There is a good chance that we will have yet another referendum related to the issue of abortion here in Ireland in the coming year. No other issue attracts the attention of the upper echelons of the Catholic hierarchy to the same degree, apart from perhaps covering up child sexual abuse by their colleagues and aiding and abetting them to continue with such crimes, or when one of their housekeepers utters the words "Im late."
In fact, the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, cardinal (I have purposely refused to confer a capital letter to the title that has been bestowed on him) Sean Brady, was revealed earlier this year to have known about the sexual abuse of several children and in the course of interviews with them followed a line of questioning that was designed to convey that they may have been to a degree complicit in their own abuse. He then swore them to secrecy. He didn't warn the parents of the other children who the victims had stated were at risk of abuse from the notorious paedophile father Brendan Smyth. As a result, Smyth went on to rape these children. Nor did Sean Brady go to the police. Instead, he passed a report on to his bishop and left it at that. Meanwhile Brady went on to rise in the ranks of the Catholic hierarchy whilst Smyth continued to rape and abuse children for years whilst serving as a Catholic priest. Brady and the hierarchy were aware they had left a paedophile with access to children. In fact, they were aware they had left hundreds of paedophiles with access to children, for Smyth was just one of a multitude down through the dark decades of rosary bead clutching Ireland.
It is clear from all of this then that Sean Brady is a man whose value system is above reproach and who should take the moral high ground on social issues and pontificate to the rest of society on what is and isn't moral, and not just to those traditional Catholics that share his views, but to all of us.The language that is being used by the anti-abortionist lobby and the Catholic church in the abortion debate is laughable. If you are following the issue so far in the media there are a few phrases that are used widely by those who would dictate that rape victims and young girls violently impregnated by a family member should have no access to terminate such conceptions. The first of these phrases is, "Ireland is one of the safest places to have a child." What does this actually mean? Do they think that in countries where abortion is legal and regulated that women are forced or enticed in to terminating conceptions? Do they think that women in Britain are offered buy one get one free abortion deals by Doctors handing out flyers outside abortion clinics? Do they think that the majority of women are so capricious in their decision making and lacking in any kind of moral or ethical reflection that if abortion was on demand women would make these decisions lightly?Judging by the fact that Britain has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world and an ever expanding population, despite very liberal abortion laws, makes a mockery of the view that permitting abortion discourages women giving birth.
Another problem with this phrase being used by the Catholic church, or those with a traditional Catholic bias is that the phrase contains the word 'safety' and 'child' in the same sentence. For the Catholic church to take the moral high ground with regards to what they define as the safety of children is as confusing as it would be to hear Gerry Adams make a speech on the positive aspects of Northern Ireland being in the United Kingdom. It is also ludicrous to suggest that the collection of cells in the zygotic or embryonic phase is a child when on observation it is clearly not. If there is one thing that we can all agree on, including many in the Catholic church, is that the safety of children and the welfare of mothers were not high on the agenda of the Catholic church throughout most of the twentieth century. If you doubt this to be the case just type Magdalene laundries (it evidences how misogynistic Ireland was in that there was no equivalent institution for men who had sex outside of marriage), industrial schools, Church opposition to Mother and child scheme and clerical sexual abuse in to google. You will have years of horrified reading ahead of you.
The second phrase that I wish to analyse is the 'rights of the unborn child.' The first thing I would ask you to do is contrast this phrase with the phrase the 'rights of actual living children.' The official teaching of the Catholic church is that the moment the sperm meets the egg a human being is formed. According to Catholicism, every weekend throughout Ireland, in the aftermath of burst condoms (another mortal sin), thousands of innocent human beings are murdered when a woman takes a pill to prevent a fertilised egg from implanting itself in her womb.The rights of this egg from the moment of conception trump the woman's right to any considerations she might have about continuing with the pregnancy. Even taking the morning after pill is seen as an abortifacient and it doesn't matter whether it is taken after an act of consensual sex, or after a rape, in the exalted opinion of daft men in camp costumes trotting about the Vatican, it is murder.
The leader of the largest cult in Ireland and enabler of a paedophile, cardinal Sean Brady, has stated that though these women should not be granted autonomy over their own decision making faculties or bodies in the aftermath of the most violating of attacks, at the very least they are deserving of our pity . In his own words, "we have compassion for people, for women, faced with these very difficult situations. We want greater support and understanding for them. But we do not think that the situation, that terrible situations can be rectified by doing a wrong to another, innocent person." Again, I implore you to contrast Brady's concern for a collection of cells in the form of a zygote or an embryo with his treatment of actual living children who were subjected to sexual abuse and what he did and didn't do in relation to that. Time again for some more googling and this time lets type Murphy report, Ryan report and Irish Child Abuse Commission in to the search engine. It gives us a clear idea of just how concerned the Catholic church has been with the rights of children in Ireland when it operated as the de-facto state religion. It is a strange kind of institution that will publicly fight for your rights as an inchoate human being, when you are only a collection of cells and have no consciousness or nervous system or pain receptors, but then once you are a conscious, sensitive innocent child will turn a blind eye to you being raped and allow the perpetrator of such acts ongoing access to other innocent children.
Above all else though, what Brady is hoping to have enshrined in law is a prohibition on women having control over their own bodies. The cult that he is a head of, opposed every attempt to liberalise access to contraceptives so that women and couples could control how many children they had or didn't have. Brady and others in the Catholic church would be content for Ireland to revert to the theocratic state it once was where women were, 'chained to an animal cycle of reproduction', as described by the late Christopher Hitchens. A country where men like Brady thought it was their prerogative to control women's bodies and sexuality as well as men's. A country that allowed men like Brady to incarcerate women as slaves in the Catholic equivalent of Victorian workhouses, only their crime wasn't being impoverished, but instead being sexual.
In effect, the Catholic church wants our parliament to impose legislation that reflects Catholic social teaching on all of the people of the state, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the social teachings of the Catholic church and they have stated they will vigorously lobby TDs (Irish MPs) and the government on this issue. Nowadays, even many people who cling to the illusion that they are still Catholics, including liberal members of the Catholic clergy, don't even prescribe to much of the church's teaching on social issues, including abortion. It is in fitting with their totalitarian and authoritarian past that the hierarchy of the Catholic church seek to impose on those of a non-Catholic worldview their own prescriptions for living. I have no problem with the Catholic church dictating the terms of membership of their organisation and pointing out the rules of what it means to be a Catholic. In fact, it baffles me how so many people call themselves Catholic and yet in their private lives espouse views on a variety of issues that are completely at odds with the official teachings of their church. To a complete non-believer its a bit like meeting people who describe themselves as vegetarians but then tell you they eat chicken and fish.