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  1. #1
    scolairebocht scolairebocht is offline
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    The Oireachtas Abortion Committtee coming to a pre-ordained outcome?

    As everybody knows the Oireachtas has set up a Committee to consider the outcome of the Citizens Assembly which recommended repealing the 8th amendment. Without any disrespect to the chairperson or most of the members, the fact is that this has become so obviously a pro-choice brainwashing exercise that it is actually discrediting the Irish political system. I say that for the following reasons:

    As far as I can tell out of 34 witnesses to date, one, Professor William Binchy, is pro-life.(1) [Updating on the 6th of December after the Committtee decided not to listen to more winesses: 2 of 51 witnesses (Prof Binchy and Liz McDermott) were pro-life.] It was quite noticeable too that when he spoke almost all the questioners interrupted by saying 'we have very little time' etc even though he spoke very fast and sometimes gave only one sentence answers, whereas the pro-choice person beside him was allowed to speak at length and without interruption at the same time.

    You can also find a kind of hostile attitude towards the three pro-life Committee members (Mattie McGrath, Ronan Mullen and Peter Fitzpatrick) when they speak, being interrupted by other committee members etc, especially in the October sessions, which doesn't happen when others are speaking.

    But particularly I am saying this because having asked all these witnesses to come, and broadcasting to the world the idea that they were dedicated to seeking expert advice before arriving at a position, the Committtee has in fact voted to recommend repealing the 8th amendment half way through, while the witnesses are still giving evidence! This is obviously a crazy thing to do and insulting to the unheard witnesses, especially to the - tiny number of - pro-life experts that the Committee claimed they wanted to hear from.

    If you don't believe me you should read some of the comments from the invited witnesses shocked at this treatment. For example Professor Patricia Casey:
    "It has become increasingly clear that the process of the Committee has been so arranged as to reach a pre-set decision without balanced consideration of any evidence that runs contrary to this pre-determined outcome.
    ...
    I will not add any further credence to this deeply flawed process or to its inevitable and equally flawed conclusion...
    ...
    A member said that abortion rates are the same whether the laws are restrictive or liberal. The Guttmacher Institute makes this claim, based on statistical modelling, rather than data from each country. ..This rate amounts to 1 in 20 pregnancies ending in abortion in Ireland compared with 1 in 5 in the UK.
    ...
    Turning to some of those making presentations, despite the committee saying that advocacy groups were not to be included, it has clearly reneged on this as some of those appearing are from advocacy groups, including the Irish Family Planning Association, the Centre for Reproductive Rights (also found to have been fundraising in the US to repeal the 8th), the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Yet they are presented to the public as being independent experts. The IFPA has a track record of campaigning for abortion and in 2012 were found to be advising women to lie to doctors about their abortions. Many of the individual presenters also have strong records of advocacy for liberal abortion laws, including the current law in Britain. Since most people take strong positions on abortion it would have been more honest for the Committee to accept that reality and to have taken more care to avoid such a stilted list of presenters on the pro-choice side. I am aware of a number of experts and organisations on the pro-life side who were not acceptable to the committee.
    ...
    In my opinion this committee has adopted as its primary purpose a determination to repeal the 8th Amendment and to that end is intent on advocates of that position being favoured over independent experts. It was, I suggest, supposed to conduct a balanced hearing and, in that purpose, has failed. The great tragedy is that this failure is designed to reduce the Constitutional protection of Irish unborn children. The public are being manipulated and in conscience, I cannot be used by it to legitimatise its pre-determined outcome." (2)
    Other potential speakers, who were/are very anxious to put their case before the Committee, and pretty much everywhere else, are now put off by its 'charade' aspect, this is from Dawn McAvoy of the Belfast based Both Lives Matter organisation:
    " We had previously been aware of some concerns in the south/Republic of Ireland, that the committee established to consider the eighth amendment, was weighted towards a reform of existing law. But we note with alarm recent events, particularly the vote taken on October 19, before all evidence was heard, that the eighth amendment would not be retained in full. The subsequent withdrawal of Professor Casey from appearing at committee and ensuing proceedings including media coverage, has led to, what we believe is a reasonable questioning of bias, within the committee.

