Exclusive - that cabinet abortion debate in full

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

A group of mainly male people in advanced middle age sit around a table and discuss whether women should live or die and how they should reproduce in future.

Guy with beard: Six and six don't make twelve, they make six, or else twelve, in two phases. The criteria are quite extensive and because all of them act in different ways it is a bit like a multiplier. One and one makes two and two and two make four but four by four makes 16 and not four and four makes eight and so it is with this. It's a logistical, logarithmic progression, there is nothing simple about it.

Minister number 1:Psst! Wake up.

Minister number 2: Wha? , wha? Jaysus you gave me a fright. Ah for the love of..., is yer man still on about the abortion thing? I've to announce yet another virtual reality job creation thing in an hour.

1: Unfortunately, yes. He's doing his usual 'making two pig's ears out of a pig's ear' act.

2: Haven't I heard all that that logarithmic progression stuff before?

1: Yes, actually, aul Bottler may well be playing a blinder here. He's transposing his criteria for choosing the primary care centres to the criteria for deciding whether a suicidal woman should have an abortion that could save her life and how many medics need to assess her state of mind. Of course, no-one really has a Scooby Doo about what he's on about.

2: You have to admit it, it borders on accidental genius. That's the problem with yer man - the line between total incompetence and genius is very narrow indeed.

1: Oh no, they're bargaining now. Are those poker chips?

Guy with Beard: I'll see your six consultants and raise six more...

2: Reminds me of a particular biblical scene involving Roman soldiers sometime around Easter.

1: Or bishops arguing about how many of those angels fit on the head of a pin.

2: Remind me again, exactly why are we debating this?

1: Oh , the usual thing. Politics of the latest atrocity. A woman who had had cancer got all unreasonable about being pregnant and went to the European Court. A woman died., Look, sorry for your trouble and all that but do people not realise we have important work to do? The country's broke, and we're supposed to be fixing it. Gosh, did I say that out loud?

Guy with Beard: It will be a two-tiered logarithmic process. Relevant hospital centres will be chosen, with extensions built to maternity wards to accommodate a sufficient number of consultants queing up to give an opinion on whether a woman should have a termination...

2: This is getting a bit medieval. Pinch me again, it is the 21st century, isn't it? I didn't get mouldy drunk on 31.12.99 for nothing did I?

1: Also, I should point out that using all these consultants, who are already very busy, is a terrible waste of scarce health resources. Surely there's a better way?

2: Perhaps the doctor could just give this trollop who's pretending to be suicidal some really filthy looks, to guilt her out, like.

I: Or even better- we could use a psychic on the woman. You know, to look into the future to find out...

2. Yeah, I get the picture. I never really know when you're beings serious. Or there's always the ducking stool...or we could throw her into a river and if she floats she's lying, and if she drowns she's probably telling the truth.

I: Now you're being silly. This is a very serious business pal.

2: Then why aren't we listening to beardy?

Guy with Beard: A very strong consensus emerged that identifying 35 doctors to assess the need for a termination would stimulate and encourage wider interest and participation… However, because of the weighting I mentioned – namely, the multiplication of the 'woman lying through her teeth about suicide ideation' index by three... under the original priority system, consultant psychiatrists would have been in the top 35 but under the new system, with an altered weighting, they ended down the list. The realities had not changed but the weighting made it look as if they had...

1: I could be wrong, but I think Bottler's plan is coming a teeny bit off the rails.

2: Anyway, It's not a very socialist solution. I am a socialist after all. You know, women's rights and all that...

1: I told you not to make me laugh too much - I've just had a hernia operation, remember.

2: Did you have 27 consultants...

1: It's 27 now is it? Or is it 35? I've totally switched off from what beardy is saying.

2: Did you have 27 consultants gathered round your bed to check if you really needed your operation?

1: Anyway, back to you being a socialist. Have you informed that to your constituents who've had their dole cut or their kid's allowance reduced about your inscrutable ideals? They could do with a good laugh in these troubled times for our economy and society and I feel your pain etc.

2: Ooh, Satire. You should be on the stage.

1: I know, the next one leaves town in half an hour. I kinda wish I could really be on it actually...

Man with Beard: In addition, there will be two beauticians and two vets involved in the assessment process....

2: Jaysuys, I think we can now officially confirm that his plan has come off off the rails. Like, there's the rails over there and this is the plan, buried in the desert sand with tumbleweed cascading around it.

Guy with Beard:...and two panellists from X Factor....

1: Whoops. Stand by yer beds, One of the 'women ministers' is getting up to speak. Start nodding seriously. Fancy a spread bet on exactly when one of them is going to say 'as a woman...?'

1: You really are a very rude man. I personally and speaking on behalf of myself have felt a great sense of personal freedom since I embraced feminism. Just like you and socialism, I suppose.

2: Right now, I'm just wondering whether the property market will have recovered enough for me to resume my solicitor's practice in three years time.

1: What do you mean? Oh, yeah, I get it. Now you're totally killing me buzz. I just had two Red Bulls in the Dail bar, otherwise I'd never get through these Cabinet meetings.

2: Anyway, be sure to remind me to fill in for the old expenses after this. Hark! What's that Bottler's singing?

Guy with Beard (singing): You can bend but never break me
                                      'Cause it only serves to make me
                                       More determined to achieve my final goal
                                       And I come back even stronger
                                       Not a novice any longer
                                      'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul...

1: 'I am Woman' by Helen Reddy, if memory serves. Sorry, I'm getting a bit emotional here. I'm just remembering this: 'On the 25th February 2011 a democratic revolution took place in Ireland. Old beliefs, traditions and expectations were blown away.'

2: What's that when it's at home?

1: The Programme for Government (sniff). Remember that?

2: Got any Red Bull left?

Abortion:time for Ireland to grow up




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