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STATE & RELIGION SITTING IN THE TREE.
K-I-S-S-I-N-G

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Economists, criminologists, police officials, scientists and politicians all stood around scratching their heads. The anticipated apocalyptic rise in crime across the US in the early 1990s had inexplicably never reared it's head, rather, a hefty decline slowly emerged.

Explanations and reasonings were thrown around by all of those whose prior pre- dictions were found to be false, with the front runners being related to increased reliance on prisons, changes in the drug market, innovative policing, ageing of the population, tougher gun control, and a stronger economy. It never crossed any- ones minds that it came down to the fact that the likely criminals had actually never been born.

As explored in 2005 pop culture phenomenon Freakonomics written by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner and then more thoroughly in Harvard's The Quarterly Journal of Economics (May 2001), the dramatic, apparently inexplicable, drop in crime can be accredited to one little Miss who got the U.S Supreme Court on her side back in 1973.

With five states already leaving women to decide what to do with their own bodies, it was the ruling in the 1973 Roe vs Wade trial where it was decided that fundamentally when a woman does not want to go through rearing and giving birth, she usually has a good reason.

During the early 1990's, right when criminologist James Alan Fox amongst many, had predicted a “blood-bath” of crime and violence, the first myrmidon of children who would have been born under circumstances that are associated with optimal criminal breeding situations (life of poverty and single parent household) would have been hitting their late teens. Crime began to fall and the statistics, facts and irrefutable information call ‘BULLSHIT' on the other, more front page published reasonings and point us to what was actually missing – the children who stood the greater chance of becoming criminals in the first place.

One particular study has shown that within the earliest years of legalised abortions the typical child would have been 50% more likely than average to live in poverty and 60% more likely to grow up with just one parent. Obviously criminals are bred in multiple circumstances, half of the rich bitches in the Bling Ring for example, but with these statistics combined with the results of another study showing that low maternal education is the single most powerful factor leading to criminality it was concluded. To spell it out with a quote from Freakonomics itself,

“Legalised abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalised abortion, therefore, led to less crime.”

The United States - home of the Victorian-era sexual censorship laws and disturbingly relaxed gun control laws - had come to the decision to end governing a woman and her right to choice in 1973. The United Kingdom, courtesy of politician/man with a plan David Steel, beat them to the punch by passing the Abortion Act in 1967. Yet for some bizarre reason, in 2016, a 21-year old Northern Irish woman was found guilty and sentenced to 3 months jail time for terminating her unwanted pregnancy.

With abortion being one of the few things keeping Catholic and Protestant politicians in cahoots within Northern Ireland, it seems that the outdated notion (which is older than the invention of the lightbulb) will remain in play. Women in Northern Ireland who find themselves in a situation considered by the vast majority of western civilisation as potentially detrimental for themselves as well as the foetus, can find themselves facing the harshest criminal penalty in all of Europe. If they do not travel to a private clinic in neighbouring England or Wales for a safe and globally approved procedure, or if they cannot afford the costly visit and have to rely on ordering abortion pills online, they can face the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for themselves and any found accomplice.

The unnamed 21-year old 'convict' was dobbed in by her flatmates at the time, which brings us to another issue with the Victorian-era abortion laws. The women who find themselves in the emotionally and physically stressful situation of being unwittingly pregnant and cannot afford the expensive excursion to deal with the situation maturely and legally, wind up taking matters into their own hands via the internet. Dutch charities such as Women on Web and Women Help Women are two platforms offering priceless advice and even more important, price friendly abortion pills to women throughout Northern Ireland. Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills are considered safe and reliable in terminating a pregnancy up to 10 weeks in. However, with Northern Ireland offering up life sentences for women taking what should be their ungoverned decision into their own hands, these women are living in fear.

Did their postman notice the stampage?
Did their friend see the bottle on the bedside table?
Did the nurse get suspicious of the otherwise healthy young woman miscarrying?

In what can only be described as a 1984-esque state of being discovered and prosecuted, nurses fear for the women too afraid to come forward when some- thing may go astray, like septic haemorrhaging, in fear of unfair prosecution.

While Northern Irish women currently have extraordinarily limited rights to their own bodily functions, back in the US, women are the subject in a fight between three middle-aged men as they argue over what should happen with women's bodies. While in the race towards Republican candidacy Ted Cruz recently voted to approve several abortion bans with no exception for rape victims. Governor John Kasich expressed that he plans to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio. And Donald Trump? Where do I even start with Donald Trump.

While expressing a strong Pro-Choice stance back in 1999, Trump was caught out stating that women who sought out abortions should receive 'some sort of punishment'. Trump and his party immediately tried to back peddle but the dam- age had been done and the quote reprinted and screen shots retweeted. Not only has he flipped a 180 on his previous stance, but also pledged to fight for the reversal of ObamaCare cheers to it's abortion funding loopholes. When asked about his change of heart it apparently comes down to a friend of his who de- spite originally wanting to abort a pregnancy, opted to have the child, ’and the child is incredible’....

As previously mentioned, as well as seemingly obvious when using ones common sense, every pregnancy and birth is circumstantial, which apparently is also Trumps opinion on abortion laws as he managed to take five different positions within 3 days. Granting that this flippant behaviour is alarming in itself, the most distressing point is the amount of men who's opinions get the most airtime, news pages and subsequent actions being taken regarding this matter to begin with.

We are living in 2016. We are individuals within a western culture with an abundance of choices available relating to all aspects of the lives we lead, all of which are protected by governing laws. However, women in a “developed” nation such as Northern Ireland, which ultimately should be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), are actually living in fear of making personal decisions about their bodies and the potential of copping harsh jail time.

Ireland was one of the original countries involved in the ECHR and protecting the fundamental freedoms of it's people back in 1950. More than sixty five years lat- er, Northern Ireland finds itself in serious breach of some of these rights, primarily

Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (right to not be degradingly treated or punished). While many Pro Life enthusiasts counter claim several of the articles in de- fence of their beliefs, such as Article 9 (freedom of thought) and Article 2 (right to life), Article 7 (can't use these articles to cancel out another) disagrees. Basically, Article 9 (freedom of thought) does not get to trump Article 2 (Life), Article (Torture), Article 8 (Privacy), Article 10 (Expression) and Article 14 (Discrimination).

Amnesty International, of course, has something to say on the matter as the issue is now violating UK's International Human Rights obligations as well as the Euro- pean Convention thanks to the refusal to make abortions available, especially in the harrowing cases of rape or fatal foetal abnormalities. Northern Irish Amnesty International Program Director, Patrick Corrigan, claims that the Westminster government 'must intervene' if Northern Ireland continue to govern and gamble with women's emotional and physical wellbeing.

While intervention is threatened it may not come to that. Gladys Ganiel, a research fellow at Queens University Belfast, draws attention to the generational changes in public opinion, “Until a generation ago, the conservatism of the churches was reflected in public attitudes. There’s now a silent majority which is more liberal on issues such as abortion and homosexuality than their public representatives in politics or in the churches.”

While we wait for the women of Northern Ireland to gain basic and fair decision making allowance over their own bodies and political men to argue amongst themselves within the United States, we can reflect on other seemingly ridiculous and outdated laws currently in place. In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman's helmet, however in Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store.

Unmarried women within the borders of Florida who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed and the women of Vermont must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.

While these laws all have humorous connotations to them for their ludicrous nature and make great trivia night knowledge, the fact the legality of women in Northern Ireland and their rights to abortion is on this list is neither humorous nor trivial.