This post is contributed by Dr Cordelia Freeman of the University of Nottingham. It is based on a full-length journal article available at: Freeman, C. (2017). The crime of choice: abortion border crossings from Chile to Peru. Gender, Place & Culture, 24(6), 851-868.
The Chile-Peru abortion trail is almost unknown but provides a useful way to reflect on the experiences of Irish women who travel to Great Britain in search of abortion healthcare. Drawing on research on the Chile-Peru case, this post reflects on some similarities and differences with the Ireland-Great Britain example.
Chile has had some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the world. Until last yearabortion was illegal in every single case and now it will be permitted in three very strict cases; if the pregnancy was a result of rape, when the woman’s life is at risk, and when a foetus is not viable. The criminalisation of abortion has not prevented women from procuring abortions but instead has pushed the practice further underground with fatal results. The primary cause of maternal mortality in Chile is complications arising from clandestine abortions and mortality due to abortion is between 10 and 100 times higher in Latin America than in most European countries. The National Health Service estimates that in 2014 there were almost 34,000 admissions after abortions which had gone wrong. Women are quite literally dying due to state legislation. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Cordelia Freeman on “The Chile-Peru Abortion Trail and the Irish Experience””
This post is from Dr Sydney Calkin of the University of Durham
Abortion access is fundamentally geographical: looking at abortion as an issue of space and power can help us to understand the continuities between contexts where abortion is illegal and where it is legal, as well as the gaps between abortion law and access in practice. In this post, I draw on a geographical approach to abortion to make two arguments: first, spatial strategies to restrict abortion access often take the form of regulation of medical care that do not directly attack the legality of abortion but make it practically unavailable by making willing doctors scarce or distant. Second, medication abortion is transforming this landscape by challenging medical control over abortion and is prompting the state to respond to re-assert control.
Laws that ban abortion do not operate in a geographical vacuum: in a world of increased mobility, low-cost travel, and cross-border social networks, women who live in states with highly restrictive abortion laws can (and do) access abortion by going abroad. In Ireland, for example, 9-10 Irish women still travel to Englandevery day in pursuit of abortion access. Irish women are dependent on medical services in England, so that changes in healthcare availability in England has serious consequences for non-residents. The reliance on abortion trails is not limited to inter-state travel between states with different abortion laws; it happens as well within states where abortion access is deliberately constrained and made scarce. In places where there is legal provision for abortion, opponents of abortion rights deliberately create extra-legal obstacles that widen the spaces between women seeking abortion and doctors willing to provide it. Geography becomes a useful tool for widening and compounding inequalities to access and making abortion access dependent on a woman’s mobility, as a factor of her wealth or migration status. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Sydney Calkin on “The Changing Geographies of Abortion Access””
This post is from Professor Kath Browne of Maynooth University and Professor Catherine Nash of Brock University
It is becoming increasingly important to give a name to the ways in which gender and sexual rights are being resisted. Those opposed to gender and sexual rights no longer employ the spectre of the ‘disgusting’ gay man or heap scorn on ‘fallen women’, as such tactics are barred, both legislatively (including criminalising hate speech) and culturally (Ireland as an egalitarian place is becoming core to national identities).
However, resistances to sexual and gender rights remain and they now take a different form than in the past: they employ a framing we name as ‘heteroactivism’. Heteroactivism operates distinctively in places where ‘unnaturalness’ cannot be linked to the figure of the ‘disgusting homosexual’ because this figure is now generally seen as accepted as part of the nation. Instead, heteroactivists focus on ‘natural’ procreation and genetics, thereby seeking to reassert heterosexuality as the ‘normal’, common sense and unquestioned centre. Heteroactivism relies on a particular form of heterosexuality (married, childrearing couples, composed of normatively gendered men/women), claiming not only that it is ‘best for children’, but that such configurations are the ‘best for society’. Whilst it may seem that the notion of heteroactivism most clearly applies to opposition to same-sex relationships and families (as well as to the very existence of trans people) heteroactivism is also a useful term to understand those who are opposed to abortion/choice. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Kath Browne & Catherine Nash on “Love both?: Naming Heteroactivism””
This blog post is from Professor Katherine Side of Memorial University, Canada
Despite the lengthy process leading up to the May 25, 2018 referendum on Article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment) of the Constitution, there is little direct discussion about medical abortion. Legal access to abortion in Ireland is long overdue, and pending a ‘repeal and replace’ vote, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste propose a “doctor-led” protocol Where doctors’ involvement provides clarity and support for medical abortion, it is likely to be welcomed. Where doctors’ involvement limits access, impinges on timeliness, and breeches privacy, it is likely to be unwelcomed. Medical paternalism, legal scholar Sally Sheldon notes, can be just as restrictive as state paternalism.
