Referendum on Eighth about trusting politicians – not women or doctors
We have all seen breath-taking speed at which politicians’ principles can ‘evolve’
Vote No: “We are being sold a false narrative that our laws on pregnancy and abortion need to be updated.” File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Imagine for a moment that a pair of smartly-dressed young men come knocking at your door. Apparently, they’ve noticed your roof is badly in need of replacement. This comes as a surprise to you, as your roof seems to be serving its purpose very well in keeping out the elements without problems.
However, as these smooth-talking characters explain, all your neighbours have got a new kind of roof, and it would be backward and foolish of you not to follow their example.
Again, this seems strange, as you’ve recently heard some of your neighbours complaining about their roofs leaking. But these nice young men are so charming that you give them the go-ahead anyway. Then they inform you how much the new roof will cost you. You gasp with shock!
This is a price that you’re not sure you can afford. But their sales patter is so convincing that you reach for your chequebook.
Just as you are about to write the exorbitant cost on a cheque, one of the young men says, “Actually, just to be on the safe side, why don’t you just sign the cheque and just leave the amount blank? We wouldn’t want to go to all this trouble to bring you to the door again if the job ends up costing a little bit more.”
Nice young man
As you prepare to detach the cheque from the chequebook, the other nice young man speaks up. “Since we don’t know what other work might need doing, it might be better if you just signed all the cheques in the chequebook, left them undated, and gave us the whole chequebook.”
What should really cause us to sit up and take notice is the request for us to hand over an entire book of undated legislative blank cheques
If such a scheme were operating on the streets of Ireland, we would expect to see warnings from the Garda. But none of us would be so foolish as to fall for such a sales pitch – or would we?
According to the World Bank’s maternal mortality ratios, published by the World Health Organisation, Ireland currently has a healthcare system that is one of the safest in the world for pregnant women. Our maternal mortality rates are, for example, lower than those of either the United Kingdom or the United States.
Yet we are being sold a false narrative that our laws on pregnancy and abortion need to be updated to become more like these countries.
The initial cost we are being quoted to install a new legal regime for pregnant women is steeper than most of us expected, causing many seasoned politicians to doubt whether we can be persuaded to pay it – abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
But what should really cause us to sit up and take notice is the request for us to hand over an entire book of undated legislative blank cheques.
The mantra is “Repeal & Replace”, and listening to our political leaders, you could be forgiven for thinking that the “Replace” refers to the 12 weeks legislation.
Yet, no matter how hard we look for it in the voting booth, it appears that we won’t find any reference to 12 weeks anywhere in the referendum question.
Authorise the Oireachtas
Instead, we will be asked to authorise the Oireachtas to legislate anything it chooses on the subject of abortion.
This will not just apply to the current minority government, but to every future government, including those which are struggling post-election to garner votes and need to form coalitions or sweet-talk a few Independent TDs into keeping them in power.
I suggest that it would be naive in the extreme to remove the most important human right of all – the right to life – from the Constitution
Meanwhile, our current Government has, at great effort and expense, persuaded the Supreme Court that an unborn child has no rights whatsoever under the Constitution except for the right to life guaranteed in the Eighth Amendment.
It is significant that the case before the Supreme Court did not refer to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but was about an unborn child that was due to be born only three weeks later.
The imminent referendum is not about trusting women. Nor is it about trusting doctors. It is about trusting politicians.
We have all seen the breath-taking speed at which politicians’ principles can “evolve” – whether it be with respect to water charges, abortion or whether the US President merits an invitation to our country or not.
I suggest that it would be naive in the extreme to remove the most important human right of all – the right to life – from the Constitution and to put it in the hands of career politicians.
Nick Park is executive director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland