The Vagenda

Anti-Abortion Nutjobs at it Again

Bigots! Annoyed that you can’t get away with paying to paste anti-choice propaganda on the side of London bus? Pissed off that in Britain citizens are entitled to contest the presence of misleading billboards in public space? Sick of standing around outside of abortion clinics with placards of late-term foetuses? Want to shove your opinions down the throats of thousands, but cruelly deprived of an effective platform? 
Move to Ireland! It’s less than an hour away on a 40 quid Ryanair flight, yet in Ireland you can conduct any non-commercial advertising campaign you like with impunity. Irish citizens have absolutely no avenue through which to complain about misleading or misogynistic content in non-commercial advertising. That’s right bigots! If you have sufficient capital you can erect as many judgey anti-choice billboards as you like in Dublin’s fair city. No capital? Why not ask your local Catholic priest to help you fund-raise? You don’t have to worry about all the distress that you’ll undoubtedly cause to women who’ve had abortions being reported to relevant authorities – because there are no relevant authorities.
At the moment, Dublin’s billboards, buses and trams are being used to shame women who’ve had abortions and to demonise the choice to terminate a pregnancy, but why stop there? Niamh Uí Bhriain of Ireland’s Youth Defence group says her organisation is getting ‘great value’ on the JC Decaux hosted advertising campaign. For a figure that experts estimate at between £150,000 and £250,000, Youth Defence have plastered Dublin in pictures of crying young women and 18 week old foetuses, accompanied by the slogans ‘Abortion tears her life apart’ and ‘Abortion: there’s always a better answer.’ Lucky Dubliners can see women shamed on their way to work, their way to school (Mummy? Daddy? What’s an abortion?), and even, thanks to a cruelly placed airport poster, on their way to the UK to terminate a pregnancy.
Want to complain that, as 87% of Irish women who’ve had abortions believe their decision to be the right one (PDF), a billboard proclaiming that there is always a better answer is partial and misleading? Tough titty mister – the Advertising Standards Association of Ireland only deals with commercial campaigns. If a non-commerical advert incites people to hatred on grounds of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation the ASAI might consider handling your complaint, but inciting people to hate women who’ve had abortions is just fine. We all know that misogyny isn’t a real prejudice.
Want to complain that the advertising is likely to cause significant emotional distress to women who have been through the experience of a crisis pregnancy? Hard cheese sister – the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources only deals with television, radio and internet broadcasts. Want to point to the twelfty million other ways that the campaign fails to comply with the ASAI’s self-regulatory code? Sucks to you! There’s no public body in Ireland willing to take any responsibility for handling your complaint. 
It’s a financially powerful misogynist’s dream. Just imagine: ‘Women working outside the home: there’s always a better answer.’ What? It’s not illegal – in fact, a woman’s domestic function is enshrined in the Irish constitution. ‘Maternity tears the economy apart: there’s always a better answer.’ Or ‘Emergency contraception is evil: there’s always a better answer.’ What? Blastocysts is people too. If you wanted, you could add some small print. For example: ‘Abortion: There’s always a better answer – and it’s my answer. Because my answers are always better than your answers and you are clearly ill-equipped to make moral decisions for yourself you filthy filthy little Jezebel.’
The Youth Defence facebook page claims that the organisation is educating women about the effects of abortion. And what an excellent job it is doing too. I particularly like the educational picture of a 9 week old foetus next to a picture of a 12 month old baby with the caption ‘I’m still me!’ Or the one with a cute kid saying ‘Abortion: that’s not cool!’ I mean, what a stupendous grasp of human subjectivity and biology women are likely to glean from consumption of this educational material. Here in the UK, the government has been considering re-vamping the GCSE system. I wonder if anyone has though of asking the team at Youth Defence to do some consultancy work? 
Breathe. I must remember to breathe. I must not be consumed by blind rage. But it’s hard. Because I am angry. I have a good friend living in Dublin who chose to have an abortion in her teens. It’s amazing that she was capable of making the decision at all, considering the anti-choice brainwashing most of us underwent at secondary school (95% of Ireland’s schools are Catholic schools). Like the vast majority of Irish women who choose to travel overseas to terminate pregnancies, my friend does not regret her decision. This doesn’t mean that’s it’s fair for her to be told that the choice she made is morally wrong every freaking time she leaves the house. Ireland’s draconian abortion laws already forced her to travel to the UK at a stressful and emotionally difficult time in her life – does she really have to go through this too?
Abortion is not a black and white issue. To quote playwright Susan Lori Parks, it’s ‘bad. And good. And bad and good and good and bad. There’s no easy way to look at it.’ But to claim that your moral stance on abortion is always the right one, to refuse to admit the moral capacity of the 4,000 Irish women who go abroad to terminate pregnancies each year, and to intentionally embark on a course of action guaranteed to cause severe distress to thousands, well that’s just bad. And bad. And bad and bad and bad and bad.
If you’re in Dublin tomorrow, Wednesday 11th, there’s a protest you can attend outside the Dáil at 6.30pm. Details here. If you’re not in Ireland, there’s a petition you can sign. Details here.
- Emer

