Lessons from the Marriage Referendum for the Abortion Referendum

For months the wheels have been slowly turning in preparation for the abortion referendum and soon the campaign will kick off fully. It will likely bear some similarities with the Marriage Equality referendum of 2015, so I think it’s crucial to study the lessons of the last referendum if we want to repeat its success in the next one. Both issues are heavily influenced by the position of the Catholic Church and the No side will again be led by Catholic groups like the Iona Institute. The vote will be split on similar lines, with older and rural people more likely to vote No. Here are some lessons I learned from canvassing for a Yes vote that I think are applicable to the next referendum. Continue reading “Lessons from the Marriage Referendum for the Abortion Referendum”

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In Memory Of Ann Lovett

Thirty years ago today, a 15 year old girl died giving birth alone in a grotto beneath a statue to the Virgin Mary. The scandal shocked conservative Ireland and cast light on a darker side of Ireland. An Ireland where to be unmarried and pregnant was a deep shame to be kept hidden. An Ireland where girls were forced to keep children they didn’t want and couldn’t raise. An Ireland where the judgement of the Church was to be feared. An Ireland where narrow minded dogma was held above the suffering of women. An Ireland where Mary was no protection for many girls abandoned and neglected by society. Continue reading “In Memory Of Ann Lovett”

No Defence

It’s hard to describe the shock and outrage experienced in Ireland upon hearing of the latest tasteless stunt by Youth Defence. In a move which goes against all basic decency, the group parked a horrendously offensive anti-abortion billboard outside the office of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. After being swamped by a torrent of indignation, Youth Defence now claims that the van was not supposed to park there, but was stuck in traffic or having a break and its all just a giant coincidence. Its twitter feed began unleashing attacks upon all critics as though it was the victim. The ad company has since cancelled its contract with Youth Defence. Regardless of intention, the refusal to apologise and the lack of shame over the hurt caused has no defence.

Continue reading “No Defence”

When Does Life Begin?

At the crux of the abortion debate is the question over when does life begin. It’s a hugely controversial and difficult question and not one with an easy answer. It is far to say that even pro-choice people acknowledge that the day before birth, the foetus is a child and is alive. Likewise even (most) anti-abortion people would acknowledge that on the first day of fertilisation, the embryo bears little resemblance to a human. So the question becomes, at what point does the foetus become human? At what point do we stop talking of miscarriages and start describing still births? Continue reading “When Does Life Begin?”

Do The Unborn Have A Right To Life?

The abortion debate is heating up in Ireland and one of the most common claims made is that the unborn has a right to life. There are groups dedicated to it such as the Society For The Protection Of The Unborn (SPUC). In fact, the 8th Amendment of the constitution states the unborn child has an equal right to live as the mother. But does it really? Do the unborn really have rights? Do we have duties to them? In my next post I examine when life begins, but right now, I want to look at the question of whether or not there is a right to life. Continue reading “Do The Unborn Have A Right To Life?”

Legacy Of The Catholic Church

It is said that when Ireland received its independence from Britain in 1921 it handed it over to the Catholic Church. For the next seven decades the Church dominated Irish life and shaped it to suit its teachings. While Ireland never became a theocracy, it came pretty close. Irish politicians of all parties declared their loyalty to the Church and gave the hierarchy unquestioned influence over policy. Politicians declared themselves Catholics first and Irishmen second. And what was the result of this influence? A stagnant society dominated by narrow mindedness sectarian pettiness. A socially suffocating society where all common sense and flexibility was abandoned in place of rigid dogma. An authoritarian atmosphere where all signs of modernity were repressed. Where brutality was condoned and ignored and unimaginable cruelty was shown to women and children, the extent of which is only coming to light now. This is the legacy of the church. Continue reading “Legacy Of The Catholic Church”

A Small Step Forward

The proposed abortion legislation has many flaws and even once it’s passed, Ireland will still have one of the most restrictive regimes in the world. It is probably the most limited bill that could have been passed and includes many hurdles for suicidal women. It says nothing about pregnancy through rape and will do little to stem the tide of women forced to head to England to get abortions. However, all this considered, it is still a step in the right direction. It will protect the life of the mother and hopefully ensure that a tragic death like that of Savita Halappanavar never happens again. Most important of all, it has broken the taboo on abortion and shown that the anti-abortion extremists no longer dominate the debate. Continue reading “A Small Step Forward”