'Collapsed Catholics' go head-to-head on Ireland's abortion referendum

  • 28/05/2018

Two former Catholics have gone head-to-head in a fiery exchange about abortion.

Wine writer Mary-Therese Kinsella and RadioLIVE host Roman Travers discussed Ireland's recent vote to legalise abortion on The AM Show panel on Monday.

Ms Kinsella says she was thrilled to find out that two-thirds of the country had voted in favour of repealing its highly restrictive laws.

"I was checking my Twitter feed in a café in Mt Maunganui and burst into tears. The waitress did not know where to look. It was just absolute joy, I could not be happier."

As both an Irish woman and an ex-Catholic (who usually oppose all forms of abortion), she's had an emotional response to the result.

"A victory is one thing but that number, that 66.4 percent of Irish people wanted this, has just vindicated and overwhelmed [me]."

She pointed out that Ireland decriminalised homosexuality and divorce in the 1990s, but took a long time to develop more progressive ideas around women's rights to bodily autonomy.

"The tide is turning."

She clarified that Irish people aren't necessarily celebrating because they love abortions.

"It's not pro-abortion. If you don't want to have it, you disagree with abortion, don't have one. It's about choice."

Mr Travers had a different reaction to the Irish referendum.

"The people who made the vote were able to make the vote because they weren't aborted. Has anyone thought about that concept?"

As a self-described 'collapsed Catholic', he's "not pro-abortion at all".

"People always use extreme arguments to support whichever side they come from. Rational people don't often speak about this at all, it's people who are quite extreme."

He says while he respects Ms Kinsella's feelings about the issue, he believes it's wrong to terminate a potential human life.

"I do think about the fact that at some point this embryo, this foetus, is a person and couldn't vote."

Host Duncan Garner asked if he believed in the right to choose whether to end a pregnancy, to which Mr Travers raised the issue of babies with disabilities.

"It is choice and that's the sad thing about it to some extent, it's choice. Think about people who do have children who are handicapped, think about people that have children who aren't 'perfect' and have good lives and are loved? These people can now vote, these people have choices."

When asked if he believed in abortion in cases of rape, he called it an "extreme argument".

"People who are raped have babies who grow up to be people, normal people."

He claimed that some women have abortions because pregnancy would be "inconvenient", which Ms Kinsella vehemently disagreed with.

"I know a lot of women who have had abortions and not a single one of them has skipped into it going 'oh it doesn't fit with my timeline to have a baby right now'," she says.

"It is a difficult choice, it is a traumatising choice, but they have, now, the choice."