As I’ve reflected on a historic day spent in Dublin last Friday, I couldn’t help but shake the thought: was the repealing of the eighth amendment a monumental mistake?
Years in the making, the referendum on whether or not the Irish constitution should be altered to allow for the widespread legalization of abortion was a landslide victory for the “Yes” campaign. In fact, there was just one constituency out of 40 that voted a majority “No” to the constitutional amendment. It was a moment of political history that will result in grave consequences for the most vulnerable in our society.
The result shocked millions, not least the once iron-clad pro-life community in Ireland. Those who have spent years seeking to ensure the rights of the unborn are protected reacted with bewilderment, trepidation and a fair dose of horror – there is no doubt, this decision will result in thousands of future lives lost. You only have to glance at a few widely-available statistics to predict the sheer quantity of bloodshed that is to come in Ireland. In 2016, there were just 25 abortion procedures conducted within Irish borders. In England and Wales, there were 190,406.
The “Yes” campaign will talk about women’s rights, they will highlight extremely rare horror stories and medical negligence, but they will refuse to acknowledge the cold hard fact: as a result of this referendum vote, unborn babies will be lost in their thousands, and the main reason will be simple: convenience.
Don’t agree? Look at the proposed legislation or “General Scheme” put forward by Irish government, supposedly composed on a cross-party basis. This is the same legislation that Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris said will be signed through the Irish parliament without delay now that the referendum has passed. He said such an overwhelming decision to alter the constitution gives him an immediate “mandate” to introduce the legislation as soon as possible.
The General Scheme suggests unfettered abortion up to 12 weeks – absolutely no restrictions whatsoever. With just one concurring medical opinion, Irish women will be able to abort a healthy little life for the simple reason that carrying it is too much of an inconvenience to them.
The words of the legislative proposal are clear:
“It shall be lawful to carry out a termination of pregnancy in accordance with this Head where a medical practitioner certifies, that in his or her reasonable opinion formed in good faith, the pregnancy concerned has not exceeded 12 weeks of pregnancy.”
There is one token proviso: 72 hours must elapse between the doctor granting approval and the termination taking place. In this time, the life of an unborn baby will hang in the balance.
So, the laws put in place to govern the process of abortion in Ireland will become even more relaxed than the United Kingdom. Though the UK allows abortion up to 24 weeks, the Abortion Act 1967 requires that a termination may only be granted if “the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.”
None of this terminology is included in the legislation put forward in Ireland. The ramifications of such deliberate legal oversight will be devastating for Ireland’s future abortion rates. Far from equality of rights, this new legislation is the ultimate expression of a self-centered, individualistic society gone completely bzerk.
But there was little to no discussion on these crucial issues. As the media machine worked its magic to get this “historic” vote off the ground, and as an increasingly defiant crowd of young people proudly marched through Dublin’s streets with “Repeal” emblazoned across their chests, pro-lifers were shunned to the sidelines and shouted down on TV tables.
One of these passionate advocates was Maeve O Hanlon, a spokeswoman for the pro-life organization “Love Both.”
“For the last few years, there has been a narrative pushed in the press about women’s reproductive rights, and that they need abortions,” Maeve told Faithwire on referendum day. “For anyone to even mention that they are not in favor of abortion are immediately sticking their neck out.”
She’s right. As I walked around sunny Dublin City on referendum day, I could not locate a single “No” campaigner. Gangs of fervent pro-abortion advocates had shamed them into staying home.
O Hanlon also alluded to the scandalous misinformation pedaled by the media in the lead-up to the vote.
“The media has been shockingly pro-abortion,” she added. “It’s a failure of journalism in Ireland. It’s a failure of information.”
“I believe in justice and compassion,” she continued, “but what the government has offered is extreme abortion in a wide range of circumstances. People don’t want that.”
O Hanlon explained how she had been accosted with the same “extreme case” questions, such as rape, in almost every single interview. In these rare instances, she said, the people have been led to believe that abortion is the “compassionate response.” But far from wanting unlimited abortion, O Hanlon explained how most of the Irish population wanted to see some legal change that would allow for such rare and extreme cases to be dealt with in a warmer, more caring manner.
“The people were expecting to be asked will we make some minor constitutional changes, tiny tweaks to allow for these really extreme cases,” she explained. “That’s what a lot of people wanted to happen. But that’s not the question we’ve been asked.”
Maeve said that it was “tragic” that so many people were voting “Yes” on account of these extreme cases – situations for which the population had wanted to see the passing of moderate legal concessions. Instead, the government has taken the opportunity to capitalize on a tide of misguided popular opinion and has taken advantage of these heartbreaking stories to push for abortion on demand.
I myself noted many mixed messages being put forward by the “Yes” side. It appeared to me as if those in favor of repealing the amendment had not adequately addressed questions over the moral ethic of human rights – the inalienable human rights of the unborn.
Then, I spotted a sign from a famed “human rights organization,” and the heavy dose of irony almost knocked me off my feet:
But the #8thAmendment put forward "equality" between mother and unborn baby, did it not? What equality is this sign referring to @amnesty ? Confused. #irelandreferendum @faithwirenews pic.twitter.com/T8odNOZ2YW
— Will Maule (@maule_will) May 26, 2018
But this was true to form for the pro-abortion campaign – lots of talk about rights, equality and healthcare, but very few answers provided regarding the welfare, wellbeing or simple survival of the unborn. Were these defenseless beings to be granted any personhood status that exceeded the label of “parasite?” If so, at what point would the weighty classification of “human being” be bestowed upon them? Sought through both the medium of social media and face-to-face, the answers I received, if any, were ethically dubious, and in many cases, were downright bizarre.
One woman, who stood with her “Yes” placard on a main street into the city center and implored passing motorists to “honk for Yes,” even suggested that the mother should be able to determine when her unborn baby “becomes a person.”
