Recently I found myself surprisingly grateful to Alison O’Connor, journalist and regular contributor to radio and television panels. Ms O’Connor was a member of the panel on Brendan O’Connor’s The Cutting Edge on RTÉ One. One of the items discussed was abortion.
Ms O’Connor’s contribution was as follows: as a woman who found it particularly difficult to become pregnant and stay pregnant, she spoke about how she would never forget the sound of her baby’s heart beating. She went on to say that she had no difficulty believing that an unborn baby was a human being but…she also believed that a woman’s right to choose termination of her pregnancy trumps that.
I’m grateful to Ms O’Connor because in my memory this is the first time I have heard someone from the so called pro-choice constituency acknowledge publicly that an unborn baby at any stage is a human being. To acknowledge this, while also holding the view that a woman’s right to choose a termination of that baby’s life, means that the forthcoming debate about abortion in our country will be much clearer.
Previous debates have often been caught up in arguments about when a foetus becomes a human being creating at least a sense of confusion and doubt as to whether termination always involved the taking of a human life. Ms O’Connor’s clearly stated position is presumably shared, if not always as clearly articulated, by most people in our country who would like to see a much greater ‘liberalisation’ of our abortion legislation.
One of the most high profile people in our country who wishes to see a much more liberal approach to the availability of abortion is independent cabinet minister Katherine Zappone. Minister Zappone believes that only offering abortions in cases of incest, rape and so-called fatal foetal abnormality would “do nothing at all for most women in Ireland”. At the time of writing this piece Ms Zappone is the Minister for Children in our Government. The minister correctly received a lot of public praise for her prompt response to the Tuam Babies scandal in March.
At the centre of that scandal in Tuam is the claim that hundreds if not thousands of infants who died in a mother and baby home were buried in unmarked mass graves. This caused outrage in Ireland and around the world.
However, all this leaves me, and many others as well, with some uncomfortable and uneasy thoughts and questions. Clearly Minister Zappone shares Alison O’Connor’s views on the need for abortion to be more widely available. Does Minister Zappone share Alison O’Connor’s understanding of the unborn as a human being, a child?
If she does will there not be a difficulty for her as the Minister for Children? Does she see herself as minister for all children or only those whose mothers have willingly brought them to full term?
The parish priest was given a gift of a parrot. The bird had a foul mouth and could swear for five minutes straight without repeating himself. No matter what the priest did the parrot’s language got worse. In his frustration one day he threw the bird into the freezer. For the first few seconds the bird kicked and thrashed. Then it suddenly gets very quiet. At first the priest just waits, but then he starts to think that the bird may be hurt or worse. He’s so worried that he opens up the freezer door.
The bird calmly climbs onto the priest’s outstretched arm and says: “I’m awfully sorry about the trouble I gave you. I’ll do my best to improve my vocabulary from now on.”
The man is astounded. He can’t understand the transformation that has come over the parrot. Then the parrot says, “by the way, what did the chicken do?”
Prayer at a Cemetery Mass
May God bless all the company of souls here,
May God and Mary bless you.
You too spent a while here just as we are now
And we too will join you soon.
May we all be adorned in the beauty
Of the bright King of Heaven
(From The Glenstal Book of Prayer)