Tag Archives: human-rights

Myth Busting: Rape and Birth

Guest Post

I am delighted to have a guest post by Ruaidhrí, who can be found on twitter as @Lamhfada and wrote this rebuttal of one of the appalling tweets he saw today.

Ruaidhrí Mulveen is from Galway and has studied psychology in NUI, Galway and QMU, Edinburgh. He’s (mostly) worked in health and social care

 

 

https://twitter.com/ProLifeLegend/status/740327234045628416

The state of this guy. Excuse me while I have a little rant.

 

1) Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger in the brain. Neurotransmitters don’t “heal” anything and they especially don’t heal the psychosocial trauma of rape via some unknown mechanisms in childbirth

2) Oxytocin is involved with bonding and attachment. It’s also involved in aggression and in childbirth is involved in contractions. Oxytocin modulates the impact of all social stimuli across all emotions-it increases aggression for example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26862988 and it increases the chance of domestic violence http://spp.sagepub.com/content/5/6/691I don’t see any evidence for it reducing the trauma of rape as claimed in this tweet.

3) If giving birth reduces trauma through oxytocin (which as the above points say, seems unlikely) then we should observe a massive difference across all mental health diagnoses in people who’ve given birth, which I’m not so sure is the case. Also wouldn’t it impact upon things like post-partum depression?

4) The claims this “pro life legend” make are either lies, or well meaning distortions of bad science. Either way that’s all the anti-choice, pro 8th amendment people have- lies and distortions, however well meaning they think they are.

There’s going to be a referendum to #repealthe8th. Expect the desperate untruths like this to continue. It’s largely the same crowd who were behind the no campaign for the marriage referendum and remember all the lies and nonsense they had? It’s going to be worse in the coming referendum.

 

 Thank you Ruaidhrí for writing this rebuttal and allowing me to have it as a guest post. We will see a lot of myths, misinformation and lies as we work to #repealthe8th, which is why informed and factual pieces like this are important.

This Revolution is being Broadcast….

This morning I had to as part of one of my college modules deliver a 2 minute oral presentation on a topic of my choosing. I had chosen 5 reasons to Repeal the 8th as my topic, but given recent events decided to do 5 facts about the abortion pills.

“Good Morning, I am here to tell you two things and five facts. ”

I raised my right hand up with with raised fingers and then my left with five raised fingers. Then lowered my right and and ticked off with my fingers on my right both things.

“The first thing I am going to tell you is that I am angry, very angry and that anger is why I am not going to talk about the topic I indicated to our lecturer I am going to instead in light of the court case in Belfast, I am going to talk about the abortion pills.

The second thing I will tell you is that, some of what I am about to say may be illegal, it may break the 1995 abortion information act, but as no one has ever been prosecuted under the act and the abortion pills were not considered when it was created I don’t know for sure. ”

I then lowered my right and and raised my left with all fingers raised, curling one after the other as I ticked off each fact starting with my index finger.

“The first fact is that the pills which are know as the abortion pills are legal for that use everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta. The have been legal in France from 1988, which means that in 1992 if Miss X the 14 year old who was raped had of lived in France she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours, instead of facing court injunctions, traveling and national uproar.

The second fact is that the pills are legally used everywhere in the EU bar Ireland and Malta to end a pregnancy in the first 10 to 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This means if Migrant Y had of been in another EU country when she discovered she was 8 pregnant from rape, she could have been she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Instead due to the 8th amendment she was forced to continue a pregnancy she did not want, had medical treatment she did not want and was forced to have a C Section.

The third fact is the pills are part of health care, if you are undergoing chemotherapy and the mandatory test you do before you start your scheduled dose show you are pregnant the chemotherapy is stopped. This Happened to Michele Harte, she took the hospital in Cork to court to get an abortion to continue her chemo and was denied. Eventually while very ill she travelled to the UK for an abortion and came back to continue her chemotherapy. In any other EU country bar Ireland and Malta you can be she could have been prescribed the pills by a dr and the pregnancy ended in 24hours. Michele Sued the HSE and won, but died from her cancer soon after.

The fourth fact is these pills are prescribed to women all over the country by maternity hospitals and units when they have had a incomplete miscarriage. They are prescribed the pills by a dr and fill the prescription, take the pills at home and what is left of the pregnancy is ended in 24hours.

The fifth fact is that if the young woman in Belfast, who has been given a suspended sentence, had of being living in another part of the UK in Scotland, Wales or England, the use of the pills would  have been legal, she would have for free been prescribed the pills by a dr and filled the prescription, taken the pills at home. If she lived in the Republic of Ireland she could have been given a sentence of up to 14 years”

At this stage I folded down my thumb creating a fist of solidarity and kept it raised.

“I am angry and today I stand in solitary with the young woman in Belfast, with the 10 women a day who travel to Ireland to the UK to have an abortion and the many others who can not afford to travel and risk 14 years to import and use the abortion pills at home.

I am Janet O’Sullivan, I am a spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Campaign, and if you want to hear me talk more on this, I will be on Community Radio Castlebar, 109.2fm at 5:30pm. This Revolution is being Broadcast.”

I am still angry, but anger is an energy, it’s fueling a lot of us and we will use it to Repeal the 8th amendment and bring in the abortion rights which we need.

TV shows which dealt with abortion

So this morning on my twitter feed there was a tweet by Donald Clarke with a link to his latest piece on the Irish Times Entitled Xena is gay: what next, Marriage?

The piece looks at how in the medium of TV gay* presentation has changed and be come more normalized and frequent but that women having abortion is not part of the stories show and how

Visibility matters. More than anything else, everyday encounters with gay people changed society’s attitudes to the marriage debate. When, as has happened recently, women calmly – without pretending to shame – discuss their own abortions in the media, chinks open up in the information cordon that has grown up around this fraught issue.

The people who commission TV programmes and commercial movies also need to show some guts. Viewers are not so fragile as advertisers and programmers pretend. They can be trusted with the real world.

The thing is, abortion has been part of the stories told via the medium of TV.

1989 the British sitcom Birds of a Feather, in its first season aired the episode Women’s Troubles, which dealt with Trush and an unexpected pregnancy, in which one of the two leads, Sharon chooses to have an abortion. It shows the two sisters supporting each other, despite them being in very different places in their lives when it comes to continuing a pregnancy.

Also in 1989 Degrassi High aired, a show about going to High School in Canada, by episode 2  of it’s opening season it had a student dealing with an unexpected pregnancy and what decision to make. Heather talks it out with her twin sister, who doesn’t agree with her choice but end the end supports and accompanies her to the clinic.

The Degrassi franchise was rebooted and Degrassi: The Next Generation also has had an abortion episode. The story was spit into two parts and aired at the start of 2004. Accidents will happen follows Manny’s process of choosing what to do, talking to her friend, her boyfriend and getting the support of her mother who bring her to the clinic.

Of course Sex and the City dealt with abortion, the episode Couda, woulda, shoulda aired in 2001 and deals with a range of the reproductive stories of the 4 ladies. Miranda is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, Charlotte struggling with possible infertility and both Carrie and Miranda share their abortion stories.

2001 saw our very own Fair City have an abortion story line, Kay McCoy was happily pregnant when she and her husband get a fatal fetal diagnoses of , trisomy-13. Kay opts to travel to the UK to have a Termination for medical reasons. That was 15 years ago and needless to say the producers got hammered in the press and RTE had complaints lodged and vast tracts were written by anti abortion campaigners.

Abortion was also part of the stories in 6 foot under, orange is the new black, Grey’s Anatomy in 2011 dared to show more then ever before when Cristina Yang had her abortion, of course Girls had an abortion episode.

And most recently Scandal November 2015 had Olivia Pope choose to have an abortion which was counter pointed by Milly’s fillabustering in the US Senate to keep planned parenthood’s budget as non optional, echoing the 11 hours Wendy Davis spent on her feet to try prevent abortion restriction legislation in Texas.

So it is not that abortion doesn’t feature as a story in TV shows, but I think that the episodes are seen as too controversial at times to discuss.

Sure the Fair city Wikipedia lists all of the other scandals and issues which the show has covered but Kay’s abortion story and having to travel is barely listed and not dated like the rest of the entries. If anyone is an wiki editor and wants to make that addition the link is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_City#Social_realism

So it does happen, even in an Irish context there is precedent. we have come a long way from when the brave people from Fubar Films made 50,000 secret journeys and the struggle to get it aired.

