If you’ve been following the news lately you will know that the Iona Institute have very conservative views on marriage and abortion rights: patrons of the self-styled ‘institute’ have appeared on various TV and radio shows over the last number of weeks to talk about some of the current major issues in Irish society at the moment. I was thinking recently about some of the positions held by the Iona Institute. While I expect them to be at odds with my own beliefs and opinions, I wasn’t really expecting the Iona Institute to have stances that, in fact, contradict and defeat each other.

Observation 1: Abortion Rights

In general, the Iona Institute is anti-choice. Not only do they not want abortion to be allowed when suicide ideation is a risk factor to a woman’s life, they also do not want abortion to be allowed even in cases of rape or incest. Their view is that the future person should not be “punished” for something they had no control over, as an abortion would then create two victims: the rape victim and the foetus.

The Iona Institute made a submission recently to the Committee for Health and Children with respect to the Oireachtas hearings on abortion in January, which outline their stance on abortion in the cases rape or incest. You can download the submission from the Oireachtas website.

Observation 2: Marriage Rights

The Iona Institute is in favour of traditional marriage, as it believes that the reason for marriage is to produce children, and those children would fare best in their upbringing if their biological parents were married. This idea is used to argue against same-sex marriage.

The Iona Institute consider adoption as a last resort of sorts, and are also against surrogacy and lone parenthood for similar reasons: it goes against their traditional and conservative view of what should be a family.

The Question

I have no doubt that the Iona Institute have conviction in their beliefs on both of these matters, but I’m not sure that they consider them to be conflicting in some circumstances.

If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, does the Iona Institute believe that the woman and the rapist should marry to form the traditionalist family unit to cater for the child’s upbringing, or does the Iona Institute believe that a woman in this case should be allowed to abort the pregnancy?

This question is, of course, loaded. But the absurdity is there to make a point: Iona’s positions on certain matters are conflicting, and the only way to resolve those conflicts is to introduce “well that would be a special case” clauses in their points. However, in doing so, the Institute would thereby undermine and contradict their own opinions if they effectively said “yes, abortion after rape is acceptable” or “it’s okay to have a non-traditional family”.

The Iona Institute’s regressive thinking on important social and personal matters does not do this country any service. While they have every right to speak about issues, they twist reality and facts in such a way that their views appear perfectly acceptable to those who haven’t really formed an opinion. The spreading of misinformation and ignorance of reality by the conservative right is unhelpful when Ireland simply wants to move forward and provide loving and safe equality for all.