26 thoughts on “Anti-Abortion Nutjobs at it Again

  1. Hi Emer, and anyone who’s interested,

    I volunteer for a small (entirely volunteer-run) group called Abortion Support Network (ASN), which provides financial assistance, accommodation in volunteer homes, and confidential, non-judgmental information to women in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who are travelling to England to access a safe and legal abortion.

    I wonder if you’d be interested in supporting us? We could always do with raising awareness (and obviously fundraising). Email me at

    Here are a couple of links:


    • Hi Sop – I’m already in touch with Mara, and we’re hoping to work together when I have a little more time in September. Thanks! x

  2. I am so glad to see this getting some recognition outside of Ireland. To date, Ms Ní Bhriain’s response to anyone criticising this campaign has been to argue any opposition is anti free speech. With the power of the church behind her, she seems to think herself above criticism and immune to any suggestion the posters arent in good taste. Her misinformation knows no bounds – see her recent article for the Irish Times last week and the comments left thereafter. It’s very clear that in holy catholic Ireland those of us in favour of choice will be forcibly shouted down by the ‘moral majority’ who believe its their god given right to force their narrow minded opinions down our throats.
    Have you ever noticed that people who vehemently classify themselves as pro life aren’t actually interested in the wellbeing of a foetus after its born and certainly aren’t interested in the lives of women and mothers?

  3. Hi,

    I don’t want to start a row, but as a 40-something anti-abortion male follower of your blog I have to respond. I’m not a campaigner and have never taken issue with anyone on the subject before, so lucky old you.

    I believe that abortion is obscene and an offence to human dignity that demeans us all. I didn’t used to be anti: I toed the party line until we had children ourselves, and only then realised what abortion actually meant. (My wife was always aginst it – “It’s not something I could ever do”). I’m not clear on the metaphysics of when life begins but I side with ‘fairly early on’, and hold that, undoubtedly, the abortion of a mid- to late-term baby is plain old murder. At the same time I am against (though agonised) about banning it outright: there are sometimes very painful circumstances, such as pregnancy from rape or a threat to the mother’s life, where it seems hard and harsh to enforce a moral absolute upon the mother. But nevertheless, should a child lose its life as a consequence of the evil actions of a father it never knew? Plus it’s worth bearing in mind there are people who wouldn’t be alive today if their mothers hadn’t given their own lives to save them – a heroic choice it’s impossible to demand of anyone, but that should be respected.

    Regardless, such emergency or desperate-situation abortions are a minute fraction of the total.

    In general I would go with Bill Clinton’s opinion that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. To which I would add “as early as possible”. I deplore the way that abortion is used almost casually today as just another form of contraception.

