The Abortion Divide Across Both Sides of the Atlantic

There has been quite a bit of heated discussions on the abortion divide during the last month, fueled on the one hand by the usual turgid Republican stance on it and on the other by Rep Akin’s insane pronouncement on what he thinks rape is. I’m not going to recap on his idiocy, ample writings are on record. Now we sit pretty, having gone through his varied excuses and poor choice of words as a blogger from Daily Kos explains in this piece what HE really meant! Oh my! Arguing that he misplaced the word “legitimate,” Akin explained — during a follow up interview with Dana Loesch — that he meant to argue that women sometimes lie about being raped:

AKIN: You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.

Now, after taking a drubbing nationwide, and with both Romney & Ryan as well as a plethora of grand panjandrums of the Republican party denouncing the hapless Akin (and no less than President Obama), you’d think that the party’s policy platform would soften around the edges a tad but no, last week’s announcement by a Republican panel approved a rigid anti-abortion amendment, without exclusions for cases of rape or incest, to be, ahem, unveiled at the national convention where Mitt is now no longer known as the presumptive candidate but as a fully fledged Republican who will lose the election.

Barack Obama’s re-election campaign was quick to point out that it offered little debate, embracing the same pro-life language of previous conventions in 2008, 2004 and 2000. So much for the party who wants to be seen as the party of substance:

“I appreciate the good work that that committee did — in past platforms that has been hours of discussion — and I applaud the committee’s work in affirming our respect for human life,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican platform committee. “Well done.”

Naturally, no Republican argument is valid until Queen Sarah Palin weighs on it! This report from the mouth of the quitter-in-chief: “leave it to Sarah Palin to be the one member of her party who thinks Todd Akin should drop out of the Missouri Senate race, not because what he said was “offensive” or “outrageous,” but because, darn it, he’s not extreme enough. He’s too “status quo,” says Sarah, “and the status quo has got to go.” With her impeccable logic I predict she will have some kind of future in Wasilla’s corridors of power.

So what about Europe and how does it feel about abortions? Well, we know that there clearly is an ideological agenda on both sides of the Atlantic (here in Ireland the church exerts a strong pull over the elected politicians), and not many seem to articulate mainstream discussions about it except on the internet.

Having an abortion is emotionally difficult for most women as most agonize over the decision. Most states provide guidelines and advocate safety first. This is reflected throughout Europe except Ireland, Malta and a deeply Catholic Poland. Nonetheless, the European Union has consistently favored the legalization of abortion, and persistently pressures those three states. It is interesting to note that in January 2010, the Irish Examiner/RedC poll about abortion in Ireland found that 60% of 18-35 year-old felt abortion should be legalized, and 10% had been in a relationship in which an abortion had taken place.

The way things are going the Irish womenfolks will have to wait for the dwindling power of the Catholic church to be able to have a safe abortion in their own country: statistics tell us that roughly 12 to 14 women a day a travel from Ireland to England and Wales to have terminations. According to the UK medical board we know that at least 147,881 women traveled to Britain for abortion services since 1980. These figures serve to highlight the hypocrisy of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws and clearly demonstrate the necessity for domestic-based abortion services in Ireland.

In France abortion is legal on request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion has been decriminalized since the passage of the Veil Law in 1975. Interestingly, the cost of an abortion is reimbursed up to 80% if one has a medical insurance and a wholly 100% for those who have a universal cover.

In Germany legalized abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy for reasons of medical necessity, sexual crimes or serious social or emotional distress are provided as the law passed in 1976. Abortion in Italy became legal in May 1978, when Italian women were allowed to terminate a pregnancy on demand during the first 90 days. A proposal to repeal the law was considered in a 1981 national referendum, but was rejected by nearly 68% of voters; another referendum aimed at eliminating the restrictions was rejected by 88.4%.

Spain, a heavily Catholic country, liberalized abortions in 2010. The then socialist Premier, Zapatero, confronted the Catholic hierarchy and finger-pointed the dreaded Opus Dei as living in the Inquisition era. It worked.

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