Why You Should Support Gay Marriage But NOT the Judgement of Ashers Bakery

Most of you probably know about the case of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland. The bakery refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan and were taken to court because of this. Today the judge ruled that the bakery is guilty of discrimination:

Giving her ruling at Belfast County Court today district judge Isobel Brownlie said: “The defendants have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination.” — Independent.ie

In this article I want to explain why this should be a shocking and deeply unjust judgement.

The requested image for the cake.


Crucially, the judge has confused discriminating against a person and discriminating against a service.

Let me illustrate the difference. This is important because if this is not discrimination against a person but against a service, then, if we change the person, the bakery’s argument should still hold.

Suppose it had not been a gay man who requested the cake. Suppose it was the most heterosexual man in the world (I am imagining a Hugh Heffner type character, with 4 female supermodels in rapt attendance :P).

The bakery would have refused the cake here too; they don’t want to make a cake promoting gay marriage. Yet they cannot be discriminating against this man on the grounds that he is gay, because he is NOT gay.

Well, maybe they’re discriminating against him because he supports gay marriage? Let’s eliminate that as well: let’s suppose he’s actually a fervent anti-gay marriage campaigner. However, he has a fifth supermodel at home and it’s her birthday. He wants to get her a pro-gay marriage cake as a practical joke.

The bakery still refuses to make the cake. They’re not discriminating against the man, or his beliefs. They’re refusing to provide a particular service.

It is wrong to discriminate against a person, but it is not wrong to discriminate against a service.

For example, it would be wrong to make a birthday cake for a straight man to give to his daughter, but not make one for a gay man to give to his daughter. This is discriminating against the person.

However, it should be perfectly OK to refuse to make a cake saying “end racism now” because you want your bakery to be uninvolved in political issues. This doesn’t make you racist. It has nothing to do with the person who requested it. It is up to you what type of services your business does provide, or doesn’t provide.

In fact, I think a business should be perfectly entitled to refuse any service, on the grounds of what the service entails. They should be allowed to refuse to make cakes with messages that are opposed to their strongly-held beliefs. Or to refuse to make any with a political message. Or to refuse simply because they’re tired today and don’t really feel like working.

There is no need for strong-arm legislation to protect equality. The financial incentives for not discriminating against services (if you don’t perform a service, you lose customers and money) should be protection enough.


It seems to me that the judge attempted to address this point. However, her argument here is confused as well:

The judge told the court she believed if a heterosexual person had ordered a cake with graphics promoting “heterosexual marriage” or simply “marriage”, the order would have been fulfilled.

“I have no doubt that such a cake would have been provided. It is the word gay that the defendants took exception to,” said Judge Brownlie. — Independent.ie

Attempting to judge this based on individual words is completely nonsensical.

Suppose I refused to make a cake saying “Support Teenage Marriage”. Apparently this judge would say that I am objecting to the word “teenage” and am therefore discriminating against teenagers.

This is clearly untrue. I have nothing against “teenagers”; my issue is with “supporting teenage marriage”. The former is about people, the latter is a political and controversial position.

Just so with gay marriage. The bakery’s issue was not with the word “gay”. It was with the phrase “support gay marriage”.

The judge stated that the bakers must have been aware of the ongoing same-sex marriage debate. I assume, therefore, that the judge is well aware of it as well. She should be aware that it is a divisive issue, and that people are fully entitled to oppose this political position, or to not want to be involved with it.

You cannot pluck a single word out of a phrase, and judge someone based on that. It is unfair: the meaning of a single word is different from the meaning of the person’s position, as fully expressed by the totality of what they’ve said.

Picking a single word and using its meaning out of context is bogus reasoning, and it is incredible to see this reasoning being employed by a district court judge.


I support same-sex marriage. I support it because I believe in the values of liberty, equality, and toleration. I believe these are the best values for a society which is pluralistic like ours.

If you share these values, then you should support conscience clauses as well. These clauses protect people’s freedom to not do something they are opposed to for deeply-held moral reasons. They are about recognising that people have different moral beliefs. They are about tolerating those differences and giving the people the freedom to live according to these different values.

