Emer O’Toole is the latest journalist to poke fun at the “slippery slope” argument that those who oppose the liberalisation of abortion laws fear. Their concern stems from the fact that once abortion laws are liberalised worldwide, then it inevitably leads to a widening of the laws and widescale abortion.
Not so, says O’Toole and she paints an “apocalyptic picture” of Abortion in Ireland:2021 to convince us all. Unfortunately, whether consciously or not, her piece succeeds in only confirming prolifers’ worst fears, by proving that Irish legislators don’t have to wonder about what abortion does to a country – they only have to look around the world.
So let’s take a closer look at some of the details of O’Toole’s future Ireland – is it really that far off the mark?
1. The abortion clinic of the piece is called “Cloud 9 Abortion Spa” (a bizarre and somewhat cruel title for O’Toole to pick, given the fact that so many women are anything but on “Cloud 9” when they have an abortion. Oh, I know, I get it, it’s ironic, Cora! She’s making a hilarious point about how abortion exactly isn’t something that makes women happy so why do those pesky pro-lifers keep talking as if they’re all rushing out to get one?? The thing about that is, it wouldn’t matter what O’Toole or any other commentator chose as a title, if they were even slightly willing to give a platform to the women who deeply regret their abortions, and suffer extreme trauma as a result. But those women don’t seem to matter, whether in an apocalyptic future or in present day Ireland. The women of abortion recovery group Women Hurt are still waiting for the National Women’s Council of Ireland to apologise for or dissociate themselves from the comments made by their then-Director, Susan McKay, back in 2011 when she described their outreach campaign as “harsh” and “cruel”. Judging by the fact that the NWCI are channelling their efforts (and our taxes) into their Repeal the 8th campaign, I doubt that apology will be coming any time soon.
2. The celebrity doctor is called “Christian Jessen”. Now I don’t know if this is just unhappy coincidence, or can it really be that O’Toole wants us to think she’s an informed commentator on the international abortion debate, yet she’s never heard of Gianna Jessen? You know, that woman who survived a saline abortion and was left with cerebral palsy as a result, and who is now a pro-life campaigner who gave evidence of her experience to a US Congressional Hearing on abortion. Her point (and it’s a good one) is that all of those people who keep promoting abortion as such an integral part of the women’s rights campaign, have little or nothing to say to her when she asks how abortion protected her rights as a woman? Of course, if O’Toole is fully familiar with Gianna Jessen’s story, then maybe she just thinks it’s cute to pepper her abortion fairytale with the surnames of people whose lives have been severely affected by late-term abortion. I don’t really know.
(Edit: Almost as soon as this post went online, my good friends at pro-choice Twitter alerted me to the fact that there is indeed a Dr. Christian Jessen. And they’re right! I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen his shows, but I’m pleased to say he is a bona fide celebrity doctor. Still no word from any of the same tweeters about the real message of this point – what place does the other Jessen, Gianna, have in Emer O’Toole’s future or present abortion landscape? Any? None? Maybe one of them will let me know in due course. Probably when they’re picking me up on a typo.)
3. A poster in the spa shows “bronzed Amazonian beauties who beamed at passersby, captioned, ‘Don’t let that pregnancy spoil your beach body’”. Oh come on! O’Toole throws this in and thinks we won’t remember this piece in the Daily Telegraph, where a doctor wrote about how the 1967 Abortion Act has been subverted to facilitate exactly that – situations of women who have abortions so that they can go on holiday or because of any other reason for that matter? Or the undercover investigation into clinics in the UK that showed widespread abuse? Then there was Josie Cunningham who told the Daily Mail she had an abortion “so she could have a nose job”. We all hope these situations aren’t the norm but they show that once you introduce a law that allows a human life to be ended, then the conditions for when that can be done become wider and wider. Suddenly O’Toole’s future is not so unimaginable after all.
