The Irish Abortion Vote

 “You are my dreams fulfilled, Sydna,” my Irish maternal grandfather announced upon meeting me when I was 5 years old. “You are my American grandchild, a citizen of the land flowing with milk and honey!”

The stark reality is that had I been born in Ireland, I likely never would have experienced abortion because abortion in Ireland remains illegal. My family’s beautiful Irish European culture has blissfully been free of the dominance of abortion viewpoints that insist women should control every part of their fertility.

Sadly, an abortion-free Ireland may end with this May battle to advance abortion access in Ireland. This vote will determine whether or not Ireland will retain the 1983 Eighth Amendment to their Constitution, which places an equal right to life on the unborn child and the mother. Abortion activists hope this amendment will be voted out, allowing unrestricted abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy in Ireland.

Nowhere in the world is abortion more unusual than in Ireland. One of the few common elements in the South and North nations of Ireland is the absence of legalized abortion. While Northern Ireland basically is part of the United Kingdom—where many children are aborted every day—abortion remains illegal in the north as well.

Ireland has a very low abortion rate. The number of women traveling to other nations for this procedure has fallen by 50% since 2001. This was long after the abortion pill became available. According to and article from the BBC, “Fewer women are having abortions precisely because Irish society became more open, more tolerant, more compassionate and gave women better support.”

Irish women can obviously pursue an abortion in England or other nations. It is estimated that  nearly 200,000 Irish unborn children have been lost to abortion since 1968. If an Irish woman is caught trying to abort their child in Ireland, she faces a potential 14 year prison sentence. There has yet to be a prosecution—as far as we know—of a woman or girl for taking the abortion pill.

This isn’t the first time the Irish have voted on abortion. In 1992, the Supreme Court held in the X Case that a thirteen-year-old girl who had become pregnant as a result of rape could be permitted to obtain an abortion in the state. There were unsuccessful referendums in 1992 and in 2002 which would have overturned this decision and removed the risk of suicide as a ground for an abortion.

There has been a series of litigation in both Irish and international courts on abortion in Ireland. In A, B and C v Ireland (2010), the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under Irish law.

Pure Irish blood flows through my veins but my culture is American and not Irish. Children of immigrants typically have little family support or influence in their new nations. Immigrants often grapple to find their ways through a new culture while deeply retaining their birth country’s ethnicity.

Abortion’s ability to “erase a mistake” in an unexpected pregnancy made sex outside of marriage seem free of any consequences in my teenage mind. I had no idea abortion would be a choice that would negatively define me for the rest of my life.

Had abortion been illegal in America, I do not believe I would have crossed the line and had sex before marriage. My mother raised me to respect American law and to never put myself in a position where I could be arrested.

Before their divorce in 1973, my Irish parents worked to instill as much of the Irish culture in my life as possible. It’s common for a first generation American to be raised in one culture at home and enter a different ethnicity when they walk outside their home. That is a very confusing way to grow up, to say the very least. If they speak a different language, that makes the American assimilation process even more difficult.

There are few programs that prepare immigrants for the American way of life. Most that leave their home must learn their new culture personally and make their way through a vastly different world that has many ideals not shared with their home nations. Immigrants must obviously change and adapt quickly, which mystifies their family back home.

My mother was forced to work and dropped out of school at age 11. She then was employed in tobacco factory. For most of her youth, she rolled cigars. Her entire paycheck was collected by my grandmother so she never had a penny to use personally. My mother spent that time dreaming and planning her escape from poverty through a future life in America.

Being Irish-American meant I was the first female in my entire family line to have the ability to earn a college degree. When I was born, my mother fanned the feminist flames in my heart for educational achievement at a tender age. She vowed I would never be forced to “roll cigars” to support myself!

When I finally entered the college scene, my mother’s entire paycheck would go to support my college agenda. Ten months later, when I learned I was pregnant, I simply could not bring myself to destroy her college dreams for my life. Abortion then seemed like the perfect solution!

Those that have settled in the USA may also experience a great deal of pressure from relatives that may have actually sacrificed so that they could enjoy the benefits of American society. When my Irish family discovered my abortion, they seemed outraged. They had no idea why someone given such a great gift of American citizenship would do such a thing as have sex outside of marriage. They expected American family members to be highly successful and perhaps even send checks back home to support them.

Already the Irish government has agreed to the wording of a national referendum on abortion to be held by the end of May. If amendment 8 is removed from the Irish Constitution as a result of that vote, abortion could radically transform the lives of thousands of Irish women.

If Ireland votes to toss out Amendment 8, the government has said it will introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, abortions in Ireland are only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk.

The Her Choice to Heal abortion recovery website has already been accessed by Irish citizens. This website is an excellent healing resource for the post-abortive around the World to discover the hope of God’s grace and mercy.

Please pray for the nation of Ireland. Abortion never improves a culture. It only adds the horrifying element of blood guilt.

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Sydna Masse
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