Opposition to conscience clauses, and this judgement against Ashers, is not liberal. It is conservative. Indeed, it is the bad kind of conservatism: it is the kind which is deeply intolerant of difference, and refuses to give people the freedom to be different. It is moral authoritarianism, which attempts to strong-arm people into conformity with what one deems to be correct.

The family who own Ashers leaving the court.


I live in the Republic of Ireland, as do probably the majority of the readers of this article. This case from Northern Ireland about conscience is relevant to us today and in the future.

(A) Today

We are currently having a debate in Ireland about same-sex marriage, with a referendum to be held on it in 3 days time.

The No side of this debate have raised concerns over what this referendum could mean for freedom of conscience. Luckily, religious organisations are protected by Irish law through recognition of freedom of religion. This means, for example, that Catholic churches will not be forced to marry same-sex couples, as this directly contradicts the doctrines of the Catholic sacrament of marriage. I am glad to see that both yes and no sides in the debate are supportive of this law.

However, the No side have argued that freedom of conscience will not be protected in the areas of business or education. They say that the government is opposed to conscience clauses for small businesses, and that this could lead to situations like that of Ashers bakery. This is extremely concerning, and should be given serious consideration, regardless of one’s voting intentions in the referendum.

Indeed, there have been countless examples of dangerously anti-liberal values and moral authoritarianism festering—and even being encouraged—during this debate. No side posters have been defaced and torn down, No side supporters have been bullied and ridiculed, and these acts have been cheered on by many people on social media.

Apparently the irony of supporting gay marriage on the basis that people should be free to live how they want and should be respected by society, while at the same time destroying No side posters—in other words, being deeply disrespectful of another group and denying them a key freedom of speech as enshrined in our democratic system—has been lost on literally thousands of people.

Interestingly, this aggression can be seen in how the tone of the No campaign has become very defensive. As the debate has progressed, different groups on the No side have produced defensive slogans along the lines of “It’s OK to vote no” and “You can make your own mind up”.

I have seen many people on the yes side laugh at these slogans as being patronising. Certainly, it is understandable that they may come across this way to a dedicated yes voter. However, it is important to look at these slogans from a neutral perspective and to examine the intended message. The intended message is not to imply that yes side voters are ignorant, but to reassure those who feel they cannot vote no that they can, in fact, do so.

And if this is the intended message, then it should be deeply worrying that the No side feel it has to be given.

Let me be clear: liberty, equality, and toleration mean that a yes vote is the best option. However, they also mean that people opposed to a yes vote should be free to express and hold this opinion, and that they should be treated with equal respect and toleration.

Far too many people on the yes side have descended into self-righteousness, and whitewashed the no side as homophobic or ignorant. This is an absolutely shameful attitude to have. This is a nasty type of liberalism which only extends liberal values to those who agree with you.

Of course, I would extend the same criticism to people acting this way on the No side as well. The reason I have focussed on the Yes side here is that while I have seen literally hundreds of examples of intolerance from the Yes side on social media, I have seen very few from the No side. (This is unsurprising, considering that the vast majority of my peers [I am 24] are in favour of a yes vote.)

Defacing posters is absolutely unacceptable.

(B) The Future

I think it is very important that liberal values be carried on through future debates in Irish society, and that conscience clauses be strongly considered in all areas of life, not just ones related to issues about homosexuality.

For example, conscience clauses will be even more important when we come to debate various bio-ethical questions again as a country, such as abortion, surrogacy, or euthanasia.

When these issues arise, I will be advocating for conscience clauses there as well. If a doctor genuinely believes that abortion is murder, as is consistent with many of the religious worldviews protected by freedom of religion, then they should not be forced to perform an abortion.

This shouldn’t be problematic: abortions are not emergency procedures, and there should be plenty of doctors available who are perfectly willing to perform them. Overriding a doctor’s conscience in this case would be a needless offence to their liberty.

In my video on same-sex marriage I argued that our consideration of liberal values needs to go further than the current referendum. Conscience clauses for medical professionals is just one example of where I think this consideration ought to go.


To sum up, the case of Ashers in Northern Ireland reflects an extremely worrying view of society, and a confusion as to what discrimination actually entails. The court has incorrectly found the bakery guilty of discriminating against a person on the basis of their sexuality, when in fact they were discriminating against the provision of a particular service. While the former is, of course, unacceptable, the latter should be unproblematic.

