Dr Anne McCloskey: Candidate moves to clarify comments

Derry GP Dr Ann Mc Closkey announced, at a public meeting in the Maldron Hotel on Monday evening, that she will run as an Independent MLA. DER4015GS

Derry GP Dr Ann Mc Closkey announced, at a public meeting in the Maldron Hotel on Monday evening, that she will run as an Independent MLA. DER4015GS

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A Derry GP who is running as an Independent candidate in the Stormont election has moved to clarify comments attributed to her about the sexual health of women in Derry at a hustings events in the city earlier this week.

On Tuesday, at an event at the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities in Derry, Dr McCloskey made comments about the wider issue of abortion which included her saying the Derry women regard themselves as “receptacles for men’s semen”.

As a result there were a series of condemnatory statements from other candidates on the panel at the political debate.

In statement released this morning , Dr McCloskey said the following: “ On reading the local newspapers and social media this week I see that I’ve been subjected to a bit of selective editing by the pro-abortion lobby who are standing in the upcoming elections.

“Although my campaign is based around issues affecting people’s daily lives such as poverty, unemployment, lack of services and so on, the abortion question keeps turning up anywhere the enthusiasts gather.

“Their sensitivities were offended, it seems, by my discussion of the issues I deal with daily as a GP, regarding women, men and frequently children who are sexually active, and at risk of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

“What I was trying to convey, in terms which were misinterpreted, or maybe just misunderstood, was the vulnerability and low self-esteem of many women in our society. In doing so I used arguments and terminology which are well rehearsed in feminist literature, but which were obviously were not appreciated by those present.

“Popular culture often reduces women to sex objects, and some have not the tools to fight back. Many suffer from hopelessness and low self-worth compounded by educational disadvantage, unemployment or zero hours contracts, low wages, drugs, alcohol and lack of social support. Their relentless comparison with photo-shopped, surgically enhanced perfection increases their vulnerability.

Likewise young men often have expectations driven by what they download onto their phones from the internet-not likely to provide healthy models for successful and meaningful relationships. Peer pressure means that often they measure their worth in terms of conquests. They too are victims.

“These are complex issues, but honest discussion should not be feared, much less vilified.

“Abortion is not the answer, and no amount of pseudo-lefty dogma-spouting will change this. Socialists will recognise the difference between accepting received wisdom, and addressing a complex issue by reasoned analysis.

“My opinions on this subject have been informed by thirty years in the medical profession. As a registrar in the perinatal paediatric intensive care unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, I became convinced of the humanity of the preborn child. Working for twenty-five years as a GP in one of Derry’s most deprived areas means that talk I to real people about their health and relationships. These experiences daily affirm my view that abortion is never the solution. It reduces the wonder of human reproduction to a function in which the child has no autonomy but is merely the subject of someone else’s requirements.

“Maeve Mc Laughlin said that my views were “a gross insult to all women”. I advocate for women daily. She has accused me of arguing “that women should return to a subservient position”. I want all women to be empowered to do everything which they want with their lives. She implied that I am not concerned about the welfare of women in this town. I am very concerned.

My views are clear. Should Maeve or any of my other critics wish to debate this subject in a public forum, name the time and venue and I’ll be there.”