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Might the Irish referendum result pave the way for progress in other areas?

(50 Posts)
FeijoaSundae Sat 23-May-15 21:53:48

What an amazing weekend to be Irish. I am not, but my DH is, and I have a gay DB, and watching from the other side of the world, it has been a very moving and emotional time. What an incredible country to put this to the people, and for the people to respond in so overwhelmingly a humane manner.

(As an aside: well done to the 'no' campaigners - I think their tactics when a long way towards nailing it for the yeses!).

The results of this referendum have significant implications internationally for the LGB community, and hopefully in other areas of social justice, too.

I wonder if this weakening of one edict of the Catholic Church on a country that was once quite dominated by its presence, might have a knock-on effect on other areas. The right to choose to have an abortion if needed/wanted, and exert full autonomy over one's body being an an obvious example.

What do you guys think? Is there more to hope for than there might once have been? I actually think there might be a teeny tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

PuffinsAreFictitious Sat 23-May-15 22:39:40

I might be doing gay men a huge disservice here, but unless they get on board with any pro-woman campaigning, I doubt it will succeed just yet, and they have no vested interest in doing so.

The Yes vote has been brilliant. Really put a smile on my face after the fucking awful GE result in UK.

'Reproductive rights are inescapably about women. Pervasive misogyny means not only that those rights are stigmatized—along with the women who exercise them—but that men don’t see them as all that important, while women have limited social power to promote them. And that power is easily endangered by too close an identification with all but the most anodyne version of feminism. There are no female CEOs pouring millions into reproductive rights or threatening to relocate their businesses when a state guts access to abortion. And with few exceptions, A-list celebs steer clear.

§ Marriage equality has cross-class appeal: Anyone can have an LGBT child, and parents across the political spectrum naturally want their kids to have the same opportunities other children have. Any woman might find herself needing an abortion, too, but she may not realize that.'

This article puts forward the argument I'd make in a much less sarcastic way than I could possibly manage.

FeijoaSundae Sun 24-May-15 09:25:31

I hear what you're saying, but S-S marriage only has cross-class appeal now.

It used to have zero appeal in Catholic Ireland. Until fairly recently, it used to be illegal.

Being openly gay in Ireland a generation ago, was virtually unthinkable. Being many things in Catholic Ireland was unthinkable. The outcome of this referendum has been a hugely pleasant surprise for many, many people.

If the masses can come round on this, why not on reproductive issues, too?

Otherwise, how did we get progress in the UK, NZ, Australia, Canada, and all the other countries that have deigned to change their laws?

Sansarya Sun 24-May-15 10:09:24

One would hope that this paves the way for reforming the law on abortion but hey, that's just something that affects to women so I doubt most people would be as concerned hmm There's already a thread in AIBU about it and the posters saying its about time the abortion laws were reformed have been accused of pissing on Ireland's chips etc. Depressing.

ChunkyPickle Sun 24-May-15 10:37:14

I'm jaded on all this, but I don't think it will for a number of reasons.

1. Men. 50% of the population are just not at all vested in this (although they should be - everyone has a mother who might have faced this problem)

2. Marriage is all about happy stuff - pictures of confetti and joyful kisses between newly-weds - looks lovely on the front page, whereas abortion is about women in a difficult position halting the progress of a potential life in their womb (and that's not how the opposition will put it - they will be much more blunt). There are no good pictures, and the stories are heart-wrenching not heart warming.

PacificDogwood Sun 24-May-15 10:50:34

I think it's a paradigm shift.
Other changes will follow - not overnight and maybe not straight from 'gay marriage' to 'termination of pregnancy' but it's a start in the right direction smile
I am so delighted for you, Ireland!

Anniegetyourgun Sun 24-May-15 11:33:48

Um, Sansarya, I need to explain that one as I started the chip-pissing accusation. I didn't mean to aim it particularly at the poster who said how about abortion laws, although my comment came out just after it. I was having a go at the ones who grumbled at how little comparative interest was being shown for a previous referendum about rights of children in care (?) - which to be fair I, in England, hadn't even heard about so I couldn't honestly comment on that - but it read as though they were telling everyone off for supporting the fashionable cause above caring about children's welfare, with a clear intention, I thought, of suppressing enthusiasm for the current issue, with a side order of "Yes voters are ignoring the welfare of children" (again).