    So saying that, in what way am I a “bigot” or “mysogynistic”? It’s really not my fault that only women can get pregnant. These are very subjective labels based on your own value judgments – you know, just like those ones in the ads you so detest. My anti-abortion views have nothing to do with whether women or men, or some weird third sex we’ve not yet discovered, grow babies in their bodies. It’s to do with feeling there’s something very wrong about dismembering a living human being while still in it’s parent’s womb then sucking the remains out with a vacuum cleaner.

    There, I said it. That’s the fundamental difference between the pro and anti positions: pro’s think that’s ok (or at least a regrettable necessity) and anti’s don’t. It’s got nothing to do with ‘hating women’ or ‘wanting to control them’. I regret that unwanted pregnancies happen and that this has a major effect on some women’s lives, whether for good or bad. Among my other values I believe that all women should be treated with love and infinite respect, and that mothers should receive all the help and care they need. But having a major effect on our lives is what kids do, to all of us, both men and women. Society rightly exerts a moral imperative on all parents to care properly for their children once they are born, and demands the severest penalties and opprobrium when they don’t (after all what’s more clearly morally wrong than child-abuse?). Anti-abortionists merely extend that responsibility backwards for a few months. Society (which is a construct thrashed out democratically by everyone) exerts a moral imperative on all of us for all sorts of reasons; I don’t see why pregnant women should get an exemption simply because it’s not fair that men don’t get pregnant too.

    Ironically, abortion is the method by which a very real and horrific misogyny is currently being perpetrated in various countries around the world, such as India and China where sex-selective abortion is used to ‘winnow out’ the undesirable female babies. Granted it is patriarchy that creates this situation, but it is abortion that has enabled the death of millions of babies simply for being female.

    • Hi Dimwoo,

      Thanks for weighing in. Your comment is quite lengthy, so I don’t have time to respond to all the points you make, but I would like to address a few.


      - You (and many others) believe that abortion is obscene and an offence to human dignity and demeans us all. I (and many others) believe that safe, legal abortion is necessary to safe-guard the mental, physical and social well-being of women. Abortion is a complex ethical issue. There are arguments to support both our cases, but ultimately we must respect the opinions and decisions of women who find themselves in situations of crisis pregnancy. Pro-choice people, of course, do not force abortions on women going through crisis pregnancies, and neither should anyone have the right to force a woman to carry a child to term if she is not ready to do so. These are not moral decisions that we can make for others.


      - You say that you’re not clear on the metaphysics of when life begins, but your belief is ‘fairly early on.’ You’re entitled to this belief, but you don’t really offer any explanation for it. I’m linking to a document below that explains the scientific justifications for UK abortion law. It discusses neo-natal survival rates, foetal pain, the development of consciousness. Have a read. It’s thought-provoking.

      Thirdly –

      I’m in absolute agreement with you that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. I have a revelation for you – this makes you pro-choice.

      Fourthly -

      I am not calling you a bigot or misogynist. However, insofar as bigotry is the intolerance of others’ opinions or beliefs, I hold that that it is bigoted to force women who are not ready to have children and who have made their own moral decisions about the implications of abortion to carry pregnancies to term.

      Fifthly -

      Your summations of the ‘fundamental difference between pro and anti positions’ is very simplistic. Spend a little time reading and familiarising yourself with the reasons feminists and others are campaigning for safe, legal abortion. For me, one of the most striking differences between the camps is that the pro-choice movement campaigns for individual freedom, and respects the abilities of women to make moral decisions surrounding pregnancy for themselves. The anti-choice side wishes to remove the capacity to make this moral decision from women.

      And lastly -

      Blaming abortion for the ills of sexist societies is not a productive strategy. Better to change sexist societies. That’s what I’m doing, and that’s why I’m campaigning for safe, legal abortion in the Republic of Ireland.

    • Thanks so much for speaking out, Dimwoo (although I feel really silly typing that…)! I love Vagenda so much, but sometimes I feel like I’m not included in its broad scope of feminists, because I too believe that unless there is serious medical risk to the mother, abortion is always the wrong choice because it is murder.

      I absolutely acknowledge the painful and traumatic circumstances a woman with a crisis pregnancy is experiencing, but I fail to see how ending a human life is the best answer.

      I know that for many feminists, the right to abortions seems crucial because it enables us to have sex more freely however we desire without fear of being thrust into motherhood, but I think we have to accept that biologically, we aren’t men. We have vaginas, and they are awesome, and if we have sex and a sperm meets an egg, then generally nine months later a baby pops out. That is a risk we have to accept if we choose to be sexually active. Period. Use birth control, track your fertility, go for oral/anal/manual sex over intercourse, and if you get pregnant, accept it, and deal with it, because you took that risk.

      I also think that the patriarchy is the reason why we need abortions in the first place. We wouldn’t if it was just ok for a woman to find herself with a unplanned pregnancy under less than ideal circumstances. If we all were there to offer her help and support, whether she chose to give the baby up for adoption or to keep it, then perhaps crisis pregnancies would be somewhat less of a crisis, yes?

      In general, there seems to be lots of weird judgement about women who give their babies up for adoption. I’m married, but I married young, and I often thought that should we become pregnant too soon in spite of taking precautions, I would like to give the baby up for adoption, but can you imagine how horrified everyone would be by that?? We should support women who make this courageous decision!

      I want a world in which we are all pro-choice, because all women are comfortable with and supported in choosing life.

      All that said, and fervently believed, I can only dimly imagine the sheer horror had I found myself pregnant as a teenager (which is why I didn’t have sex at all until I was 22 and married…), and I can’t in good conscious judge or hate a woman who makes that choice feeling like ending the life within her is the only way to move forward with her life. I just disagree with her, and feel sad that our society has pushed her to think that’s the best way.

    • Emer already pointed out some important things, and I’d like to point out a few more…

      First of all, “It’s not something I could ever do” is NOT by itself a valid reason for being against something. It’s not actually any kind of reason at all. Just because eating shrimps is not something I could ever do does not mean I am entitled to morally critisize people who choose to eat them. Same is true for example about certain sorts of sexual encounters that I find distasteful, and so on. My choises and feelings are not the measure for everyone else’s morality. Your wife is not other women, and so things that she could or could not do have no bearing on those women.

      Secondly, you ask: “should a child lose its life as a consequence of the evil actions of a father it never knew?” What about the woman, should she lose the life she has planned for herself, her sanity, maybe even her health as a consequence of the evil actions of some man she may of may not know, if we are talking about pregnancies from rape? You claim that your opinion is in no way influenced by the biological reality in which it’s women and not men who get pregnant, but it seems that you are vastly underestimating the cost of pregnancy for the pregnang woman. (This is pretty incredible considering you write that you have children of your own, and have thus probably been there with your wife during her pregnancy.)

      Pregnancy is definitely never easy, and there are always risks included for the woman. I find women who choose to have kids and go through pregnancy incredibly brave. At the same time, I think it’s something no-one should be forced to go through if they don’t themselves want to. The same way no-one should be forced to donate me a kidney even if I would die without it (since donating a kidney necessarily poses some risks for the donator), no-one should be force to risk her life and health for a potential baby.

      Lastly, but probably most important, the whole concept of calling some couple of months old embryo a “human being” is pretty questionable. Different definitions can of course be used, but I don’t see much sense in defining human being simply in terms of… what could it even be in case of embryos? Having human cells, maybe? Or having the “potential” to develop into a human being? I know this is an old joke, but if this definition is used, every sperm cell has to be viewed in the same light. It should be remembered that abortions are usually performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In my view, embryos and fetuses at the early stage lack several, if not all, very important features of a singular human being, for example being able to survive without being constantly attached to someone elses body, being capable of social interaction with other people, having personality, etc.

