URGENT: IRELAND NEEDS OUR PRAYERS
by Celeste Youngblood, news correspondent for the Veritas Radio Network
Winchester, VA– Today, Friday May 25, there is a historic referendum taking place in Ireland in which the nation’s citizens are deciding whether or not the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution should be retained, or repealed. The 8th Amendment declares the truth that the unborn have the same right to life as their mothers. Ireland is one of very few nations in Europe, along with Northern Ireland, Poland, and Malta, which bans abortion in nearly all cases. Here is a little background on how a Catholic, pro-life nation has arrived at such a precipitous moral crossroad.
As in every case, it began with contraception. It always begins with contraception, the rending of the procreative purpose of the sexual act from its unitive purpose. Ireland legalized contraception in 1980, and it was not three years before the Irish had to actively defend the unborn from the voices clamoring for the so-called “right” to murder their unwanted unborn. After a contentious campaign, one in which the Catholic Church was an unabashed, outspoken, vocal proponent of the right to life, the 8th Amendment was added to the Irish constitution, with 67% of Irish in support. It is important to note that at this time, 93% of the populace identified as Catholic (WSJ link “Ireland paves Way for Vote) and weekly Mass attendance hovered near 90%.
Fast forward to 2016. Ireland has so far legalized contraception (1980), homosexual acts (1993), divorce (1995), same sex marriage (2015), and abortion in cases of a threat to the life of the mother (2013). The 2012 case of Savita Halappanavar, who many had said had been “denied an abortion” while suffering a septic miscarriage, had the populace inflamed. As a side note, this article by LifeSiteNews shows there were holes in the official story being pushed by the media. In any case the tide clearly turned against the rights of the unborn after Mrs. Halappanavar’s case received vast media exposure. The pro-choice cause had a supposed martyr to latch on to. The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2016, a citizen’s assembly of 100 people who were chosen to represent the broader populace issued a recommendation to lift the ban on abortion. A cross party commission of lawmakers arrived at a similar conclusion. On March 8, the Irish government agreed to hold a referendum on whether or not the 8th Amendment should be repealed.
The polls opened this morning and will remain open until 5:00 p.m. local time. The results of an exit poll conducted with 3,000 participants will be released at the close of the polls, and ballot counting will begin Saturday, with results expected in the early hours of Saturday morning. If the 8th Amendment is revoked, the government says it will back the denial of the right to life for babies up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and later in so-called exceptional circumstances. This is a familiar slippery slope.
The role of the Catholic Church has been muted during the heated 8th Amendment campaigning, largely because of the antagonism felt by the Irish towards the Church itself, stemming from not only the sex abuse crisis, but scandals having to do with Church-run mothers’ homes, women being forced to place their babies for adoption, and the case of babies found buried in mass graves at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam County, Galway. Many felt the Church had no moral authority left to make pronouncements on the sanctity of children’s lives. To prevent voters from voting “yes” simply to defy the Church, the Church stayed largely silent, restricting its messages to homilies from the pulpit and fliers distributed at Mass. This could have been effective, had Catholicism not experienced such a massive decline since the 1980’s. Indeed, even though 78% of Irish identify as Catholic weekly Mass attendance has dropped from nearly 90% to a mere 36%. In Dublin, which is heavily supportive of the revocation of the 8th Amendment, Mass attendance is 20-22% and some areas have Mass attendance in the single digits. In short, few are receiving the Church’s pro-life message.
As of today, overall, 44% of Irish have declared they will vote for the revocation of the 8th Amendment. 32% have stated they will vote “no,” and 17% are undecided. 7% are registered as “other,” meaning they will not vote or refused to answer. I am no statistician, but from what I figured, if the “others” are all abstaining, a full 94% of the undecideds will need to swing towards a “no” vote in order to preserve protections for women and their unborn in Ireland. Although the “yes” movement has seen some of its support wane in the last few weeks, with the “no’s” gaining slightly, will there be enough of them to overcome a 12% gap in the polls?
There is a strong media campaign pushing the “yes” vote for repealing the 8th Amendment. Google news stories on the 8th Amendment on You Tube and the prevalence of news videos are in favor of repeal. Two examples: RT’s news story entitled: “Ireland’s historic abortion referendum: What it means for people.” (Do we have to ask? It’s life…or death.) The two minute video
showcases eight people explaining the reasoning for their votes. Six are voting “yes” and two are voting “no.” Of the yes votes, the reasons given are:
to give women an option for “safe” abortions
women having the “right” to do what they want with their bodies
women “have rights too”
women should have access to “good health care” and Ireland shouldn’t be “shipping their problems off” to England, Amersterdam, etc.
a woman who has heard other women’s stories of crisis pregnancy and sympathizes with their plight
every woman is an individual and should be able to do whatever she needs to do
Of the two “no” voters, both were men, and one actually thought that the 8th Amendment should be repealed, and that there should be access to some abortion, but not in this way, which will open up a bigger can of worms than the public is being led to believe. So really, 7 of the 8 were for the repeal of the 8th Amendment. Only one of the eight, the one voting no, acknowledged that despite the massive attention being given to hard cases such as fetal abnormality, a full 93% of aborted babies in England are in fact healthy babies.
My second example is a video from The Guardian entitled “Meet the people fighting to keep Ireland’s abortion ban,”
which from its opening frame hardly makes more than a token effort to separate the notion of a right to life for all from religious zealotry. Sadly, however, we know that with Mass attendance at 36% and firm support for the 8th Amendment at 32%, that a small percentage of weekly Mass-attending Catholics are in support of denying the unborn the right to life. One man in this video, local historian Tony Brown, opines whether men should be permitted to vote on the question at all, and speaks of the ways in which he, as a child, was misled about Protestants, leading one to wonder whether perhaps the Irish have been misled on abortion all this time as well.
Supporters of abortion are portrayed as empathetic towards women, portrayed as a good mix of men and women, who are nothing but concerned about women’s health and helping those in crisis. Supporters of life are portrayed as almost all men, out of touch, curt, condemnatory nuts who won’t even identify with Ireland should the 8th be repealed. I saw one couple who could come across as a normal, realistic couple, and the one spark of hope from them was their belief that there are a lot of silent “no” voters.
Regardless of how today’s vote plays out, there is no question that Ireland, which is a changed country, and needs our prayers. The right to life from conception to natural death while part of our Catholic Faith, is part of the wider natural law which is written on the hearts of all men and can be arrived at simply through the use of reason. We are witnessing en masse the closing of humanity’s hearts to this natural law, on the premise of “compassion” and “free will,” concepts which have been taken from Christianity and have been twisted to support evil. We pray today that Ireland does not fall to the lie of abortion, and that Our Lady under her titles of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Knock may intercede for the people of Ireland. Finally, may Our Blessed Lord Jesus, who IS Way, Truth, and Life itself, have mercy on us!