It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, and it should be even longer – I have to give a presentation tomorrow and preparation is going badly. But what better way to procrastinate than reading the news? It’s not what I’m supposed to be doing, but it’s not fun enough to make me feel guilty.
The proposed abortion legislation has united Ireland with a single thought: This is shit.
While the upset on both sides of the debate may indicate this is the perfect compromise, for me the fact that Youth Defence and the Iona Institute are only mildly disgruntled is a damning failure, considering that the abortion issue is just step one in their grand plan for banning contraception, homosexuality and probably sex for any reason at all.
The proposed laws update the 1861 acts, reducing the sentence for someone performing an illegal abortion from a life sentence down to 14 years in prison. It also defines the term ‘unborn’; “as it relates to human life means following implantation until such time as it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of the woman.” It crucially also makes clear that the state will never prevent someone from travelling to get an abortion.
The rest of the bill lays out when abortion is allowed and what procedures need to be followed. Abortion will be permitted when there is risk to the mother’s life through illness or medical emergency, or risk to the mother’s life through self destruction. For physical illness it is required that two medical professionals (including one ob/gyn) jointly certify in good faith that there is a risk, and that a termination, or a procedure that would result in miscarriage, is the only medical option. For a medical emergency only one medical professional is needed to decide if there is an immediate risk and that the procedure is necessary. In the case of suicide risk, it’s more tricky. While the reported panel of six doctors has not come about, it will go to a panel of three medical professionals, including one ob/gyn and two psychiatrists. Their decision can be appealed and another panel will hear the case within seven days. It is impossible to say how this will go, or how restrictive this will be, and it may depend on individual panels. It will be very interesting to see if any suicidal women take this route, or whether the quicker, quieter and less traumatic option of a trip to England will stay the common method.
I’m very much pro-choice, so I of course feel this doesn’t go nearly far enough and that abortion should be available on request. But this legislation is better than nothing and nothing is what we have now. The lack of of guidelines up to now has been crippling, and this at least means that it is being recognised as a real issue in Ireland. While I hope this is a first step to a modern approach to reproductive rights in this country, that second step may be a long way off. It took 20 years after a Supreme Court decision to even get some legislation so the government is likely to try and get the issue off people’s minds as quickly as possible to avoid the anger coming from both sides. Lets not indulge them.
This story makes me so angry I barely know what to say. A five year old boy was given a rifle as a present by his parents, and accidentally killed his baby sister with it. I don’t even need to say where this happened, it’s instantly obvious that it’s America. The gun the child had was a .22 calibre rifle known as a Crickett, with the tag line, ‘My First Rifle’. Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the press that it was “Just one of those crazy accidents”.
One of those crazy accidents where you give a five year old a gun. What the holy fucking hell is wrong with people? First of all, why is it legal to market guns to children? I am frequently appalled by American gun laws, but this is a whole side of things I hadn’t even heard about. They were able to ban trans-fats for being dangerous but people can MARKET GUNS TO CHILDREN? I genuinely feel like any child who is given a gun as a gift should be removed from their parents by the state, but maybe let’s start with some sort of minimum gun ownership age. That child would be too young to see a film that had a gun in it, yet somehow it is perfectly fine to market actual lethal weaponry to him.
Along with the cute gun welding cartoon cricket they use to brand their child weaponry, Crickett also sell toys and books to play with between killings.
I’ve just finished reading an amazing book about life in North Korea called Nothing to Envy, so I’m on the watch for any stories about the hermit nation. Fancy my delight and amusement this to find this little story. North Korea’s iron grip on it’s people’s hearts and minds is being challenged by the South Korean version of Wagon Wheels: Choco Pies.
Nothing to Envy is the story of life in North Korea told by defectors to South Korea, so each person interviewed had a moment of realisation that they were being lied to, that their country was not the land of plenty they were constantly told it was, that in fact South Korea was not poorer than the north. For one person it was seeing a picture in official media of a South Korean on a picket line. While the photo was intended to show North Koreans the exploitation of workers in capitalist society, they noticed that this oppressed worker had a jacket with a zip and a ball point pen in his pocket, impossible luxuries in North Korea. For others it was illegally tuning in to South Korean television and seeing the casual luxury that ordinary people had – nice clothes, kitchen appliances, cars – all unheard of in North Korea. But these realisations and the black market for South Korean and Chinese products isn’t new; most of the people in the book escaped in the late 90s/early 00s, so it’s a bit hard for me to believe that Wagon Wheels are what will finally tip people over the edge.
According to a leading expert of North Korea however, the Choco Pies have become a symbol. They took off through the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint venture between the two countries (though North Korea has recently pulled out all its workers). Because South Korean bosses weren’t allowed give North Korean workers cash bonuses, they started to incentivise them through small luxuries like instant noodles, coffee and Choco Pies, which are now being resold for up to four times their original price. This is said to be part of a growing trend of defiance in North Korea. I wouldn’t get your hopes up though, North Korea experts have been predicting its collapse for 20 years and somehow it is still here. While the childish part of me would love to see a revolution sparked by chocolate, North Korea is not on the brink of liberation quite yet.