4. RTE’s ad for Cloud 9 says that repeat procedures are the best way to keep your figure, and they also offer a discount loyalty scheme. Well, isn’t that lovely. It’s not so lovely when you think about the fact that 36% of all abortions taking place in England today are repeat abortions, which, when you combine with the issue of abortion regret, makes a few extra pounds on the waistline a very minor matter indeed. And while we’re on the subject of repeat abortions, maybe O’Toole should have given us her thoughts on sex-selective abortions. Has Cloud 9 fallen into the same trap as England, where advocates for abortion seem to have overtaken advocates for women. Even though it’s well known that baby girls are far more likely to be aborted than baby boys, and even though it’s been shown that the practice is slowly but surely creeping into Britain, the UK Parliament voted against a motion that would state for definite that abortion babies on grounds of gender is illegal under the 1967 Act. So much for women’s rights – again!! And as for that discount loyalty scheme – well I did a quick google search for “abortion discount” and the results came flooding back – most clinics offering money off it you opt for what they term a “Sunday Special” abortion. Classy.
Some will say these are smaller clinics and that’s possibly true. But even highly reputed and public outfits like Marie Stopes offer discounts. It’s being done already, Emer. You don’t even need to be a repeat customer with them to get one. You just need to be from Ireland.
5. O’Toole then moves on from the above, something she terms a “ludicrous” part of the article. But even though we’re back to the present, her claims are still wildly inaccurate. According to her, pro-life supporters are “anti-choice” and “God botherers”. Most people I know oppose abortion on human rights, not religious grounds, and as for the term “anti-choice”, well, why can’t they try putting it in a sentence for once? I’m “anti the choice of ending the life of another human being”, for sure. For everything else, anything goes.
6. We’re told that the pro-lifers “use the terrible spectre of ‘abortion on demand’” when nothing of the sort is planned. And yet it’s really, REALLY hard to take abortion advocates at their word (sorry, Emer!) when you’ve got Government Ministers like Aodhan O’Riordain who talk – behind closed doors and to someone who he thinks is a pro-choice advocate – about how the 2013 Act was “a starting point for abortion on demand” but if anyone asks him if it’s the way to abortion on demand then he won’t be saying it. Not on the radio anyway. Okay. Good to know.
7. It’s only when we get to one infamous phrase that it all becomes clear. “Abortion on demand and without apology” is what the American feminists wanted, says O’Toole. “And they got it.” Didn’t they ever. I guess the Irish Times editorial just didn’t have room to let O’Toole expand on what exactly they got – 50 million abortions over 40 years, a culture that allowed Kermit Gosnell to thrive until he’s convicted in a courtroom so devoid of media attention that you could hear a pin drop when the life sentences were passed; the horror of Planned Parenthood with its plastic-smiled executives who used a mix of contacts and sheer, brazen nerve to overcome an undercover video sting investigation that showed doctors rifling through the remains of aborted babies for “hearts”, “lungs” and “kidneys” to sell on while women were told they were merely aborting “clumps of cells”. And let’s not forget that one of the world’s most prolific abortionists, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, turned away from his career and wrote about how lies and bias helped to introduce abortion to the US in the first place. It’s all blithely skipped over by O’Toole because it has to be. She has no answer to such appalling abuse of human beings over nearly half a century
And that’s why the only reasonable conclusion to draw from this piece is that O’Toole has been gently leading you down the road of thinking that “abortion on demand” isn’t such a bad thing after all. Do we say “vasectomy on demand” or “condoms on demand”, she asks. Well no, we don’t but why is she even bringing them into this discussion? Neither a vasectomy nor a condom ends a human life like an abortion does and there are enough aspects of the abortion debate to be considered without comparing non-likes.
O’Toole sums up her rhetoric by saying she’d love to see the pro-choice movement in Ireland “go on the offensive” and start using the slogan “Abortion on demand and without apology.” I suspect that most campaigners who are serious about their aim would agree with her in sentiment but their spin doctors know better. Just like Aodhan O’Riordain, they know that there are some things that just won’t wash with the public so they need to be toned down for the radio, or anywhere else in the public arena for that matter. Of course, they assure us, they don’t want widespread abortion. Just don’t expect them to ever discuss the fact that international experience shows that there is no such thing as “a little abortion”. Once the door is opened, more and more reasons for ending the lives of inconvenient or seriously ill unborn children become acceptable. (Just take a look at England and Wales, where over 90% of unborn children diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are aborted). Sadly, we don’t need a time-machine to tell us that there is no such thing as a liberal abortion law. We just need to be honest about the devastation that abortion has caused to women, their partners and unborn children in every country where’s it’s been introduced.