Saturday, December 1, 2012

Setting a good example

There are always those waiting 'in the long grass' (as we say in Ireland) to get the 'conversation' going again when it comes to abortion. So perhaps it was inevitable that a debate that was initially about the death of Savita Halappanavar became, almost within moments it seems, more about the issue than her. 

One suggestion that has arisen this time around is that Ireland owes it to the world to make abortion more freely available. The idea comes from a Barbara Bradley, of the Department of Sociology in Trinity College Dublin. If I understand her aright, she believes it is a matter of setting a good example to those countries around the world that have restrictive abortion regimes ... free availability here would encourage it elsewhere. Ireland is sending out the wrong message by suggesting that abortion is wrong. 

I suppose it is nice that she thinks that Ireland has a world-wide impact on such things. But somehow I don't think, as a campaign strategy, the idea of telling a country that is largely anti-abortion that they should legislate for it so that it can become even more widely available on a global scale is the cleverest bit of PR I ever heard. (And if we have the influence she believes, then to my mind that suggests we must be very careful indeed to ensure that the example we set will not lay the deaths of millions of unborn from around the world at our feet.)

Meanwhile, in the USA the abortion debate has taken a new twist, with Senator Rand Paul's attempt to introduce a Life at Conception Act. The legislation would define person-hood as beginning at the moment of conception. This would give the unborn child the same protection under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution as currently enjoyed by all other citizens & essentially remove the basis for the abortion on demand regime that the US Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade introduced. 

That's the theory anyway. It might well work. Abortion is becoming increasingly unpopular in US; however, most feel their hands are tied by the Roe v. Wade decision. A way around that might prove surprisingly popular. And with the Republicans in control of the legislature right now, there might even be the political muscle in place to get it passed.

If Senator Paul's plan succeeds it would certainly set quite an example for the world. And whether the world is keeping its eyes on Ireland or not, it certainly keeps its eyes on what is happening in the USA. So a change of this scale in the USA would send quite a message to the world. I suspect Ms (Dr? Professor?) Bradley will not be pleased. Perhaps she'll make contact with the Senator to let him know what a bad example he would be setting.


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