As the eve of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment referendum vote approaches, Save the 8th has begun their “12 Weeks Campaign” following a statement by the Irish Disabilities Minister that the vote is going to favor a repeal of the Abortion amendment.
Since at least 1861, Abortion has been illegal in Ireland. At the time, the British ruled over the Irish isles and had enacted a law making abortion punishable by life in prison throughout the United Kingdom. In 1983, Catholic Ireland codified this position into law with the Eighth Amendment that recognized the right to life of the unborn, in contrast to most European countries denying the right to life of the unborn.
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” – Article 40.3.3 [Eighth Amendment]
In 1983, the Irish populace took a vote in the national referendum with over two-thirds of the country voting to extend legal protections to the unborn. In a little over a month, on May 25th, the Irish voters will be going to the polls for a second time, however the matter up for debate will be the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
This past Monday, Ireland’s Disabilities Minister publicly commented he believed the referendum to repeal the Eight Amendment will be won 60% yes to 40% no.
“I believe in the equality of women in every area of Irish life – hence my support for the repeal campaign. I believe it will be 60 – 40. I know from my own constituency Dublin Bay North, that would be the kind of view that I am getting” – Finian McGrath
In response, the Prolife group “Save the 8th” started their 12 Weeks Campaign in efforts to turn the tide and keep the Eight Amendment firmly placed in the lawbooks. The campaign shows social media users a video of a scan of an unborn baby at 12 weeks gestation, and asks if the unborn child is deserved of constitutional rights. The video is being promoted to Facebook users over the age of 18 in Ireland. Group official Niamh Ui Bhriain said that:
“The scan shows clearly a developing child, with identifiable form of a human being, moving and kicking inside the womb. The Irish people are being asked to give their approval for a proposal that would allow such children to be legally killed. Many people believe that at 12 weeks, they are voting on ‘a clump of cells’. The simplest look at a 12-week scan proves this to be untrue.”
Catholic Bishops in Ireland have also taken up the cause and are speaking out against the referendum. Bishop John Dudley of the diocese of Cork and Ross sent out a pastoral letter to almost 300,000 Catholics across 68 parishes to warn about the slippery slope of attitudes towards human life if the amendment is repealed.
“We can be sure that if a society decides that human life is disposable at its beginning, it will not be too long before it decides the same for human life at its end … human life is sacred and precious … this is true in every moment of life from its first beginning to its natural end.”
Bishop Denis Nulty of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin said the “hard truth” is once society denies the unborn’s right to life, “we can no longer defend ourselves from what flows from an abortion culture.” To him, voting “no” is not enough, saying that:
“The real challenge for us is to work even harder to strengthen a culture that values all life. Being pro-life must mean that we advocate for all who are in need of protection in our society. Let us rededicate ourselves to this essential and blessed task.”
The Eight Amendment referendum is due to take place just three months before Pope Francis is expected to visit the country during the World Meeting of Families, taking place in Dublin on August 21st to the 26th of 2018.