Ireland’s Pro-Life Landscape 2016
Two years ago the door to abortion was opened in the Republic of Ireland, with the introduction of the chillingly misnamed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which allows for abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy if a woman’s health, including mental health, is deemed to be in danger. Pro-abortion campaginers are now increasing pressure to repeal the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution, which recognises the equal right to life of the unborn.
The apperance of hostility to the 8th amendment is being carefully orchestrated. In recent months, celebrities, artists and politicians have joined the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment. Over 240 artists joined the campaign to repeal the 8th amendment by publishing a signed statement in September. Liam Neeson has lent his voice to Amnesty International’s campaign advert for the legalisation of abortion, which centered on Ireland’s Christian history and identity. Twice Shy, a film about a young couple who travel to London for an abortion, will be released later this year. Politicians are also voicing their support, including Health Minister, Leo Varadkar, and Children’s Minister, Dr James Reilly.
The media are unashamedly biased in promoting the pro-abortion agenda. Magazines and radio programmes incessantly run features and interviews with women who have had abortions. We read about a woman who had an illegal abortion in Ireland, and are told many heart-breaking stories of women who are ‘forced’ to go to England to abort their babies, following the tragic news that their babies had a serious life-limiting condition, invariably referred to in the media as a fatal foetal abnormality (even though this term is rejected by medical experts as inaccurate and likely to cause distress to parents).
However, there is hope for the pro-life cause.
When the TV and radio are turned off, the newspaper closed, and one engages with people on pro-life issues, a different picture emerges. Contrary to the picture painted by the media, many Irish people are staunchly and profoundly pro-life. Indeed, despite the media bias and aggressive campaigning, a recent poll showed that support for abortion is declining.
Media bias is being challenged; following a number of complaints about the Ray D’Arcy show in which the presenter gave a soft, even fawning, interview to Amnesty International Ireland’s Executive Director, Colm O’Gorman, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland ruled that national broadcaster, RTÉ, had breached the Broadcasting Act’s requirements of fairness, objectivity and impartiality. This ruling is especially significant, given the flagrant bias that is all too common in Irish media.
There will be a general election in 2016. At the moment, many politicians are shifting and shuffling to avoid the issue of the 8th amendment. Minister Simon Coveney recently said that politicians should not be forced to declare their views on abortion during the upcoming election because the issue is “personal and difficult” for people.
In his New Year’s homily, Bishop Kevin Doran criticised such “political posturing” around the abortion issue, and urged Christians to engage with and challenge politicians on their past record and future intentions.
So, what are the political parties’ positions on abortion?
- Labour and Sinn Féin are commited to repealing the 8th amendment and liberalising abortion laws even further.
- Fine Gael, the largest political party, is divided on the issue. Some TDs (members of parliament) are commited to repealing the 8th amendment, while others do not want it in the party’s manifesto, but want the matter dealt with in a constitutional convention. Many pro-life voters see this as little more than a cynical manoeuvre to avoid being held accountable for the broken pro-life promise of the 2011 general election campaign.
- Officially, Fianna Fáil are committed to retaining the 8th amendment. However, given the cowardly behaviour of its leadership during the abortion legislation of 2013, pro-life voters have little reason to hope that similar demarche would be resisted.
- Rénua is a new political party, formed in 2015 after junior minister, Lucinda Creighton, and other TDs and sentors were expelled from Fine Gael during the passsage of the 2013 abortion legislation. Rénua will not be taking a position on abortion but are committed to giving their members a free vote. Of the 18 Rénua candidates, 13 are pro-life.
2016 is the centenary of the 1916 Rising, which marked the birth of the modern Irish Republic. Will the Irish people fulfil the promise of the proclamation of independence which promised to cherish “all the children of the nation equally”? Or, will they capitulate to the pressures of the international abortion industry and decide that some children are more equal than others?
"Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it." Pope John Paul II