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Opinion: The Great Pro-Life Contradiction

Posted January 22, 2013 by Lisa McInerney in Ramp Specials
Careful Now

A lot has been said recently regarding Irish pro-life pressure groups and

how much of their funding comes from foreign entities. Yes, how much. Not ‘whether a proportion of their funds come from foreign entities’. Conservative pro-life, ‘pro-family’ (read: anti-gay) groups have significant support from overseas factions who see Ireland as one of the last bastions of right-wing anti-everything, so the question for many critical thinkers is how much of this funding comes from overseas donations, and how ethical or indeed legal is the subsequent appropriation of these monies.

A truth far easier to grasp is that no matter where the funding comes from, pro-life pressure groups are spending it on endeavours that are in direct opposition with their supposed ethos, Christian or otherwise. One cannot claim to hold the moral high ground when one is spending a king’s ransom on razamatazz ding-dongs to support and bolster one’s standpoint. Seriously, if anything is going to undermine Ireland’s pro-life movement, it’s that they’re shitting money on frivolities instead of using it to actually do good.

This shouldn’t need to be spelled out, but we’re going to do it anyway, just in case.

These self-appointed moral guardians purport to be pro-life. They are campaigning to put a halt to the drawing up of abortion legislation in Ireland, even in its promised paltry form. Our government intends to enact legislation to make concrete the instances where a pregnancy can be terminated: where the life of the mother is at risk. So basically, Ireland’s pro-life factions wish to demonstrate their pro-life views… by killing women. The right to life of the foetus supersedes that of the mother, and the pro-life stance is that it’s better for two lives to end rather than one.

Two lives to end rather than one. If the mother might not live through her pregnancy, it’s better she just goes ahead and dies. Babies are far more evocative a symbol than big, hairy, curvy, sexual women.

To add insult to oxymoron, Ireland’s pro-life groups say that this is because because they value life, and that the life of the unborn is as valid as the lives of those of us already here. However, their distinct lack of interest in the welfare of anyone already here suggests otherwise.

What is the collective term for people who’d rather spend their money on ostentatious shows of strength than on ventures that might have some practical benefit for the causes they claim to stand for?

Pro-life pressure groups in Ireland are wealthy enough to be able to run nationwide billboard campaigns. As in the case of the recent Vigil For Life rally, organisers were able to host media tents; employ stewards; pay for public address systems, giant screens, and stages; and bus the devout in from all over the country (and, according to various attendees who reported groups of American, British and Spanish marchers, even beyond). These are not the actions of a group of like-minded do-gooders; their scale, never mind their ferocity, suggests that they are the actions of a well-organised, financially cushioned group of… well, it’s hard to go on. What is the collective term for people who’d rather spend their money on ostentatious shows of strength than on ventures that might have some practical benefit for the causes they claim to stand for?

What’s so very Christian about dicking away money on public peacocking? The concept of appearing bigger than they are – a deliberate effect achieved through incentive (free buses and iPad giveaways), selective reporting (only young people up front, directing media as to what photographs they should be taking) and brass neck lies (seriously inflating attendance figures is really on the minor end of the lies you get as standard from Ireland’s Christian right, something Jesus wasn’t all that into) – seems to be a concept more worthy of funding than genuinely charitable efforts.

Because we need to realise this: these pro-life pressure groups are more interested in growing their own legend than they are in anything else.

Here are a whole bunch of things pro-life bigots, and, by extension, the Irish Catholic Church, could be spending that money on, if they truly cared about life.

  • Children’s hospitals.
  • Education and business grants for single-parent families, those people who, despite the shit flung at them from the twisted moralists of Ireland’s Christian armies, choose to have and raise the children biology gave them.
  • Replacing or bolstering the various family allowances cut by the State due to austerity measures.
  • Realistic, non-judgemental and positive sex education programs for young people.
  • Charities that provide support, both emotionally and financially, to parents raising children with special needs.

Just a few ideas. A few causes that receive none of the attention Ireland’s religious right lavish on their own giant trumpets.

