Eamonn McCann Proves That There's Power in Numbers

Pro-choice campaigners have been spurred into action following a recent case in the North, and their reaction heralds a long overdue shift in thinking on abortion.

After a series of set-backs, there’s good news from the US about abortion.

On June 27, The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law which put such strict conditions on abortion clinics as effectively to force their closure. Other States which had followed the Texas example will now have to think again. The terms of the ruling should be emblazoned in history by pro-choice activists everywhere.

Supporters of the Texas law, passed in 2013, had insisted that its purpose was to safeguard women’s lives and health. HB2 (House Bill 2) laid down that doctors working in a facility offering abortion had to have “admission rights” to a local hospital, lest an emergency arise requiring immediate hospitalisation, and the clinic itself would have to have a full range of hospital-standard facilities: Otherwise closure, and no provision for appeal. The question before the Supreme Court was whether these requirements constituted an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

Justice Breyer, speaking for a majority, pointed out that, “Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely (than abortion) to result in death, but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home. Colonoscopy, a procedure which typically takes place outside a hospital setting, has a mortality rate 10 times higher than abortion.” Justice Kagan added: “The mortality rate for liposuction, another outpatient procedure, is 28 times higher than for abortion.”

Justice Ruth Bader said: “It is beyond rational belief that (the Texas restrictions) could genuinely protect the health of women”, but certain that it “would make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”

Summing up, Breyer observed that, “When directly asked whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement (for admission rights) would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

Of course, the “pro-lifers” will come again. This time, however, they won’t be advancing but fighting to recover lost ground. And the ruling on HB2 will have changed the terrain of battle to their considerable disadvantage.

Deserves wider circulation, does the SCOTUS judgment.

There’s been a great deal of nonsense talked about the success (pushing it a bit, but no matter) of the Northern and Southern teams in Euro 2016 “bringing people together.”

The fact is that a substantial majority of people on the Falls wanted the North booted out at the earliest possible stage. On the Shankill, punters roared on the Republic’s every opponent.

Mind you, there are occasions when all sides do come together in football fervour, as, for example, when guffaws and chuckles erupted across the known world and beyond at the final whistle in the England/Iceland game.

I understand there was a pandemonium of unrestrained joy in Panmunjon and all along the 38th Parallel, as the long-suffering people of Korea at last found something they could clasp hands across the barbed wire to celebrate.

And here’s another thing: both Best Boy Grip and Johanna Fegan have EPs ready for release. This is more significant news that some among you might suspect. Watch this space.

On May 22, the Sunday Times reported that a detachment of Irish soldiers had, the previous week, taken part in “war games” on Salisbury Plain – the British army’s main training ground. Soldiers from Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania were also involved in the manoeuvres. The 1,500-strong group was under the command of officers of the Yorkshire Regiment.

This was Ireland’s first outing as a participant in the EU army set up last year at the urging of Germany, debated in the Dail in October, and endorsed by 72 votes to 25.

Opposing the move at the time, Clare Daly suggested that the purpose of the battle groups was to provide a military force “directly under the control of the EU political elite.”

Sean Crowe of Sinn Fein said that while “some people try to portray these battle groups as humanitarian soldiers, their ultimate purpose is right there in the name – they are primarily established to go into battle.”

Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy observed that the kind of equipment contributed by the Republic included an Orbiter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and communications and sniper equipment: “This means this is not about helping people affected by natural disasters, but is about going to war.”

The Times reported that the recent Salisbury Plain manoeuvres had been “hushed up” by the Ministry of Defence because of the imminence of the EU referendum.

Meanwhile, and, again, hardly in a blaze of publicity, Frontex, the EU’s frontier protection force, was tripled in size at the tail end of last year, and issued with new equipment including helicopters, so as to operate as a “rapid response force” to deal with the migrant “problem.”

More generally, the Guardian reported in December that “The European commission wants the power to deploy EU forces without the consent of the member state concerned – an idea that has already hit resistance in national capitals, and which many see as impractical.”

True, it’s hard to see that one gaining traction. But don’t doubt that the bosses of the EU will keep trying.

 

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