admiration I feel for these brave women. These Catholic extremists are capable of great evil and damage many women around the world. Thankfully they hold no sway here. It is never about christianity but about controling people and the sense of power that derives from such control. A hundred years after you challenged an empire you discover maybe it was the wrong empire.

  4. So many sheeple are brainwashed in this country that it is unlikely our laws will be updated in the near future.Many folk are up for modernisation but most of our politicians haven’t the balls to stand up to the catholic church,preferring to keep their heads below the radar.Rise with the hare and run with the hound is big in the world of politics.Possibly a majority might want to bring us into the 21st century but RCC and its acolytes still have a stranglehold.
    Granting women their rights together with freedom of choice is anathema to fundamentalists of any religion,yet women themselves seem more brainwashed than men.
    The next 10 years should produce profound improvement for womens rights.Baseless belief ,or pretence in belief,in these sky-daddies and leprechauns is diminishing by the day.

  5. Congrats on a brilliant article, Bock.I live in Dublin, and often on a Saturday, I see these Youth Defence ..young men..showing their terrible posters, outside the GPO, where young kids can see them.There is no talking to them, as they are fanatics, but there are never girls, with them.I wonder who is funding them

  6. Great piece Bock.. well said.
    “Will we finally as a nation show some maturity instead of allowing decent, heartbroken women to skulk off like thieves?” Shur it’s easier to just export the problem. This country is so fucked up and backwards.

    I was having a chat one time with my dad about the church’s stranglehold in this country and how it was in his day.. he was telling me that his own father had no time for the priests and religion. Apparently the ‘ole fella’ would tell my grandmother to go out and tell Cannon Lee to fuck off out of it when he was collecting his church dues on his bike. (the grandfather called him Cannon Penny as he’d take your last penny! ha)
    I wonder was that sort of sentiment for the church common behind closed doors back then?
    Anyways, still far too many brain washed, filling the pews of a Sunday.. believing half the waffle.
    My own belief is that a woman should have the freedom of choice when it comes to her own body. But at the minimum we shouldn’t be forcing women faced with the certainty of a dead baby to carry to term.
    We need to start growing up as a nation.

  7. Aye indeed. Control is too often a tool used as a method of control against those in desperate need of a crutch all be it religious or not. Mullen has no real argument as to why abortion is so wrong other than his fall-back on the Catholic faith. I fear that Mr Mullen will go to his grave without a single major change being made to the ethics of our country.

    As a nation Ireland will eventually regrow both economically and spiritually. Sadly our fear of the all forgiving faither will always reduce us to our knees.

  8. Excellent post Bock, it saddens me that these horrible bastards still have so much sway in our society.

    Shame on Mullen, what a despicable pathetic human.

  9. wow i am so very moved by your piece it is actually the mesage we want to get across but you have done it so so well and i thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing that piece.
    Do you know i always think about my baby (who we named Skye) and think maybe ther little life will help change the unfortuneate news that many women and couples will recieve.
    But i will always love and remember Skye forever she has changed me forever.

    Once again i thank you for this

    Arlette Lyons

  10. Arlette, you don’t need to thank me for anything. I feel so enraged by the certainty of these ignorant people that I want to scream. This is the sort of domineering arrogance we need to eradicate from our country if we can ever hope to have any kind of civilised, tolerant society.

    This time, we need to fight back and put these ideologues in their place.

  11. Spot on article. Also, had a fatal feotal diagnosis and had to ask solicitor for advice instead automatically getting from my dr – how fucked is that. Baby died before we finalized travel arrangements though so we were spared heartbreaking journey.

  12. Wow. What a beautifully written really summed it up well.i really hope that this creates change, people are. Alot more informed these arlette said thank you for your support and for helping to raise awareness of this issue.we cannot let our babies be in pain with no treatment anymore its barbaric.the hospital was just waiting for my baby to die from being crushed to death(or even worse to suffocate) is that nice? It actually shows no compassion.

  13. @ irateirishman

    I also see youth defence people out on Saturdays but to to say that their numbers are only ever made up of men would be untrue.

    Bock, your article is based upon several untruths. Firstly, anencephaly does not mean that the brain does not develop. The brain does develop but only partially. In some cases babies with this condition can live for weeks after birth.

    I believe your comparison to “pulling the plug” on a life support machine is simplistic in the extreme.

    It is equally simplistic to drag the church into every debate about abortion. I am catholic. However I have many friends who are atheist, agnostic, muslim and protestant and are also pro-life…I really don’t think the label of religious nut or catholic right-winger helps the pro-choice argument anymore.

