Firstly, Leo declares that he's not sexist and then he undermines his own arguments.
Even though he dishes out stinging criticism in the Dail, he finds some of the criticism of himself hard to take, particularly Mary Coughlan's allegations of sexism. "I thought it was very unfair. If anything I went easier on her because she was a woman. She's accused everyone of sexism! Nobody that I know would ever say that I'm sexist. Most people would accept it was the last line of defence for Mary Coughlan."
Now I am no fan of Coughlan. I think she is incompetent and out of her depth but the thing about feminism is that I will call out attacking someone based on gender (or sexuality, gender-identity, skin colour etc...). What Leo said was
You are unable to talk to business people and when you do the language you use is often inappropriate and vulgar
Ah, inappropriate language. Vulgarity. A classic attack leveled at women as soon as they started getting uppity and wanting to be treated equally. Attacking Coughlan for the language she uses would be comical if taken in context with other leaders.
My most cringeworthy moment upon hearing a politican was Bertie Ahern giving a speech at the opening of the 58th General Assembly in the UN in New York. In front of the leaders of the world, he said
...If we did not have already have such an organisation, we would surely have to invent it...let us ask not what the United Nations can do for us, but what we can do for the United Nations...He has not shrunk from grasping the nettle of reform, and in his address to this Assembly he called on the members of this organisation to grasp it with him
Now that was cringeworthy - stealing and paraphrasing lines from Voltaire; using the tired phraseology from JFK; and ridiculous similes. I would have fired the speechwriter. In one fifteen minute speech, Ahern told the whole world that Ireland has no originality.
As for Coughlan, personal attacks on her clothes and personality are sexist. Also, it's not like Leo attacked Cowen for missing two press conferences in Japan because he was too drunk to attend. Or Cowen's "ring those fuckers...". O'Dea's brothel remarks passed unnoticed except for a wink wink nudge nudge until it was revealed he lied under oath.
And then we come to the abortion part of Leo's beliefs.
Despite his medical background, his views on some controversial medical issues are quite black and white -- such as abortion. "I would accept a lot of Catholic social teaching. I'm not a practising religious person, but I would accept that. I wouldn't be in favour of abortion. The only thing that would be a grey area is if there's a genuine threat or risk to the life of the mother."So even though he has a considerable experience with medicine, and knowing that one third of pregnancies spontaneously abort in the first trimester, he resorts to the teachings of a patriarchal institution (that covered up rape, torture and emotional violence) that cannot maintain consistency in its own teachings. Remember Thomas Aquinas, Albertus, Giles of Rome and Pope John XXI, their teachings on the nature of soul and their de facto acceptance of first trimester abortions.
What about the provision of abortion services for rape victims? "I wouldn't be in favour of it in that case, and, you know, first of all, it isn't the child's fault that they're the child of rape. You can say the same thing about disabled children. You know, some people would make that argument in favour of abortion. It's not their fault they're disabled. I wouldn't be in favour of it in those circumstances either.
As an almost doctor Leo should know that in the first trimester, the result of fertilisation is an embryo not a child.
As Thinking Girl says
“Pro-choice” does not mean “pro-abortion”; it means supporting women’s rights to self-determination over their bodies. “Fetuses” are not “babies”; fetuses exist in the womb, babies exist outside of the womb. “Human” does not equal “person”; human is the biological name of our species, personhood involves moral agency.
A child does not need the life of another to survive. A person cannot be forced to surrender their freedom to another. Forced pregnancy is a human rights violation banned by the UN.
"Even, how would that work practically? Would someone have to prove that they've been raped? I think where that's been brought in in countries it has more or less led to abortion on demand," he adds.
Ah, ignorance again. How to prove someone was raped? Well generally considering the level of rape in this country, the rape culture and the blackening of a survivor's character and sexual history, you could believe the person.
There's nothing wrong with abortion on demand. That's how it should be. I suspect Leo means that them silly womans will use abortion as contraception and will think that they actually should have control of their bodies.
Is it not double standards to have more than 5,000 women a year travelling to the UK and elsewhere for abortions? "I don't think that's double standards. People travel overseas to do things overseas that aren't legal in Ireland all the time. You know, are we going to stop people going to Las Vegas? Are we going to stop people going to Amsterdam? There are things that are illegal in Ireland and we don't prevent people from travelling overseas to avail of them."
Fatmammycat makes the ever relevant point that Leo could never get pregnant anyway. It's all academic to him. If Leo really believes that abortion is murder than he should be legislating against it. How about imprisoning women who have abortions. Stand up in Dail and say that then. Have the courage of your convictions Leo. Instead of allowing women basic human rights, he is fine with just ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away. Meanwhile, women are travelling for abortions are in a legal grey area, without support, getting into debt.
The thing is that abortions have always happened. Women always have the knowledge of how to terminate pregnancies. Now there are safe ways to do so and legally Irish women are blocking from accessing medical care. The thing about governing is that you have to recognise the society you have and not the society you think you should have. Dev thought that comely maidens should dance at crossroads but now we know that, had they done so, they would have been enslaved in laundries by society and the all powerful, ever controlling Catholic church.
When it comes to abortion, Ireland is hypocritical. As I have written before:
What about the cost of condoms? They are prohibitively expensive for teenagers and young adults. Even adults might have difficulty paying these prices. According to condoms.ie, a package of 12 durex varies from €10.49 to €16.45. €16.45 is a ridiculous price to pay for 12 pieces of latex. The equivalent in France is €6.80 but condoms are distributed in schools free of charge on AIDS awareness day.
The pragmatic approach would be to have cheap contraception and a comprehensive sex ed programme in schools. But that hasn't happened because of the mentality of ban, ban, ban when you don't or want to understand.
Ultimately it's an issue of control. Well you don't get to control our bodies.
Listen to Sonya Renee and then get back to me
What We Deserve
| MySpace Video
It's time to talk about the reality. These vids were made by the The Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign. Watch them.