Ireland’s ‘Yes’ voters are ill served by crass celebrations
Ireland’s decision to repeal one of the world’s most restrictive abortion bans was right and long overdue. Call it payback. Women avenged themselves on cruel priests and nuns and wicked, institutional hypocrisy that saw pregnant girls forced to keep babies which, being born out of wedlock, were then treated as the Devil’s spawn.
Last year, a mass grave at Tuam, a former Catholic orphanage, was found to contain up to 800 babies and children. Bodies stuffed in a septic tank by the Bon Secours sisters. Speaking about children in care in Ireland in June 1924, Dr Ella Webb said: “A great many people are always asking what is the good of keeping these children alive? I quite agree that it would be a great deal kinder to strangle these children at birth than to put them out to nurse.”
One in four children would die within a year of being born out of wedlock, according to records. So much for the evils of abortion and the right to life. Those young mothers and their infants were friendless and forever damned.
Well, not any more.
The landslide vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which meant Irish women were either obliged to carry profoundly disabled babies to term (possibly risking their own lives) or to travel to the UK for an abortion, was a vote for common sense and compassion.
However, this was undoubtedly a wrenching issue for voters, many of whom believe that life begins at conception. Abortion, therefore, is state-sanctioned murder. The cheering and festive mood of Yes voters as they celebrated was utterly tasteless and shockingly lacking in sensitivity.
Few people think abortion is a cause for celebration. It is often a sad necessity.
Yes campaigners who asked for voters in the referendum to show kindness and sensitivity to pregnant women were right. They would do well to show the same to those who held the opposite opinion in good faith.