  14. Youth defence was started by the Mhathuna family from Churchtown., They also have links to Richard Green of Coir. They are extreme Catholics who claim to be pro-life but actually are also against lone parents and actually went to court to have the lone parents allowance (or unmarried mother’s allowance as it was then) declared illegal. They lost their case in the Supreme court and costs were awarded against them.

    They are/were also involved in campaigns against divorce, contraceptiion, ,
    rights for women etc. Like most so-called pro-lifers they have never shown the slightest interest in children,only the unborn baby, their real agenda is the protection of the Catholic Church

  15. I left Ireland 31 years ago with my husband and 3 children and reading your article it seems to me things have not changed very much since we left. The Catholic Church still rules the State to some degree.

  16. Re Debate on Abortion in Ireland:
    Abortion is wrong because it is the DELIBERATE killing of an unborn child. Women are entitled to all necessary medical interventions in pregnancy (when suffering from a serious physical ailment). Sometimes a baby may die in the course of necessary treatment to keep the mother alive. That is not abortion as the intention is not to DELIBERATELY kill the child. Abortion is where the baby’s life is INTENTIONALLY targeted. Abortion solves nothing.
    There is no discussion of the physical and psychological consequences of an abortion on the mother. There is very little discussion on the morality. Morality seems to have gone out the window. It seems everybody has his/her concept of right and wrong. Increasingly there seems to be a lack of moral compass. I have heard no discussion on the benefits of adoption. Abortion solves nothing. It creates two victims: mother and child.
    In the US the most dangerous place for a child is in its mother’s womb. Ireland can do without that.

  17. @Barry: “It seems everybody has his/her concept of right and wrong.”

    Exactly right. What makes your concept more valid than mine?

  18. Alanzo,

    The fact that the pro-life position is based upon proven scientific facts as opposed to the false idea that a mother should have a choice over whether her unborn child lives or dies.

    You make huge generalisations about people involved in the pro-life movement. I would suggest that you look into some of the atheist and secular pro-life movements and then try to argue that their agenda is protection of the catholic church…

  19. Adam, it’s not up to science to tell us right from wrong.

    Why is the idea that a mother should have a choice a “false” one? Every situation is different, and it’s too simplistic to treat this as a black-or-white issue. Certainly the situations Bock alludes to in the article are grey areas, at the least. If you’re still as strident in your views after reading about them, well, I wish I were as self-assured as you.

  20. Recently wrote an a blog on the right to choose. One person was very good at asking questions but never answered mine. Seems to be the mentality of many that its wrong for people to get abortions but if asked if they would take an unwanted child you don’t hear anything back.

  21. I know many people who have accepted “unwanted” children. Including my parents, who waited 4 years to adopt from Ethiopia. I also do not think there is any such thing as an unwanted child. Anyone who has experienced an adoption waiting list will know that.

  22. Word play is another one used. Of course there are unwanted pregnancies, babies and children all the other terms used. To say that is sticking you head in the sand. It is good to see people adopting but may I ask why they did not adopt a child from Ireland. There are plenty of needy children out there that have been put up for adoption because the child was not wanted or up to the parents standards and had problems. Is that also turning your back on the “unwanted?”

  23. This post has a very specific topic. It’s about pregnant women whose babies are unable to survive outside the womb.

    Anything else is irrelevant.

    In future, all off-topic comments, including those pushing the broader anti-abortion propaganda, will be blocked. I will not allow people to derail or hijack this discussion.

  24. Bock,

    Nobody is trying to derail or hijack the conversation…I believe it’s just called engaging in debate. If it’s not allowed to take place here and I’m accused/labelled a pusher of so called anti-abortion propaganda…I’ll happily go somewhere where the website isn’t controlled by a fascist moron.

  25. I think my explanation was easy enough to understand. This post is about babies with a fatal abnormality. People who want to extend it beyond that should have their argument elsewhere.

  26. Apologies for going off on one. I get hot headed on this subject and can only imagine as I have not experienced the suffering these women go through.

  27. I didnt see the LLS,but I heard some women relate similar stories to Matt Cooper on his radio programme during the week. It certainly made for lachrymose listening and only serves to reinforce the delusion that our society is either civilised or caring.

  28. These Catholic pro-lifers, so interested in protecting the rights of the ‘un-born’, but once you’re born, they don’t want anything to do with you.
    My wife once asked the Gardai to remove them from Shop street in Galway, and sure enough the law told them to pack up and stop frightening the kiddies with their their nasty posters.

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