The abortion one was a bit grumbly but I didn't have much of an issue with it; had she said, as the OP here has, "hopefully this will be a gateway to better things" I'd have enthusiastically agreed.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 24-May-15 20:08:50

Oh, you were probably referring to the other thread I've just noticed, started by crumpet, that I wasn't even on. blush My comment was on the long ongoing thread rallying people to vote. Feel a bit of a twit now.

thedancingbear Sun 24-May-15 20:31:41

I'm slightly confused and dismayed by the suggestion that men will not support a change in the abortion laws because they have 'no vested interest' in doing so. What vested interest did the large majority of straight men and women have in legalising gay marriage?

ChunkyPickle Sun 24-May-15 20:41:15

Perhaps vested interest is the wrong way to put it, but straight men and women both get married, we can see that other people might want to get married - we can understand and empathise with it, and sympathise that they couldn't.

Men (and in fact many women) can't imagine themselves in the position of needing an abortion - I know that I didn't understand the magnitude and dangers of pregnancy before I was pregnant myself - so it's a cause they are less likely to feel the need to put themselves out there and be active on.

LassUnparalleled Sun 24-May-15 20:48:26

I'm slightly confused and dismayed by the suggestion that men will not support a change in the abortion laws because they have 'no vested interest' in doing so.

Yes me too. As if no man could objectively support it just because it's the right thing to do.

LassUnparalleled Sun 24-May-15 20:54:01

Men (and in fact many women) can't imagine themselves in the position of needing an abortion - I know that I didn't understand the magnitude and dangers of pregnancy before I was pregnant myself

Really? I was able to understand the magnitude of pregnancy when it first became a possibility at just under 16.

Which was why I took steps to make sure it did not happen until I wanted it to happen. But if those steps had failed I would have had no hesitation in having an abortion.

I think you do a disservice to men in that sweeping assumption.

ChunkyPickle Sun 24-May-15 21:06:57


My partner is a bloke, he's witnessed me pregnant both times see me wheeled in to theatre both times as stuff went wrong, yet hasn't had any in-depth thoughts about abortion at all, an occasionally wistfully asks me about having a third. It's not that he's not a good bloke, it's not that he doesn't support a woman's right to have an abortion, but he doesn't have a depth of feeling on the matter at all.

Before I'd been pregnant I knew that you got a baby which was a huge responsibility obviously, I knew there were some risks, but they were very much at the back of my mind - I definitely didn't have the strength of feeling I have on the matter now.

Perhaps I'm an exception here. Perhaps other people think longer and harder on this than I ever did. Perhaps most men are willing to put themselves in the way of the kind of people who stand outside abortion clinics and tell them that women need access to this. I would be very happy to be proven wrong.

thedancingbear Sun 24-May-15 21:19:14

Fair enough ChunkyPickle. But I strongly suspect your husband hasn't cogitated and agonised over how crap it would be not to be able to marry your lesbian lover either. Let me know if you feel otherwise.

Your position has changed over three posts from 'men don't have a vested interest' to 'men can't understand pregnancy in the same way as women' (which, if a valid position, isn't something they can exactly change) to 'I don't see enough men busy with direct action they could get arrested for'.

I do think there is something about the nature of the conversation that makes it very difficult for men to engage with. Any man who advances an anti-abortion argument will (completely correctly) told that what women do with their bodies is none of their business. Any man who advances a pro-abortion argument is going to get a kicking for the same thing, and also accused of (class) self-interest because not wanting to take responsibility for their progeny.

As such, men with strong feelings on the subject (like me) are more or less necessarily going to be on the sidelines of the discussion. That's as may be but you can't then bandy about the 'men only give a shit about themselves' line.

LassUnparalleled Sun 24-May-15 21:25:56

thedancingbear I disagree that men like you should stay on the sidelines. There are plenty of men who are anti-abortion who have no qualms about speaking up.

