Donal O’Keefe at thejournal.ie urges repeal of the Eight Amendment.
I’m in my mid-forties and the early 1980s were the backdrop of my early teens. I have odd, snapshot recollections of the time. I remember those frantic men and women with their rosary beads and their placards of aborted foetuses and the mania that seemed to grip the country. It was a very strange time in Ireland.
I remember Garret and Charlie like Saint George and the Dragon, seemingly locked in eternal conflict for the Taoiseach’s job, and I remember 1983, the year after GUBU, when they tried to out-Catholic each other as both agreed to support the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign’s amendment to outlaw abortion.
In later life, Fitzgerald at least had the decency to regret his actions.
You don’t want politicians trying to out-Catholic each other. That’s a party game out of nightmares.
Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion, the only such in the democratic world, is our abiding legacy of that bizarre and feverish time and here’s Ireland’s dirty little secret: the truth is there was no danger at all in 1983 that Ireland would legalise abortion. The Eighth Amendment, for all the pain and the confusion and the alphabet soup of A, B, C, D, (and now P) X and Y grief it has caused over the past three decades, was never really about abortion.
Article 40.3.3 only exists because 31 years ago Catholic fundamentalists saw this as their line in the sand. With the spectres of contraception, divorce and homosexuality looming, they saw an open goal. This was their show of strength, their bulwark against the liberal onslaught.
It said abortion on the tin but it was about control. That’s the key to the creepy, sex-obsessed dogma behind this Constitutional aberration: control, not over souls – because the next world is never enough – but control over women’s bodies. After all, if your body isn’t even your own, your soul is hardly likely to go getting any flighty notions.
Is there any surer way of keeping women away from freedom than making sure they can never avoid pregnancy? Short of just plain locking them all up for life, that is.
The Eighth Amendment remains a minefield from a long-lost war, blighting lives unborn when it was planted. We need political leadership (although God help any politician trying to sell that at the Church gate collection) and we as an electorate need to grow up too. It’s past-time we became a proper secular democracy and dispensed with the rank hypocrisy of outsourcing 11 terminations a day to Perfidious Albion.
Last week, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, asked the consultant obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan whether medical guidelines would be helpful in dealing with cases such as this latest tragedy. Dr Boylan said they would, before adding “repeal of the Eighth Amendment would be even more helpful”.
Hard cases make bad law, goes the old legal maxim. Look at all the hard cases this bad law has made.
Repeal the Eighth Amendment.
H/t Barry Duke.