In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week posts, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.
My award this week goes to the people of Ireland, who on 25 May 2018 voted by a majority of 2:1 to amend the Irish constitution, which paved the way for Ireland to allow abortions.
It wasn’t just that the people of Ireland had become more liberal, less influenced by the Roman Catholic church.
But the ban simply didn’t work.
What happened was, an Irish woman wanting an abortion would step onto an airplane, would fly to London, fly home a day later when, miraculously, she wasn’t pregnant any more.
I actually knew someone who did this. There was a stigma about them admitting it, but there was no problem actually getting the abortion. I suspect she could have used somebody at the time, a shoulder to cry on, somebody who might even have changed her mind, but there we go. But the episode highlights how, once people started travelling, the ban was something that simply couldn’t be enforced.
So, given that people could just sidestep Ireland’s rule, the referendum was essentially about whether the Irish state had any right even to have an opinion about someone’s reproductive rights. Sensibly, in my opinion, the people of Ireland recognised that the state’s view was irrelevant.
Now, May 2018. It’s hardly newsworthy, is it? But it becomes relevant again in the context of the “heartbeat bill” being passed into law in Texas this week.
Because the same thing will happen.
Pregnant Texas residents who wish to have an abortion will fly off someplace and will have their abortion. There will be the same old stigma about discussing the issue, but there’ll be no problem actually getting the abortion.
That is, pregnant Texans who can afford it will get their abortions. Because make no mistake, this law attacks poverty – people who can’t afford to travel. It won’t improve morality.
But I doubt even poor Texans need worry, because I predict that charities will spring up – not based in Texas, of course – which will provide financial aid. I’m sure such charities will attract many wealthy liberal donors, because to them there will be fewer causes bigger than a woman having control of her own body.
The only time such a ban will bite (again against the poor) is if it is applied nationwide, simply because it is more prohibitive to travel internationally (no passport was required between IE and the UK, which made that particular journey do-able). Nationwide, in the US, will include liberal places like the coasts. Really?
So, I think the Texas legislature has been dumb, for even thinking it can restrict abortion. It is impotent, it can’t enforce any restrictions. Therefore, it was a waste of time even to create them.
The traditional argument with abortion, you either put the rights of the woman first, in which case you jump one way, or you put the rights of the foetus first, and jump the other.
But do you see, either of those arguments falls into the misogynist’s trap? By framing this as a tussle between a woman and a foetus, it neatly conceals that a man was, at one stage, very much involved.
From ever since, the man has had the ability to walk (run) away from an unwanted pregnancy. A woman hasn’t, not until science arrived and made it possible. So, just on the grounds of gender equality, I’d support a woman’s ability to walk away from an unwanted pregnancy, in exactly the same way as a man is able.
I’ve got no qualms about using medicine to help bring about equality, as much as we can. No qualms in general using medicine to improve humans’ lot against nature. I’ve no qualms about using chemo/radio to treat cancer, using x-rays to diagnose broken bones, insulin to help diabetics, electromagnetism to perform an MRI scan… None of which would be possible without the intervention of science into god’s “natural order”.