I support liberal values, and it is important to note that these support not only same-sex marriages but conscience clauses as well. People should not be forced to do something which directly conflicts with their morality; people should be free to live according to their values to as great a degree as is possible.

Laws or court judgements which prevent people from having that freedom are wrong. This is moral authoritarianism and is directly contrary to the values of liberty and toleration.

I was delighted to read that Mr. Paul Given was campaigning for a conscience clause in Northern Ireland. I have not read the wording of his proposed bill, but I can 100% endorse his reasoning behind it.

Mr Givan said that “Christians do not feel there is space being made for their religious beliefs”.

“The issue at stake is when you’re asked to produce a particular service,” he said.

“It’s about the message you’re being asked to endorse, not the messenger who’s asking for it. Say someone comes in and asks for a cake saying ‘I support gay marriage’ – that’s a direct form of communication you’re asking this Christian-owned company to produce and they don’t want to be forced to do that.

“I don’t think that’s unreasonable, I think that’s tolerant and if we live in a pluralist, liberal society we need to make space for difference.”

Equality provisions might reasonably necessitate restricting such freedom if a given group was totally silenced—for example, if no bakeries would make a cake supporting gay marriage there might be a case for requiring them to, in the interests of the voice of the gay community. However, this is not the case here, and it is extremely unlikely that it ever will be. In regards to businesses, the financial incentives to indiscriminately provide services should ensure that (unless it is legally prohibited) everyone has access to the service they need.

This case reveals the need for our society to examine its values more deeply. It should be a clear indication that we, in the Republic of Ireland, need to think about conscience clauses in the future of our society, and their importance when it comes to promoting a society which is truly liberal in the face of divisive social and ethical issues.

It should also call us to reflect on our attitudes towards discrimination, and our attitudes towards the current referendum debate on same-sex marriage. If we truly embrace liberal values then we should allow same-sex couples to marry. However, we should also be respectful of people who have conservative values or who disagree for other reasons.

The actions and statements of far too many people in the current debate have revealed that while they apply liberal values in the first sense, they do not apply them in the second sense. The hostility and aggression that is being shown to conservative and religious people today should be deeply worrying and distressing to anyone who truly believes in liberalism.

In conclusion, it is my hope that you will endorse freedom of conscience, and that you will join me in opposing these situations, such as the case of Ashers bakery, where this freedom is under dangerous attack.

Why I Don’t Vote

I don’t vote. I think it’s a waste of time. I think it achieves absolutely nothing worthwhile. I think it is a pleasant but vacuous idea which people blindly indulge in to make themselves feel like they matter. It is today’s opiate of the people.

To explain why, let me ask you this question: what is a vote actually worth?

Let’s look at your vote in the context of all the votes that will be cast. I don’t know what the official figures are for Ireland but I’m going to use 2 million as a rough estimate.

So, out of 2 million points, your vote is worth precisely… 1. And one two millionth is hardly an encouraging proportion.

To quote my old CSPE book: “What does one voice matter?”

I always found it very amusing that those books tried to convince us that a vote was worthwhile with a picture of lots of little cartoon men asking “what does one voice matter?”, only to realize that when you add up all their individual voices you DO get something that matters.

But when you stop and think about it isn’t this a strange way to argue for the worth of the individual? Isn’t there a big difference between “one vote” and “loads of one votes”?

Yes, when you add them all up then all these votes do matter. Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with you. When you walk into a polling station you do not cast “loads of one votes”; you cast precisely “one”. You do not speak for everyone, you speak for you and you alone.

One vote does not equal loads of votes. It only ever equals one. One out of 2 million. In my opinion, that is worth approximately…… nothing!

When it comes down to it, your vote does not change any important decision. Unless an election literally came down to one single vote, your single vote has not changed its outcome. It’s kind of like playing the lottery except… well… you can’t actually win.

Your vote does not affect the outcome. I’ll say it again: IT HAS ZERO EFFECT. All it affects is the analyses that occur after the fact. When the politicians and journalists and lobby groups crunch the numbers to determine public opinion–that is where your vote has an effect. Your vote is found in the opinion polls, in the pie-charts, and in the numerical reports that these people deal in.