    • The key phrase in Emily’s comment is ‘I *believe*… that abortion is always the wrong choice’. This whole debate is between people who choose to have particular *beliefs* that make them think they have a right to interfere very seriously with the lives of others, and people who don’t think like that: people who respect the right of individuals to make their own choices. No one is ever going to agree on when a foetus ‘becomes’ a life that needs protecting, although the science leaves us in no doubt about either capacity to feel pain or human consciousness (as in, a foetus has neither). However, as there will be no consensus on this aspect, banging on about ‘human life’ won’t get anyone anywhere. The simple point is that people who oppose abortion think they have a right to inflict their own personal beliefs on other people. They don’t, or at least, they shouldn’t. So every time someone says ‘I believe abortion is wrong, therefore YOU shouldn’t have one’, I am disgusted by them.

      However someone choses to rationalise being anti-abortion, they are basically putting other people into a situation of distress and sometimes extreme physical danger simply in order to gratify their own view of how things should be. The simple slogan ‘if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one’ should mark the end of the debate. There’s nothing more to be said.

    • You know, the example of not forcing someone to donate a kidney because that’s a risky procedure with consequences for the donator even though without it the person who needs the kidney will die is the most intriguing argument I’ve heard from the pro-choice side for a long time. I’m going to have to give that one some serious thought and get back to you.

      Also, that argument, “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one” makes me want to tear my hair out. To me, it sounds like, “If you don’t like murder, don’t murder someone! (but don’t make a fuss if someone else DOES like murder and DOES murder people, for heaven’s sake!)” Just absurd.

    • Emily, I find it astonishing that you could so freely give up a child for adoption and not even consider the ramifications this child would suffer. Obviously many – most, I hope – adoptees are brought into loving, caring families and never worry about their biological parents. But that’s not the case with all of them. And if they do decide to trace their biological parents, the reasons behind being given up for adoption will vary wildly, but usually be because the mother was on her own, too young, and couldn’t afford to raise a child; which is no doubt upsetting but nonetheless understandable. But to discover that your biological parents were not only in a stable relationship, but old enough to be married, and had chosen to give you up because the time wasn’t right and they just didn’t fancy having a baby around the house? That’s serious emotional scarring there, for life! “I am so worthless that my happily married parents couldn’t be bothered to keep me”. There’s no other reason. Yet you encourage this behaviour! Yes, they could be adopted by a fantastic family and go on to have a wonderful life, but you don’t know that. Do you think just by giving birth, that’s all you need to do? Then your obligation to life is over? People who have abortions know that they wouldn’t be able to give a child what it needs, and they stop the process of bringing a human into the world to whom they couldn’t give the love and nurturing it deserves.

      I’m not saying that adoption is wrong, any more than I think abortion is wrong (yes, I am pro-choice, and this goes for both those things), but it’s your attitude of being anti-abortion and simultaneously blase about giving away a child which is baffling to me. You may not be responsible for your definition of “murder” but you may well be responsible for a human being living a life of regret, confusion and self-loathing. How is that any better?

    • Hopefully any kid with my genes, and a good upbringing, would be upset and/or confused, but not emotionally scarred by finding out I wasn’t in a typical crisis situation when I elected not to keep him or her.

      I really can’t get over the idea that because it would be confusing or upsetting, it is preferable to TAKE AWAY ANY CHANCE AT A HAPPY LIFE AT ALL than to hope the child’s emotionally strong and mature enough to understand, and move forward.

      I wasn’t adopted, and the people who I know who were are not close friends, so I don’t have a great deal of perspective on the anguish and confusion that often comes along with it, but I know that I’ve had an awesome life, and if I found out I’d been adopted and no one ever told me I’d be pissed, and probably want to find my birth parents, but I’d also be insanely grateful to them, regardless of whatever reason, shitty or logical, they gave me up for, that they let me LIVE instead of deciding it would just be too hard for me to deal with so they should just kill me.

      No amount of emotional difficulty regarding your circumstances makes not having a life at all preferable. If it seems like it does, you should seek help.

