Secular Sunday #47 – Never Again

Protestors marching in Dublin with pictures of Savita Halappanavar and the slogan "Never Again"

Some of the thousands who marched in Dublin on Saturday in memory of Savita Halappanavar

Welcome to this week’s Secular Sunday.

In this issue:
  • Savita Halappanavar
  • Other News
  • Upcoming Events


Savita Halappanavar

The news this week has been dominated by the tragic death in Galway of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who died of septecaemia following a miscarriage. She was apparently refused a potentially life-saving abortion.

Atheist Ireland is not a reproductive rights advocacy group and we recognise and respect that our members hold a range of ethically defensible positions on such matters. Nonetheless, we advocate a rational, ethical and secular Ireland, and prioritising a doomed foetus over the life of a woman cannot be considered rational or ethical and could not be permitted in an ethical, secular state. What happened to Savita should not have been allowed to happen and must never be allowed to happen again.

A number of our members and friends have written about Savita this week:

  • This is primarily a human issue, about the life and death of an actual living person, a factor that Catholic Bishops and Irish politicians often seem to forget in their obsessions with the theological status of embryos and foetuses, and the political power of the conservative vote. – Tragedy, shame and outrage as pregnant Savita dies in Irish hospital because of Catholic dogma and political cowardice. Michael Nugent calls out those responsible.
  • I have never felt so disgusted by my state as I am today. That is, by the way, a big statement. I come from a land of Magdalen laundries and cover-ups by supposed moral authorities of child abusers. Funding cuts to the most vulnerable while the people who got us into this mess get off free and disabled people and immigrants are scapegoated. These realities become callouses. It takes a lot to be shocked. My country kills women by Aoife O’Riordan. A feminist activist and prolific blogger, Aoife has written several further posts on this topic: Abortion and journeys, Love and Shame in the wake of Savita, and Anti-abortion is not pro-life.
  • Abortion in Ireland isn’t a right, and it isn’t a privilege. It isn’t even a choice. It’s a political football to be kicked around at times like these, a hot potato that no party wants to be left holding. Ireland’s Shame. Jennifer Keane  provides her perspective.
  • This country does not care about us. The legal system does not support us. In Ireland, Women don’t matter. ‘Ickle Tayto’ of Skeptic Ireland vents her frustration and anger.
  • There is NO place for people in any position of influence or power who allow religious views to dictate important, potentially life saving decisions. This is a dark day for Ireland. How someone can stand there and proclaim Ireland a ‘Catholic country’ after all the pain and suffering the church has caused this small island sickens me. – Religious Sensibilities have no Place in Positions of Influence or Responsibility. ‘docconcoct’ writes an angry post and a more considered (but still angry) follow-up.
  • What century are we living in Mr Kenny? You know what also angers me? That the organisation behind this ‘moral’ crusade is the institution of the Catholic Church and their ideological ‘supporters’. You know – that’s the institution who for years covered up the rape and abuse of children.An open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny by Saerbhreathach Ó Seartáin.
  • For a case like Savita’s, there is nothing to be gained from prolonging her labour. There is no “greater good” in allowing her to suffer. Abortion was refused on the grounds that the foetus still had a heartbeat, as though somehow this physiological irrelevancy makes it as human as a living, breathing woman. It does not. – A Disgrace to the Nation. Rob Ferris shares his thoughts.

Other News

Upcoming Events
  • Monday 19 November, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics in the Pub #45 – Hurricane Rationality. Facebook event page
  • Wednesday 21 November, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid West Humanists are meeting to talk about life as an atheist or humanist in a society with a religious-biased culture, and are continuing their plan to meet TDs in the region, once the Constitutional Convention begins and gets to the Blasphemy item. All are welcome.
  • Saturday 24 November, 3:30 pm, Wynn’s Hotel,  Abbey St., Dublin 1 (map)
    Sanal Edamaruku will be talking publicly about blasphemy laws worldwide. All are welcome. Sanal is the president and founder of Rationalist International and is himself fighting blasphemy charges in his native India instigated by the Catholic Church after he pointed out that a proclaimed ‘miracle’ of a weeping statue was due to nothing more mysterious than a blocked drain and capillary action.
  • Sunday 25 November, 12:00 pm, Galway Lawn Tennis Club, Galway (map)
    Humanists West, Galway will be holding their monthly meeting. Facebook event page
  • Sunday 25 November, Cork, details to be announced
    Sanal Edamaruku will be speaking in Cork on blasphemy. We’ll have more details during the week.
  • Monday 26 November, National University of Ireland, Galway (map)
    Sanal Edamaruku will be speaking on blasphemy in an event jointly hosted by Atheist Ireland and the Atheist and Humanist Society at NUIG. Full details to follow.
  • Tuesday 27 November, Belfast (tentative)
    We are working on arranging an event in Belfast with Sanal Edamaruku.
  • Wednesday 28 November, The Munster Bar, Waterford (map)
    Waterford Skeptics in the Pub. Geoff Lillis of Geoff’s Shorts will be talking about his encounters with street preachers in Dublin. This will be an extended and updated version of  a talk he gave at Dublin Atheists in the Pub. Facebook event page

That’s it for another week. Till next time, take care.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday