Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

The Abortion Debate…

January 8, 2009


On Thursday the 8th of January the Phil debated the issue of abortion, a controversial topic that attracted a divided audience. The first speaker was Sinead Waldron (MC), who spoke passionately in favour of legalising abortion before the 20th week of a pregnancy, contending that foetuses are not human beings and should not be afforded rights. Maiden speaker Hannah Cagney argued that there is no dividing line between a foetus and a child, and therefore abortion should remain illegal. Goretti Horgan of the Alliance for Choice spoke about the reality of the status quo, creating a vivid image of women forced into unsafe, life-threatening backstreet procedures. She was followed by Sean O’Donnell, representative of the Irish Catholic Doctors Association, who insisted that human life begins at conception, and that abortion is too dangerous to be allowed to continue. Orla Gordon (ex-Debates Convenor) talked about women seeking abortions lack the support they ought to be given.

As the debate entered its second half, a second maiden speaker, Frank Harte, questioned the belief that foetuses are not human, comparing them to disabled people who cannot live independently. Natalie McDonnell from the Safe and Legal campaign pointed out that Ireland has never had a direct referendum on abortion, and demanded that people should have a chance to make up their own mind. Fianna Fail Senator Jim Walsh said this was unnecessary, insisting that life begins at conception. Also speaking for the opposition, Orla Marnell (Steward) suggested that people should just learn to use contraception properly. She was followed by Liza Cox (MC), who spoke from a feminist perspective, criticising the long-term influence of the Catholic church on women’s rights issues in Ireland. Finally, Patrick Kerr, a third maiden speaker and a medical student, said that women need more information about the consequences of abortions. When the motion was put to the house, in a tight vote the pro-choice lobby won.