It would appear that the apparent rush to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Irish Constitution has been ill-thought out. Over the past few years, a small (but vocal) number of Irish politicians and journalists had decided that Ireland needed to be modernised and started to present public opinions as “matter of fact”, in an attempt to soften up public opinion. With the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland three years ago, politicians such as the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health, Simon Harris presumed that the legalisation of abortion would be greeted with the same enthusiasm. They had made the mistake of lumping abortion with “social progression”, while failing to acknowledge the many well-documented abuses that go on within the industry. These two men are amongst up-and-coming politicians who are eager to put their personal “stamp” on Ireland and to be recorded as the people who shaped and modernised Ireland. Abortion is simply a career stepping stone to them.
Harris and Varadkar have mistaken abortion as mostly a Catholic cause and failed to realise that millennials are increasingly prolife. They are also apparently unaware that the prolife movement is as diverse as any other: Secular Pro-life, Rehumanize International and Prolife Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, to name but a few. Various international groups have stood in solidarity with Ireland, both religious and secular, including Feminists for Life and in August, Life Matters interviewed Niamh Uí Bhriain of The Life Institute in Ireland. However, many Irish politicians are choosing to ignore all of this, as it doesn’t suit their agenda.
From the beginning, the Citizens’ Assembly was a farce and the careful selection of certain speakers made it clear that the Irish government had already expected a certain outcome, even before the whole process had begun. Questionable figures such as Gilda Sedgh from the Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research arm) were invited, and treated as an “abortion expert” (as though that were some sort of kudos) while conveniently ignoring the federal investigation currently underway in Planned Parenthood, regarding the illegal sales of aborted babies’ body parts. The fact that Sedgh was invited and treated as some sort of VIP speaks volumes about the mindset of the Citizens’ Assembly.
The prejudice of the Irish and British media has been well documented to date. The Prolife Campaign previously revealed this bias in their 33-1 study, where in a specific period of time, 33 pro-choice articles were published in Irish media, while only one pro-life article appeared in that time. Despite boasting about their journalistic “openness”, the Guardian ignored the 100,000 attendees at the Rally for Life in Dublin on the 8th of March but waxes lyrical on every Irish abortion advocate bit of news they find.
Then there was the recent article that was carried in the Irish Times, Journal.ie and in the Irish Examiner, claiming that 75% of Irish doctors were happy to perform abortions if the referendum passed. Within hours, it transpired that this had been a Twitter feed and anyone could have answered the question, not necessarily doctors. A real doctor came forward to comment on the situation. Dr Máire Neasta Nic Gearailt stated that no-one in the Irish government has consulted the Irish medical establishment regarding the sheer practicalities that this would ensue, including the lack of ultrasounds in GPs’ clinics to establish how many weeks a woman is pregnant, to handing out abortion pills in family medical clinics and attempting to deal with abortive side-effects in a busy surgery.
Indeed, passing a law permitting abortion to 12 weeks without any restriction would make Ireland one of the most permissive countries in the world, even more lenient than the UK, which as dubious as its application, still has a law in place regarding “mental health”. And with no clarification in place whatsoever for after 12 weeks would allow in Ireland the possibility of abortion on demand for any reason, up to birth. There are only seven countries out of 198 nations who allow abortion to birth, to which Ireland could be added. These include North Korea and China, both well-established as having extreme human rights violations. And considering that Britain has restrictions between 24 weeks and up to birth, this could turn Ireland into an “abortion tourist” region, with British women travelling to Ireland for late-term abortions, having been turned down in the UK. This is a seriously worrying situation.
So what’s the referendum really about?
As Cora Sherlock, head of The Prolife Campaign and a lawyer, has discussed in detail, this is a power grab by Irish politicians to dismantle any parts of the Irish Constitution that they take issue with. As Sherlock points out, the Constitution was set up to protect Irish citizens from these very situations – to prevent the Irish government from attacking the vulnerable. So it would very much appear that the abortion situation is a “test case” for the Irish government to see how far they can go – what exactly they can get away with, in the future.
This is an unbelievable opportunity for Ireland to lead the way in true progression and social evolution – the concept of equally caring for and respecting both mother and unborn child.
The whole world is watching.