    After initially declining to hear from us (along with we understand, other “pro-life” campaign groups who weren’t considered to be expert witnesses), we suspect that the public criticism directed towards the committee, has led to your now inviting us to attend and present our research. After much consideration we have come to the conclusion that we will not attend in person as, like Professor Casey, “we have no desire to add any further credence to this deeply flawed process”." (3)
    Now the penny has dropped internationally how much a set up the whole thing is, this is from Dr Marty McCaffrey, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
    "On reviewing the testimony to date, I was concerned to see that the proceedings were deeply biased in favor of repeal.
    ...
    Over the past weekend, however, in reviewing Committee proceedings, I discovered that the Oireachtas Committee had, on October 18th, already taken the crucial vote to repeal the Eighth. I'm not sure many can imagine my reaction. It became clear that the invitation for my testimony, offered only after the vote on repeal had already taken place, was a retrospective effort to attempt to offer some illusion of balance to the Oireachtas hearings.

    It is with great regret that I must respectfully decline the invitation to offer testimony to the Committee. I will not partake in a charade, which has already reached its preordained conclusion, by offering testimony which some might incorrectly interpret as indicative of the Committee's deliberative objectivity. In reviewing the proceedings, testimony and transcripts from records on the Committee website one can only conclude that the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth is a "kangaroo court”. It is simply stunning that most Committee members did not see the need for a fair hearing for such a momentous issue as the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, but were satisfied with such a prejudiced process.

    I hope that the Irish people will not be deceived by such theater." (4)
    So I think what has happened here was also evident in the UCD episode. The pro-choice side, which has so much control over the state and media etc, has over-reached itself into a Pyrrhic victory. Its natural instincts is to go with this 'no platform' ideology, but in doing so it almost does too good a job and offends people who would like to hear both sides.

    Hence the real story of this committee I think, irrespective of whatever it actually recommends, is that it has laid bare the Orwellian nature of so much public discourse in modern Ireland.

    Footnotes
    1. This is the list of witnesses heard by the Committee to date, gaps between these names refer to different sessions held on the one day:
    20th September
    Ms Justice Mary Laffoy
    Ms Sharon Finegan
    Ms Gráinne Hynes

    27th September
    Professor Fiona de Londras
    Dr David Kenny
    Ms Mary O'Toole

    4th October
    Ms Emily Logan
    Professor Siobhan Mullally
    Ms Ruth Gallagher

    Ms Christina Zampras
    Professor William Binchy

    11th October
    Dr Ronald Johnson
    Dr Bela Ganatra
    Professor Abigail Aiken

    Dr Rhona Mahony
    Professor Fergal Malone

    12th October
    Dr Brendan O'Shea
    Dr Karena Hanley

    18th October
    Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran
    Dr Peter Boylan
    Dr Meabh Ni Bhuinneain

    (Then the Committee, based in part on legal advice received in private session, voted to recommend repeal of the 8th amendment.)

    25th October
    Professor Veronica O'Keane

    Tom O'Malley S.C.
    Ms Noeline Blackwell
    Ms Angela McCarthy
    Dr Maeve Eogan

    Gerry Edwards
    Ms Claire Cullen-Delsol

    8th November
    Dr Gilda Sedgh
    Ms Leah Hoctor

    Dr Ruth Fletcher

    Dr Anthony McCarthy

    15th November
    Dr Caitriona Henchion
    Niall Behan

    Ms Janice Donlan
    Helen Deely

    22nd November
    (After first discussing the question of bias in the selection of witnesses for the Committee.)
    Dr Patricia Lohr

    Ms Liz McDermott

    23rd November
    Professor Sjef Gevers
    Professor Eva Pajkrt

    29th November
    Peter Thompson
    Eamonn Moran
    Ms Olive McGovern

    30th November
    Dr Tony Holohan
    Ms Geraldine Luddy
    Aoife O'Brien
    Liam Woods
    Dr Peter McKenna
    Killian McGrane
    Ms Angela Dunne
    Ms Janice Donlan

    6th December
    (Spent 3 hours listening to legal advice given in secret in the private session.)

    Announced that no more witnesses will be called.

