The ban on elective abortion in most cases, perhaps the only remaining shibboleth of Catholic Ireland, is coming under attack as predicted by one Breitbart London contributor and as noted by another. Repeal or reform of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, by which the State acknowledges “the right to life of the unborn,” is now firmly in the sights of the leading lights of post-Catholic left-liberal Ireland, but the fight will not be one-sided.
Ireland’s complete ban on abortion was lifted two years ago following the death of a woman who was not allowed to abort her dying baby.
Since then terminations are allowed if a mother’s life is endangered, but women’s rights campaigners now argue that the marriage referendum result shows Ireland is ready to accept more liberal abortion laws.
The Labour Party has already said it will campaign at next year’s election to allow abortion for cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee called for the same revision to Ireland’s abortion laws last year. Other political parties are yet to say either way, but non-party players in the recent referendum have now declared their hand.
Amnesty International, a major proponent of gay marriage in last month’s referendum, has added its newly-authoritative voice in Irish matters to the abortion debate with the publication of their report ‘She Is Not A Criminal: The Impact of Ireland’s Abortion Law‘.
The report documents cases of authorities in Ireland denying what it says is necessary healthcare for mothers, instead prioritising the life of the foetus. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said:
“The recent Marriage Equality referendum showed a country that prides itself on being an open and inclusive society, but all is not well in the Republic of Ireland. The human rights of women and girls are violated on a daily basis because of a constitution that treats them like child-bearing vessels.”
Amnesty International’s global campaign, ‘My Body My Rights‘ will now focus on Ireland using petitions, demonstrations and letters targeting the country’s leaders to pressure them into repealing the constitutional protection of the unborn. Any such decision will ultimately be made by referendum.
Support for gay marriage was a cross-party matter, with proponents at every level of Irish politics. Prime Minister Enda Kelly of the centre-right Fine Gael party said during the referendum: “There is nothing to fear for voting for love and equality.”
Writing for The Guardian Suzanne Moore expressed her fears that such support for the passing of gay marriage will do nothing to promote the abortion rights she wants to see introduced in Ireland.
Describing marriage, even gay marriage, as “an inherently conservative instituion” she complains that “gay marriage costs straight people and, significantly, most politicians nothing.”
She states her belief that “it is easier for people to accept gay marriage than the reproductive rights of women” pointing to the fact that in the US “some Republican senators are coming round to equal marriage but remain staunchly anti-abortion.” The idea that just because someone voted for gay marriage to pass in a referendum must mean they also favour abortion rights is, Moore says “a glitch in the matrix of liberal thinking.”
Some have said the Catholic Church in Ireland mounted a relatively lacklustre campaign against gay marriage, mainly limiting itself to preaching sermons to its diminishing congregations, but the Church is expected to mount be rather more pro-active in any abortion debate.
It will also expect a more receptive reaction from followers rather more dedicated to protecting the rights of the unborn than they were to refusing the extension of rights to consenting adults. After attending Roman Catholic mass in Dublin last Sunday, Rosemary Hughes told Reuters, “I hope it never comes here. In my opinion, if you take another person’s life, it is murder.”