I dunno really, dunno

She was two days old and in “good condition” when a couple knocked on the door of a house in Collins Avenue, Dublin. It was 1954, a time when Ireland was ruled from the pulpit and unmarried pregnant women were told they were a shameful stain on their families and communities.

As the woman picked up the newborn, Nurse Doody – a well-known midwife in the city – said they should leave by the side door, out of sight of the baby’s birth mother. The couple and Doody took the infant straight to Our Lady of Consolation church in Donnycarney, where the local priest baptised her Theresa Marion Hiney.

Six weeks later, the birth was registered; the certificate records that she was born at home to James and Catherine (known as Kathleen) Hiney. A caution is printed along the bottom: “To alter this certificate or use it as altered is a serious offence.” There is no warning about giving false information in the first place.

It took another 48 years for Theresa Hiney Tinggal to learn that she was illegally adopted, although she had always felt she “didn’t belong” to her family and she never got on with her mother. And it took a further 15 years, until last April, to track down her biological family in Tipperary. She learned that her birth mother was dead and the man who was probably her biological father had long since emigrated to Canada.

Hmm.

Now almost 64, Tinggal is reconciled to the past, although the decades of betrayal and lies still hurt. But, she said, her case and the cases of another 125 people, to whom Leo Varadkar apologised this week for their illegal adoptions, were “just the tip of the iceberg”.

The taoiseach told the Irish parliament that the 126 illegal adoptions through the Catholic agency St Patrick’s Guild between 1946 and 1969 were “another chapter from the very dark history of our country”. People had been robbed of their identity, and many still had no idea they had been adopted decades ago. The revelation would be traumatic. “I am so sorry,” he said.

And then:

An abortion at the age of 23 gave me freedom
Hadley Freeman

During the Irish referendum, there was a lot of talk about abortion in extreme cases, but some – like mine – are banal but necessary

Which is the better outcome?

I lean toward – as regular readers will know – stuff the rules and get on with life. Others differ about that life bit, or perhaps whose life.

But who is going to argue that the non-existence of a 64 year old today is the better outcome? Over some fiddling with the paperwork that is?

42 comments on “I dunno really, dunno

  1. “would you have preferred abortion to have been legal?” Would have been an interesting twist to the article.

    Journalists could do so much better if they thought laterally.

  2. Both MrsBud and I are pro-choice in societal terms despite being unable to contemplate abortion within our personal lives. When pregnant with our “laat lammertjie” (late lamb), 9 years younger than her nearest sibling, MrsBud was offered an amniocentesis to screen for Downs due to being in her late 30s. The offer was declined as it would not have changed our decision. She was born perfectly healthy and will turn 21 in a couple of months.

  3. ‘But who is going to argue that the non-existence of a 64 year old today is the better outcome?’

    She makes a good case for it. She dismisses the people who raised her with the wave of the hand.

  4. Isn’t the issue / outcome above more about the “shameful stain of single mothers”, rather than abortion (which looks to me like a red herring in the story above)?

  5. It was ridiculous when Blair apologised for the Irish potato famine (or whatever it was he was apologising for) but this trumps it.

    Not only was Varadkar not born until a couple of decades later but his parents hadn’t even left India. Also homosexuality faced greater opprobrium than single motherhood so he might perhaps widen his apology for the sake of inclusiveness.

    How does one survive the daily tsunami of bollocks over the longer term?

  6. It’s a question I find troubling.

    I was always pro choice but the staggering number – 8 million and counting in the UK since 1961- makes me wonder.

    It’s killing someone who most likely would survive.

    As for the argument that it’s a woman’s body and she has a right to decide, then why have a cut off at 26 weeks? It’s still the woman’s body at 32 weeks. Or 34. Why not hoick the baby out at 34 weeks and leave it on the side for a few hours to see what happens? If it’s the woman’s body and her right to decide?

    Would people be more careful if abortion wasn’t an option? The pro abortion Libby tend to use extreme examples as templates. Pregnancy by rape and incest. Terrible indeed and perhaps exceptions could be made. But I doubt there have been 8 million rapes resulting in pregnancy.

    I don’t know though. I just don’t know.