    • That attitude makes me so sad: that death is better than life, because it’s just so shitty that even though I’m married and may or may not eventually want children, I know that I don’t want them now and would rather give us both a chance at an easier life by giving my baby to someone who would desperately want it.

      For the record, we aren’t being careless! Any pregnancy is a great responsibility, and it would be better to not conceive a child unless and until we want to provide a home for one, but if in spite of great caution, and medical intervention, I were to get pregnant anyway, I would feel like this kid’s a fighter, and deserves a chance.

      It shouldn’t be unacceptable for an older woman in a stable relationship to give up a baby for adoption. That gives the baby a chance at life in this awesome world.

    • Thanks to Dimwoo and Emily for commenting in a helpful and polite way – hey, we’re having a discussion about abortion on the internet and no-one is being rude! Fantastic!

      I was going to weigh in, but Emer and Partycat pretty much said what I was going to, far more eloquently that I would have managed. I just want to say: An embryo is not a person, and Emer’s link in the comment above is great for expanding on that. An adult woman *is* a person, and if she doesn’t want to be pregnant, then that’s very important. Yes, to her.

    • I don’t think that death is preferable to life. I’m not chastising women who choose to give up their children for adoption. For me, a foetus/embryo is not yet a human, and therefore it’s not murder, but therein lies the impossible question, and an opinion with which you obviously disagree, and there is no right or wrong answer. I understand that adoption is one viable alternative, but it is the blase attidue towards it which I find so difficult to understand; the choice to give up a child for adoption can and will remain with both the child and the parent(s) for the rest of their lives, for better or worse. Just because they’re living doesn’t guarantee that they’ll have amazing lives, that’s all I’m saying.

      I also didn’t appreciate your comment “the right to abortions seems crucial because it enables us to have sex more freely however we desire” – you seem to have missed a fundamental point there. It’s not just about having more sex, it’s about other people having rights over women’s bodies, and women not being able to make choices as to how they are treated.

    • I think a large part of what you’re reading as ‘blase’ is simply that I’m trying to express my thoughts as succinctly as possible. Obviously giving up a child for adoption is emotional, and difficult, and presents its own challenges long after the child is happily settled for all parties involved, but it offers a chance for the mother to not jump into motherhood, and for the fetus (sorry, American) to stay on schedule, become a baby, and then get a crack at life. In most circumstances, that would be the best possible solution, in spite of the challenges it presents.

      Women have (or at least should have, sadly it’s not always the case) control over what happens to their bodies. They choose (except in circumstances of rape)whether or not they take part in activities that can lead to pregnancy. A pregnant woman has controlled her body, and has made a choice that put her in this situation. I don’t think her right to make choices about her body should extend to ending the life of the fetus inside of her, because that life isn’t her life, it’s a new one she created through her own free will.

      Maybe now is a good time to point out that I think campaigning to make abortion illegal is a dangerous short cut. Pro-lifers need to be listening to women who get abortions, treating them with respect and compassion, trying to understand why women get abortions, and then working toward making those reasons non-existent.

      For example: women who are pregnant because of a rape often opt for an abortion.

      Pro-lifers should stop squawking at them and start doing everything in their power to stop rape from happening.

      For example: women may feel adoption is out of the question for them because they’re in a stable situation, and everyone will judge them.

      Pro-lifers should work to end that stigma.

      For example: a girl is afraid of being disowned by her parents, or judged by her community if she goes through with the pregnancy.

      Pro-lifers should work to end that stigma, and offer emotional and financial support.

      I think those are things everyone can agree on, because I think the majority of pro-choicers do think that abortions should be uncommon, yes? And no one out there thinks judgement, stigma, or rape are good things! This is a really healthy debate to have, but long term, rehashing it amongst ourselves isn’t the answer. Addressing the situations that lead to abortions is.

