Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Irish Repeal Of 1983 Anti-Abortion Law Rightly Puts The RC Church In Its Place

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Irish women voters whoop it up at Dublin Castle after "Yes" vote trounces the backward anti-abortion faction.

I never believed for one second some of the polls, published in the days before the Irish referendum Saturday, to repeal an antiquated anti-abortion law (from 1983).   That  law (constitutional amendment) punished women with up to 14 years in prison if they even sought an abortion.  I didn't believe those "too close to call" polls because I knew the Irish (most of them) - like Catholics in the USA - were fed up with being told how to use their bodies. Especially by a clergy and pontificate that had long since lost any moral authority because of the sexual abuse crisis -  involving thousands of pedophile priests worldwide - which too many RC dogmatists would prefer to forget (and have the rest of us forget too).

The church also lost much of its credibility in the wake of scandals involving thousands of unwed teen mothers who were placed into servitude in so-called Magdalene convent laundries or mental asylums as recently as the mid-1990s.  Most of these atrocities didn't come to light until a late 1990s documentary on"The Magdalenes"- especially the way the nuns worked the young women to tears, see

This is why the truest words in the aftermath of the resounding 'yes' were spoken by Gail McElroy, professor of politics at Trinity College Dublin:

"This is devastating for the Roman Catholic hierarchy.  It is the final nail in the coffin for them. They’re no longer the pillar of society, and their hopes of re-establishing themselves are gone.”

And that is as it should be!  Whether pronouncing on the ability of deathly ill people - like Brittany Maynard -  to end their lives after incredible physical suffering, or blabbering on the "ills" of masturbation to otherwise virginal adolescents with no other sexual outlets - to trying to shame  women into not aborting an unwanted fetus. (Not a child! A fetus is called a 'child' by ideologues attempting to make false equivalence between actual persons and non-persons.)'.   In all these cases the Catholic moral dogmatists have had their way with the sex organs of their flocks signed, sealed and delivered compliments of the Vatican's fossils in the Curia. But no more! The Irish forcefully said no more running our country from the Vatican. (And oh, by the way, clean up your own act first!)

Anyway, in a powerful final punch, the culmination of what's been called a "quiet revolution", the abomination known as the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution was struck down with nearly preternatural force - by a final tally of 66.4 % to 33.6 %.  If described in football terms, it'd  be a 'blowout'. But that lopsided vote showed most of us what an odious law it was - conferring equal rights on the fetus and the mother and banning abortion under almost all circumstances. The draconian and punitive nature of the amendment forced thousands of Irish women each year to either  travel abroad or to buy pills illegally online to terminate their pregnancies.

That nonsense must now stop and in the words of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar:

"This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken and said: 'We want a modern Constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care'.”


"No more doctors telling their patients there is nothing that can be done for them in their own country,” he said. “No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea. No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone.”

What was most encouraging is how the 'yes'  votes pervaded different Irish voting demographics. While women outpolled men in the exits, for example, men still supported the 'yes' side, as did farmers and rural counties. But as may be expected, the support for yes was most robust among the young and urban.

In the words of Irish Times columnist Finan O'Toole:

"For all the attempts to divide us into tribes, the exit polls showed that every part of Ireland voted broadly the same way, which was to trust its women and make them fully equal citizens."

Of course, there was the expected caterwauling and promises of "this isn't over" from the losing side, who ought to know after this (like the personhood morons in the States) that it is over. As one of them - Cora Sherlock, deputy chairwoman of one of the largest anti-abortion groups-  whined:

"Today is a sad day for Ireland and for people who believe in genuine human rights. The struggle to defend the most vulnerable has not ended today, it’s just changed.”

Sorry, Cora, but it has ended.  I hate to have to spell this out, but fetuses have no rights such as the already born do. A fetus cannot have the right to vote, or the right to free speech - given it has no speech- nor a right to bear arms, or to have a trial by jury.

More to the point here, the Irish anti-abortion crowd would do well to process they've actually been had by their esteemed Church.  I refer to the fact up until 1869  the Catholic Church DID ALLOW abortions to be performed up until the third trimester.   This, according to John Connery, S.J. a leading historian of the Church’s teaching on abortion, and citing a long standing tradition of Canon Law. (See, e.g. Druyan and Sagan, PARADE, April 22, 1990).

But wait! The RC Church is now adamantly against abortion. What can explain this turnabout?  Well, obviously, if you can alter a position, it is hardly "absolute" or true for all time. In his marvelous book, Infallible?, Hans Kung observes (p. 143):

"No one, neither Vatican I, nor Vatican II, nor the textbook theologians, has shown that the Church - its leadership or its theology - is able to put forward propositions which inherently cannot be erroneous."

In other words, the basis for all theological, moral rulings on issues like abortion is that they are relative only. Clearly, the fact the Church already changed its doctrine on abortion shows its moral positions are malleable and not set in stone.  If this is so, then their authority over a given nation' citizens is fleeting, temporary only - and that is by virtue of national laws enacted to prop up bogus theological dogma.

But as the Irish vote shows,  women can be released from the shackles of the knuckle draggers when the specific nation holds a referendum to dump the national law.  In other words, Irish citizens had the final say on whether women would be hostage to some ancient, absurd dictate now worth no more than a half ounce of doggie lickspittle.  At the same time the Church, which still hasn't resolved the priest sex abuse crisis, has to take one on the chin  - in a hearty blow delivered by Irish 'yes' voters.

Best advice to the losers? Try to lick your wounds, and instead of wasting time on an 8th amendment redo, learn why your countrymen voted as they did.

In the meantime, we need to bear down on the Trumpie assholes who - using a Reagan era gag rule - have prohibited doctors, nurse practitioners and other medical staff from even referring patients to abortion info.   It is absolutely sickening that while Ireland has made a great leap forward in social progress we've allowed the Trump degenerates to take us backward...toward the days of back alleys and coat hangars.

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