In a sharp rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church - which while ostensibly neutral had numerous Catholic organizations campaigning hard for a retention of Ireland's near total ban on abortion - Irish voters appear to have voted by a landslide for repeal. The result while not yet formal is yet a further underscoring of the Catholic Church's near total collapse of power in Ireland, once a bastion of Catholicism. The abortion vote comes roughly three (3) years after Irish voters voted to legalize same sex marriage despite the Church's vociferous opposition (Ireland currently has an openly gay Prime Minister). A live blog on the Irish Times can be found here. Another piece in the Irish Times looks at the projected results. Here are highlights:
Counting is under way in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, with a result due to be declared this afternoon.On Friday night, an exit poll carried out for The Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI indicated a landslide victory for the Yes side, with 68 per cent, versus 32 per cent for No.
Early tallies in constituencies across the Republic have indicated a strong lead for the Yes side and campaigners on both sides of the debate have been reacting to the forecasts on Saturday morning.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I think what we’ve seen today really is the culmination of a quiet revolution that’s taken place in Ireland for the past 10 or twenty years. This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken.
“The people have said we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision, the right choices about their own healthcare.”
Mr Varadkar told RTÉ the results so far show the nation is united, not divided. When asked what he believed the key factors were influencing people’s vote, the Taoiseach said: “Most of all and above all, it was the very many brave women and men who told their personal stories as to how the Eighth Amendment impacted on them, and impacted on them adversely.”
Iona Institute spokesman David Quinn has acknowledged that many people who voted Yes were not pro-abortion, but were pro-choice. He told RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show: “Even the expectations of the Yes side were surpassed.” This was a complete reverse of the 1983 result, he said. “I don’t think anyone expected it to this extent.”
Ireland has become a modern, educated nation. This, combined with the horrific sex abuse by Catholic clergy and the now fully revealed horrors of the Church run children's homes and homes for unwed mothers put the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of the Church on display for all to see. And for the record, I believe abortion should be rare and that science based sex education - something opposed by the Church and evangelicals in America - should be the main method of avoiding unwanted pregnancies. That said, the government should not be making choices for women and their doctors.