Abortion will come to be seen as the greatest human rights abuse in history
By Gavin Boyne
When I think back to the day the Eighth Amendment was repealed, I find it hard not to recall the scenes in Dublin Castle when the result was announced.
As someone who was nearly aborted and who owes his life to the Eighth Amendment, I was very taken aback by the scenes on that day.
I found it difficult to watch and even more difficult to make sense of people screaming and cheering at the removal of the right to life from a whole category of human beings.
Of course, it wasn’t every Yes voter who celebrated. In fact, I believe that a lot of people who voted Yes were extremely torn on the issue.
Many voted Yes for what are referred to as the “hard cases”. Some of these voters are beginning to realise that what you hope for and what you get can be two entirely different things.
From the day the Eighth Amendment was dismantled and the cheers went up in Dublin Castle, the most extreme elements of the pro-abortion movement seem to have taken charge.
I still find it unbelievable that the Government even refused to allow an amendment to the new law that would have ensured pain relief be administered to unborn babies during late-term abortions.
What has happened to Ireland that our Government would even withhold this modicum of mercy and compassion towards a baby about to have his or her life ended?
The attitude in government one year on from the referendum seems to be: “Look away, nothing to see here.”
But what I see is an absolute betrayal of women and their unborn babies.
Clump of cells
It is abhorrent to tell a woman contemplating an abortion that her baby is nothing more than a “clump of cells”, only for her to realise after the abortion that she was lied to.
When I campaigned for a No vote last year, not least because of the circumstances surrounding my own birth, I felt really troubled by the figures from Britain, where one in five pregnancies end in abortion. I campaigned for a No vote so that something like that could never happen here. But with repeal, the evidence suggests we are beginning to head down that road.
The situation is not entirely hopeless, though. I sense a lot of people are very uneasy about what has happened, including some Yes voters.
Here and now, I think we can signal a different and new direction by not punishing doctors and healthcare workers who have a serious conscientious objection to abortion.
As things stand, the new abortion law compels GPs to either perform abortions or make sure that a colleague carries them out. One way or another, every GP is obliged to play a part in ensuring the abortion happens.
We have to ask the question whether as a society, we are comfortable with the idea of forcing doctors to violate their consciences and be involved in procedures that have nothing to do with genuine healthcare and go against every fiber of their being. I have a sense the public will not tolerate doctors being bullied and coerced in this way.
The Government has legalised abortion. But when it comes to providing social supports and promoting positive alternatives to abortion, they have done absolutely zilch. Is this really the best we can offer as a community?
We should be working to build a society where no woman feels forced to have an abortion in order to pursue her career, her education, her dreams.
Sadly, we are a long way from there. At the heart of government, there is an unwillingness to listen to other perspectives on the issue, whether it be doctors seeking proper freedom-of-conscience protections from being forced to facilitate abortions or parents trying to have their voices heard about how they were pressured to opt for abortion.
The outright refusal on the part of the present government to respectfully engage with those who hold a different view on abortion is disturbing. Everything that questions the new law is ruled out of order. But you only have to look at what has happened in other countries to see that attempts to sanitize and normalize abortion don’t work in the long run. Ultimately it comes back to the inconvenient truth that abortion involves the deliberate ending of an innocent, defenseless human life.
It may be some distance off but in years to come, I believe that abortion will be seen as the greatest human rights abuse in history. In years to come, I believe that we will change the culture of this country so that the lives of unborn babies will be valued and protected once again, no matter how small, no matter what race, no matter whether he or she is able-bodied or not.
An Ireland where everyone, born and unborn, is welcomed in life and protected in law.