Just one more nameless figure

And it’s not even worth much there. At the end of the day, you are a fraction of a percentage on a bar chart. (And if the bar chart doesn’t deal in fractions… Well you’re basically not there at all!) Your effect is a tiny, negligible, essentially imperceptible drop in the sea of factors that determine what people will vote for in the future, and how people will try to control that.

Your effect is this: .00005% of people thought X.


Now, it doesn’t matter what is being voted for: I’m discussing the merits of the mechanism, not the things being voted on.

Let’s take something else as an example: a million euro. Everyone would agree that a million euro is a very valuable thing. However, if it was divided among 2 million people, the individual dividend would be… 50 cent. Would  you find that worthwhile? So it is for me with voting.

THAT is how mu–Wait… Er… Something has gone wrong here…

Compare it also with giving money to charity. Imagine Ireland’s active votership collectively raised 2 million euro for charity. This is a good thing. People would give out to you if you said you weren’t bothered: “What do you mean not bothered?!? Is 2 million euro for the starving not important to you?!?” Well, yes, of course it is. But if I fail to donate–be it because of apathy, an analysis like this one, or even a bad dose of the flu–it does not mean that the 2 million euro never materialises. No: it just means that 1 euro less is donated to those people. A loss for them, yes, but a relatively tiny one. And you know what? The press release would probably round it up to 2 million euro anyway. That’s how little your vote matters.

So… what is a vote actually worth? To sum it up, not much at all.

I’d rather not waste my time.

Some arguments against my position:

One of the best arguments I can think of against my position is that I am being selfish: I am only considering the worth of something as it’s worth to me. Voting is not only good for you, it is good for everyone who is affected by the vote’s outcome. (For simplicity’s sake let’s assume that the realm of politicians is one of great honor and integrity.) Therefore, although your vote achieves almost nothing, the fact that it is for the good of others makes it more valuable than something purely self-serving (i.e. sitting at home instead).

In response I would say that your altruism would be better employed elsewhere. Instead of taking 30 minutes to vote, spend an extra 30 minutes working and donate the money to charity–hell, go to McDonalds and buy someone a happy meal! Spend 30 minutes with your grandparents. Congratulations! You’ve just made the world a better place than your vote ever would.

Here are some more objections:

1. If everybody thought the way you did then what would happen?

That would be an interesting point except for one problem: clearly, everyone doesn’t.

Please, call me when they do. You won’t find me though–I’ll be busy voting!

It’s an interesting question at which point few enough people vote for it to be worthwhile; the fewer people that vote the more valuable your individual vote becomes. Everyone will have a different threshold (on one end there are probably people who will vote no matter what, and on the other probably people who will only vote if their vote is guaranteed to be the decider). However, I’m willing to bet that enough people value voting around the level that we have now that the threshold will never drop very low.

And that’s too high for me.

2. “Your great-grandparents died so you could have this vote.”

You know what? I really don’t care.

Parents? Care very much. Grandparents? Care very much. Great-grandparents onwards? Couldn’t give two hoots.

My ancestors undoubtedly fought–and even died–for many causes throughout their lifetimes. The right for women to vote? The natural dominance of men over women? The right to own a slave? You’ll excuse me if I don’t see how their opinions force some binding moral contract upon me. I like to value things for what they are actually worth (based in this moment, upon my own best judgement), not what some romanticized stranger once believed.

Besides, maybe great-great-granddaddy Murray fought for the good ol’ absolute monarchy?

Murray for monarchy!

3. “You have a civic duty to vote.”

Ah! One of the great “Dogmas of Democracy”! (Yes, I made that up right there! Catchy isn’t it?). Thou shalt not blaspheme the sacred altar of the polling booth! To me it just looks like something that people made up to justify the importance of voting. Need to make something unquestionable? Call it a duty.

I find it funny that rhetoric which at one second pronounces individual empowerment (“it’s YOUR voice”) turns to social duty (“but it’s not for you, it’s for your COUNTRY”) in the next. How aptly political.

4. “Young people aren’t voting enough. You need to do your part so they get a voice in society.”

I am not the representative of young people and they are not representative of me.

Moreover, why is this even an issue in the first place? It’s not like there’s some strange curse on the people now aged 20-30, whereby 30 years down the road political commentators will be baffled by the strange group of 50-60 year-olds who suffer from an extraordinary amount of political apathy,unlike their younger and older brethren.