These pro-life types have not a pinch of interest in anything outside of a woman’s womb. Their sphere is of the intentionally vague, the human rights issue that requires its practitioner to lift not a single finger for human rights. It’s essentially the low-impact workout of choice for the lazy bigot: the pro-life argument, the idea that women cannot be trusted without the vice-like grip of religious obligation tugging them in the right direction, the ideology with not a whit of real-world practicality.

The refusal of pro-life pressure groups to face the facts about abortion should illustrate that these marching blowhards are ignorant, frightened and desperate.

These people are not pro-life. They’re anti-sex. Their refusal to think of abortion as anything other than a baby-killin’ oogly boogly has less to do with philosophical questions about life, death and how to apply ethics to compulsory fertility than it has to do with fear of promiscuity and the idea that somewhere, someone’s fucking with aplomb. The refusal of pro-life pressure groups to face the facts about abortion, to realise who this issue really affects, and to consider the personal or social cost of the alternative should really illustrate, in no uncertain terms, that these marching blowhards are ignorant, frightened and desperate.

They’re desperate to keep sending our women to the UK. They’re desperate to prevent women in need from receiving the best medical care. Women who are pregnant because of rape, or women who are pregnant with unviable foetuses, or women who are pregnant despite taking contraceptive measures, or women who are pregnant even though they’re too young to be mothers, or women who are pregnant for whatever reason… Ireland’s pro-life organisations want them to suffer for their dirty, disgusting indiscretions. They want them to live with the consequences of their biological status. They want to put a halt to their gallop. They want to continue thinking of new life as a curse from a vengeful god. Mandatory babies for all. Children for those who don’t want them. Stillbirths for women who dare question the invisible all-maker.

That’s all they are, our pro-life antagonists. Pursed-lip busybodies who hide their judgemental fetishes behind hand-wringing and concern. And we know this because of where their money goes. Into a self-perpetuating, self-congratulatory circle, a system of passing judgement on others and getting one’s own self-worth from it, existence for the sake of existence. A reluctance to engage with facts, science or reality because each would threaten that cosy, wealthy clique. Sadism and schadenfreude. An attempt to smother what frightens them, by any means necessary. Lies, lies and more lies. Lies to keep the machine running. For where would these little maggots be without it?

About the Author

Lisa McInerney

Lisa’s soul is so damn sensitive, she has to invent and occupy parallel universes just to spread herself evenly. This is also known as being a frustrated novelist.

  • http://www.redlemonade.blogspot.com/ Kitty Catastrophe


    Excellent post, Lisa. Brilliant stuff.

  • http://www.krank.ie/ Neil

    Marc Coleman (yeah, I know) has been spouting off that pro-choice groups have been spending the same money. Absolutely ridiculous. It’s about time SIPO toughened up on a number of these groups and investigated

    • http://twitter.com/JJ5000 Jim

      I believe the money he is referring to goes toward legal fees so people can fight for their human rights. I’m sure that could fit into the list above.

    • fergalf

      Well a lot of money goes toward pro abortion pressure groups like the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. Serious money has been coming in from the US to back up the pro choice movement.

  • http://twitter.com/Imisaninja Imisaninja

    Great piece, nice work Lisa.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

    Ive been reading pro-life posts on Boards.ie for the last day, it’s SO NICE to read something on the topic with more words than ellipses!

    Excellent post. The bare-faced *audacity* of some of the batshit crazy claims I’ve seen being thrown about are staggering. A shoutout to the delightful chap who told me he’d rather be a rape baby born of a woman stuck in a Magdalane laundry than never born at all.

  • http://twitter.com/Tertullian Tertullian

    “…a whole bunch of things pro-life bigots….pursed-lip busybodies…. little maggots …” A pity you couldn’t make the points you wished to make without resorting to juvenile name-calling.

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      Hey, I never said I was better than ‘em.

