One of the first decisions I made as leader of RENUA Ireland was to end the previous positioning of the party on abortion which was one of freedom of conscience. The reasoning behind this was not because I am some sort of ‘hard-liner’. It was simply informed by the belief that political parties must give clear direction. We must stand for things even if that stance is not popular or easy. It is called leadership.
In the case of RENUA Ireland the clear desire of a majority was to stand with the unborn child. This has created the scenario where, uniquely RENUA Ireland is the only party who has a clear unified stance on abortion. We have decided to choose Life.
Now, Ireland over the next six months is engaged in a battle over the future direction of our country. It is a battle on the most critical issue any society must face. How do you define ‘Life’ and how do you protect it?
The current abortion regime is not perfect. We need to find better ways to deal with the scenario where thousands of Irish women use abortion pills every year. We need to find kinder more sympathetic ways to deal with the tragedies and difficulties of fatal foetal abnormality and all aspects and forms of abortion. There is a lot of work to be done, no matter what the result is, to help and engage with women experiencing crisis pregnancies. Real work. Practical help.
Some will say we are hypocritical because abortion exists already via the back door in Ireland. It does and there is not a great deal we can do to stop it. But we can do all that we can to create a culture that values and protects the woman and the unborn child equally. And, whether the referendum is passed or defeated we need to improve the services for pregnant women in all circumstances.
There is, however, one key reason why RENUA Ireland will oppose Repeal of the Eighth. Or rather there is 170,000 of them; the 170,000 lives that have been saved since 1983. We stand with those unborn because we believe in a progressive politics of ‘human rights’. We are a party whose core social principle is the belated development of a culture of human rights for children, for working people in areas such as the right to shelter, for the elderly and in this case for the unborn.
RENUA Irelands freely chosen role in this referendum is to be the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the defenceless. It is a position that is entirely consistent with our views on outwardly different matters such as crime and the elderly for example. We oppose this referendum because we believe;
Abortion discriminates against the unborn
Abortion discriminates against those with a disability
Abortion denies the human rights of the unborn child
Abortion is a cruel and inhumane treatment of the unborn child
RENUA Ireland also opposes the creation of a new culture of death in Irish maternity hospitals and the same culture of death in GP offices without even the virtue of consultation with GP’s. Many of these are profoundly disturbed by the apparent determination of the government to turn them into front-line abortion providers without their consent.
The current situation is not perfect. But current legislation protects the mother and the child. No woman has died in an Irish hospital because of the denial of an abortion. Instead medical negligence, as in the case of Savita, is a far more dangerous threat.
Under the current legislative framework Irish hospitals are the safest in the world for pregnant women. But will that continue if the current culture of defending life at all costs is replaced by a new culture of Eugenics, Genetic engineering and to death sentences for the ‘wrong’ children.
The current advocates of Repeal the Eighth claim this would never happen and that twelve weeks is, to borrow a phrase from Swift ‘A Modest Proposal’. But, it has happened in every other country in the world where, once legalization occurs unborn children are, up to twenty-four weeks, aborted for the sin of having a cleft palate or a mental disability.
The government will say trust us on twelve weeks. But do we really think that twelve weeks will continue to be the case. Voting for twelve weeks will open the door and once opened that door will swing wider and wider from twelve to sixteen to twenty and to twenty-four weeks. Twelve weeks is only the beginning of it.
The issue as to whether we can trust politicians and the HSE on these issues is also compromised by the lead-up to this referendum. Every ‘Independent’ process from the Citizens Assembly to the Dail Committee – which even as it publicly said it wanted more Pro-Life evidence privately silenced RENUA Ireland and our expert witnesses – was in fact gerrymandered towards a pre-determined point which is the current referendum. ‘Trust us’ they say. ‘No way’, we say.
The real-truth is that our politicians want rid of abortion in Irish public life because it is ‘difficult’. They have gamed the entire lead-up to the referendum. Against that context can we really believe they are acting in good faith when it comes to their future promises about a moderate regime.
RENUA Ireland does not believe this is the case. Instead it is sadly clear that Fine Gael have been taken over by the secular sectarians who used to rule the Labour party. These same sectarians are on a mission to expel the Catholic church from every aspect of Irish Life from schools to public houses. Such indeed is their consistent hatred of anything to do with the church or old-fashioned traditions within a decade traditions such as communion or confirmation will be treated as harshly as wearing the hijab in France.
It is said by the liberal elite that governs our media that abortion is the signifier of the ‘progressive’ society. In fact, this sort of provincial aping of other bigger countries is embarrassing. RENUA Ireland contends that the truly progressive society is one which is not afraid to be different; one which protects the weakest.
Ireland should not change our values and culture so easily. They are what make us distinctive. And we should not change it merely to be praised by a few feminist academics in the Irish Times.
The next few months will be difficult ones. RENUA Ireland recognizes that there are sincere people on both sides of this agonizing debate. We will respect our opponents. But we are unflinching in our belief that the Repeal the Eighth Amendment will be a bad day’s work for our country, for women and for the weakest section of our society; the unborn twelve-week-old child. And we are equally unflinching that trusting politicians and the HSE on abortion would be an act of irresponsibility. RENUA Ireland did not start this battle for the soul of Ireland. But, we will finish it. Our opponents may have might and a mostly foreign owned media on their side. But we have right.