The dark, sadistic roots that parallel Alabama’s recent anti-abortion sentiments.
I seen him go and take out a proper hacksaw, like a wood saw … a half-circle with a straight blade and a handle. The blood shot up to the ceiling, up onto his glasses, all over the nurses… Then he goes to the table, and gets something like a solder iron and puts it on me. ~ 1980
This quote is from a young Irish woman who experienced the covert, unnecessary and barbaric procedure of a symphysiotomy during the 1980s. The procedure involves sawing apart the pelvic joint as a woman gives birth.
Apart from being excruciating painful, risky and conferring long term or life long damage to the patient, there was no medical reason for a symphysiotomy to be performed in this case. At the time cesarean sections were safe and routinely practiced across the world. However, the Catholic Church were concerned that sections could prevent individual women from having large numbers of children.
You might think it would be up to the patient to opt for a cesarean even if it meant capping the number of children they could potentially give birth to in their lifetime. No. No more than cattle. The church and the doctor made the decision without even telling the woman. In this ideology birth prevention is a crime. Autonomy over a womb capable of producing a child is immoral. Who says The Handmaid’s Tale is far fetched?
It’s important to note that if you had your pelvis sawn apart you might still need to have a cesarean section as well anyway.This preference of the church for avoiding sections was done entirely at the expense of the female patient.
With seven American states enacting a ban on all or most abortions, Ireland’s legacy is a stark picture of the future some people want to move towards. Contraceptives were also illegal in Ireland from 1935 to 1980 and were only available after this with strong restrictions. These restrictions were maintained for many years.
It’s very shocking that in recent statements and debates it’s become clear that so many people on the pro life side see abortion and contraception as two sides of the same evil. Two things that destroy and erode the natural order that god intended and therefore should apply to everyone, whether that person is religious or not.
Some of the states pushing for harsher and harsher abortion laws have the worst track records when it comes to sex education and contraceptive availability. If it was about simply avoiding the need for abortions this would not be the case.
The obvious fact that it is not the majority of people in the US that believe this or want it written into law is not surprising. The fact that a powerful minority wish to inflict this ideology on a resistant and horrified majority is truly startling. This approach they are suggesting has been tried before and no amount of denial or suppression can obfuscate the terrible consequences of it.
When abortion is illegal the door is opened up for a succession of terrible possibilities that “pro lifers” never want to acknowledge. The dark history in places like Ireland inconveniences the argument that abortion is the way to save and improve life.
State control of reproduction fueled by religious fundamentalism is the suggestion. The inconvenient truth is that whenever this is put in place the humanitarian impact is unflinchingly grim. Ideology over reality. Ideology over humanity.
The use of symphysiotomy in 20th Century Ireland demonstrates that birth and babies were so important to the Catholic Church that it was worth butchering women in order to maximize the number of babies born.
The consequences of embracing the philosophy that birth prevention is a crime are real and serious. Let’s look at a recent one.
In 2012 this mother and her child died in Ireland because the hospital refused to perform an abortion during an inevitable miscarriage, leading to a fatal infection.
It’s clear that the vast majority of strong anti-abortion sentiment is motivated by religious belief. In this way the parallel between what Ireland is finally leaving behind and U.S anti abortion legislators are pushing to move towards is starkly drawn.
“ Healthcare watchdogs have documented isolated instances in which Catholic hospitals denied women birth control or sterilization procedures. But this report details some of the the most systematic collisions of religion and medicine ever to surface in public.”
When the hands of doctors are tied by adherence to religious doctrine, patients suffer. This phenomenon extends to “confusion” over how doctrines in these types of treatment facilities should and can be applied.
Amid the rush to glorify the idea of women producing as many babies as possible pro lifers choose to gloss over the fate of all the babies born that society would rather not be burdened with.
Before it was possible for Irish women to travel outside the country to receive terminations thousands of women sought out backstreet abortions, often in dangerous conditions. Fatalities from such procedures were covered up on death certificates. The scale of the problem was drastically minimized and hidden. Hospitals even had to take on extra staff on Fridays to help with the increased number of admissions. This was because girls would get paid on Fridays, use their wages to pay for an illegal abortion and end up in hospital.
The Catholic Church in Ireland packed unwed mothers off to mother and baby homes where the children could be born and then “cared for”. Single mothers were under pressure from society to feel shame and disgrace for their “illegitimate” offspring. The women, of course, not the men. When the women and girls returned home from these “holidays” without their babies, no one asked any questions. They didn’t dare to.
Limited contraception and no abortion resulted in lots of babies, but not those society wanted, even if the mothers did.
What happened to those unwanted babies?
A lot of them ended up suffering horrific physical and sexual abuse in the care of the church. Many were neglected or allowed to starve.
They weren’t the right sort of babies.They weren’t the precious babies.
For anyone who really is concerned about protecting children, anti abortion laws and limits to contraception are not the way to do it. Heaping shame and seclusion, secrecy and fear on the wrong kind of pregnant women and girls won’t improve life for anyone.
You don’t need to imagine, it’s already happened.
The rhetoric surrounding abortion rights is purely rhetoric. The reality of outlawing abortion is horror. It is the reality no matter how much people try to minimize and make exceptions.
Maintaining or reviving the stauts quo and power structure suits those who benefit from an amalgamation of church and state. Not anyone else.
Consider the recent case of an 11 year old girl from Ohio who was given an abortion after she became pregnant from rape by a 26 year old man. A pedophile, in other words. Changes to the state laws mean that in the future a child like this would not be able to access an abortion. The fact that some people can find a way of defending an 11 year old victim of child sex abuse giving birth by force in the name of protecting children is fairly extreme.
Babies are precious and we should ensure their arrival in large numbers at any cost, even if that cost is Orwellian horror for women.
Women butchered so their birthing capabilities aren’t capped. Raped 11 year olds forced into giving birth. Pregnant women left to die in hospitals because the operation needed to save their lives confuses the doctors. Thousands and thousands of babies born with nowhere to go, while predators prepare to take them in.
All this is necessary and even justified because a child is innocent and precious. A design by god that no mere human can interfere with.
Not all children, mind you. Just the ones born in the right way to the right people.
Once the inconvenient babies get here, the Orwellian nightmare has plans for them too.