  • fergalf

    This is a nasty piece that is more interested in insulting people than engaging in reasoned discussion. The sheer myopia of it is dreadful. I don’t know where to start.

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      What’s so myopic about calling out bigots for being bigots?

      I feel that you may be assuming this piece is all about attacking pro-life people. It is not. I’m sure that there are thoughtful, reasonable people who are pro-life who do not engage in the showboating, lying, self-congratulatory nonsense of many mouthpieces of Ireland’s pro-life PRESSURE GROUPS. In fact, it’s a damn shame we don’t hear more from them.

      I am sure I’m not the only one fed up of watching the likes of Caroline Simons and Niamh Uí Bhriain polish their brass necks. You cannot have a reasoned discussion with a crew of shameless liars. And I’m also fed up with the assertion that treating these bigots with disdain is somehow not appropriate.

      • fergalf

        Funnily enough you don’t mention the enormous budget of some pro choice groups. In 2012 it was reported ICCL received $7.7million for US donations. Think of all the good which could have been done for women in crisis pregnancy.

        I am not even convinced you believe what you write, even if it supposed to be metaphorical. Do you really think that all abortion- abolitionists are anti-sex, anti-gay, sadistic and believing of God?

        Am I a ‘little maggot bigot’ for questioning your article? This kind of drivel is why on-line journalism has a bad reputation.

        • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

          Oh please. Read my reply again – you’re flogging it a bit. This is not a reflection of every single person who displays pro-life views. It is about the ostentatious carry-on of the most visible (unfortunately) elements of Ireland’s pro-life pressure groups. It should be entirely understandable that the kind of high-pitched hyperbole that has sadly become standard in Ireland’s pro-life movement is both tiresome and unhelpful.

          There is plenty of room for discourse. But there are plenty of highly visible pro-life “personalities” who don’t belong at any discussion. They’re bigots, chancers and liars, and they are not deserving of my respect.

          As for your first point, why should I? Having not been aware of any ostentatious displays by Ireland’s pro-choice groups, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to condemn them. As for the ICCL, why are you bringing a human rights watchdog into this? Their stance may be pro-choice, but they are not a pro choice group.

          To get back to matters: are you truly the kind of person who thinks that legislating for termination of pregnancy in situations where the mother’s life is at risk is unacceptable? I am at a loss as to how any empathic individual would rather see a woman die than a pregnancy terminated.

          • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

            I don’t think the mouthier pro-life folks really sit down and think about the beliefs they claim to hold. The logical conclusions never end well.

            Oh, they’re quick to judge, this or that is definitely wrong (usually with some terrible reason like “it’s unnatural” or “Jesus said so”, but that’s neither here nor there). But as soon as you ask them what they think is right, they suddenly fall back on “It’s not my place to say”, or “Every effort should be made to protect both”

            If it’s not your place to say what’s right, it’s sure as hell not your place to say what’s wrong. And the “Every effort” spiel is a cop-out of the most transparent kind, you’re avoiding the point that sometimes it really does come down to a choice between a woman and the foetus inside her. Michelle Harte and Sheila Hodgers are two Irish women who needed abortions to live. Sheila died due to her hospital’s “Catholic ethos”. Michelle survived, but only because she was able to travel to the UK.

            Why so reluctant to offer actual solutions, pro-lifers? When so many of you claim to have the Bible as your guide, one would think you’d be a little more decisive when it came to morally grey areas.

          • fergalf

            What exactly has Jesus got to do with abortion? I don’t recall that in the bible do you? Plenty of pro live people are secular.

            I don’t think you have the full facts on Sheila Hodgers because I have looked for them without success. I can say her death is completely at odds with the many pregnant cancer patients who are treated in Irish hospitals ever year. Legislation wasn’t to blame there. Michelle Harte was a different situation. From the sketchy accounts released, her pregnancy didn’t threaten her life or cancer treatment. Her treatment may have threaten her pregnancy but that shouldn’t have been a problem.