Because here’s the thing: people generally start voting more as they get older. People who are in their 20s now and not voting will one day be in their 50s and probably utilizing their vote quite often.

For simplicity’s sake let’s say that people start voting at 30 (whereupon they suddenly become civilly responsible) and stop at 80 (whereupon they keel over dead. Cheerio!). Everyone gets 50 years to vote; everyone has an equal and sizable chance to have their input into society.

There’s really no problem at all. Currently young people have just as much voice in society as their currently older peers do. Because nobody stays young or alive forever.

In fact, forcing people who are young now to vote NOW gives them TEN EXTRA YEARS of voting and therefore MORE of a voice in politics than their elders. When you look at it that way doesn’t it seem rather unfair? We’d have to ban them from voting after 70 to even things out.

Best keep things the way they are. Let’s all have an equally irrelevant say ^_^

Abortion and Stupidity


When I was blogging regularly a year or so ago one of my friends told me that I should be more aggressive and opinionated. In honour of that wish, I’ve decided to write an article where I sound off on some of the Pro-Choice arguments I see that strike me as total bullshit.

Cynicism engaged. Let’s begin!

“But You’re Not Being Forced To Have An Abortion”

One fantastically stupid argument which I have seen bandied around is that the pro-life position should give up because: “They’re not being forced to get abortions. Give us the freedom to have them and them the freedom not to. That’s the fair solution.”


Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a pro-life advocate for one short second. What’s the most basic way you could summarise their position? My best attempt is: “Abortion is murder”. Therefore what this argument is basically saying, from their point of view, is: “You’re not being forced to murder anyone. Give us the freedom to murder; you will have the freedom not to”. If I put this forward as a justification for legalising murder you would laugh at me. Since that’s what abortion means for a pro-life person, why should they not laugh at you if you use it too? I’m baffled that anyone could consider this to be even obliquely compelling.

Consider this analogy: If a law was passed permitting the sale of a perfume which one section of the population thought was very good but another section found utterly repulsive, you would not deny the second group’s right to argue it should be banned. Of course the analogy breaks down a bit at this point: it’s only perfume so you might well argue that the anti-perfume group will just have to get over it—bad smells are unpleasant but in the grand scheme of things they don’t tend to be morally unbearable. Murder, however, is on a totally different level of seriousness. The right to life is so foundational a moral principle that you cannot tell people to just get over it. “Accept that you have no business in opposing murder” is not an argument that is going to fly.

But perhaps I’m being a bit unfair.

Perhaps people who make this argument have an especially liberal political philosophy—liberal in the traditional sense of wide-ranging individual freedom and small government involvement in society. I also hold the belief that this would be the ideal society in an ideal world (of course, we don’t live in an ideal world so the matter becomes much more complex—but we don’t need to get into that now). Nonetheless, I think it would be incredibly unusual to find someone who would argue that there should be no laws or rules at all. And I would also bet that the first rule people would agree should be preserved is “You aren’t allowed to murder people”. It’s the foundational rule for practically every contemporary concept of society. The suggestion that people should just sit by uncomplaining as what they strongly believe to be murders are being carried out–vindicated by the laws of society–is simply absurd.

Therefore we have two options regarding people who make the “You’re not being forced to have abortions” argument. Either: (a), they have a particularly unusual anarchic political philosophy; or (b), they have not put a single second of genuine thought into the argument which they’re making and how it sounds to the people on the receiving end of it.

I’m a bit of a cynic: I’m going to assume the second option is true.

I think this problem highlights how we should be asking very different questions. In fact, I believe that the issue we should be wondering about is the complete opposite of the “You’re not being forced to have one” line of thought. The question which I find myself asking is: “Why do people who are anti-abortion and live in a country where it is legal not fight to abolish it more vehemently?” I think this is a much more thought-provoking question to wonder about.

My Motivations and Goals in Writing this Article


Good ol’ Dublin doing me proud.

Let’s take a short break to talk about why I’m writing this article. A lot of it comes from reading Pro-Choice messages on Facebook and hearing about a few of the rallies that have gone on in Dublin recently. Of course, people on my newsfeed who post political views on Facebook are a small subset of Facebook users and an even smaller subset of people in general. Nonetheless, it seems to me that debate which fully acknowledges the valid points of the pro-life argument is surprisingly rare among young Irish people, both online and off. This lack in turn means that bad arguments from the pro-choice side escape unquestioned; they need only be mildly intuitive to be touted as valid. This worries me.

