In the build-up to the landmark referendum held to decide the future of abortion law in Ireland, it was clear that the tide was turning in favor of the pro-abortion crowd. With the Catholic Church continuing to fade into the background of Irish society, and with pro-lifers facing increasing hostility for voicing their support for the sanctity of life, the outcome was almost inevitable.
The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, which protected the life of the mother and unborn child, was repealed. It follows that the Irish government, headed by the exceedingly liberal Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, would be urgent in their passing of legislation that essentially provides “abortion on demand” up to 12 weeks, and makes certain provisions for later-term terminations.
However, amid the rather feeble conciliatory promises of “conscientious objection,” lawmakers in favor of liberalizing Ireland’s abortion laws have shown their true colors – absolutely nothing about the implementation of easy-access abortion services will be optional. Varadkar made this abundantly clear when, just last week, he announced that even Catholic-affiliated hospitals will enjoy no exemption from performing terminations, as per the new legislation.
“It will not be possible for publicly-funded hospitals, no matter who their patron or owner is, to opt out of providing these necessary services which will be legal in this state once this legislation is passed by the Dáil and Seanad (senate),” Varadkar said, according to the BBC.
Varadkar added that the new legislation “will allow individuals to opt out based on their consciences or their religious convictions but will not allow institutions to do so.”
This is set to be an utter nightmare for many of those deeply religious and staunchly pro-life individuals involved in the management and running of these facilities.
What exactly are their options? Well, as is their right to self-determination, senior management could still flatly refuse to allow their hospitals to provide abortions – but they would likely face a hefty lawsuit and possible prosecution if they did so. As for the doctors themselves, they will now have to get used to providing preferential care for just one patient (the mother) after spending years ensuring the equal protection of both mother and child.
One thing has been made abundantly clear: now that the right to obtain an abortion has been enshrined in the Irish constitution, nothing and no-one will be allowed to get in the way.
“A right implies an obligation, after all,” wrote Carl Jacobs at Archbishop Cranmer. But is there another way for those who do not want the destruction of an innocent life on their conscience? “It’s well and good to have the right to an abortion, but what good is possessing that right if there is no one to provide the service?” suggested Jacobs.
“If too many potential suppliers simply refuse to provide an otherwise legal service, then the new law would lose in practice what it gained in theory at the ballot box.”
As for the conscientious objector clause laid out in the government’s legislative proposal, however, Jacobs is less than convinced. “Remember this: the act of granting ‘conscientious objector’ status is both an implicit claim of authority and a declaration that the objector is outside the moral norms of society” he wrote. “It is, by definition, an accommodation and not a right. The conscientious objector receives his or her status only because the government deigns to grant it, and it is kept only so long as the government suffers them to keep it. There is no moral imperative that protects the objector, for the government does not respect their moral position as legitimate.”
Through the repealing of the eighth amendment and the far-from-comprehensive provisions for objection on religious grounds, Jacobs noted that the Irish government has “relegated religious conviction to the personal sphere.”
“The claim will come back: “It’s the government’s money. It makes the rules.” Yes, that’s a good and powerful argument. It’s just a morally bankrupt argument. It justifies anything. Euthanasia will follow next. If a hospital can be compelled to kill before birth, then it certainly can be compelled to kill after birth.”