Tag Archives: reproduction

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.

Myth Busting: Abortion and Breast Cancer

So one of the other claptrap things which get said is that abortion increases a person’s risk of breast cancer; this is false.

There is zero connection between having an abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.

There is how ever a connection between breastfeeding and lowering the risk of breast cancer.

http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/breastfeed_hist

Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than 1 year. There is less benefit for women who breastfeed for less than a year, which is more typical for women living in countries such as the United States. There are several reasons why breastfeeding protects breast health:

    • making milk 24/7 limits breast cells’ ability to misbehave
    • most women have fewer menstrual cycles when they’re breastfeeding (added to the 9 missed periods during pregnancy) resulting in lower estrogen levels
    • many women tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow healthier lifestyles (limit smoking and alcohol use) while breastfeeding

Beyond breast health protection, breastfeeding provides important health benefits to the baby and helps the bonding process.

So people who say that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer are assuming that a woman who has an abortion doesn’t already have children and hasn’t already breast fed.

The published stats from the NHS in the UK show that

54 per cent of those having terminations last year were already mothers 

So people who say that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer are assuming that a woman who has an abortion won’t go on to have have children children later in life, when it’s right for them to do so and maybe they might breast feed

Yes breastfeeding is best for a baby, and it can lower the risk of breast cancer, but “My Body My Choice” is not just about continuing a pregnancy, it is also about breast feeding.

Sometimes continuing a pregnancy is not the best thing for a person, sometimes breastfeeding is not the best thing for a person, some times it’s just not possible for a range of reasons and thank heavens we do have formula, we do have that Choice.

Anyone who says there is a connection between abortion and breast cancer is in my opinion being willfully ignorant of the medical facts, and of how people live their lives.

I had an abortion, I also have two children, both of whom I breastfed, all of those things were my choice about what I did with my body, and all of those choices should be respected and not used to scaremonger or tell people what they should do with their body.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Painting a different picture

They often say a picture is worth a thousand words and certainly pictures help to set the scene, the tone and context of an article. Which is why sometimes images which are paired with articles about abortion be it in the news, magazines or online can be problematic.

Often the go to image is that of a pregnant person. We have all seen them the headless pregnant woman who is 30+ weeks pregnant, is sometimes called the preggo belly shot. Sometimes the image is just a front close up  the preggo belly or other times the image is in silhouette, eliminating the woman from the image entirely.

The problem with those sorts of image it that it distorts the discussion of abortion before it even begins. The vast majority of abortions happen before 9 weeks, when person really has no outward signs of being pregnant at all. They can often be unfortunately paired with a really good pro choice piece.

Some online news outlets have gotten better at the image they choose, from using airplanes, pictures at protests rather then the preggo belly image or one of a distraught women. But how do we bring about a change in what pictures are used?

Often simply asking works. Campus.ie  recently published an article on Repealing the 8th amendment. It was by Tomás Heneghan and a great read but alas it had been paired with the preggo belly image. So Tomás and Campus.ie were asked over twitter could the image be changed; the suggestion was made for the article to have instead a stock image of a positive pregnancy test. And I’m delighted to say it was changed and it is a worth while read. http://campus.ie/surviving-college/politics/why-we-need-remove-eight-amendment

befunky_11557919223_0455d3ff7d_o.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are now starting to see a new type of image being used on articles about abortion, that of women telling their stories,  which clearly makes the article and the discussions focused on the woman, her rights and her choice.  Which is why the photograph of Tara who shared her story of travelling staring into the camera brave, defiant and unflinching is such a powerful one.

image

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/tara-they-shouldn-t-have-control-over-my-uterus-1.2089490

This means we are seeing abortion being discussed a very different way in the media in this country, one which no longer promotes stigma and shame, and this creates the space to have different conversations which we have not been able to have before. There will be no going back, we can only hope that our legislators can find a fraction of the courage Tara and other women have had to do and set in motion the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

Facts about the Abortion Pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

So during the week Prime Time on RTE covered the abortion pills, they ordered them online from Womenonweb.org and went up north to collect them.

http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/1023/654484-prime-time/

New figures released to RTÉ Prime Time show the number of seizures of pills that can be used for abortions more than doubled during the first 10 months of this year.

The figures from the Health Products Regulatory Authority show there have been 60 seizures of over 1,000 tablets during 2014, up from 24 seizures last year.

The Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Ireland expressed concern about a website that is offering abortion pills online to Irish Women.

 

For a piece on our national broadcaster it was very scaremongering and did not furnish any facts about the pills. There is a big knowledge gap about them here in Ireland, they have been legal in France from 1988 and in the USA from 2000. They are prescribed only up to the first 9 weeks of a pregnancy.

So what are they?

The Abortion Pills are a set of pills, of two different types, Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

Mifepristone blocks the pregnancy hormones, they are only prescribed and dispensed in maternity hospitals and units around the country and are taken under direct supervision, a nurse will watch you take them.

Misoprostol are prescribed for a range of medical conditions and are known under several names Cytotec being one of the most common. Most Pharmacys stock them but they can not legally be prescribed to end a pregnancy. They cause the womb to contract and to eventually expell it’s contents. Misoprostol can be used on it’s own to end a pregnancy but the doses are greater and it’s not as efficient as using them with Mifepristone.

The way Misoprostol ends a pregnancy is an off book use or a side effect of the tablets as they were not created for that purpose and it was women in Brazil who discovered the side effect and started using them to end pregnancies back in the early 80s.

By 1988 the abortion pills were made legal in France. Any one wishing to end a pregnancy in the early stages is given the pills after seeing a nurse, midwife or Dr. The abortion pills became legal in Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland not long after and they became legal to use in the USA in 2000.

If Miss X back in 1992 had of lived in France she could have be given the pills.

If Miss Y had of been in the USA, France, Germany, Italy or Spain and discovered she was pregnant and did not want to be at 8 weeks she could have after counselling been administered the abortion pills.

The package of pills which Women on Web send to women are the same dose and make as those used by BPAS in the UK for abortion and Miscarriage management.

It has one Mifepristone  and 6 Misoprostol with directions on how and when to take them.

They are also used later in a pregnancy, when miscarriage is unavoidable to hasten the end of the pregnancy instead of forcing women to wait for untold hours until there is not fetal heartbeat or there is an immediate risk to the woman’s life. But due to the 8th amendment they can’t be administered for such purposes by drs here, this is untenable.

Suppression of information about the abortion pills is rife here due to people not wanting to fall foul of the 1995 abortion information law, but well I have broken that more times then I can possibly count on my blogs over the last 10 years.

Using the oral contraceptive pill correctly has a 1% rate of you becoming pregnant.

Using the abortion pills correctly has a 1% rate of you having complications.

Yes both the oral contraception pill and the abortion pills are not suitable for all women, but the overwhelming majority of women can use them.

There is an FAQ here if you have more questions: https://www.womenonweb.org/en/page/6904/medical-abortion

So what if you happen to be one of the 1% of women that has a complication?

Then you have to go to a hospital and women on web will say do not take the pills if you can not be with in 2 hours of an A&E. If you go to hospital after self administrating the abortion pills, there is no medical test which will show that you have taken them.

Your condition presents as complications during a miscarriage and is treated the exact same way, there is no different in treatment needed. No medical professional will be able to tell by examination or blood work that you have taken the pills.

If you disclose to any medical professional that you have taken them, the treatment will still be the same. Medical professionals are not required by law to inform the garda that you have admitted to a self administered abortion. If they do tell the garda the garda would have no evidence and your statement alone would not be enough to convict you.

If you need to have a scan to confirm that the pregnancy is ended then there are clinics like Femplus who have both crises pregnancy services and abortion after care check ups.

http://femplus.ie/services/crisis-pregnancy/

http://www.abortionaftercare.ie/urgent-medical-care also has a list of services but some are pro life so be careful.

My family is complete, I do not want any more children, if my contraception was to fail and I discovered I was pregnant I would use the abortion pills either via  Womenonweb.org or www.womenhelp.org and I would not hesitate to refer a loved one to them either.

http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20070815/ru486-no-extra-risk-to-next-pregnancy

The bottom line: Women who used RU-486 had no increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, preterm birth, or low-birth-weight babies when they eventually decided to have a baby.

“By now, probably more than 5 million women worldwide have had RU-486 abortions,” Zhang tells WebMD. “More than half of women seeking early abortion use this method. So this is a very significant finding about the safety of this treatment.”

Currently the Abortion Pills cost 90 euro plus the cost of a trip to to Belfast to collect them. This is significantly less then the 1,500 euro which is the average cos of having to travel to the UK for a surgical abortion.

People shouldn’t have to travel or risk the possibility of 14 years in jail, they should be able to see their dr and if it is suitable get the abortion pills to take here under medical supervision.

Still ordering from Women on web or Women Help and taking the pills with out supervision is still a hell of a lot more safe to do then trying to use a wire hanger or knitting needle to induce an abortion.

The abortion pills need to be Free and Legal and available here in Ireland for those who need them.