The Republic of Ireland will hold a referendum May 25 seeking a change to the Eighth Amendment to its Constitution. The Amendment, passed in 1983, states: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
In 1992, the 13th and 14th Amendments were added to the Irish Constitution, which assured that the prohibition on abortion would not limit freedom of travel in and out of Ireland and would not limit the right to distribute information about abortion services overseas.
A Citizens’ Assembly was established to study the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. It suggested that abortions should be provided in situations when a mother’s physical or mental health is at risk, in the cases of rape and fatal fetal abnormalities. Some called for abortion to be permitted up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
This referendum is important, to say the least. It will affect the future of Ireland. If it passes, Malta will be the last country in Europe not to have legalized abortion. It also will be seen as a referendum on the role that the Catholic Church plays in Ireland.
Bishop Alan McGuckian, S.J., of the Diocese of Raphoe, one of the few dioceses in Ireland to be growing in vocations, wrote to parishioners: “When we change or delete a law we run the risk of blinding ourselves over time to the truth behind it even though all the evidence we need is before our eyes. In our day, we see more clearly than ever before how everything begins at conception,” and “(A)t every point, from conception on, the baby has within him or herself the full potential to be whatever destiny might allow. All he or she needs is time and nurturing.”
The Bishop really brought home the point about the reality of the humanity of the unborn child stating: “Knowledge about the mysterious workings of DNA and the stunningly vivid evidence of ultrasound images of little persons in the earliest weeks in the womb should be making us more committed than ever to the protection of unborn life.”
Pray for Ireland and for the right to life of unborn children and the protection and dignity of women. Pray that Ireland does not fall into the trap of murdering the most defenseless in society as we did in 1973 with the infamous Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court.