“You can try and look at it scientifically or spiritually for when a human being becomes a human being, but it comes down to individual choice,” the campaigner, Sarah, told Faithwire. “We can’t make that defining line because it’s different for different people, for different reasons.” She said it was simply about an individual “making a choice that is right for them.”
But the question remains, why bother with abortion cut-off limits if the unborn baby is not a recognized human being?
“They’ve picked 12 weeks, and that’s been chosen for various legal reasons,” Sarah added. “The bigger question of ‘when a person becomes a person’ is impossible to answer. Some people feel that every single sperm counts. It’s just too difficult to answer that one. Something has to be picked. We just have to go with that.”
Another campaigner told me that “not even the Vatican can answer that question,” before again railroading the discussion in the direction of “women’s rights.”
“I know exactly when the life of the mother started,” he said. “We are trying to ignore that there is a mother. Under the Eighth Amendment, she doesn’t have any autonomy.”
When I again pressed him on the notion that the government has stripped the unborn fetus of personhood rights before the 12-week abortion limit, the campaigner declared that it is “not about the fetus, it’s about the mother.”
The conversation, he said, “should be less about the pregnancy and more about the person who is pregnant.” Again, we have to remind ourselves of what exactly a fetus is – it’s Latin for “offspring” and of course, abortion is: “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy.” It is the taking of an innocent life, whichever way you cut it.
Another comment I heard from the pro-abortion side on several occasions was this: “Abortion is already happening, we are just recognizing it publicly.” The insinuation here is that abortion is already widespread in Ireland and that this referendum simply indicates a popular acceptance of what is already taking place. There are several things wrong with this statement.
Firstly, it is completely false to say that abortion is taking place at a similar rate in Ireland in comparison with elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Secondly, just because something is happening, albeit illegally, in a society, does not mean that a law should be passed in order to recognize and legalize this reality. It is the ultimate show of democratic degradation when those from one side of the argument, propagated by the mainstream media, are given the privilege of defining what is ethically and morally correct. Just because the majority voted for the liberalizing of abortion law, it does not make it right.
Of course, fresh off their momentous victory, the pro-abortion crowd is now setting its sights on Northern Ireland – a sovereign nation with devolved legislative power from the British government, and strict abortion laws. As was to be expected, two leading Sinn Fein politicians, who claim to garner the Catholic vote, were spotted at the Dublin Castle’s “Yes” celebration Saturday holding placards that ominously declared “The North is next.”
Now, aside from being ham-fisted and threatening, ordering a sovereign nation to “get in line” with a tide of liberal opinion is distinctly undemocratic. Thankfully, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has already slapped down such a suggestion: “Friday’s referendum has no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland,” she said, according to the BBC. “The legislation governing abortion is a devolved matter and it is for the Northern Ireland Assembly to debate and decide such issues.”
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the associated question of “why” most women need to have access to unlimited abortion was not looked at in the debate leading up to the referendum.
The “Yes” campaign drove the false narrative that women all across Ireland were dying as a result of being denied an abortion despite having conditions in which they required immediate terminations to save their life. This is just not true – in fact, under Ireland’s “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013,” it is legal to terminate a pregnancy in the instance of a risk of loss of life from physical illness, a risk of loss of life from physical illness in emergency and a risk of loss of life from suicide.
Furthermore, it is important to note that in England and Wales, where abortion is widely available, very few terminations are carried out in order to save the mother’s life. Simply put, these instances are extraordinarily rare. In 2016, just 6 out of 190,000+ abortions conducted in England and Wales were done as emergencies to save the life of the woman. This tells us something critical: the vast majority of terminations are performed as a result of “unwanted pregnancy,” and it follows that this will soon be the case in Ireland. WIthout the Eighth Amendment, the unborn have absolutely zero constitutional protection and will lose their lives en masse as a result.
“Evidence has shown that pro-life laws do help,” Dr. Calum Miller, a medical doctor and research fellow in abortion ethics at the University of Oxford, told Faithwire. “It is not the case that if abortion access is limited, women will just have unsafe abortions. The evidence shows clearly that the number of abortions is decreased when abortion is not normalized and when access to it is limited.”
Despite these clear-cut facts and figures, the “why” question was largely ignored in the lead up to Friday’s vote. Instead, horrific (and extremely rare) cases of rape and fetal abnormality dominated the public discourse and allowed the pro-abortion campaigners to insinuate that anyone voting “No” was hell-bent on forcing raped women to carry their attacker’s baby. This was grossly unfair on those who were seeking after a balanced discussion on the key issues surrounding the referendum.
The “Yes” campaign spat out abrupt questions at pro-lifers and enjoyed watching them squirm and fumble. All the while, they fully understood that such tough questions over incredibly rare circumstances demanded a multi-faceted, compassion-led and distinctly nuanced response that could not be adequately portrayed in a 20 second window on live TV. They were, in many instances, misleading and manipulating viewers.
But the militant pro-abortion train would not be slowed, and campaigners continued to push for an extreme overhaul of Ireland’s abortion laws under the guise that the country’s “archaic” pro-life legal provisions were denying women their fundamental freedoms. Crucially, the most common “why” behind the desire to snatch away an innocent life went unanswered.
“It hasn’t been part of the narrative. It is shut down instantaneously,” O Hanlon told Faithwire. “The hallmark of this debate is that it hasn’t been a debate about real issues. It has been a debate on what the referendum should have been addressing. I would have had no problem discussing rape and life-limiting conditions all day if they were the only conditions we were voting in abortion for. But they weren’t.”
“I do know that from knocking on doors, the vast majority of people do not want abortion on demand.”
Tragically, as a result of Friday’s referendum, that is exactly what Ireland is going to get.