In a previous GP article I tried to understand the forces at play in the Irish abortion campaign. What follows is a postscript.
The final result was: 66.4% for Yes / Repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution that gave the unborn an equal right to life as the mother as far as practicable, v. 33.6% for No / Retain. The turnout was 64.1%, one of the highest in recent years.
It is truly remarkable that the Irish have reversed their position so starkly since 1983 (the first abortion referendum) and 1992 (the second one). To quote W.B. Yeats, “All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born” is quite mal-à-propos, but yes, Ireland has utterly changed and even people on the ground didn’t realise how much. It was thought there were still a large conservative, Christian core of the population. Not so. Yes won in all counties but one – young and old, city dwellers and rural folk, men and women voted with a majority for Yes. (Donegal is the only county to have voted No by a margin of 51.9% for No to 48.1% for Yes.)
But Yes to what exactly? Apparently, to trust in women, women’s human rights, equality, choice, compassion, healthcare. All luvvy buzzy words and concepts… In effect they have voted for one of the most permissive laws on abortion (a word not mentioned on the Yes posters). They have given carte blanche to their politicians. The fact that Yes won so handsomely is going to have two consequences: First the passage of the Bill is likely to be faster than it may have been if the result had been closer. Second, the TDs who are not happy with the direction of travel (the two main parties, Fine Gael and particularly Fianna Fáil are divided on the issue) will not be able to water down the bill that is on the table. They are not going to be able to do like Remain MPs and Lords do in the UK who are thwarting / watering down Brexit. The Yes mandate is such that before the end of the year it looks like there will be abortion on demand in Ireland: no reason asked within 12 weeks, only 72 hours of reflection. Then, abortion allowed within 24 weeks (viability) on certain grounds, including mental health. Not clear yet how far the clause of conscience will extend for doctors and nurses. Even though the government says it will be a GP-led service, I can’t quite see Irish surgeries and hospitals coping with the demand for approx. 6,000 abortions a year (the current figure) and I really do wonder if Irish people know what they voted for.
There is a hard core of Yes campaigners who wanted abortion on demand all along and they’re ecstatic today at the sea-change in Irish law and medical practice about to happen. But many people swallowed whole the pro-choice idea that Ireland was not a safe country for women without abortion, a more powerful emotional message than the No’s “Love them both”. It is surprising that in the midst of a medical scandal about botched smear tests with 209 women affected, 18 now dead, because the tests were outsourced to cheaper US labs, more people did not worry about the distinct possibility of lucrative abortion clinics opening up.
When the text of the abortion Bill was published on 27 March 2018, there was a gasp even among what is called the Soft Repealers: wasn’t the government shooting itself in the foot with such a permissive proposal? I certainly thought that it would be too extreme for the middle-ground Irish person! Why was the government giving in to the pro-choice lobby? And still, … the Soft Repealers voted Yes on Friday 25 May. However they were in fact saying: Yes, let’s remove the 8th Amendment from the Constitution but No, let’s not enact this Bill as is, our TD’s will have to restrict it. Today of course they’re not heard on the radio or the tv, but you’ll find them Below The Line in the Irish papers; even though BTL is not as developed and articulate as it is over here, you can still hear them.
A referendum is a blunt instrument, and maybe the Soft or Reluctant Repealers should have voted No to send the government back to the drawing-board. They were caught between two extreme choices and in the end they decided to go with the prevailing winds and join the new moral majority. But I don’t think they were jubilant on Friday night when the exit poll was revealed or on Saturday evening when the official result was announced at Dublin Castle. They were not part of the cheers and the jubilation, they were not with those saying “Women are free!” and “There is a sense of optimism for the future of this country!”
Nonetheless they might soon be steamrolled into acceptance of an abortion culture as the Yes vote is so emphatic that pro-life TDs and any shade in between will have quite a struggle for their amendments to be accepted. They’ll be smacked back with something like “the people have said Yes, knowing what they were voting Yes to, we can’t backtrack!”
It has been claimed that 52.5% of farmers voted Yes; 58.7% of the over-65’s voted Yes. It seems the middle has moved to the pro-choice side. What happened?? Without going into too much detail, there was one “hard case” too many, the Savita Case in 2012. Savita Halappanavar was a 31-year-old Indian dentist who died in Galway hospital from the complications of a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks’ gestation. Her death was the catalyst for a new emanation of the movement to repeal the 8th Amendment. It makes no doubt that it was the emotional personal stories that helped sway the vote; voters rejected the adage, “hard cases make bad law”, preferring to go by “bad law makes hard cases”.
What happened to the 80, 000 who marched through Dublin on 1 July 2017; the 100,000 who rallied on 10 March 2018? Such (unreported) numbers gave the impression there was still a sizeable pro-life constituency in Ireland. I explained above that not all Yessers are pro a liberal abortion regime. What does not leave any doubt is that, today, 723, 632 No voters + a number of the 1 million of non-voters are sick in the stomach and don’t recognise the country they live in (join the club!). But, whereas Yes activists were saying, “if No wins I’m out of there / I am not coming back”, No voters say, “I am still proud to be Irish and to live here.” And they’ll be vigilant.
The introduction of gay marriage, by referendum (May 2015), and the nomination of a gay mixed-race Taoiseach (June 2017) were sure signs that so called progressive forces were significantly gaining ground and the abortion result today is the culmination of a “quiet revolution” (Varadkar’s words), a progressive revolution.
As we know, progressives are not happy with borders and, the ballot boxes not yet put away, one can hear in disbelief amidst the cheers, the clamouring of … “the North is next”. Within a day, Amnesty International has already called on the British government to act over Northern Ireland’s “Victorian-era abortion ban” following the referendum in the Republic. Oh dear…
Is it a wonderful day for Ireland, or a sad day? Ah. I am a bit bothered by the fact that the Irish are jettisoning their Catholic culture and distinctive moral and ethical values to prove that they’re Good Europeans. They’ve embraced progressivism tenets like they embraced the euro and the latte culture. They were fed up being stigmatised by the EU, the UN, the goody two shoes charities shaming them for their so-called cruelty to “hard cases”. Ok, these values were a bit utopian and maybe hypocritical (“an English solution to an Irish problem”), but nations need a bit of idealism, it’s better than the anything goes of our societies.
I am also bothered by the most a biased media and political campaign. It was not a case of “let the best arguments win” but of having all the big hitters pressing for Yes and hogging the air waves and print columns. After the Brexit and Trump “traumas”, the PTB, MSM et al were not going to risk a victory of what they view as backward-looking bigots. They have been caught out twice and Ireland is proof of how they will not allow a third time. Watching the ecstatic crowds who cheered the result, a sight that even last year was not imaginable in Ireland, one is struck at the power of mass manipulation.
The Irish have gone from “abortion is murder” to “abortion is healthcare” in just a few years. Truly remarkable.
Some GPers will say, what do we care about the abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland. We should just make a note that we witness today another victory for the Soros-backed, EU and UN-promoted progressive agenda, an open door facilitating cultural dilution, nativist replacement and gender selection. But abortion is the thin end of the wedge and the so-called progressive forces have another trophy: Ireland has fallen.
© Sunshine&Showers 2018