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Opinion: The Eighth Amendment

The opinions expressed in the following article are those of its author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCC Express. The author has requested to be credited as ‘anonymous’, and we have complied with this request.

I am a male, mature student of UCC and at present, I sit firmly on the fence with regards to the issue of repealing the 8th amendment. Some would suggest that I have no right, as a man, to have an input or opinion on this issue unless it is for the full repeal of the 8th amendment. But democracy says otherwise, thankfully. So, here is my take and my story.

My mother fell pregnant at 18 while dating my father. It was an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy which was also surrounded by the issues of the day such as the stigma around a young girl falling pregnant to a man she had only been dating for a couple of months. Recently, in light of the current debate around the abortion issue, I have had a discussion with both of my parents who, much to my horror, told me that I was almost certainly going to be aborted when my mother fell pregnant. Their honesty about this opened my eyes and gave me a new sense of cherishment for life and the possibility of my life never existing.

The only thing which prevented my mother from travelling to england to get an abortion was financial circumstances. Both her and my father thought long and hard about how they could get themselves to england and end the pregnancy but they simply could not do it. So, coming to the realisation that they may have to face the gravity of their situation they turned to family members, one of which offered to pay for the travel and for the abortion. However, at this point, my mother was 9 weeks pregnant and had begun to come to terms with her situation. It is for this reason, why I value the 8th amendment and why my mother values it. It is not about women’s reproductive rights, it is about the rights of the unborn. It is about the protection of life. It was the 8th amendment which prevented my mother from acting irrationally and impulsively. It saved my life. Some try to draw connections between the church and abortion but, as an atheist, this argument has no weight with me. The church is fading into obscurity in Ireland, slowly but surely and thankfully but, to suggest that anyone who is pro life is also a fervent catholic is plain wrong. Many are not. There is something very unsettling to me about abortion on demand or a full repeal of the 8th amendment. To normalise abortion is a dangerous act. It is not a normal thing to abort a child and should never be normal however, this debate has become something much more than abortion. It has morphed into a women’s rights issue which is also straying from the central issue of abortion.

While I sit here on the fence and await the final wording of what will be on the referendum ballot paper, I am becoming increasingly disillusioned with the repeal the 8th movement. It has become a politicised and populist tool by political parties, social justice movements and by radicals. It’s a shame. I would urge those who advocate for repealing the 8th amendment to consider everything. To take a step back and look at it objectively and consider both sides to the debate. Most people, myself included will agree that abortion should be available to women in cases of rape, incest and fatal abnormalities. We must accommodate and support women in these circumstances and not bind them to a law which is too simplified and too black and white for such a complicated issue. However, as someone who is here because the 8th amendment prevented my life from being prevented, I am cautiously optimistic that reasonable thought will prevail in this issue. It is the greatest issue to face us as a nation in a generation and we must not make the wrong choice. If we do, if we let the inflamed rhetoric make our minds up for us, we will suffer the consequences for generations to come. Perhaps we may even be ashamed of ourselves. Perhaps we will have blood on our hands. Perhaps I had no right to life.