  7. @TMB

    Talking about the tsunami of bollocks, there was a story on the BBC about some kid who killed himself apparently over debt.

    The BBC managed to blame the gig economy, pay day loan companies and bailiffs for the debts and excuse a series of stupid decisions, including buying a motorbike the kid couldn’t afford, a series of traffic violations and ignoring the penalties and debts as they built up and completely ignored the point that lots of people get into debt without topping themselves so maybe there was more to it.

    The BBC really is fucking disgrace as a supposed neutral news organisation. Sooner it goes the better. Try churning out the diet of smug, self satisfied, self serving left wing bollocks when you’ve got to make it work commercially.

  8. “As for the argument that it’s a woman’s body and she has a right to decide, then why have a cut off at 26 weeks?”

    Liberty – freedom from arbitrary or despotic government.

    I find abortion the odd exception against arbitrary government. 26 weeks IS absolutely arbitrary.

    The problem, to me, is that a line must be drawn somewhere. I have no problem with interrupting a pregnancy when the fetus is microscopic. I object to full term abortion. Where to place the line is perforce arbitrary – 26 weeks is not demonstrably different from 25 weeks or 27 weeks.

    If the solution is to not allow government to be arbitrary, then either abortion must be banned or completely unrestricted.

    BTW, the “it’s a woman’s body” argument gets thinner and thinner as the fetus approaches full term. Since only late term is restricted today, it seems no argument at all. What are you saving your body by having your baby delivered dead?
    where conflict could ex

  9. A woman’s right to choose.

    Hmmmm.

    These people do realise how mammals reproduce, don’t they?

    The choosing takes place when you choose to have sex. And you choose to not use any of the miriad forms of contraception available.

    What they are really doing is choosing not to accept the perfectly predictable consequences of the choice they made.

  10. Off topic
    Arbitrary is not necessarily a problem. The choice of 70mph is random, that does not make it illegitimate.

  11. “The choice of 70mph is random, that does not make it illegitimate.”

    Yes it does.

    Speed limits can be established by 85 percentile rule. Not random, not arbitrary.

    Government prefers to be lazy. Government also gains from bogus speed limits; they are incented to post them low.

    I suggest Isp001 that you don’t realize how bad your government is.

  12. 70mph may be arbitary, but since it was introduced it’s resulted in a lot of hard-wired engineering being put in place that assumes it’s there – distance to signage, road camber on curves, length of deceleration lanes, etc.
    I have no intrinsic problem with NSL being raised, but going along the M90 at 100mph would terrify me and I doubt I’d be able to keep the car on the carriageway. The contary to that is that there are long straight sections of the A1/M1 where I really have to pay attention to prevent myself drifting imperceptably over 85 but where it’s easy to keep to the road and keep large seperation distances, and is easy to gently ease off the gas to let the engine slow the car down..

  13. “I was always pro choice but the staggering number – 8 million and counting in the UK since 1961- makes me wonder.”

    Gah. Big Scary Number. That’s 57 years from 1961 – or about 140/- per year. Number of live births is around 600/- ~ 700/- pa, or about 37,050,000 since 1961. Another Big Scary Number. Notionally, the ratio ‘tween live births and abortions is about 4:1, or 140,000/650,000 or ~22%. Even scarier.

    The only problem being it’s complete bollocks.

    Both the number of live births and the number of abortions per year are dependent upon a) the number of shagging events and b) the probability of any shag resulting in a pregnancy – which (from memory) is about 15% and c) the failure rate for any method of contraception used.

    Some wild assumptions and a quick calculation on the back of a fag packet suggests that a fair old whack of the number of abortions is down to contraception failure. Interestingly, you don’t have to change the assumptions too much to get the result where the number of abortions is lower than the failure rate.

    Which leaves you (well, me) assuming that somewhere well south of 30-20% of abortions are problematic, depending on anyone’s particular moral viewpoint. So, something like 28,000 abortions pa, or ~1.6m since 1961 presenting some sort of issue.

    FWIW, the mirror of this reasoning would be the number of live births pa due to IVF or other medical interventions.