I do how ever echo Donald’s call to have more programs made which do cover abortion and in such away that shows how normal it is, but how abnormal having to travel is; but also how the 8th amendment is detrimental to all maternal care and is more then just about abortion.

*[Gay only as bisexual representation is still far behind, I really must get around to writing about that]

Why I am going to the March for Choice 2014

This will be the 4th Annual March for Choice, it happens on the Saturday closest to 28th of September which is Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.

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Two years ago I took part in a Speak out which happened before the March For Choice. It was huge for me, I told my story to the people gathered there in the room, I listened to other women tell their stories, we laughed, hugged and cried together, and it helped me to go on to tell it to others.

Last year more women spoke out and shared their stories, it is a wonderful space to be in, I hope we can organize more spaces and opportunities like this across the country.

Attending the March For Choice last year having been so public about my abortion was so very very moving. I was surrounded by 100s of people who didn’t think I had done anything wrong, and thought that I had nothing to be ashamed of.

I had many people thank me that day, I had people hug me, I had people quietly come up to me and say ‘Me too!’ and I hugged them. I am looking forward to being at this years March for Choice. To be able to hold my head up high with the support of so many people had been trans formative. I hope to see you there.

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Back to the grindstone and some news

This summer has flow in and it’s been a productive one for me but not so much when it comes to my writing here; but that is going to change.

I have lots of things which I am looking forward to sharing and writing about esp after I took a week off from almost everything and didn’t even sit here at my desk at all.

 

So to that bit of news;  today I signed contracts with Cork University Press for my small contribution to The Abortion Papers Ireland: Volume 2, which is being Published by Attic Press.

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This makes me so joyfully happy, Attic Press has a wonderful list of gender studies, women’s studies and Irish feminist texts. Attic Press published The Abortion Papers Ireland edited by Ailbhe Smyth back in 1992, Volume 2 has been edited by Aideen Quilty, Sinéad Kennedy and Catherine Conlon making it a joint collaboration between University College Dublin, Maynooth University , Trinity College Dublin.

The Abortion Papers Ireland Volume 2 will be published this comming October.

 

 

 

Ireland’s 1st Trans Youth Forum

I got asked to come and help facilitate Ireland’s 1st Trans Youth Forum. It took place Wednesday the 15th July 2015. The same day the Gender recognition bill was to pass through the houses of the Seanad. I was helping out with the 18 to 25 year old section and BelongTo were doing the 14 to 18 section separately to comply with child protection policies. The forum was put together by BelongTo, TENi and ITSA; with funding from the TCD Equality Soc.

What I got asked to do was to take notes on the sessions I was assigned and the feedback would be then taken and compiled into a core document which would then become part of a report. There was a facilitator for each session and I just had to sit, shut up, take notes and emote quiet acceptance, support and solidarity.

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I was taking notes for the Healthcare sessions. It was lovely to be working with a group of over 30 young people. Some of whom I had meet before but most of them I had not. I was privileged to listen to them share their experiences, opinions and hopes for a better healthcare system.

Over my last year in my activism & volunteering, I have noticed a common thread about the Healthcare system in Ireland, that there are not enough services, not enough communication, that waiting times are absurd, that there is not a basic level of information which it can be assumed that GPs have and that many things boil down to a lack of bodily autonomy and resources. If you don’t have the money to get services outside of the state then you are at a huge disadvantage.

All of those who were the core team who put the day together should be very proud of the work done and so should all the young people who took part. I really hope that there will be more sessions like this and that the report which is produced will be used to create real lasting positive change. When we wrapped up for the day I was to my surprise given a thank you card and a box of chocolates. But it was an honor to have been asked to take part.

 

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Yes the passing of the gender recognition bill is a wonderful thing but it’s not enough. The bill does not allow for recognition of non binary people and it does nothing for those who are under 16. The recognition needs to be widened and then backed up by local services nationwide for people, children and their families.FB_IMG_1437052606931(1)

 

 

Proud to be Bisexual

I wrote this after a call out for the Cork Pride Booklet asking for a piece from a Bi person, but due to some confusion over deadlines it won’t be included so I am publishing it here with additions.