LassUnparalleled Sun 24-May-15 21:41:22

Chunky I take it you have heard of David Steele?

ChunkyPickle Sun 24-May-15 21:42:43

I think he totally would understand and sympathise with people who aren't allowed to marry their partner - he's been married himself after-all (not to me I might add). I've never been married, but I can see why people want to be.

Not at all - I admit that 'vested interest' was the wrong term - I meant lack of empathy, which is because they can't experience pregancy (I agree, not their fault at all), and because they can't empathise as deeply they don't care enough to do anything about it. Rather like you can get plenty of people to sign an online petition, but getting them actually off their arses and doing something requires a bit more engagement.

I'm not saying men only care about themselves. I'm saying that as a rule, people will only actually put themselves out for things that they strongly care about, and most men just don't care enough about abortion because it's not something they'll ever be in a position to personally experience.

I can see that from some angles a man could be accused of self-interest for being pro a woman's right to choose, but it's not actually an argument I've heard myself, and supporting a woman's right to body autonomy is different to being pro-abortion (which does indeed sound dodgy).

ChunkyPickle Sun 24-May-15 21:58:12

Yes I know who David Steel is - I also know that it had to be presented as a private member's bill because no government would actually do it as a policy, and of course it would have to be introduced by a man - women were pretty thin on the ground in government back then!

The medical profession was similarly largely male back then and supported the bill, as obviously did enough other MPs (although it's not like they were all rushing to introduce the bill themselves!)

Again, I'm not saying no men support this, or are active in this area, I'm saying that unless something is a personal issue, people in general are only prepared to go so far on something, and that for men, abortion is not something they are personally invested in.

LassUnparalleled Sun 24-May-15 22:06:48

David Steel: There is no case for changing the Abortion Act - Commentators - Voices -
David Steele's recent thoughts. Following your line of argument he might as well have not bothered. Nor for that matter should any white person have cared about apartheid.

The Independent from CM Browser)

PuffinsAreFictitious Sun 24-May-15 23:21:23

Feij... I think the impetus for the abortion act was that many women were being killed and maimed by back street abortionists, mostly maimed, but the results of women not being able to access safe, legal abortion outweighed the moral misgivings at the time. Not having legal abortion doesn't stop women needing to access it, it just makes it safer for them to do so, and hopefully, less expensive as long as we don't look too hard at what conservative men are doing in the US right now, with regard to Roe Vs Wade

I don't think David Steele gets the kudos he deserves for his introducing the Abortion Bill. General society in the UK was pretty up for it, but the establishment was still deeply conservative, and there was a real risk of it being political suicide for him. -- oh gawd, I'm agreeing with Lass, the shock might kill us both--

I will however stand by my assertion at the start of the thread that gay men have no real vested interest in repealing the 8th, so it will be interesting to see if they will get behind that with as much enthusiasm as they did the MarRef.

ChunkyPickle Mon 25-May-15 08:19:07

Good God - NAMALT - just most people.

Do you really not get what I'm saying? That people fight less for things that don't affect them? That people like David Steel who fought for things that didn't affect them are the exception, not the rule?

I know a bit about breast cancer, because it might affect me I do exams to check myself, I know very little about testicular cancer, and don't know how to do a self exam for it because I don't have them - it's natural and normal to know more about things that you are affected by than things that you aren't - not to say that no women know anything about testicular cancer, but that most women would know more about breast cancer.

PuffinsAreFictitious Mon 25-May-15 08:28:54

Was that to me Chunky, because I completely get what you're saying, and I agree with it smile

ChunkyPickle Mon 25-May-15 08:39:48

Oh no puffins - absolutely not to you - to Lass mainly - who seems to think that I'm saying no-one should does/should bother being active in causes that don't affect them.

LassUnparalleled Mon 25-May-15 09:13:04

Chunky your "no one who hasn't been pregnant argument can understand the magnitude of pregnancy" would be equally, in fact better, at home on a pro life site. It's exactly the sort of Damascene conversion story the like trotting out. It's patronising to women who never have and never will be pregnant.

Your argument is also muddled. As dancingbear pointed out it excludes him but at the same time leaves you free to criticise men for not getting involved.

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