Pro-lifers in Ireland are now gearing up for the coming struggle to prevent the Government from introducing legislation to regulate abortion in Ireland in line with the disastrous Supreme Court ruling handed down last March. At that time the Court rules that abortion could not be refused to a woman who threatened to commit suicide. This was their interpretation of the Constitutional clause which proclaims the right to life of the unborn, but which also upholds “the equal right to life of the mother.”
The court made its ruling despite the fact that everybody, regardless of their opinion of the subject of abortion, admits that the people of Ireland, when they enacted that constitutional clause, did so with the clear intention of banning abortion forever. Now that the court’s ruling has been made, the Government and the media are trying to ignore that clearly expressed intention of the electorate, and to deny the people their constitutional right to have the final word in all matters concerning the Constitution.
The Government has promised the pro-abortion lobbyists a referendum before the end of the year to “give effect to the Supreme court decision.” Pro-Life demands for a referendum to reenact protection for the unborn have, so far, been ignored.
Of course, this is a coalition Government made up of a majority party many of whose members are pro-life, and a minority part most of whom are committed to legalizing abortion; if the responsible ministers dared to offer any comfort to the Pro-Life movement, the coalition would fall apart and an election would follow. This presents everybody, including the pro-life movement, with a serious problem, because the majority party in the present Government, Fianna Fail, was the party that supported the 1983 pro-life amendment campaign, and is the party with the greatest number of pro-life members, even though its present leadership does not seem to have any sympathy with the pro-life cause.
Any other part, or coalition of parties, would be certain to favor abortion. If Fianna Fail could win an overall majority, the odds are that the leadership would have to go along with the wishes of elected members, most of whom, we believe, would be pro-life. Certainly, most of them would have to answer to a pro-life electorate.
Whether they have a chance of winning an over-all majority is an open question, however. At present, they are being blamed for a record high unemployment rate, and an inquiry into fraud, dishonesty and favoritism in the relationships between senior members of the party and certain slick operators in the meatpacking and exporting industry is coming up with evidence of serious wrongdoing. When the tribunal carrying out the inquiry into this messy affair proposed to call members of the Cabinet to testify concerning decisions made by ministers responsible for departments suspected of turning a blind eye to dubious deals, the Attorney General went to the Supreme Court and got a ruling which says the affairs of Cabinet are absolutely confidential and may not be disclosed.
This ruling has infuriated the opposition, the minority party in the coalition, and the media. It has also caused many people to wonder just how independent of Government pressure the Supreme Court is, particularly when one considers how the same Court delivered the verdict the Government wanted in the Miss X abortion case earlier this year.
A fortnight ago, the Rev. Ian Paisley stated in the British House of Commons, in which he sits as an Ulster MP, that he would even be willing to work with the Pope to keep abortion out of Northern Ireland. Although Northern Ireland is part of the U.K. and most British laws operate there exactly as they do in England, the abortion law has so far been successfully resisted by the Northern Ireland authorities.
There is now a danger that it may be brought in by the back door through the establishment of branches of the Brooke Family Planning Clinics in Belfast and perhaps in other cities. Mr. Paisley is a leading member of the group trying to keep the clinics, and abortion, out of Ulster. Last week he was as good as his word, out picketing with a mixed group of Catholics and Protestants.
I don’t know if this was a first-ever case of Paisley supporters and Catholics joining in a common cause, but it certainly baffled the pro-abortionists. For once they were unable to use their favorite slogan, “Keep you rosaries off our ovaries.”