Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned…
Almost one hundred years ago the Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote The Second Coming. It is a strange nightmarish poem. It tells of events that are both seen and unseen, of an ominous elemental horror that is imminent, one that “slouches” from its centuries-old hibernation towards Bethlehem to be “born.”
Last Friday, May 25, 2018, the citizens of the Irish Republic voted to remove the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, Article 40.3.3. On a turnout of just over 64 percent of the electorate, 66.4 per cent voted for repeal of the Eight Amendment while 33.6 percent opposed it. This voting pattern, with minor variations, was consistent across the country.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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In a moment of insight, following a referendum in 1983, the Eighth Amendment had been inserted into the constitution to safeguard the rights of the unborn. Through it, Ireland had effectively banned abortion. The decision to remove this constitutional safeguard now opens the door to legislation, which many suspect will usher in one of the most permissive abortion regimes in the world. News of the speed with which the current Irish government wishes to enact the necessary legislation in favor of abortion is as telling as it is alarming.
The result of the referendum comes as no surprise. The political establishment—all the leaders of the various political parties, plus many within these parties, especially the opportunistic and the ambitious—mouthed platitudes about “doing the right thing.”
The media seemed especially in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment. The State broadcaster, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, like so many media outlets, went through the pretense of being a neutral forum for both sides to debate and put forward their arguments. The underlying hostility to the pro-life side could not be hidden though. The Irish Times, Ireland’s newspaper of record, also attempted to give column space to both sides, but it, too, seemed half-hearted in this. It was not just the paper’s editorial stance, which, given its liberal credentials, was always going to be pro-abortion, but rather the ways in which the pro-life case was portrayed in the newspaper’s pages. That portrayal was endlessly associated with religious imagery even though the pro-life campaign was a secular movement. Instead, a certain impression of Irish pro-lifers was deliberately constructed and then conveyed—of fanatically religious men telling women what to do with their bodies. It was a deliberate ploy. In reality, the pro-life campaign was fronted by women who were just as professional, independent, and articulate—perhaps more so—than their counterparts calling for repeal of the Eighth Amendment. This fact was, however, conveniently overlooked in media reports.
Of course, it was never going to be a fair fight. The intervention of Google and Facebook at a decisive moment in the referendum debate proved that. Since the Irish media effectively prevented the pro-life campaign from putting its argument across to voters, the pro-life message was heavily dependent on new media to reach that constituency. The crucial period for the intensification of its campaign was two weeks away from polling day. This was the very moment when Google and Facebook pulled the plug—banning in various ways advertising on the forthcoming referendum. The move came at a time when the pro-abortion side had been complaining hysterically of being out-gunned and out-witted on social media by pro-lifers, no doubt sensing their “Yes” campaign was faltering as the polls began to narrow. Momentum was now with the pro-life campaign. A pro-abortion source openly admitted that it was at this point that “pressure” was applied to the tech giants. In any event the “pulling of the plug” on pro-life Internet advertising was a devastating blow to the “No” campaign, thereby crippling its ability to reach voters directly.
Yet, the final polls, the weekend before the vote, showed the gap between “Yes” and “No” was still narrowing, but now not as fast to affect the result. Effectively, the momentum for life was lost. By then, the media blitz turned to the Irish voters living abroad who were considering returning home. This prompt from various quarters was not an impartial act to encourage the Irish democratic process but rather part of a strategic move by the “Yes” side that was banking on the Irish returning to vote for abortion. Virtually every story covered by Irish and international media outlets seemed to tell of a young female professional intent on flying home to Ireland to vote “Yes” so that she could be “proud” of her country, before doubtless turning round and getting on the first flight back to wherever she had flown in from.
Sometimes, during the last weeks, it seemed that the people of Ireland—some at least—had entered an alternate universe. An example of this was expressed in The Irish Times final editorial about the referendum:
The Eighth Amendment describes a world that never existed—a place of moral absolutism, religious certainty, good and evil, black and white—and locks us into that illusion in perpetuity. To remove it is merely to reflect the world we live in.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this is a “world” in which some now choose to live: where the death of a child is something to be “celebrated,” a sign of “progress,” a mark of “compassion.” In these past weeks, one looked on in dismay as this ancient Catholic nation exchanged its present for a future where a mother’s joy was transformed into a tormented look of guilt, a child’s smile into a funeral veil, a truth for a lie.
So let it be.
Ireland has chosen between life and death. Death it shall have. The fallacy that a liberal abortion regime solves anything will soon become apparent to Irish citizens. The mother’s pain and suffering from abortion shall still remain. The shame and trauma of having delivered an aborted child are not erased as easily as the pro-abortion campaigners make out when they blithely talk of a “medical procedure,” one seemingly as slight as having an ingrown toenail removed. Above all, in the coming days and years, what will haunt that land is the memory of the missing generations denied life by the stroke of a pen that in the hand of some became a scalpel.
Those who campaigned for abortion have got what they wanted: the advent of Irish abortion facilities. Ireland shall soon commence the same sad slide into the abyss as that of her neighbor Britain. The public money funnelled away from medicine in order to provide the tools and the means to administer death will not be insignificant. In spite of what politicians say, medical staff will be pressured into taking part in procedures contrary to the Hippocratic Oath. The idea of conscience, like the idea of the sanctity of life, will be yet another casualty at the hands of Irish abortionists and their fellow travelers. Eventually for some, abortion will become a convenience, despite all we have heard about “hard cases.” In particular, Down syndrome children and their families must view with dismay this vote for “compassion”: knowing that in Britain 90 percent of unborn children with Down syndrome never make it beyond the womb. And behind it all, the global industrial complex of abortion providers sit sharpening their implements with glee, as yet another market is opened to them by their friends in the Irish political establishment who no doubt will be rewarded with campaign contributions and appointments to positions in boardrooms of these multi-nationals.
Two years ago, the Irish state made great play of the 1916 Easter Rising. That Rising was a rebellion by a group of revolutionaries who tried to overthrow British rule in Ireland. At various state-sponsored commemorations, contemporary politicians talked of how these rebels had won for today’s Irish citizens the freedoms they enjoy, as well as the other things politicians say when trying to cover themselves in the mantle of past glories to offset their present deficiencies.
In 1916, hopelessly outnumbered, the Irish rebels hoisted a new flag as they proclaimed the Irish Republic. They also read out a proclamation, one that is framed on walls of Irish homes up and down the land. It says the following:
IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN:
In the name of God …We hereby proclaim the Irish Republic …
The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally…
The recent vote for the death of untold numbers of Irish children, who should be “cherished” not annihilated, was not only an attack upon Ireland’s Catholic past but also upon the Republican ideals that founded the modern Irish state.
Having negated her past, both religious and civic, now Ireland enters into the “brave new world” she seems to so ardently desire.
And so, in the distance, coming to meet her from a desert waste is a Spiritus Mundi. “This rough beast,” with its gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun, slouches towards Ireland to be born, with its hour come at last.
Photo credit: Calvary scene at Dingle, Kerry / Cahill Photography)