Ire­land’s ‘Yes’ vot­ers are ill served by crass cel­e­bra­tions

The Daily Telegraph - - Feature -

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.

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