    On the 26 week limit; there’s an effective floor underneath that, which is determined by how accurate any pregnancy test is, in terms of false negatives. Seems that these can occur up to about 17~20 weeks, and the tests themselves have an accuracy of about 95% anyway. (Strikes me that having the NHS arrange and carry out the procedure within ~9 weeks is really quite remarkable).

    Ultimately, the whole debate is pointless, in that there is no good solution at all. It’s also a bloody good example of how ethics change with technology. As an example, if pregnancy tests got better, then it would be possible to reduce the 26 week limit, which would clearly be claimed as a moral victory by some set of campaigners. Ho hum.

  14. 26 weeks? It’s 24 in England. And that’s not determined by pregnancy detection, but by foetal viability. Just about none will survive extraction at 21 weeks of gestation (extraction that left them alive to begin with of course) and the vast majority
    will at 28 weeks or so.

  15. To quote from the second piece:

    “The miscarriage that I had at 38, I think about every day, because I wanted that baby; my abortion at 23, I never think about at all. While I couldn’t control the outcome of the former, I am lucky to live in a place that let me control the latter.”

    Translates as “I’m a truly 100% selfish individual, who thinks children are commodities, not people.”

  16. I can think of plenty of cases where not having the 64 year old is the better case. Of course, it depends which 64 year old we’re talking about.

    And often dificult to tell if they’re going to be Blair, Brown, Junker etc at the outset.

  17. Tim,

    Yeah, I think I just got 26 from Andrew C’s comment and didn’t bother to check ‘cos it sounded “about right”.

    That said; I was (hopefully) talking about the accuracy of pregnancy detection technology giving a floor, not a ceiling, under the limit; there’s no point undergoing the procedure if you’re not pregnant, after all. As you say, the ceiling is about viability outside the womb, so again, if technology improves such that 21 weeks is normally possible, then the limit can change. Same effect though, some set of campaigners will claim a victory for their moral or religious principles. (I definitely ballsed that paragraph up).

  18. “Gah. Big Scary Number. That’s 57 years from 1961 – or about 140/- per year. Number of live births is around 600/- ~ 700/- pa, or about 37,050,000 since 1961. Another Big Scary Number. Notionally, the ratio ‘tween live births and abortions is about 4:1, or 140,000/650,000 or ~22%. Even scarier.”

    Number of abortions 8,232,563 but that’s from 1968 to 2016 so it’s 49 years, that’s 168,011 per year and that’s just in England and Wales. Live births in England and Wales over the same period 32,853,118 or 670,472. Percentage of abortions to live births in this period in England and Wales is just over 5% which is appalling.

    I hear this “failure of contraception” excuse all the time, but its rubbish, contraception methods are pretty reliable and a failure only results in a pregnancy in a small number of cases.

    If you ever look at the reasons women give for their abortion (not the ones from the abortion providers where the women are told what answer to give to fall within the act) then you will find that the majority are for social reasons, not medical.

    We kill more than 1 in 5 of our children and justify it, we must be either evil or mad.

  19. @jgh, June 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    70mph may be arbitary, …
    I have no intrinsic problem with NSL being raised, but going along the M90 at 100mph would terrify me and I doubt I’d be able to keep the car on the carriageway.

    Wuss. I’ve driven/ridden on M90 and other M, A and B roads at well over 100mph without problem. Always when conditions/visibility allow.

  20. I wonder how many foetuses fathered by priests were aborted. I suppose it’s likely to have been more than zero.

  21. I’m afraid I think murdering a child in the womb is as selfish an act as it’s possible to do. The Women who do this are filth.

  22. A – that’s definitely a particular point of view that helps propel the debate along rather nicely.

  23. Besides. If you don’t want to get pregnant, let the guy cum on your tits.

  24. Paul Carlton;

    Willing to bet that you are misunderstanding the failure rates. Note that from the table from NiV’s link to Wikipedia, the Pill has a failure rate of 0.3%, under perfect conditions. The typical use failure rate is 9%. That’s 30x worse. One way of thinking about that 9% – 1 in 11 – is that you drive your car to and from work Monday to Friday. You’ve got a bloody good chance that every other Monday, the thing won’t start. What would you do with that car?
    Now consider the consequences of a failure of contraception; your car not starting. On any given Monday, you could be looking at being out of a job, earning SQRT (sfa), eight months later. Your earnings may, or may not, begin to recover anywhere from 5 to 15 years later. At the same time, your living costs have at least doubled.

