Varadkar and Harris called ‘godless sinners’ over Eighth Amendment
Freedom of Information documents reveal level of hostility to repealing the amendment
Some of the correspondence questioned the celebratory scenes in Dublin Castle on the day of the referendum count. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris were referred to as “godless”, “sinners”, an “instrument of the devil” and as promoting the “legalised butchery of our children” for supporting the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
Freedom of Information documents released to The Irish Times detail the significant number of correspondence Mr Varadkar and Mr Harris received in response to the referendum on removing the constitutional ban on abortion.
While there was some praise for the two politicians for their role, a large volume of what was released to The Irish Times highlighted the opposition to the referendum.
There were also several pieces of correspondence questioning whether “compulsory euthanasia” would follow the introduction of abortion.
In one letter sent on the day of the referendum count, Mr Harris was referred to as an “instrument of the devil” who was “pure evil”.
Another piece of correspondence received by Mr Harris and Mr Varadkar after the result claimed the two had “blood on their hands”, while the writer insisted they would not pay for an “innocent and defenceless life to be taken away”.
The extent of the hostility to the proposal is evident in the letters sent to the Taoiseach and the Minister in the days running up to the referendum.
One writer claimed abortion was worse than the use of chemical weaponry in Syria, while another questioned how Mr Harris would justify “the crime of abortion” when he comes before “the Almighty”.
In another letter sent to both the Taoiseach and the Minister, the writer questioned why abortion was necessary due to the availability of birth control.
“We fought for birth control plus the pill, injections, condoms . . . This is freedom to have sex and *** get pregnant. So why would any woman not use these methods? A very irresponsible one and we seem to have those in the thousands.”
The same writer said Mr Varadkar, who is a doctor, should perform abortions and not force other medical professionals to carry out the procedure.
Letters to leaders on Eighth Amendment vote
“We can abort the baby from the womb but never from the mind. The unwanted baby is trash to you all . . . I would not throw any of my animals in the bin. They are buried in the garden, they are in my heart and mind.”
'Door to hell'
Abortion is “literally opening the door to hell”, one writer says, adding women who have abortions will feel “guilt, shame, depression, despair, attempted suicide and suicide”.
In another handwritten letter, Mr Varadkar was informed he had no right to “kill little babies and setting up slaughter houses”.
“You are lucky you have survived the slaughter of abortion. May God bless you and give you guidance,” the letter concludes.
A mother-of-six wrote to Mr Harris days before people cast their vote on May 25th urging him to change his position on the referendum and stop “trying to murder all the innocent babies”.
She said she was a doctor who could not support abortion, including in the case of rape.
The woman wrote: “Abortion for a rape must be worse than the actual rape when one look(s) back and realise(s) I was talked into murdering this innocent child.”
The Minister for Health also received a letter from a person who said abortion should not be permitted when the foetus was “created at a time not suitable for mam and dad or they are not perfect”.
The letter says the “wildlife will have more protection than our unborn babies”.
The issues of Down syndrome, the role of politicians in framing the legislation and the introduction of euthanasia feature in significant piece s of correspondence.
In one letter to Mr Varadkar, a person says there will be “no babies” for people who vote Yes.
“That will include no nieces or nephews for you and then our country will be left with an ageing population.”
The writer finishes the handwritten letter urging Mr Varadkar to “do the right thing and stop the murder of innocent babies”.
Mr Harris, meanwhile, received a letter from a Fine Gael supporter, who said their family had voted for the party since 1922 but would not anymore due to the Minister and the Taoiseach’s view on the Eighth Amendment.
It was a “monstrously wrong” position and will change the ethos of Ireland irreversibly, the writer concludes.
The correspondence released from the Department of Health includes several letters from women praising Mr Harris for his role in the referendum campaign.
One Fianna Fáil supporter informs the Minister of their desire to see them fail for party political reasons but concludes he did the country “a service”.
In a letter sent to Mr Harris after the result, one voter questioned the celebratory scenes in Dublin Castle on the day of the referendum count.
The writer said the Minister may have“rejoiced at the sight of Ireland’s citizens dancing with joy at the idea of more easily available abortion” but stressed “thousands of others were weeping at the potential loss of babies to be aborted in years to come: unique children with potential gifts never to be repeated”.
'Triumphalism and euphoria'
A Yes voter also contacted the Minister to criticise the scenes of “triumphalism and euphoria” that she had witnessed.
Her decision to support the referendum had followed much heartache and deliberation and the celebrations had made her feel sick, the mother said.
“I am the mother of a Yes campaigner, the daughter of a devastated No voter, the sister-in-law of someone who had an abortion and the wife of someone who believes the proposed legislation is too liberal.”