As the Irish people vote today on repealing the Eighth Amendment to their constitution and so legalising abortion, Judith Woods says in the Telegraph that ‘repeal would allow unrestricted terminations of pregnancies for up to 12 weeks, thereby bringing it into line with every other country in Western Europe except for Northern Ireland’.
Abortion up to 12 weeks would not bring Ireland ‘into line’ with Britain, where we allow abortion to be performed up to 24 weeks and up to birth in cases of disability; however, as with all ‘strict safeguards’ surrounding such laws supposed to deal with ‘hard cases’, familiarity breeds contempt, and in time the Irish time limit would be relaxed.
Ms Woods says the fact that Ireland is even considering a change in its law is a reflection of how the Catholic Church’s stranglehold on daily life has loosened. A ‘culturally liberal younger generation’ of repealers who are ‘no longer in thrall to the local priest’ are driving this change, suggesting that ‘those who would continue to restrict our rights are the self-same sanctimonious whited sepulchres gossiping in the pews who would cast the first aspersion at a pregnancy out of marriage’. And yet anyone who has followed this debate must have noticed that the pro-life campaign is astonishingly young. Moreover, it is imbued with the very sense of equality that Ms Woods champions but does not seem to apply to everyone – she expresses shock that the Irish Constitution ‘gives the same right to life as the mother’. This is despite the fact that a baby needs more protection, not less, than an adult; repeal would give the mother, or those ‘advising’ her, the power of life and death over the baby. Similarly, her un-PC reference to foetal ‘abnormality’ suggests that disabled unborn babies deserve fewer rights than others.
Ms Woods says that in Ireland silence has reigned on this subject up until now. In fact there was a vigorous debate before a majority voted for the Eighth Amendment in 1983. Clearly, however, like all referendums that give the ‘wrong’ answer, it must be replayed until the ‘right’ answer is given.
Like other ‘repeal’ advocates, Ms Woods seems to think that expecting a baby with a ‘fatal abnormality’ is a good reason for abortion, but it is simply pre-birth euthanasia – killing a person because they are dying. Killing them in the womb does not help parents to grieve; moreover, such prognoses can be wrong and once abortion becomes standard practice in such cases there will be no way of finding out until it is too late. However, medical staff would be spared the trauma of a malpractice suit.
Ms Woods sees the lack of legal abortion in such cases, and in cases of disability, as ‘appalling breaches of humanity’, but calls the killing of an innocent child a ‘termination’. It is quite likely that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed there will be hardly any doctors willing to carry out abortions; no doubt that would prompt another campaign to remove their ‘right to choose’.
Ms Woods says that repeal would be ‘a vote for tolerance’, and hopes ‘with all my heart’ that the Irish people will vote for it; however, she adds that ‘I do pray that few will want to use it’; she believes that abortion ‘is a terrible, tragic thing’, but ‘sometimes it is a horribly necessary terrible, tragic thing.’ Abortion advocates used to talk in terms of ‘tragic but necessary’ – of the need to make abortion ‘legal but rare’ – now they talk about making abortion a human right for any reason at all, and try to silence all opposition.
Ms Woods supports abortion ‘as a Catholic’ even while disagreeing with Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life – the foundation of all human rights. Soon we will know the result of the referendum, but as a Catholic I hope that all Irish people, whatever their religion, will reject the right to choose death and instead choose life.