Even more worrying is the vehemence with which many of these posts are written. Outrage and anger can be reasonable products of reasonable thought; left unchecked, however, they run a high risk of spelling its end. It reminds me of the Europeans crossing the Atlantic on a crusade to convert the ignorant heathens; to save the primitives from themselves. Righteousness and fervour are not solely the province of religion and they are almost always the enemy of fair-minded thought. Rallying slogans of “them against us” replace considered thought. I find this unsettling, no matter what form it may take.

[[I am fully aware that I am probably being hypocritical in this regard!! Unfortunately—although we all like to use it in such a way—hypocrisy does not necessarily mean that a person is wrong. I have consoled myself with the fact that you don’t see a lot of people saying what I am saying. In that much at least I hope that I’m adding to the debate in a constructive manner.]]

A Woman’s Bodily Autonomy

Another bad argument is to claim that the main issue regarding abortion is a woman’s bodily autonomy (a woman’s right to make her own decisions regarding her own body). In this regard Pro-Life is better named than Pro-Choice. The issue is about life, not about choice at all.***

Let’s look at autonomy in the case of abortion. Nobody denies that a woman has autonomy over her own body. But what about a foetus’ autonomy over its own body?? If both have autonomy you have to take both into account—you can’t simply ignore one party in an ethical dilemma. And surely abortion directly contravenes the foetus’ bodily autonomy in the most dramatic way possible?

If you say that abortion is about a woman’s bodily autonomy then you have already excluded the foetus as being of any consequence. You’ve taken two steps in your thinking and we need to return to the first. Let’s use this Pro-Choice poster as an example:


“Counter the lies”? I could have used this in the vehemence section as well.

“When it’s your body it’s your right to decide.” But isn’t the foetus’ body rather involved as well? That body is not yours; I don’t see how you could possibly have autonomy over it. The argument has already decided something in the background: it’s decided that the foetus and its bodily autonomy aren’t significant at all.

Therefore the question of the woman’s autonomy is secondary and the question of the foetus’ is primary. The argument that a woman’s bodily autonomy justifies abortion is based on the preceding premise that the foetus does not have any, or only has it to an insignificant degree. This is the premise which is being debated. This is the issue which is controversial. This is what we need to be thinking about. What is a foetus and what rights does it have? The question is about the foetus, not about the mother. Endless proselytising about the mother’s bodily autonomy is a waste of time; it is a cacophonous and pointless banging of heads which obscures the genuine points of debate.

Perhaps you believe that a woman’s autonomy completely overrides the foetus’. Perhaps you believe the foetus’ doesn’t have any at all. Either way the thing in question is the status of the foetus. The only situation I can think of where bodily autonomy is the primary question is one where you believe that autonomy always trumps a genuine right to life. And that’s a pretty dubious claim.

***[[There are four main principles when looking at bioethical issues: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice (essentially personal choice; doing good; not doing harm; and giving people what is due to them). I think our basic contemporary liberal morality is summed up by autonomy and non-maleficence: “Do what you want so long as you don’t hurt anyone.” It’s a phrase you hear quite often. I find it a pretty narrow vision of morality; there’s a big difference between passively avoiding harm and actively doing good. It’s the difference between saying “don’t abuse group X” and “respect group X”. A morality which incorporates all four principles is better than one which excludes some.

Yet even if you reduce the debate to autonomy alone, the first thing you must address is the autonomy of the foetus, not the autonomy of the mother. The ontology of the foetus (what a foetus is) is the topic for dispute, not anything else. Is the foetus a person? Does it have rights? Does it have bodily autonomy too?]]***

“We Have to Make Abortions Safe and Legal”

Let’s look at the argument which uses “Women will have abortions whether they’re safe or legal or not” as a justification for legalisation. If they’re going to have them anyway, we should help them have them in the safest way possible. When you look at it like that it seems pretty practical and reasonable. But then people also commit fraud all the time; should we make that safe and legal too?

