By Dave Andrusko
For a pro-life member of an Irish political party that would not allow its members the right to exercise their conscience in matters of abortion, the die was cast last weekend for Sinn Féin member of Parliament Carol Nolan.
Sinn Féin supported repealing the Eighth Amendment, which gave equal rights to mothers and unborn children. The repeal passed overwhelmingly on May 25.
The first step came last March when Nolan was suspended for three months for voting against holding the abortion referendum.
Then, according to the Independent
Last weekend’s ard fheis [annual conference] voted to amend party policy so that its TDs [members of the Dáil Éireann, the lower House of the Irish Parliament] can support legislation allowing for abortion up to 12 weeks.
A second motion calling for Sinn Féin TDs to have a free vote on abortion like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil was heavily rejected.
“I feel that as a pro-life republican woman that I no longer have a place in this party, which doesn’t recognise or show genuine respect for the pro-life views of members,” Ms Nolan said in explaining her decision. “It was disappointing that at the ard fheis … the party’s delegates voted against the motion to allow members to have a conscience vote on the issue of abortion.”
Ms. Nolan told Cormac McQuinn that TDs were responsible for the laws they enacted and “if a TD votes for abortion they are responsible for all abortions that happen in this State”.
She added, “I cannot and will not support abortion and for that reason I have made a decision to leave Sinn Fein.”
According to the London Times’s Ellen Coyne, Nolan also said she did not want to have any part in bringing about “the end to the life of an unborn child.
“Every life is precious and every child deserves the chance to live. I don’t believe that abortion is the solution to any crisis,” Ms Nolan said. “I cannot and will not support abortion and for that reason I have made a decision to leave Sinn Féin.”
The Times said she would stay on as an Independent.
Dr. Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign, said it was a “’very rare thing’ in politics to find a politician with the kind of courage and principle shown by Ms Nolan.”
“She knew from the outset she would not receive plaudits or support in media and political circles for her pro-life stance yet none of this deterred her from standing up for what she believed in. …
“This has been an extremely difficult time for Deputy Nolan and other Sinn Féin members who stood up for real democracy and freedom of conscience within the party.
“They should be immensely proud of what they have done. Despite all the packaging from government, the proposed legislation for abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with providing ‘healthcare’ for women and everything to do with introducing abortion on demand.
“It’s regrettable that more politicians didn’t speak up before the referendum about the horrific reality of what Repeal will mean but at least we can be very thankful that people like Carol Nolan did not remain silent at such a critical time. More than ever, we need people like her in Dáil Éireann.