One of the great things about Twitter is the way it cuts thru the crap. The ongoing public and media storm, there as elsewhere, following the death of Savita Halapanavar is as polarised as it is predictable, feeding into a sensitive debate too-often dominated by rhetoric and political grandstanding.
As the placards carried by protestors outside Galway hospital (left) ably demonstrate, sometimes you can say more with less. Feeling shame for being Irish was a common theme among both women and men interviewed by journalists. Twitter‘s 140 character limit simply don’t allow much room for ambiguity or obfuscation. Hearts, feelings and predjudices are on show, bite-sized and easily-metabolized.
By way of example, here’s a brief exchange in which I participated in the early hours of this morning:
(all emphases mine)
A short, instrucive exchange, leaving a reader in little doubt where both I and the anonymous StrongBadToo stand on the matter of abortion. Compare and contrast with the hedging and fudging that characterizes the statements of some of Ireland’s main political parties.
Notable exceptions are Sinn Fein which believes that ‘…the difficult choice to terminate a pregnancy can be avoided by as many women as possible’ given investment in education and support; and The Socialist Party, which ‘…supports legislation that will give effect to the Supreme Court ruling on X. However we go further and support comprehensive, free, safe and legal abortion rights for women in Ireland, North and South.’
I’m amused by StrongBadToo‘s suggestion that in acknowledging women’s right to make their own healthcare decisions I’m abdicating (a responsibility? To who, and to do what?), But more so by the notion that this is ‘typical[ly] male’. On the contrary, what is typical of the male establishment (and many within it, both male and female) thru the ages is a tendency to try and micro-manage the lifestyles and behaviours of its citizens utilizing every trick in the book, from seemingly-benevolent paternalism thru proscriptive legal and moral frameworks to undisguised hostility and brute force. Pro-life is of a piece with the established order in this respect. Assuaging the inevitable insecurity of privilege by kicking those whom you’ve subordinated in the teeth, or in the cunt, is not a recipe for human happiness; though it may well be a fine one for entropy and death, both actual and spiritual. And by implying that the responsibility for oversight of women’s reproduction is mine (even though I’m not human – perhaps he thinks women aren’t either?) whilst suggesting my abdication is ‘typical’ he’s surely contradicting himself and all available historical evidence in any case?
As men, our role in matters of gynaecology is fated by nature to be a supporting – and hopefully, supportive – one, by mutual agreement with our partners; and any attempts by force or stealth to upset that order is doomed to end in unnecessary aggravation and unhappiness for all concerned.
The specious argument for the pro-life position is illustrated more fully yet by comparing and contrasting their stance against euthanasia. When Tony Nicklinson took his case for legal assisted suicide to the High Court in the UK this year, he was inundated with appeals from pro-life advocates to reconsider. Nicklinson, whilst undoubtedly left in a vulnerable position by his illness, had, unlike the unborn, a voice: the notion that pro-life groups were best able to interpret and represent his interests is no more viable than a 17 week-old foetus. It’s the very mute-ness and dis-ability of a foetus that makes it such a perfect projector screen for pro-life fantasies of benevolent Godhood. That position is scarcely tenable in the case of an adult such as Nicklinson, who besides being mentally competent and articulate has the support of a close-knit family; though as the former plays to the stereotype that women are incapable of making sensible decisions for themselves, so pro-lifers like to foster similar myths about the sick and disabled. Of the well who claim to know the sick better than the sick; men who claim to know women better than women themselves and mortals holding forth on the will of God, we ought to be rightly suspicious. Nicklinson died shortly after his High Court bid failed, having contracted pneumonia and also refusing food and water – hardly the peaceful and dignified end he was campaigning for. More the Euthanists’ equivalent of Gin, hot baths and knitting needles.
Ha! Who’s resorting to rhetoric now?! So let’s end this post, appropriately enough, where we began with the voice of the people, eloquently and poignantly expressed by one of the estimated 20,000 who turned out to protest Savita‘s death in Galway: