There are cardboard signs everywhere. Notes on social media. Protests. Blog posts (like the one you just started reading!). Pundits. Politicians. The topic of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution seems overall inescapable. If you’re not aware, the 8th Amendment holds that an unborn child has as much right to life as that of his or her mother. As such, the only cases in which abortion is legal in Ireland are where the life of the mother is jeopardized by continuing the pregnancy. It was put into place after a referendum in 1983, where two thirds of the votes cast were in favor of the amendment. Now, nearly 35 years later, it’s looking like there will be a vote – perhaps as early as next month – to overturn the 8th.
The process has been ongoing for some time. Last year there was a full governmental review that resulted in a recommendation to move forward with a referendum. Testimonies offered in conjunction with this review pointed to many difficult cases. Prenatal conditions that would lead to the baby dying or having severe health problems. Pregnancies that had resulted from rape or incest. Having to travel abroad to get an abortion. The stigma that comes from an unwanted pregnancy. The prospect of carrying a child to term only to watch him or her die. The cases cited were heartbreaking and painted repeal as the humane, sympathetic option.
When we’re talking about repeal, however, I would like to quote Inigo Montoya and say, “I do not think it means what you think it means”.
Voters would be justified in thinking that a Repeal vote means a pregnancy could be terminated in cases like those I mentioned above. After all, these were the public basis for the government’s recommendation. But this would be incorrect.
Voters would be justified in thinking that a Repeal vote means a pregnancy could be terminated for any reason up to 12 weeks’ gestation. After all, this was what the government mentioned when talking about the type of legislation being considered if the repeal position were to win. But this would be incorrect.
Well, you may ask, what does a Repeal vote mean? Here’s the agreed-upon text that would replace the 8th (as reported in the Journal):
Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.
Yes, that’s right. If Repeal carries the referendum, there will no longer be any constitutional protection for the unborn – not at 13 weeks, not at 30 weeks. Legislators will be able to enact legislation at their discretion. I hate to sound cynical about elected officials, but I know how the cycle of elections works in the US, and how positions can drift.
To turn an awful phrase, voting Repeal is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
As to the morality of abortion in general, there are many arguments we could walk through, from the need to protect the most vulnerable among us to the question of when it is moral or desirable or good to take a life in cold blood. But arguments that appeal to our own sense of ethics pale when put into the context of an absolute morality. A human sense of right and wrong can drift over the course of time, but God does not change.
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 [NASB]
This is great news, because if God’s love extends to the lost (in the quoted case, an immoral tax collector, defrauding the poor), it includes the born and the unborn. How thankful I am that His love came to seek and save me!
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 [NASB]
Each of us, from the womb, are lovingly made and sustained by our Creator. If He values life, may I do the same.
Be in prayer for the referendum.