    2. Life Institute | Latest News .

    3. http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/...ves-Matter.pdf .

    4. http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/...-McCaffrey.pdf .
    Last edited by scolairebocht; 7th December 2017 at 04:22 AM. Reason: Updated list of speakers.
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  2. #2
    Dreaded_Estate Dreaded_Estate is offline
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    You could argue that a committee was completely unnecessary.

    The citizen assembly recommend a proposed referendum and that should have been it.

    Ultimately the people decide through the referendum
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  3. #3
    petaljam petaljam is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreaded_Estate View Post
    You could argue that a committee was completely unnecessary.

    The citizen assembly recommend a proposed referendum and that should have been it.

    Ultimately the people decide through the referendum
    Yes, it was political cowardice, multiply the number of steps before the government has to actually make any decisions themselves.
    The Oireachtas committee couldn't possibly have voted to ignore the conclusions of the Citizens' Assembly, that would have called into question the decision to have a CA at all.

    It's quite funny actually : it was prolifers who insisted on putting the amendment into the constitution, which is what made it the business of the citizens in the first place - and yet here they are now complaining because a Dail Committee is deferring to a Citizens' Assembly.
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  4. #4
    Ratio Et Fides Ratio Et Fides is offline

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    At times when I was despaired my best friend used to give a quote from the Koran; "They plotted, and Allah plotted, and Allah is the best of plotters". The 8 th will kept I'm sure of it in this upcoming referendum, but I'm also sure that we will get a repeat referendum to get the "correct" result which instead of bringing less drama will bring more.
    Last edited by Ratio Et Fides; 15th November 2017 at 08:16 PM.
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    scolairebocht scolairebocht is offline
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    Yes, while its still an uphill struggle, I think the campaign is not going as well for the pro-choice side as they would like. They just needed to be a bit more subtle and then this Committee, added to the Citizens Assembly, would be great for their side. Instead they were too obviously rigged and biased.
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  6. #6
    The Field Marshal The Field Marshal is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreaded_Estate View Post
    You could argue that a committee was completely unnecessary.

    The citizen assembly recommend a proposed referendum and that should have been it.

    Ultimately the people decide through the referendum
    You could argue that a citizen assembly was completely unnecessary and unconstitutional.

    Ireland has an expensive Dail Assembly that is meant to decide such matters.
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  7. #7
    The Field Marshal The Field Marshal is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by petaljam View Post
    Yes, it was political cowardice, multiply the number of steps before the government has to actually make any decisions themselves.
    The Oireachtas committee couldn't possibly have voted to ignore the conclusions of the Citizens' Assembly, that would have called into question the decision to have a CA at all.

    It's quite funny actually : it was prolifers who insisted on putting the amendment into the constitution, which is what made it the business of the citizens in the first place - and yet here they are now complaining because a Dail Committee is deferring to a Citizens' Assembly.
    I would have though what was in or not in the constitution was the business of the citizens.

    You seemingly have a problem with that.
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  8. #8
    Ratio Et Fides Ratio Et Fides is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by scolairebocht View Post
    Yes, while its still an uphill struggle, I think the campaign is not going as well for the pro-choice side as they would like. They just needed to be a bit more subtle and then this Committee, added to the Citizens Assembly, would be great for their side. Instead they were too obviously rigged and biased.
    It will be a matter of how calm and dignified the Pro-Life side can keep itself. If it can show who the real extremists are than the battle will be won.
    Last edited by Ratio Et Fides; 15th November 2017 at 08:26 PM.
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  9. #9
    petaljam petaljam is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Field Marshal View Post
    I would have though what was in or not in the constitution was the business of the citizens.
    I agree. That was my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Field Marshal View Post
    You seemingly have a problem with that.
    Err, no. Quite the opposite.
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  10. #10
    Dreaded_Estate Dreaded_Estate is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Field Marshal View Post
    You could argue that a citizen assembly was completely unnecessary and unconstitutional.

    Ireland has an expensive Dail Assembly that is meant to decide such matters.
    Except politicians are probably far easier to lobby by vested interests from either side of the argument.

    Ultimately it is the citizens that should and will decide through the referendum
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