Sunday, 21 October 2012

John Larkin and Marie Stopes


Over the last few days there has been a lot of coverage in the local media, newspapers, radio and television, about a comment on abortion that was made by the Attorney General, John Larkin QC, prior to his appointment to the office.  It was his own personal opinion about a serious ethical issue and one that he was perfectly entitled to make.
Indeed it is worth recalling what he actually said.  Larkin was on a panel on the Sunday Sequence programme on Radio Ulster, along with Dawn Purvis, who now heads up the Marie Stopes operation in Belfast.  When he was asked about whether abortion would ever be justified in the case of foetal abnormality, Mr Larkin said: 'If one is prepared to contemplate the destruction of a highly disabled, unborn child in the womb, one should also be prepared to contemplate, I think, putting a bullet in the back of the head of the child two days after it's born.'

Ms Purvis described his comments as a disgrace, saying it was such language that 'criminalises women' and made Northern Ireland 'the backwater that it is'.  Mr Larkin then replied: 'Help me out Dawn, tell me the logical distinction between destroying the unborn child in the womb, seconds before birth and putting a bullet in the head of the child two days after it's born.'

Since Friday newspaper and other media reports have used words such as 'outcry', 'astonishment' and 'fury' and on Saturday the Belfast Telegraph had the story on page 1 and page 2 under a headline - 'Attorney General facing a storm of criticism over radio comments on abortion'.

However this is very much a media-generated controversy.  I haven't heard anyone outside the media commenting on it and it is certainly not a subject that comes up in general conversation.
Moreover there is a certain irony about these attacks on John Larkin.  They arose in the context of the opening of a Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast, so perhaps the supporters of the clinic will consider renaming their clinic since Marie Stopes herself took a position on abortion that was virtually identical with that taken by John Larkin, in what was a personal comment on an ethical issue!
Marie Stopes, who died in 1958, always opposed abortion, unlike the organisation and the clinic that bear her name.

in 1938 she wrote to the Courier-Mail newspaper in Brisbane saying, 'I was glad you gave space to the fact that the Queensland Medical Association is planning "an extensive educational campaign against the evil of abortion".  The majority of married women do not realise the frightful injury they do to themselves and to their possible future children by an abortion.'

Moreover, she was a friend of the American writer Avro Manhattan and when a female friend of Manhattan had an abortion, Marie Stopes accused him of murdering the child! 

However I haven't heard any pro-abortionists demanding the removal of Marie Stopes name from the clinic.  Neither have I heard representatives of the Marie Stopes clinic being questioned in the media about the fact that the person whose name the clinic bears described abortion as murder. 

But maybe that's too difficult a question for some of our local media.


1 comment:

  1. We should also remember Nelson that as well as being anti-semitic Marie Stopes was also violently anti-Catholic.


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