A massive pro-life rally took place in Dublin, Ireland over the weekend signaling a huge opposition to the latest bid to repeal the 8th Amendment and legalize abortion. Ireland still has a majority Catholic population, and abortion has been illegal for hundreds of years.
Originally ruled illegal under sections 58 and 59 of the Offenses against the Person Act 1861, an amendment prohibiting terminations was ratified by a referendum held on September 7, 1983. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. Exceptions are made when the life of the woman is at risk, including a risk of suicide.
Now, under new Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, there is a push to ease abortive restrictions. “I certainly think that can all be done within this calendar year, within the lifetime of this Government,” Mr Varadkar said this week, as reported by Independent.ie.
Varadkar said that a referendum is due to be held in May. In the 1983 referendum, 841,233 voted to keep the amendment outlawing abortion, while 416,136 voted to repeal the amendment.
“Notwithstanding a few delays along the way, we are actually on track the legislation is now in the Dáil and I am confident that we can have a referendum in May and that would allow us to get legislation through within a matter of months,” Mr. Varadkar added.
“We have been working away on that legislation, the policy paper is already done will be able to publish a draft scheme of general scheme of the legislation, we plan to do that by the end of March and if there is a yes vote in the referendum we would then have a couple of months to get that legislation through.”
But despite Varadkar’s optimism, a recent march on the streets of Dublin illustrated the existence of an absolutely massive pro-life community – and they want their voices heard. Crowd estimates varied from “tens of thousands” to 100,000.
People traveled from right across the country to attend the march. “I am canvassing three times a week and people are pro-life, they are just afraid to say it,” said Deirdre Lawless, a schoolteacher from the west of Ireland.
Up to 100,000 marched for LIFE in the streets of Dublin, Ireland, for the dignity of the human person and for the protection of the preborn. Ireland, we are cheering for you to stand strong against the abortion lobby and #Savethe8th.
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) March 13, 2018
Interestingly, the thousands of pro-lifers were not recognized by one political party. There were people from all different walks of life and political affiliations, united around one central goal – the continued protection of the unborn. As one of the speaker’s put it: “They have awoken a sleeping giant.”
“By any measure, it was one of the largest demonstrations in recent years and will certainly go down as the biggest single event of the abortion referendum campaign,” wrote Declan Ganley at the Irish Times. “The significance of this will probably not be lost on the political class. These voters, who are remarkably engaged, represent a significant percentage of the population.”