    Why so surprised (offended?) that the reasons given are social, not purely medical?

    Also, that to be logically consistent (ok, it’s a big ask) a society that bans abortion must eventually consider restricting contraception, and finally, the education of women.

    Would anyone care to describe the type of society and economy that seems likely to arise from this?

  25. Ah, many felicitations to the good doctor!

    To be logically consistent, any society that views cum on tits as admirable, must eventually consider legislating to resolve the spit or swallow conundrum.

    It’s a big ask, apparently.

  26. “Also, that to be logically consistent (ok, it’s a big ask) a society that bans abortion must eventually consider restricting contraception, and finally, the education of women.”

    Why? The main argument against abortion is that it is killing another human, and that is wrong. The counter arguments are usually some special subset of hard cases and some kind of argument that travelling down a birth canal is what makes us human,and thus we aren’t actually killing a human.

    If contraception isn’t reliable enough for your lifestyle, you have options – rubbers + the pill should reduce the risk considerably. Could always consider the timing a bit too. If at that point, it’s still too big a risk (and after all, if you do still get pregnant you don’t have to bring the child up – adoption is always an option), abstinence does have a 0% failure rate.

    None of the above argument applies to banning contraception, or woman’s education.

  27. “Wuss. I’ve driven/ridden on M90 and other M, A and B roads at well over 100mph without problem. Always when conditions/visibility allow.”

    This where the 85 percentile rule comes in. Speed limit is based on what people actually drive on the road. Quite democratic.

    Also note that speed limits themselves are nannyish. No speed limits at all is viable, especially in rural areas. I tested that theory today on my BMW Motorrad.

  28. I should have also pointed out that any Woman who gets pregnant when she does not want to whilst living in the West, is simply thick.

  29. Ducky McDuckface – “Which leaves you (well, me) assuming that somewhere well south of 30-20% of abortions are problematic, depending on anyone’s particular moral viewpoint.”

    Sorry but what is problematic about any of them? Or rather some of them? I fail to see how you are making that distinction. You think that if a girl gets drunk, has sex and the contraception fails that is not problematic but if she gets drunk and does not use contraception at all that is?

    “Ultimately, the whole debate is pointless, in that there is no good solution at all. It’s also a bloody good example of how ethics change with technology.”

    I don’t see what the technology has to do with it. First of all, the 26 week limit is a nonsense. It exists only to make people feel better about abortion. We have, essentially, abortion on demand. When doctors will pre-sign forms without even knowing the name of the patient, much less seeing them, without any legal consequences at all, how can you enforce a 26 week limit? A doctor will simply say a woman at 9 months is in her first trimester. A women gave birth this week – in an abortion clinic.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5793167/Woman-gives-birth-abortion-consultation-clinic-legally-offers-Mississippi.html

    This is despite the fact that the law in that state only allows abortion up to 16 weeks. As Kermit Gosnell showed we allowed post-birth abortions as well. In fact most places do as a certain number of babies survive abortion and are left to die.

    Now whether you think this is wrong or right is open to debate but there the 26 week limit is a fraud. It is a fig leaf designed to protect abortion on demand. Nothing more.

    The technology has nothing to do with that. Either you accept the foetus, at some point, is a human, or you do not.

  30. Ducky McDuckface – “Note that from the table from NiV’s link to Wikipedia, the Pill has a failure rate of 0.3%, under perfect conditions. The typical use failure rate is 9%. That’s 30x worse.”

    Which is what discussions of the Pill miss. People think of the choices as being planning or not planning. But that is not the case in practice. In the real world the choices are a disordered life or an ordered one. The best example being Black America which is very disordered. As a result they have very high levels of pre-marital sex, divorce, unwed mothers, abortion, contraceptive use and STDs. The other side of that would be Britain in 1914. Contraception much less abortion was illegal. But the rates of single mothers were negligible and there was virtually no divorce and, obviously, no abortion.

    It is the same with HIV. They push condoms as a preventive but they aren’t. The choices are again disorder or order. Uganda can reduce HIV infection by telling people to be faithful and not have sex before marriage. Britain tells people to do what they like but wear a condemn – and it does not work.

