SDLP abortion stance a thundering disgrace

On Saturday SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell committed not just himself but also his party to absolute opposition to any change in abortion law.

This is disgraceful enough, but he would not even be open about the real reason. Abusing his GP credentials, he tried to argue that he knew that you could never be sure that a fatal abnormality was fatal. Of course, there are some cases of doubt, but it is a matter of fact that sometimes doctors can be 100% sure that the abnormality is fatal. So he is frankly making up myths to create a dodgy “practical” reason for what is in fact a profoundly and fundamentally religious stance.

Even if we were foolish enough to accept Mr McDonnell’s reasoning based on his professional experience, he committed his party to absolute opposition to any change in abortion law – meaning that the SDLP joins the DUP in rejecting access to abortion services in cases of rape.

Let us be clear here, there is absolutely nobody who opposes abortion in case of rape – except on religious grounds. You cannot be human and believe that a victim of rape should be forced to carry a foetus which reminds her hourly of the very horror that she has just been through. This is, therefore, an invasion into civic space of an exclusively religious argument – i.e. where religious arguments have no place. It is an attempt to impose an exclusively religious view on a diverse, secular society. That is exactly what the Conscience Clause is designed to do too. It is unacceptable.

Remember, no one would be forced to have an abortion under the Department of Justice proposals, even if these were specifically extended to include cases of rape. People of religious view would have every right not to have them. But let us be very clear what Alasdair McDonnell is saying to rape victims here: “I, a man, have a religious view; and that means you, a woman and a victim, should be deprived of any choice. Oh, and my personal religious views are more important than your emotional wellbeing.”

This, of course, came at the end of a week when the SDLP had already disgracefully defended single-denomination teacher training, committing us to another generation of schooling along sectarian lines in a society recovering from conflict along sectarian lines (and to removing student places just so we can subsidise trainee teachers, around a third of whom we know we will never need). The SDLP is, therefore, content for students to be deprived of places on courses across Northern Ireland and for sectarian educational division to be maintained as long as specifically Catholic teacher training continues to be subsidised by our rates and taxes. This is from a party which laughably claims the title “progressive”?!

This would all be a thundering disgrace at the best of times, but let us also remind ourselves that the abortion issue is one which directly affects only women. Men are never faced with the lonely choice, the lonely decision, and the lonely recovery. The SDLP – and let us be clear that Mr McDonnell spoke for the whole party – is putting Catholic rights ahead of women’s rights. It’s so very telling, and it’s utterly contemptible.

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5 thoughts on “SDLP abortion stance a thundering disgrace

  1. Malachi says:

    I was also struck by Alban’s argument for women being compelled to carry unviable pregnancies to full term: some women take comfort from giving birth to a child which then dies. Maybe so, but how is that a logical argument for insisting on the law compelling those who don’t take such comfort?

  2. Seamus says:

    “Let us be clear here, there is absolutely nobody who opposes abortion in case of rape – except on religious grounds.”

    It depends on what one means by “religious grounds”. Personally, I, and I imagine the likes of the SDLP decision makers feel the same, believe that life begins at conception. That isn’t a religious belief. I’m not of the opinion that life begins at conception because the Pope told me I have to be, or that it says it in a religious text. It is why there are people who are pro-life despite being a humanist or an atheist.

    So you clearly aren’t being clear on the issue. You are of the opinion that when people hold the view that life begins at conception that they are only doing so for religious reason. That is clearly not true.

    “This would all be a thundering disgrace at the best of times, but let us also remind ourselves that the abortion issue is one which directly affects only women.”

    Funny that one. There I thought it takes two to tango.

    And that half of the unborn children in Northern Ireland are male.

    • It is true, actually. No one anywhere takes that view objectively.

      You also, frankly disgracefully and insensitively, miss the point. Tell me, how many men take the lonely journey across the Sheuch for an abortion? How many face the emotional consequences of that decision as it affects their own body?

      • Seamus says:

        “It is true, actually. No one anywhere takes that view objectively.”

        No it isn’t. What do you mean by objectively?

        We all have an opinion on when life begins, ranging from those who believe it begins at conception to those who believe it begins at birth (and covering a large range of opinion in between). None of those opinions are more valid than others.

        Personally I believe that life begins at conception. The nature of that conception does not change that.

        “You also, frankly disgracefully and insensitively, miss the point. Tell me, how many men take the lonely journey across the Sheuch for an abortion? How many face the emotional consequences of that decision as it affects their own body?”

        I don’t miss the point. I simply do not agree with it.

        There are many things in society that disproportionatly impact on one demographic. The idea that no one else is allowed an opinion on the matter but those people is insane. You had a go in the article about the SDLP’s support of St Mary’s. Well, broadly speaking, only Catholics attend St Mary’s. Does that mean that your opinion isn’t valid as you would not attend St Mary’s in the first place?

        And on the idea that abortion only impacts on women. The girl getting the abortion is not the only one affected by it. So your contention that the “abortion issue is one which directly affects only women” is untrue. It affects her family, the father of the child, and most importantly, the child itself.

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