          • fergalf

            I do not have to a columnist to see that the verbal mud-slinging in this article is far removed from quality analysis. Inserting a few nice sounding platitudes like ‘critically thinking’ doesn’t grant a piece
            substance. For all the article’s emphasis on pro lifer’s denial of evidence there is precious little data in your piece. The reality is pro-lifers run many charities which help women with crisis pregnancy. While I can’t think of single pro-choice equivalent.

            ICCL is a privately funded lobby group, just like Youth Defense. If ICCL is a ‘Human Rights watchdog’, I guess Youth Defence is too. Of course, ICCL are a pro-choice group. A Google search I did revealed almost 27% of their Google hits related to abortion. They have other interests but abortion keeps them busy.

            No one is happy to let a women die but we have no proof to date that is what happening. There is also no evidence that doctors are forced into this dreadful but most probably hypothetical situation.

            Look, I do not expect you to write from a pro-life position but you are expected not assume that everyone who does not match your worldview is bigoted and stupid. A little bit of respect is not so unreasonable is it? I have a lab to get back too.

          • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

            Yes, a little bit of respect is an unreasonable request, when (for the last time) I am specifically speaking about irrational, rabid pro-life liars that deserve nothing but contempt.

            You are deliberately ignoring my first two replies. This particular piece is about liars and bigots. If you are neither a liar or a bigot, this piece is not about you and you have nothing to get het up about.

            Your dismissal of medically-necessary termination as a myth is distressing. Ciarán above mentioned two specific cases which you have ignored. You persist in bringing the ICCL into this as some sort of pro-choice counterpart to the bigots and liars of Youth Defence, based on nothing more than… Google hits?

            This is less tiresome than it is exhausting. I don’t want to speak to you any more and I doubt very much that you wish to speak to me. Let’s leave it at that.

          • fergalf

            How you deduce the likes of Caroline Simmons as irrational, lying, bigoted anti-sex, scary and maggot-like is beyond me. The two cases Ciarán proposed are refuted in a reply to his post.

            ICCL is no different from any other political pressure group like Youth Defence etc. Their activism on abortion is well publicised.

            If your tired of defending your claims, fair enough. We don’t agree today but maybe some other time.

          • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

            I don’t think refute means what you think it means. Sheila hodgers developed cancer. Then she became pregnant. She was refused her anti-cancer drugs because they might harm the foetus. When she got worse and was hospitalised, they refused her both treatment and painkillers. This was all because of “The Bishop’s Contract”, a code of ethics drawn up with the Roman Catholic Church.

            She died because a foetus was more important than the woman carrying it, a view screamed from the rooftops by the Iona Institute, Youth Defence and all their flying monkey minions. Her life could have been saved with anti-cancer treatment, but instead, because of ill-thought out pro-life dogma, she was forced in agony to birth a girl that died immediately. Sheila died two days later from multiple cancers that could easily have been treated.

            Here’s a Wiki page that might help you find the links you’re claim you can’t find: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Hodgers

            As for Caroline Simons, it’s pretty easy to deduce that she’s irrational and lying, bigoted, anti-sex, scary and maggot-like. Have you already forgotten how she was interviewed by Fr Benedict “Child-abuse-is-caused-by-sexy-children” Groeschel on EWTN? Or even the EWTN pro-life video she, ahem, has no knowledge of being in while talking about literal tsunamis of a culture of death alongside such classic nutcases as John Waters and Dana? She lied about that at in the middle of an Oireachtas hearing, for Christ’s sake, that’s not what a ratoinal or honest, or even sane person does. Have you forgotten that she was the Dublin Dail candidate for Libertas, the shady, obnoxious group run by an even shadier man with some very legally dubious links? The Libertas spindoctor called her a psychotic bitch even back then.