    So when it comes to contraception the honest policy would be to tell people they do fail. They are not reliable. And so they should be careful. But the Disordered Lobby does not like this message and so that is not what they tell people. On the other hand they like that message when it comes to HIV (because they want teens to have sex in both cases) and so they push the idea of safe*r* sex. Not safe sex.

    “Also, that to be logically consistent (ok, it’s a big ask) a society that bans abortion must eventually consider restricting contraception, and finally, the education of women.”

    I fail to see how that follows. Restricting contraception, yes. There is no real difference between the Pill and abortion. But there is a distinction between a barrier method that prevents conception and the Pill. A condom or a diaphragm does not involve the destruction of life.

    “Would anyone care to describe the type of society and economy that seems likely to arise from this?”

    Sounds ideal.

  31. dearieme – “I wonder how many foetuses fathered by priests were aborted. I suppose it’s likely to have been more than zero.”

    I don’t know. I have never met a priest who was aborted.

    Do you think this is contributing anything useful?

  32. Tim Worstall – “26 weeks? It’s 24 in England. And that’s not determined by pregnancy detection, but by foetal viability. Just about none will survive extraction at 21 weeks of gestation (extraction that left them alive to begin with of course) and the vast majority will at 28 weeks or so.”

    But viability has nothing to do with this debate. Either it is the mother’s body and she can do with it as she likes. Or it is not. People just find it hard to see a child that was born at 28 weeks, or hold the baby, and think that this was not a human and could be killed.

    The debate is simply about providing a fig leaf for people who do not like the idea of abortion. In fact we have abortion on demand up to and including the moment of birth. It can be no other way. How many people have been prosecuted for performing an abortion later than that?

    And Britain will prosecute people for illegal abortions. America won’t. But usually women who try it themselves and so annoy the BMA. Not doctors who do it.

    Last year a bunch of doctors were caught signing blank forms. Were they punished?

    The NHS records the reasons given for abortions at all stages of development. In 2015, 2,877 abortions were performed at 20 weeks or above. Of these, 23 (0.8%) were performed to save the life of the pregnant woman, 1,801 (63%) were performed for mental or physical health reasons, and 1046 (36%) were performed because of foetal abnormalities. (The data do not sum up to 100% because multiple reasons could be recorded for each abortion.)

    It is only 20 weeks rather than later but notice that almost two thirds of them were done for pretty much no reason at all. They conflate physical and mental health reasons. But of course all the doctors need to do is say that going full term would make the woman unhappy and that is a valid mental health issue.

    In the real world it is all or nothing. There is no middle ground.

  33. There is no real difference between the Pill and abortion.

    I, frankly, disagree. Prevention of ovulation is clearly a different category than prevention of implantation (some other contraception methods and the morning after pill) or destruction of an embryo or foetus.

  34. @Gamecock

    imho bikers have a much better understanding of safe speed vs conditions which they apply when driving too compared to car-only road users.

    I’m often horrified at speed car drivers travel at in heavy-rain when spray limits visibility, fog too. Speed limit not command to drive at, it’s max legally allowed. Equally, the too slow when light-rain or snow..

  35. I was driving in Montana a decade ago on US-191, heading south towards Yellowstone. The speed limit was 65. I felt 65 was too fast, and I went slower. Only time driving in the U.S. I felt that way.

    It should be a regular occurrence. If you never think, “This is a little faster than I want to go,” the setting of limits is flawed.

  36. Gamecock – “But we have had a middle ground for decades.”

    A woman. Gave birth. In an abortion clinic. In a state with a notional 16 week limit. No, we do not. What you have in the US is abortion on demand up to an including going into labour. In fact as Kermit Gosnell proved, you even have abortion after birth.

    The limit is just for show.

    Surreptitious Evil – “I, frankly, disagree. Prevention of ovulation is clearly a different category than prevention of implantation (some other contraception methods and the morning after pill) or destruction of an embryo or foetus.”

    Well that was a distinction I was making with barrier methods. If the type of Pill being used suppresses ovulation, then obviously it is different. But if it is merely preventing implantation once conception has taken place, then no it is not.

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