Monday, May 13, 2013

They're Coming For Your Condoms

It has been four decades since contraceptives obtained a semblance of legality in Ireland, our supreme court ruling that the constitutional right to marital privacy allowed their use but not their sale. It was not until 1978 that legislation was finally introduced to allow their purchase, the transaction hampered somewhat by a requirement to produce a valid prescription. I'm thankful to the IFPA and Richard Branson for taking the expedient step back in 1990 of openly selling condoms in Virgin Megastores. This forced the government's hand somewhat and in a relatively expedient three years it became possible for citizens of this fine state to buy condoms without an approving doctor's note. I was thirteen at the time.

I choose to celebrate this milestone of two score years with a quick jaunt through some notable anti abortion rights campaigners to see if they view access to contraceptives as a positive step or if they yearn for the days before Durex.

Human Life International Ireland

Patrick McCrystal, looks healthy but pulls faces like a meth connoisseur."I do believe contraception is one of the most potent ideological tools that those who are seeking to destroy the Catholic family are using to dismantle that institution... Ultimately when it's all stripped away it's a battle between the forces of evil and the forces of good. Ultimately Satan and the Lord almighty, and both armies, both commanders have armies in their control, diametrically opposed, the culture of life and the culture of death."Patrick McCrystal, supernatural battle strategist, liar who pretends vaccines cause autism, chair of Human Life International Ireland

"If we the Catholic community repent of our contraception and pornography and sex education in our schools and promiscuity and we repent of our silence as we allow these things to happen then perhaps God in His mercy might avert the abortion scourge...

We're based in Knock Ireland where the Lamb of God appeared and He has a message for the world and when the world turns back to him everything changes and He has the final say." - Patrick McCrystal again, sounding more than a mite batty.

You may not have heard of McCrystal's surreal troupe. They operate a group called 'Ask Majella', a self-described crisis pregnancy agency that alternates between showing pictures of weeping saints to discourage abortion and lying about abortion's effects, describing it as a step that will lead to "a life of drink, drugs and crime." This resolute rejection of reality is supported by his organisation's Irish charitable tax status.

Precious Life (Youth Defence's 'sister organisation')

Bernadette Smyth. The hat prevents the government from reading her thoughts.
"The Labour government has already spent over £300 million trying to reduce teenage pregnancy by promoting so-called “safe-sex”. But their promotion of condoms, contraceptive pills, the morning-after-pill, and various other steps taken to promote so-called ‘safe sex’, have all been counter-productive and are a complete failure. The evidence from abstinence programmes in other countries like USA shows it’s the only safe and effective strategy to reduce teenage pregnancies, abortions, and STDs. This has to be the way forward in Ireland and the UK" - Bernadette Smyth, hat wearer, chair of Precious Life

It is perhaps instructive to those wishing to judge Smyth's honesty to note that teenage pregnancies in the UK are at their lowest level since the 1960's. (This is also true of Ireland.) But what of abstinence programmes in the US, as favoured by Smyth? Overall the States averages a teen pregnancy rate of 35 per 1,000, a figure dragged considerably higher by states who eschew advice on contraception and focus on abstinence programmes. If you seek an area that leads the developed world in STD rates, you need look no further than states that recoil from comprehensive sex education. Hard data and reality do not seem to dampen Smyth's spirits, but perhaps this is unsurprising from someone who believes that abortion is a plot run by "the Mafia and the Jews".

Youth Defence

In 2006 they tasked Dr Eshan Dias of Sri Lanka with talking on "chastity education programmes" and "explaining the evils of contraception and the contraceptive mentality". Some light reading reveals that he feels a plot by the United States and United Nations is afoot do depopulate his country with "birth control gadgets and potions." I give him a rating of three tinfoil hats and a cabin in the wilderness.

Meanwhile, back in Youth Defence's 60a Capel Street headquarters, an organisation called the Mother and Child Campaign (which shares staff, office space and phone lines with Youth Defence) "strongly reject the view muted by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency that the answer to crisis pregnancy is widespread access to contraception and sex education." They continue with a frankly perplexing analogy that "[e]ducating young people about sex is like giving a child matches to play with it is inevitable that they would want to experiment. Naturally this would lead to countless unplanned pregnancy[sic - and on a side note, it's a bit of a pain having to correct Youth Defence's grammar whenever I quote them.]." When I was young I learned that matches start fires, and if I didn't want to get burnt I shouldn't rub the match against the sandpaper. This advice did not make my childhood unsafe.

Life Institute

Also occupying 60a Capel Street and sharing office space and staff with Youth Defence, this front entirely separate organisation found itself so incensed that Positive Options were recommending condoms that they told the bishops to intervene. I'm sure they've said something else equally ridiculous but I've no energy left to read their site.

I am not aware of any adult in my circles who has not used contraception. We should not forget that it was a long, slow struggle to get this right, and there are those who would take it away from us.

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