Fintan O’Toole: Abortion issue creates and sustains tribal politics
In 1983, the conservative Catholic John Healy could also be a staunch opponent of the Eighth Amendment
Then Minister for Health Charles Haughey with ‘Irish Times’ columnist John Healy, right, in November 1978 at the launch of ‘Nineteen Acres’, Healy’s new book, published by Kenny’s of Galway. Photograph: Tom Lawlor
Watching the Claire Byrne Live debate on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment this week, it was hard not to despair of the possibility of a civil public discourse on the issue. And perhaps it was always naive to expect otherwise.
One of the things that makes abortion such a difficult question is that it has been very deliberately chosen as a dividing line. It has been shaped over many decades as a wedge to be driven into a relatively small crack and hammered again and again until the crack widens into an irreparable fissure.