    • Hi Emily, I’m sorry I didn’t reply to this earlier – I meant to say that I am in agreement with most of what you say in that post and I thought it made for really interesting reading. This was a side of the abortion debate I’ve not encountered before so it was good to hear another perspective on it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Emily, I’d just like to second your thoughts on adoption and abortion- I have an adopted sister and I’d like to think that she’s a lot better off with us than if her 16 year old Korean birth mother had had an abortion. Not that it’s the best option for everyone, but there are a lot of people out there who would desperately love to be adoptive parents, and in my mind that provides a much better solution than abortion, whether we consider it to be ‘plain old murder ‘ or not. (also, just a response to the concern that adopted kids feel unloved because their birth parents ‘didn’t want’ them- we were always told that my sister’s birth parents loved her enough not to abort her but were not capable, financially or emotionally, of ‘keeping’ her- but that we wanted her so much that my parents undertook the costly 6 year process of adopting her. at least she could never feel like she was an accidental addition to our family, unlike my youngest sister!)

    • having said all that, I’m not sure what on earth I would do if I found myself pregnant at this 23 year old stage of my life. I don’t know how strong my aversion to abortion really is, and I definitely don’t think it is evil or always wrong, but I do agree with the “safe, legal and rare” ideal. and I do think that other option (including adoption) should be thoroughly and seriously considered.

    • I think it’s very rich for somebody to get shirty about the morals of abortion (this is at the original comment) when they havn’t been in the heart-wrenching circumstance themselves! There are enough unwanted children in the world, sometimes it’s the lesser of two evils to send one off peacefully rather than subject it to a difficult life. How can we be certain that foetus’ have souls? Maybe that comes later? Maybe sometimes the well being of the woman or girl is more important than some gestating cells? That’s my view though!

  4. Excellent post Emer!

    I can barely string a sentence about Youth Defence together without descending into excessive swearing and general flailing rage. I’m off to the protest later on and so delighted that so many people are as angry as I am about those ads. A few weeks ago I came home from work in cranky form and the Bear told me he’d ripped off the lower half of a Youth Defence billboard earlier that day. Cheered me right up, it did!

  5. Just to add, things ain’t so rosy here in Britain with regards to anti-choice billboards. We’re currently having struggles with groups like Abort67 (check out their website, but only if you’re in the mood to see a video of an abortion procedure and pictures of aborted fetuses). They display large graphic posters outside a BPAS clinic in Brighton (just next to a college) and now, London.

  6. Thank you Emer, for bringing this to our attention here in England, and for writing so sensibly and eloquently in the face of such an outrageous issue. Situations like this make us realise how much there is still to fight for.

  7. As someone who has recently moved from London to Belfast I thought it important to add how utterly astounded I was to discover that Northern Ireland, although part of the UK, does not tolerate abortions; they are illegal and women living here must also travel to the main land should they wish to have one. Although the majority of the population here aren’t catholic, there is a strong evangelical stronghold in the Assembly which disheartens me greatly. I would be really interested if anyone knows of any Belfast pro-choice organisations.

  8. “Want to shove your opinions down the throats of thousands, but cruelly deprived of an effective platform?… in Ireland you can conduct any non-commercial advertising campaign you like with impunity…”

    Which is exactly as it should be. I don’t know where this notion that people have a ‘right not to be offended’ came from; probably some bit of dark Blairite nastiness – but it’s disgusting. The cure to speech you find offensive, or hateful, or bigoted, or disagree with, is *more speech* – not trying to use the law to silence your opponents!

    They may be bigots, I may disagree roundly with them, but I WILL defend their right to speak their message; their voice is as free as mine. Or yours.

  9. It’s interesting to note that one classic criticism of the anti-abortion visual tactics involved in this context still applies- these posters, billboards and other propaganda effectively erase the woman who made the choice and her social context from view. How do we know that she wasn’t severely impoverished, wasn’t a rape or incest survivor, that the foetus hadn’t been diagnosed with a lethal anomaly that rendered it inviable, and so on? Because that’s what anti-abortion propaganda leaves out- the voice and images of the woman who chose to have that abortion.

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