 

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I am Proud To Be living in Ireland in the 21 Century, not just the passing of the Marriage Equality referendum but the many more changes I have seen in the last 20 years.

I have very proud of the group of people who have come together as the Bi+ Network and the work which has been done over the last year to bring together, support and increase the visibility of non monosexual people in Ireland. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are so many of us who are Bisexual, pansexual and bi romantic in Ireland and from all 4 corners of the country.

I am proud of the work I have done as an out Bisexual person, in giving interviews on TV and Radio and of the raising the issue that Marriage Equality effects Bisexual people too on various social media platforms.

I am proud to see a generation of young people who have grown up attending the workshops and groups which BelongTo run all over the countryside being so open about being Bisexual and being so accepting of their peers being Bisexual.

I am proud that so many of our secondary schools have the Stand Up program running in them. That there are positive messages about being LGBT are being heard in many of our schools. That so many rainbow flags were raised on college campuses across the country.

That my own kids have grown up secure knowing that if they turned out to be LGBTQI that they were never have to fear being kicked out of the family or out of home and I hope that this will be the same one day for all teens.

Yes we still have to wait for the the marriage equality legislation to pass through the houses of the Oireacthas, yes there is still work needed on the Gender Identity bill, yes the health care services need to do better when dealing with LGBT clients. But what has been accomplished in the last 20 years makes me so very hopeful.

I was a teenager when homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland, someone being ‘gay’ was a term mentioned in hushed tones or else there were unkinder words slung at people. Even after the change in the law it has taken a long time for the level of acceptance LGBTQI have to come about but it’s not finished yet.
Bisexual people still have to deal with having our identifies defined by our partners, which is absurd and more often then not we don’t hear the term Bisexual at all in the discourse we see in our media, from print, broadcast and even online media. Which is why the T shirt I wore at the Dublin Pride has the Bisexu Whale on it, if you are unsure how to say the word Bisexual, try pronouncing Bi Sex U Whale first.

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We had just under 50 people walking with the Bi+ Ireland Group at Dublin Pride. It was the 1st time there had been a BI group with a banner, hopefully we will register earlier next year and so not be so far to the back of the parade. The feeling of solidarity was wonderful and so was having people cheer us. Unfortunately I did hear remarks from people as I was the lead steward for our group and walking slightly ahead of the block.

All of the comments came from white men, most of whom given what t shirts they were wearing I am going to assume were also gay men. 4 times I heard the phrase “Bi now Gay later!” also heard  “who let the breeders march” “bisexuals are real?!” and a few more which I won’t repeat. It seems We have a long way to go to combat Biphobia yet.

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These two lovely members ordered Bi Pride flags and wore them, they had people tell them they were wearing the wrong flag, or just be utterly confused about the flag. But we did a huge amount for BiVisiblity by just taking part in the Parade.

So out of all the things I am Proud to be, I am Proud To Be Hopeful that we will as a Society keep moving forward with the acceptance and support for all LGBTQI people.

The Myth about Teenagers and Abortion

The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.

 

http://www.newstalk.com/Justice-Minister-says-her-priority-is-not-on-holding-an-abortion-referendum

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.

The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics

UK Department of Health Stastics 2014UK Department of Health Stastics 2014 Teenagers - 20 and over

Graphics by @jamesfbrophy

 

Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.

 

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This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.

Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.

We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.

We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.

We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.

We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.

 

 

The Myth about Teenagers and Abortion

The Minister for Justice on a recent interview on Newstalk, was asked about the UN’s Economic & Social Council’s recommendation to have a referendum on abortion.

 

http://www.newstalk.com/Justice-Minister-says-her-priority-is-not-on-holding-an-abortion-referendum

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report states that Ireland must reform it’s abortion laws, including having a referendum however the Minster stated that she thinks the focus should be on crisis pregnancies and lowering the number of teenage crises pregnancies.

The Minster said that doing so would take education on the matter, however it is Minster Frances Fitzgerald who needs to be educated, on how teenagers from Ireland who access abortion in the UK are the minority of the women who travel. These statistics are easily available, the Irish Family Planning Association has them up on their website. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics

UK Department of Health Stastics 2014UK Department of Health Stastics 2014 Teenagers - 20 and over

Graphics by @jamesfbrophy

 

Teenagers made up less than 8% of women that travelled last year, and the numbers for the last 12 years show that teenagers have not been the majority.