The referendum outcome could provide clear legalisation, safe practices, and expanded access. Consideration must be given to who is involved and how they’re involved in abortion. Medical abortions are safer with expanded access, not restricted access. Better health outcomes could be achieved through a state-supported model that balances access to medication and a wider range of qualified practitioners, with rights to safety, security, and privacy. Continue reading “#abortiontravel Katherine Side on “Medical Abortion Use: Post-Referendum Possibilities””
This guest post is contributed by Donnchadh O’Conaill, a post-doctorate researcher at the Department of Philosophy in the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. It is written and contributed in a personal capacity.
This week the Dail meets to discuss the Oireachtas Committee ‘s recommendation that abortion be allowed on request up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. This is likely, though by no means certain, to form the basis of a proposal to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. The committee’s recommendation was a politically momentous decision, but one which may have even greater significance in shaping the direction of the national debate to come.
Until recently much of the narrative around repealing the Eighth Amendment had focused on certain types of cases and on specific grounds on which abortion might be justified. These cases included fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies which occur as a result of rape or incest.[i] Stories describing these cases are undeniably powerful. They are by no means the only kinds of case which have been discussed, but they have been central to the growing movement for repeal. Continue reading “Shifting Sands Under the Abortion Debate”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the fourth of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly.
In the context of debates about abortion, autonomy is often appealed to by those promoting greater legal access. Those who wish to restrict access to abortion must either argue that autonomy is not as ethically significant as is often assumed, or that in the specific case of abortion the autonomy of pregnant women should be limited. Dr. Dónal O’Mathúna explores each of these lines in his presentation to the Citizen’s Assembly. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (4): The Presentation of Dr. Dónal O’Mathúna”
The Hague Justice Journal First Edition in Association with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia launches its call for submissions
The editorial board of The Hague Justice Journal (HJJ) is delighted to announce that it is soliciting submissions for its 2017 volume relating to the ICTY’s legacy in this its final year of operations. Such submissions will include selected papers from the ICTY Legacy Conference due to be held from 23-24 June 2017 in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and will be published in Autumn 2017. The HJJ undertakes this endeavor in formal cooperation with the ICTY, in line with a number of legacy-related activities being organized in 2017 by the ICTY and by the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation. Continue reading “Hague Justice Journal: Call for Papers”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the third of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly; the first can be found here, and the second here.
While debates over the status of the foetus are central to ethical and philosophical discussions of abortion, the freedom of women to choose to have abortions is crucial to political debates on this subject. Dr. Joan McCarthy presented a defence of this freedom, taking as her starting point “the body and the life of the woman or girl who is pregnant”, considered as a moral agent, i.e., as making ethical choices in concrete situations. In assessing the choices such women face, McCarthy draws on two principles: autonomy and justice. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (3): The Presentation of Dr. Joan McCarthy”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the second of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly; the first can be found here.
Debates about abortion can often be traced back to disagreements about the status of the foetus, e.g., whether it is a being with any independent moral significance. All parties to this disagreement share two assumptions: that ethical debates over abortion are primarily a matter of the moral importance of the foetus, and that the nature of the foetus is what determines its moral status. Hence many opponents of abortion will appeal to the fact that the foetus is a human being, e.g. it has a soul or has the potential to become a rational being; many proponents of liberal abortion laws will counter that the foetus, at least early in its development, lacks certain capacities which are crucial to having moral status. The arguments here are often complex and involve subtle points of metaphysics which are not easy to resolve. More generally, regardless of what one thinks about these issues, it might seem that such esoteric matters are not appropriate as a basis for legislation.
In her submission to the Citizen’s Assembly, Prof. Bobbie Farsides outlines an alternative approach: a way of justifying a pro-choice regime which seeks to avoid disputes about the nature or moral status of the foetus. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizens Assembly (2): The Presentation of Bobbie Farsides”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr Dug Cubie, UCC. In it, he reworks Fuller’s Story of King Rex for contemporary times.
In Lon Fuller’s 1969 book The Morality of Law, Fuller set out the story of King Rex as a cautionary tale of the need for clarity, consistency and predictability within legal systems. Profoundly influenced by the horrors of the 20th Century, in particular the Nazi regime in Germany and the Stalinist regime in the USSR, Fuller desired to establish certain benchmarks for legal systems based on his view of the “inner morality of the law.” Fuller argued that the inner morality of a legal system was based first on the morality of duty (the duty to provide basic rules for the ordering of society) and then the morality of aspiration (the aspiration of excellence within a legal system). Surprisingly little of Lon Fuller’s account of King Rex needs to be changed to fairly accurately reflect the start of President Trump’s administration…
So, as Fuller might have written: This story concerns the unhappy reign of a monarch who bore the convenient, but not very imaginative and not even very regal sounding name of Tex. Continue reading “The Story of King Tex: A Modern Allegory”