Looking back on 2018 and Repeal the Eight

So we leave 2018 behind us, and look forward to the new year, with both hope and trepidation. 

One of the big events of the past year was, of course, of referendum to repeal the 8th. As I recorded earlier in this blog, I voted Yes, but did so with a fair bit of uncertainty, knowing that whichever way the result came out, I wouldn’t see it as a cause for celebration. It was, for me, a very difficult decision as to how I would vote and in the end I came down on the Yes side because of the fact that I am part of an organisation, the Church, which has over its history oppressed and sidelined women when it came to making important decisions effecting their lives. So I voted for freedom of choice for women, knowing full well that some of the choices that would be made would go against some of my fundamental beliefs.

Now the decision is made, and we move on. My hope is that everything will be done to make abortion as rare an event as possible, so I would like to see a much better quality of sex education in our schools and homes, and contraception being easily available and free. I hope that Church authorities will be sensible and open, and don’t try to block these developments in any way. The traditional Catholic teaching of no sex before marriage is no longer the answer, and would, I believe, bring about more, rather than less, abortions.

I wish people wouldn’t gloat over the referendum result. I find the attitudes of some of our politicians, and some in the media, particularly repellent. Calling the result a sign of a great new Ireland, open and tolerant, compassionate and free, is not accurate. While I recognise the necessity of having abortion services available in this country, it is also true that it will lead to the unnecessary deaths of young babies, and not always for justifiable reasons. This is not something to celebrate, and describe as a great victory. I know some women have worked hard to achieve this change for many years, and there must be a sense of achievement. That is understandable. But a great many people are also saddened and upset that abortion is now happening legally in this country. Would it be too much to ask some in the public domain to respect these peoples’ feelings and attitudes, and not continuously try to rub their noses in it. And please, could we never again hear that awful phrase, “We won; you lost”, in relation to this. 

The real cause for celebration will be if in a number of years time we can say the following:

— Abortion only happens when a mother finds herself with no other option, despite there being top-class services available for pregnant women.

— That respect between the sexes continues to grow, so that there is less and less abuse or violence in sexual relationships.

— That more and more people recognise sexual relationships as an expression of affection and love, and act accordingly.

Then we can look back on what happened this past year as one necessary, though difficult, step in bringing about a new Ireland that all of us can really celebrate together.