 

2014

This is a myth which we must bust, that it is irresponsible young women who have abortions. When the facts are that no contraceptive method is 100% effective and the most recent statics from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service show that more than half of women (54%) who use their services (including women travelling from Ireland) have already given birth.

Even if we did have contraception which was 100% effective there would still be unintended pregnancies, as those who perpetuate sexual abuse do not check to make sure their victims are using contraception and no woman should have to be on contraception just encase they become a victim of sexual abuse.

Even if we could wave a magic wand and every pregnancy would be an intended pregnancy, there are still reasons why abortion maybe needed, due to the risks to a woman’s health not just her life and in cases of Fatal Fetal Abnormalities when a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy.

We do need a referendum to Repeal the 8th amendment before we can bring in any Abortion Rights, so that women no longer have to travel to the UK, often being separated from family when they need support.

We do need education about all of the many reason’s why abortion is part of health care.

We do need education about how early access to abortion is best for women and the majority of abortions carried out in the UK are before 10 weeks, with the abortion pills which women should be able to access here via their GP.

We do need education to stop the spread of the absurd myth that it is mostly teenagers who access abortion services, esp by our Ministers.

 

 

Why I wish my kids school had policies like Colaiste Eoin

Colaiste Eoin hit national press when they postponed at very short notice a workshop which Shoutout.ie were due to give to it’s Transition Year students.

http://www.thejournal.ie/homophobic-bullying-school-row-1906866-Jan2015/

 

The term postponed is important, the school does intend to run the workshop but has had to delay it due to letters which were sent to the school by parents of children due to take the workshop.

These letters would have automatically triggered a procedure were the letters and their contents would have to be discussed and be responded to by the Board of Management. Once the school opened the letters there was no other option but to postpone the workshop. We have no idea when the school got or opened the letter but them arriving that morning would explain why Shoutout’s team weren’t contacted sooner.

Why do I want my children’s school to have the same policies re external groups?

Because I have had the experience of only finding out that Accord the catholic marriage counselling agency were invited in to give a workshop on relationships (which only dealt with hetrosexual relationships) with one of my children when a text message was sent saying they class would be home early for lunch due to the workshop when the workshop had already started. http://www.accord.ie/services/schools-programmes

I rang the school very not impressed and had to arrange to have my child come home so we could talk about that situation and see if they wanted to opt out or return to take part in the work shop. They were not pleased at the situation and said the person giving the workshop never disclosed they were from a catholic organisation.

My children’s school does not have a policy of letting parents know an external group is coming in, The Gideons have been invited in and  handed out their teen abridged bibles to my children in their class, with out prior notice or option to opt out my children who are not Christian.

Yes the timing of the postponement of Shoutout’s workshop was really horrid, but I still wish that I would be informed of external groups and be given the chance to object and/or opt out my children. I have been working to get my children’s school to adopt the same polices Colaiste Eoin operates under.

Yes in this instance those policies have been used by what seems to be conservative parents in relation to an LGBT workshop, but that does not mean that the polices and procedures are wrong.

I hope that Colaiste Eoin can have a Board of Management meeting soon to address the concerns of the parents and arrangements can be made to opt out those children if necessary, as it the right of parents to ask for as under out constitution parents are the primary educators of their children.

As for the comments about “both sides”, given that the Shoutout’s workshops ran for the last two years in Colaiste Eoin, the school may have been taken aback by the letters and whom ever made that comment was right in the context that the letters and both sides have to be heard by the board of management. It could be that the parent’s don’t want to opt their children out but just had misgivings and needed more information before agreeing to their children taking part, we don’t know as the content of the letters is unknown.

My compassion is with the administration of the school as they have been unexpectedly thrust into the national spotlight and have enough to be doing with running the school,  dealing with the day today and the situation with out having to deal with press inquiries.

I know it may seems strange that a parent like myself who is an LGBT and Reproductive Rights Activist is standing up for those parents to excise their right to input in this situation but as I have said I think it’s a right all parents should have and all schools should be informing parents about which external groups are getting access to their children.