In 1983 Ireland was given a referendum to vote on an amendment to already existing abortion laws imposed by the state which after a 67% majority led to a overwhelming victory for the pro-life movement and a further restriction of choice for women who fall pregnant, regardless of situation or reason. Abortion was already illegal and had been since 1861 under the Catholic mandate which fundamentally read that a unborn fetus was recognized as a person but the motion meant that a prenatal organism was to be given the same rights as the yet to be mother. The assembly of Ireland, (The Dáil Éireann ) voted 110 to 32 in favour of holding a referendum which can potentially abolish the archaic abortion law in Ireland, (called the 8th amendment) and give women the right to say NO.
If the amendment is abolished then it would mean women can go through the procedure on their home soil rather than travel to other nations which they can currently do without fear of prosecution, but the latter is only due to the clauses that have been implemented over the years, not because of the kdness of the motion made thirty five years ago.
The piously outdated abortion laws in Ireland stands sharp to the wind when they are understood as human rights violations mandated by the state, motioned by the church and make any opportunity for life more important than the rights of any woman in the country. The division between defence and repeal is fundamentally a grave appendage of the battle between what has been the open nerve of disunion in the country for centuries, Catholic vs Protestant. The war of faith isn’t something I wish to go too deep into here, but do not disband the truth that it all ties back to which church you belong to.
There are some that believe the small clauses that have been indented on the amendment since 1983 are a laxing in opinion, slowly swaying public thought toward a successful ballot tomorrow. But the lengths that activists are going to in championing the NO campaign are divulging another truth. On the street outside Irish Parliament yesterday a man was pacing up and down with a sign around his neck which read ‘yes voters, you should have been aborted’. In Donegal a No campaigner planted 17’000 small white crosses on a road in commemoration for every child that shall never be born in Ireland if the YES movement hails a victory. It’s a number of extremes but it symbolises exactly what this means to those who thinks the country will lose it’s way if religious authority is undermined in any way.
The vote on repealing article 40.3.3 of the constitution tomorrow has the potential to be an historical monument for human rights but I don’t think this will be the cultural epoch of our time. If we look at the last row of milestones in history they’ve been allowed to be codified into law not because of a tempering in the consensus but because landmark cases in small sections of the country. In 2015 the supreme court of the United States ruled that same sex marriage must be hailed under the recognition question which was a result of the case Obergefell vs Hodges. Even though pastors in various states have refused to marry couples of the same gender on religious grounds by law their human rights must be recognised, and now so must the freedoms of the Gaelic women.
And of course I do like the gleam supplied by surprises in all their forms. A poll in 2016 by the market research agency Ipsos had a turnout of 67% wanting to repeal the amendment and one held in April of this year had the result at 63% in favour. There are many that wish for the laws to be changed but only in specialist circumstances and others that would prefer the UK model where it is the right of the woman to abort if she so wishes at a time before it would become harmful to the child in utero.
I am hoping within the next 48 hours that the religion of sectarianism has a distinct milestone left at the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral and in the hands of Pope Francis when he visits Ireland in August and draw a line in the sand of today. It won’t end the hoary feud between the Catholic church and human rights but for now the people of Ireland have an opportunity to give women in Ireland what they rightfully deserve, human rights and the right to be recognised as an individual in control of their own destiny.