This came across my news-feed from a good friend’s page, with this selection quoted:
“In May of this year, Irish voters will again go to the polls to decide upon the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution. The amendment recognizes that an unborn infant has the right to live, and it effectively renders abortion, which was already illegal in all thirty-two counties, unconstitutional in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment, which was approved by a two-to-one vote in the plebiscite of 1983, is almost certain to be repealed. Legislation to liberalize abortion will follow quickly.
“We will hear the whole thing described as a leap forward for gender equality and women’s reproductive health, and so on and so forth. The repeal, the ensuing legislation, and the resulting brutal termination of the lives of Irish children in the womb will be put down to a long-overdue decline of the influence of the Catholic Church in Irish society. In short, it will be seen as a mark of the progress we have made out of the bondage of religion and into the freedom of, well, who knows what.
“In fact, the real progress we have made is from a society in which sacrifice and self-disregard were esteemed as virtue to a society in which the easy way out, always the short road to Hell, is held up as a ‘personal choice.’ It is, in short, the progress from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. It would seem that, for now at least, the children of this world are wiser than the children of the light.”
Or at least, think they are. Here is the text of the amendment in question:
“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.”
One might reasonably ask, what sort of person thinks this is a heinous and unacceptable assault on the rights of women?
I have, in general, been reticent about commenting on the issue of abortion. It is, to say the least, a controversial and emotionally-fraught issue, and one must pick the hills on which one chooses to fight and, perhaps, die (metaphorically speaking, one hopes – unlike the victims of abortion). But this move, to amend the Constitution of Ireland, hit home to me.
I spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland, in 1990. It was at that time still emphatically a Catholic – and a Christian – country, although more contemporary and “politically correct” views were already beginning to creep in. At the time, if I had any opinion on abortion at all, it was that (in the words of President Bill Clinton), it should be “safe, legal — and rare.” That is to say, legal in order to keep it safe, and viewed as a last resort for the most tragic of cases.
I still believe that, in principle. The problem, as I have come to realize in the years since, is that in practice, being safe and legal, it is far from rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, which tracks abortions, in the U.S. in 2014 “652,639 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2014 was 12.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.”
That figure is dismayingly high, and cannot be explained, I believe, as accounting for only the most tragic and extreme of circumstances. It is difficult to escape the conclusion, in other words, that for far too many people, abortion is being used as a form of birth-control, after the fact. In fact, the very slogans used imply as much.
Abortion proponents have gotten more canny, in the U.S., in recent years, as overall support for abortion has begun to slip. Rather than the older and far more in-your-face demands for “abortion on demand without apology,” they now use the kinder, gentler, more compassion-inducing “my body, my choice.” But the reality is that a fetus is not – just! – part of a woman’s body, some lump of tissue like a pancreas or a benign tumor. Her body is her own, unquestionably: but the unborn is something more.
She hosts it, of course! She carries it within her, for nine months; she nourishes it, via her umbilical cord. Until able to survive outside the womb, the unborn can only exist within the mother. These are not immaterial or incidental considerations.
But from the time it begins to form, indeed from conception, the fetus is a distinct, individual organism, with distinct, individual DNA, a distinct, individual genetic blueprint: formed from a combination of the genes of both the mother and the father, but different from either.
This is not right-wing opinion, neither is it religious doctrine; this is scientific fact (it is interesting how enthusiastically so many folks on the left trumpet science… right up until it conflicts with one of their fondly-held ideological views).
“My body, my choice” is a lie, or at best it is a half-truth, used to defend what is, in most cases, a choice of convenience. I am sorry, I know that is probably a hard thing to hear, for many people. It is not easy for me to write. But it is the truth.
Therapeutic abortion – abortion undertaken for reasons of medical necessity, in which the termination of the pregnancy is an unfortunate result, but not the intended reason, for the procedure – is one thing. But I am not here talking about therapeutic abortion, I am talking about elective abortion: abortion undertaken for the specific and sole purpose of ending the pregnancy.
That sort of abortion is certainly useful if one’s goal is population control. And it is certainly useful if one desires not to be encumbered with an unwanted pregnancy, either because one made an unwise choice, or because one’s birth control method of choice failed.
But it is not only fatal to the aborted fetus – a unique individual, and one we who are Christians cannot assume is lacking a soul, although we do not know the details of when or how God grants that – but it has been shown to have negative psycho-emotional effects on the mother, and – perhaps most controversially – has negative effects on society as well.
Between six and seven hundred thousand abortions per year cannot, in my view, help but contribute to the numbing of America, when it comes to the sanctity of life. That, in turn, leads to all sorts of unintended – and deeply negative – consequences, almost certainly including a mentality in which the mass murder of innocents becomes thinkable.
After all, if the termination of 652,639 pregnancies each year – 1,788 each and every day – is not the mass murder of innocents, it is hard to imagine what is! And it happens under the imprimatur of the legal and medical establishment.
What sort of message is that sending, out into the larger culture? What message is that sending to our young people, who are also dealing with many other demoralizing and dehumanizing messages? Not a good one, I’ll warrant.
Am I saying there is a direct, causal relationship between the two – that abortion leads directly to school shootings? Well, no… not exactly. Not directly. But indirectly? Absolutely. How could it not? Something, or someone, is inconvenient to you? Bothers you? Upsets you? Get rid of it! Kill it! Throw it away. That’s the message, unintended or no.
There are many other factors involved, too, of course. Abortion is just one factor among many. But it’s a mistake not to think that it IS a factor, in my opinion – and a fairly major one at that – in the overall loss of America’s moral bearings.
652,639 abortions is nearly 18 times the number killed in traffic fatalities annually in the U.S. (37,461 in 2016), a staggering 49 times the number killed by gun violence (13,286 in 2015) – though that number attracts the most attention – and even 2.6 times the horrific number killed by medical malpractice (estimated at around 250,000 annually).
Can this possibly not be having an effect on the psyche and morals of a nation? It’s hard to imagine how it could not. And now Ireland is poised to join the club. Sad.
For further details on the duplicity of this effort, see “Medical myths about Eighth Amendment must be challenged: Campaign of fear and misinformation has been deployed to tarnish reputation of Irish medicine.”