            Frankly, how you think that she’s NOT irrational, lying, bigoted, anti-sex, scary and maggot-like is beyond me…

          • fergalf

            Well the discussion isn’t about ‘Bishop’s contracts or church ethics’ it is about the how medicine is practised in this country and whether legislation impinges on it. I wish Wiki was a reliable source but it isn’t. I am well aware of the story but everything about the story is unofficial. Assuming the Wiki source is telling the full story we see no evidence that Irish law came into it. If anything there is evidence of malpractice. This happened in the ward of the discredited Dr Neary after all but obvious the witnesses would need to be cross examined before that theory is certain. A report in the Indo is not hard evidence.

            Regarding Libertas you read way too much Broadsheet conspiracy theory stuff. The ‘shadiness’ is a complete fabrication created by the likes Kevin Barrington. The broadsheet is as unreliable as one gets. You don’t seem to get what ‘bigot’ means. A slip-up on a question isn’t a qualifying factor, neither is being interviewed regardless of the interviewer. Your completing squirming.

            Don’t get me started on the dishonesty and cynicism of the abortion advocate leaders eg Sinéad Ahern, Ivana Bacik & Clare Daly. Hiding their abortion on demands stances, insulting women hurt by abortion, misrepresenting cases etc.

          • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

            Defending Libertas? Really? Oh dear.

          • http://twitter.com/SerialBlogamist Catherine C

            “No one is willing to let a women die needlessly but we have no proof to
            date that is what is happening. There is also no evidence that doctors
            are forced into this dreadful but most probably hypothetical situation.”

            I’ve noticed a lot of ‘pro-life’ people saying this when claiming a form of abortion legislation is unnecessary. But if you follow that logic and truly believe that this situation isn’t an issue, well what’s the harm in legislating for it? If you’re right, then the legislation will never have to be acted on and if the situation ever does arise, well then there’s a solution in place to stop a woman dying needlessly.

  • spanners

    Gosh, what a thoroughly nasty piece of work you really are. I hope I never have to meet you and your pro-death mates in a darkened street, who knows what would happen to me?

    • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

      I don’t even know! We’re all unpredictable and crazy, us.

      • Andrew

        Cuddle party, probably.

      • spanners

        “Here are a whole bunch of things pro-life bigots, and, by extension, the Irish Catholic Church, could be spending that money on, if they truly cared about life.

        Children’s hospitals.

        Education and business grants for single-parent families, those people who, despite the shit flung at them from the twisted moralists of Ireland’s Christian armies, choose to have and raise the children biology gave them.

        Replacing or bolstering the various family allowances cut by the State due to austerity measures.

        Realistic, non-judgemental and positive sex education programs for young people.

        Charities that provide support, both emotionally and financially, to parents raising children with special needs.”

        Why did you not mention the work of the SVP and the millions they spend on keeping people in their homes and their kids warm. Trocaire helping those with much less than even the poorest in Ireland, Our Lady’s Hospice, St Francis Hospice and numerous other hospices and charities. And then you could have gone on to tell us what you and your filthy bedfellows choose to spend your cash on? You hypocritical Gobshite!!

        • http://www.ramp.ie/ Lisa McInerney

          Ah here.

          Firstly, you do realise you’re not listing out a bunch of pro-life pressure groups, don’t you?

          Secondly, you’re actually so vehement, you come across as a parody. I genuinely thought you were joking with your last comment. Go on out of that and a very pleasant evening to you.

          PS: “Filthy Bedfellows” is soon to be our new tagline.

          • http://twitter.com/Sarklor Ciaran O’Brien

            Could we switch between “filthy bedfellows” and “wife-swappin’ sodomites”?

    • http://twitter.com/ElleEmSee Laura

      Are you really ‘pro-death’ when an abortion is carried out in medical emergencies to protect the life of the mother?
      I know plenty of people who are opposed to abortion who don’t fit into the extreme, overly religious… for want of a better word ‘box’… but even they cannot condemn women who have no other option but to terminate their pregnancy. No one chooses to terminate a pregnancy lightly but sometimes women have that decision removed from them due to complications that occur more often than we would assume. How these pressure groups treat these women (and their partners) is insulting, particularly when they claim to be working under the banner of Christianity.

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