Friday, 22 August 2014

Abortion in Ireland; Ouch on the BBC; Richard Dawkin's "apology"

I have not followed closely the reporting of  the recent case in Ireland where a woman requesting an abortion under the newly passed legislation gave birth by a Caesarean Section. Even had I done so, I would not be in a position to fully understand the circumstances involved - media reporting rarely enables that, particularly when the political/ideological stances of the reporting organisations and individuals are also in play.

However, if the reporting indicated below is correct, it would appear that the panel which reviewed the woman's case have taken their responsibilities under the legislation seriously. Again, if reporting is correct, the fact that this has occurred in one of the earliest instances of the application of the new legislation perhaps lays down a marker for how panels will act in future cases. This does represent a contrast to the implementation of abortion legislation in the UK, where, de facto, abortion on request exists despite the legal requirement that two doctors make an essentially clinical judgement of grounds for an abortion before signing the appropriate forms.

Reports from the BBC here and here (though notice the way in which the case appears to be being used in the media in this last report).

Post from efpastoremeritus Woman lawfully was refused an abortion under Ireland’s new laws (though contrast it with the reporting by the Guardian, which assumes a right to abortion on request, something not allowed under UK law let alone the newly passed law in Ireland, and which contains some contradiction in terms of the reasons for the woman involved seeking an abortion: here and here).

Richard Dawkins seems to have overstepped the mark, with his tweet to the effect that it would be immoral not to abort a baby known to have Down's Syndrome. Again, I haven't followed this very closely.

But, by accident, I was led to the a blog on the BBC News website called Ouch.
Ouch explores the disability world in blog posts and a monthly internet radio talk show (earlier shows can be found here). 
It is brought to you by an award-winning team of disabled journalists – Emma Tracey and Damon Rose – with help from guest contributors who all have personal connections to disability.
Ouch goes behind the headlines of disability news, and also lifts the lid on the little details about being disabled that are not widely talked about. You can add your comments on each story - click here for the house rules on taking part.
 A post on the blog which includes a response to Richard Dawkin's remarks is here : Richard Dawkins: 'Immoral' not to abort Down's foetuses. There is an earlier post by the mother of a Down's Syndrome child, which now has an added relevance: 'My son has Down's syndrome and I wouldn't swap a thing about him'.

Richard Dawkin's also seems to have exemplified how not to apologise. According to a short snippet in today's Times:
On his website, [Richard Dawkins] clarified his stance under the headline "Abortion & Down' Syndrome: Apology for Letting Slip the Dogs of Twitterwar", in which the scientist said his "phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding" and that his comments were intended only for a specific audience [ie a sub-set of his twitter followers - see Dawkins website itself].
But in the extended presentation of his original Twitter comment offered in the website post, Dawkins appears to me to simply repeat the position that originally gave offense - the suggestion that it would be immoral to give birth to a child known during pregnancy to have Down's Syndrome.

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