For nearly half a century Ireland has stood almost alone in western Europe in defence of the right to life of every unborn human being. Yet Ireland is now on the brink of repealing her pro-life constitutional amendment and opening the way to the killing of her unborn children. If she takes this step the reverberations will be felt across the world. How has Ireland, a nation which so long prided herself on fidelity to the Catholic faith and love of children and the family, reached this point?
This is the subject of our new paper, written by a friend and supporter of Voice of the Family in Ireland. Ireland’s Tragic Abandonment of Catholic Teaching traces the secularisation and demoralisation of “Catholic Ireland” from independence to the present day. It analyses the most significant events and trends that have led the Irish nation to repudiate much of its Christian heritage and have brought her to the brink of permitting the killing of unborn children.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, has announced that the long expected referendum on the repeal or alteration of Ireland’s pro-life constitutional amendment will be held in May or June next year. Abortion advocates have long sought the repeal or alteration of this amendment, which upholds the right to life of both the mother and her child. The amendment reads:
“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.”
The Eighth Amendment, which was approved 67% of Irish people in a referendum on 7 September 1983, came into effect on 7 October 1983, the Feast of the Holy Rosary. Estimates suggest that more than 100,000 lives have been saved by the amendment.
Yet there is now a very real danger that the Irish people will reverse that decision and vote for the repeal or alteration of the amendment. In a 1992 referendum the people voted to permit women to “travel between the State and another state” in order to have an abortion and also permitted provision of “information relating to [abortion] services lawfully available in another state”. Further referendums in 1995 and 2015 permitted divorce and so-called “same-sex marriage” respectively, thus ending the Irish state’s adhesion to the true understanding of marriage.
In November 2016 the Irish government established a “Citizens’ Assembly”, consisting of 99 members of the public, supposedly selected at random, to consider the future of the Eighth Amendment. In April 2017 the Citizens’ Assembly concluded its discussions by voting that the Eighth Amendment should be repealed. The Assembly voted by 95% that abortion should be permitted on grounds of a mental or physical threat to the life of the mother, by 80% in cases of disability, and by 72% for socio-economic reasons.
The development of the trends that have led Ireland to this point are discussed in great detail in Ireland’s Tragic Abandonment of Catholic Teaching. We commend this important text to our readers.