The idea behind this argument is to protect and safeguard women, and that’s a wonderful thing. But consider the fraud example: we believe fraud is wrong, so when a woman commits fraud it would not be just to make it a safe and legal enterprise. It’s nothing to do with her being female, it’s do with fraud being an injustice. If you believe abortion is wrong, then it would not be just to make it a safe and legal enterprise either. Likewise, this isn’t anti-woman at all; it’s because then an abortion is an injustice.

The argument for safety seems reasonable when you have already decided that there is nothing wrong with abortion. If they’re not doing anything wrong then failing to support them is grossly unjust. However, if they are doing something wrong, then not supporting them actually means that justice is being upheld. The circumstances of abortion are often tragic and you should certainly be sympathetic. But sympathy and justice, for better or for worse, are very different things.

If fraud is wrong we cannot justly condone it. Likewise, whether or not we legally support women who have abortions will be based on whether or not we believe abortion to be wrong. It doesn’t prove which is the case; it just tells us what we should do when we have decided. It cannot justify legalisation on its own; it is a secondary argument.

I read an article in the Guardian which put forward this argument and claimed that to refuse women access to abortion is misogynistic. He said we wouldn’t deny access to abortion to men. I thought this was a facile argument. Pro-Life is not about misogyny, it’s about justice; it’s not about being unfair to women, it’s about being fair to foetuses. Justice doesn’t change if you’re male or female.


Grrr men. #females-unite #what’s-the-opposite-of-misogyny-again?

The idea that men would be allowed to have abortions although women are not is made-up nonsense based on wishful thinking and emotional manipulation. It generalises, caricatures and reduces the Pro-Life position to misogyny:  “All opposition to abortion is motivated by misogyny. Remove misogyny and you remove opposition to abortion.” Step one: take something people don’t like. Step two: substitute it in for something you don’t want them to like either. Step three: profit. Take your empty rabble-rousing rhetoric elsewhere.

A Few Final Thoughts

1. The issue of abortion to save the mother’s life is highly topical in Ireland today. If both mother and child will otherwise die unless an abortion is performed–thereby saving the mother–then I fully agree that this is ok. It should be a last resort but it’s still ok. If there is a choice between saving the mother and saving the child I honestly don’t know which one you should choose.

2. The idea that men should have no opinion on abortion as it is only a women’s issue is just outright rubbish. Perhaps we should replace all the judges in the criminal justice courts with convicted criminals while we’re at it?

3. For people who are unsure about abortion and whether or not it should be legalised I would like to share this idea. The question here is risk. When you throw a bottle in the air there is a risk that you will drop the bottle and it will break. If you decide to throw it in the air anyway, then you are probably willing to accept the possibility of it breaking. If you are unsure if abortion is right or wrong, this means you believe there is a risk that abortion entails murder. A bottle breaking isn’t too serious but a murder happening certainly is. A bottle breaking is usually an acceptable risk to take; the possibility of a murder should never be.

Basically to legalise abortion you have to be certain that it is not murder or that it is but is still acceptable. If you are unsure, you should default to the position that it should not be legal. If you think you’re unsure but still believe it should be legalised, you’re probably a lot more decided than you think.

4. Finally I present to you what I think is an interesting thought experiment regarding abortion:

  • Imagine that I was shrunk down to microscopic size and placed in your body. Would it be ok for you to abort me?
  • If I would be there for 9 months without noticeable effect, would you do so?
  • If I would be there for 9 months and mirrored the effects of pregnancy, would you do so?
  • Imagine I was placed in your body because you drank a banana smoothie. You know that people who are accidentally shrunk to microscopic size often get trapped in banana smoothies. You know that drinking the smoothie carries a small chance that you will be implanted with one, but it’s deliciousness outweighs the risk. Unfortunately, this time the odds were not in your favour and you were implanted. How does this situation affect your answers?
  • Imagine I was kidnapped and shrunk by an evil scientist. He then kidnapped you and in a horrific and excruciating procedure he implanted me within your body. How does this situation affect your answers?

It’s pretty basic I know, but I think it can help us think about the importance we attribute to different factors in abortion, such as the differences between a foetus and an adult, the experience of pregnancy, the relationship between bodily autonomy and rights to life, and situations involving rape. I’m not trying to pass on any message with this thought experiment; my agenda is clarity.