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The Patriarchy and the Repeal of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment

“The [Irish] 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.”

Inserted into the Irish Constitution on the 7th of October 1983.

Voted to be removed on the 25th of May, 2018.

As the dust settles and we reflect on the results of the most recent referendum, certain facts become clear.

One, that has been systematically ignored by the media, is that two men led the Campaign to Repeal the 8th: the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, despite both claiming to be pro-life until quite recently; while women headed the pro-life Save the 8th side: Niamh Uí Bhriain of The Life Institute and an almost all-women team, including Cora Sherlock and Caroline Simons of The Prolife Campaign, backed up by Dr. Ruth Cullen of LoveBoth.

Both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health declared themselves to be pro-life, as recently as 2014. However, during the months leading up to the vote both rescinded on their promises to their constituents by dedicating themselves to campaigning for Repeal. Many other self professed pro-life Irish politicians suddenly changed their minds on the issue and decided to side with the Repeal. To date, only two politicians -- both women -- have stood against the pursuits of their political parties that would abandon the needs of Irish women and their children. Lucinda Creighton was expelled in 2013 from her party, Fine Gael, due to her stance against the party’s move to legalise abortion. The other was Carol Nolan of Sinn Féin, who was suspended for three months and she has since handed in her notice to Sinn Féin.

Another fact being ignored by the media is how profoundly anti-woman the proposed laws are.

Before the vote pro-choice Irish feminists, including my former lecturer in Women's Studies in University College Dublin and Together for Yes spokesperson Ailbhe Smyth, spent a great deal of time dismissing and even sneering at the pro-life movement in Ireland. However, not only will legal abortion hurt the women who are driven to make this horrific choice, but now gender-based abortion will be legally available in Ireland; meaning that pregnant people will be able to kill their daughters simply because they are girls. This is one step further than the UK, where this form of patriarchal discrimination is illegal. Now British women will be able to travel to Ireland to have their unborn daughters aborted, under pressure from husbands or boyfriends who want a son. This is supported by the very same politicians and “feminists” who claim to be pro-women.

Now that the 8th Amendment has been repealed I fear that it will be almost impossible to close this Pandora’s box that these two men have helped open. However, Irish pro-life women and feminists aren’t going anywhere -- we will continue working for the lives of our most vulnerable countrymen and women.


Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

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