From top: Minister for Health Simon Harris flanked by Master of Holles Street Rhona Mahoney (left) and Master of the Rotunda Fergal Malone during the Eight Amendment referendum campaign last May; Terry McMahon
Have to ask this question. Not trying to offend anyone, though precedent suggests this will likely inspire that strange rage that seems to be our national language these days. Or that other reaction. Silence. Followed by censorship. But, in good conscience, it has to be asked.
Abortion, for a woman, or a couple, is a profoundly private decision. In advance of the ‘Repeal’ referendum, many people were asked to put their personal morality aside and use democracy to give those women or couples the right to make that profound decision in their own country, rather than be shamed into travelling overseas to terminate.
Repeal proved to be a divisive campaign. As both sides carved out their positions decades of inarticulate rage also spewed out. New names were given to old words and language lost all meaning. Anything that didn’t fit into the new narrative was cut out like a gangrene memory.
Yet, when it came to the ballot box, people believed their final decision was done for noble reasons. Both sides believed they were doing the right thing.
And the democratic outcome decided that the right to life of the unborn was no longer constitutionally equal to the right to life of the mother.
At least it was now clear. Easy to comprehend. Regardless of which way you voted. Regardless of the moral complexities.
But now we have politicians defining the consequence of that outcome. We are trusting them with the most profound issue of our time, even if many of them have a verifiable history of implementing policies that have destroyed people’s lives.
We are allowing them to define the reality of abortion, even if many of these men and women have already proven themselves to be psychopaths.
These trusted politicians are now questioning if our nation’s remarkable hospital staff, many of whom are legitimate conscientious objectors, should be forced to participate in abortions. Or face being struck off.
These trusted politicians are now questioning if race, gender, and physical or mental disability are valid reasons for late-term abortion. Including the termination of someone with Downs Syndrome.
These trusted politicians are now questioning if we should refuse to administer pain relief to the soon-to-be-terminated foetus on the grounds that it is just another attempt to shame the mother. Yes, you read that correctly.
Have we really gone from legitimately attempting to address the stigma of shaming a woman seeking an abortion by repealing the 8th, to insisting that a late-term foetus, who feels everything with every nerve ending in its body, should be granted no pain relief in case we cause that mother some shame?
No matter which side you were on, is there anyone out there – literally anyone – who supports the assertion that granting pain relief to an unborn child in advance of its painful death is somehow wrong?
Amid all the noise of Repeal, is this really what we voted ‘Yes’ for? If it’s not, then why in hell are we all so suddenly silent?
Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69
Previously: Terry McMahon on Broadsheet