Fintan O'Toole: Coveney would take us back to era of lying women

Having to make rape claim to access abortion services recipe for deceit and hypocrisy

From 1963 onwards, the pill was imported into Ireland to keep menstrual anarchy at bay. This involved lying on a heroic scale. Photograph: Getty Images

From 1963 onwards, the pill was imported into Ireland to keep menstrual anarchy at bay. This involved lying on a heroic scale. Photograph: Getty Images

It’s time to talk about lying women. About brazen bare-faced female mendacity – and why some people want more of it.

 In the history of feminine deceit in Ireland there is a special place for the cycle regulator. Younger readers unfamiliar with the phrase may well ask, like the guard in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, “Is it about a bicycle?” It is not about a bicycle but it is another masterpiece of blackly comic Irish fiction. The contraceptive pill was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1960. Ireland, however banned the importation of contraceptives. But there was an Irish solution to this Irish problem: if women told their doctors that they had problems with irregular menstrual cycles, the pill could be prescribed as a regulator. Contraception would be a mere (and of course utterly unintentional and highly regrettable) side effect. From 1963 onwards, the pill was imported into Ireland to keep menstrual anarchy at bay.

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