On May 25th, 2018, Ireland will have the chance to repeal the Eighth Amendment of its constitution in a referendum. This amendment was adopted in 1983 and it asserted that a fetus had the same rights as the woman who carried it. It’s no surprise that this law came into existance, since Ireland was still pretty synonymous with the Catholic faith when the Amendment was passed and while it allowed for pregnancy termination if the life of the mother was shown to be at risk, it made proving that exception more difficult. It also didn’t allow for the mental health of the mother – only the physical. The Eighth strengthened penalties for seeking an abortion both in Ireland and abroad and it ensured that community groups and organizations could not legally help women who wished to explore those options. It took decades of hard work to rectify the latter circumstances but abortion in Ireland was and is still illegal.
This is not to say that women (and girls) don’t get abortions. Recent statistics estimate that more than 150,000 Irish women have had abortions since the eighties. About a dozen have them every day – either by traveling to the U.K. where abortion is legal, by using the outlawed Plan B pill, or getting an illegal (and sometimes unsafe) abortion in Ireland itself. These women risk a prison sentence of up to fourteen years if they are caught having an abortion on the island, but they do it anyway and that is really the only point that should matter in the upcoming referendum on whether the Eighth should be repealed or not.
Peace. It’s an elusive concept to many countries, tribes, and populations. The idea that there will ever be a time without war is a dream. It is one that everyone claims to hope for but in reality, hundreds of thousands of politicians, economists, religious leaders, generals, neighbors, soldiers, and contractors work against the concept every day. A world without war is a type of idealism that can sum up the beliefs of bleeding heart liberals, traumatized veterans, moderate conservatives, and true libertarians alike…but it has no place in this world that we live in today, outside of philosophy and imagination. As Robert Heinlein said, “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.”
First, well done Ireland. You have done what no other country has been able to do and truly showed that all love is equal – by popular vote. Now I know some are still incredibly unhappy with that, but the majority of voters have truly given the rest of the world a little more hope.
Here in America, the “land of the free” (asshole quotes intended), we have no such track record. In fact, some states have written the exact opposite sentiments into their laws – which is utterly heartbreaking – and we give a lot of media attention to our worst, rather than our best. A good example of that is the Westboro Baptist Church, a truly horrifying organization that loves to grab the attention of the press. We eat up their hate-filled propaganda like it’s a bag of McDonald’s french fries which is equally disgusting. I try not to pay attention to them or anyone like them at all.
However, today the headline made me laugh out loud and giggle with glee, so as much as I don’t like to spread their filth, this was just too funny to pass up. The hateful group decided they were going to take up their signs and protest Ireland, due to the referendum results, but apparently no one decided to make sure they got the flags right before printing all of their detestable signs. So according to them, God hates Ireland, but their misprinted signs hate the Ivory Coast….because they got the flags mixed up.
They tried to save face when it was pointed out to them on Twitter, by saying “Well, now that you mention it, God hates the Ivory Coast too” (for some reason they’re sure to invent) but the joke’s on them this time. Their spectacular failure to spread their hatred accurately is worth the fifteen minutes of glee that it gives to the rest of us who believe that all love is equal and that the WBC should be dismantled.
So congratulations again Ireland – for saying no to hate, and for allowing the haters to make bigger fools of themselves than ever before. Well done!