Tag Archives: The Eighth Amendment

Minister for Health Simon Harris at a pro choice rally in Dublin last Summer


This afternoon.


Go raibh maith agat.


Pro Choice campaigners block a banner from the ‘Irish Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’ (ICBR) outside the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin during the Eighth Amendment referendum campaign last May.

This afternoon.

Responding to criticisms of his post last Thursday on the abortion debate, Terry McMahon writes:

Getting attacked seems inevitable when you deviate from whatever the new consensus morality is. Apparently, it comes with the territory now. But the bile is reaching new depths.

And, not only are the rage-fueled reactions disconnected from any reality, the reactionaries spouting the bile are proud of themselves. They have allies now. And righteousness on their side. And carte-blanche authority, it seems, to projectile vomit over any dissent.

When the abortion campaign began, I was voting YES. I was doing it for the women who told me they wanted YES. There were some who were saying the opposite but I was so caught up in the fervour of doing the right thing that I barely registered them.

So confident, in fact, was I in how I was voting, I decided to ignore those dissenters a little less and explore the subject a little deeper by asking some questions. I was looking forward to the clarity with which my side would articulately address those questions.

That’s when it began to get ugly. But the ugliness wasn’t from the NO side. It was from people on my side. People I knew. People I cared about. People I believed knew better. It was a strange feeling.

Nobody likes to be an outsider. Every time I tried to probe a little further in an attempt to understand, the reactions got uglier.

There are always folks out there who will hate no matter what you do but this was different. I desperately wanted to support the many magnificent women who were brilliantly articulate advocates of the necessity of voting YES.

Yet, the deeper I dug, the more impossible it became to ignore the fact that the child was being systematically erased from the conversation. And any questioning of that fact only escalated the rage.

I spoke with many women. And men. And couples. Then spoke with more women. I gorged on all the podcasts. Read all the articles. Spoke with and listened to some of the best people I’ve ever met. On both sides. I also encountered some of the most rabid revisionists it has been any man’s misfortune to encounter, but they were in the minority.

Noble people on the YES side invited people who may have been conflicted to ask questions on social media. It was a kind offer. And smart. So I did ask. Simple, sincere questions from a conflicted soul.

Lenny Abrahamson and Colm O’Gorman proved to be two patient educators. But that’s where it ended. I had to delete multiple posts because of the rabid reactions of some of these new selectively sensitive social warriors.

They didn’t know me but that didn’t stop them becoming self-styled experts on my motivations. They may have had ‘humanitarian’ in their bio but, trite as it sounds, all they had was hate in their hearts.

It was relentless and cruel and deliberate. And, it has to be said, the people who did know me felt no need to come to any defence. Asking basic questions had rendered me an asshole, forever more.

Social media exploded during the campaign. Language was bastardised into the philosophy of convenience and complex morality was dismissed as the weapon of the ignorant. Any deviation was aggressively rejected or turned into an accusation of way-to-make-it-be-all-about-you.

You might feel this was not the case but that’s probably because you were one of the decent people who didn’t feel the need to destroy any and all dissent. Check it out, though. You’ll find it all turned a little crazy. I didn’t know what to think. Or to feel. Or to do.

Then I got blocked by the Repeal Shield. No explanation necessary. No enquiry accepted. Blanket censorship dressed up as liberal progressivism. Ask us any question you want, except the ones we don’t want you asking.

I was lost. Broken. Wanting to do the right thing. Wanting to be on the right side of history. Wanting to be a decent human being. Trying to de-weaponize democracy at the ballot box, I re-read precisely what we were voting for. Over and over. Just to make sure. I was about to tick the box and read it one more time. Words were never more important. I hesitated. Then voted.

As the results slowly trickled out later that day, I already knew it was going to be YES. I had known for weeks. The manipulated wording of the positive YES versus negative NO proposal was already too one-sided. Besides, the campaign was so brilliantly constructed, it was impossible for it to fail.

The word ‘Abortion’ was erased and replaced with the word, ‘Choice.’ The word ‘Child’ was erased and replaced with, ‘Choice.’ ‘Life’ was erased for, ‘Choice.’ And the new buzz phrase was, ‘Compassion.’

Like a frenzied new movement led by all of Ireland’s political parties. Compassion. The repressive regime of cruel, old-world FASCISM was being replaced by a fuzzy, new-world political philosophy that could just as easily have been christened the darkly comical name COMPASSIONISM.

The celebrations were incredible, and, frankly, a little disturbing; unless you had already succeeded in erasing the unwelcome side of the conversation from your soul.

We head just learned of the deaths of multiple women through faulty smear tests but our government heroes they had their sick slates wiped clean in Dublin Castle. As we chanted their names we made heroes out of psychopaths.

Yet, that can be understandable. Anybody can get caught up in the fire. It was a raw and painful campaign. For all sides. In the making of any big moment, mistakes can be made.

Now we’re into the legislative side of things. Those same Government heroes whose mismanagement allowed women die, and are happy for homeless children to have no future, and for those children’s mothers to live in abject poverty, are determining the finer details of the lucrative world of abortion.

Some deeply troubling details are being revealed but the majority gets what the majority wants and the minority needs to shut the hell up about it. That’s the democratic way. And you can’t argue with that. At least you’re not supposed to.

I would never judge a woman for deciding to have an abortion. Nobody knows the complexities of a person’s state of being and it’s her own damn business what she – or they, the couple – decide.

I know women who have had abortions and some of them are some of the finest people I have ever met. I know women who have never had abortions and insist they never would, and some of them are some of the finest people I have ever met. Neither has the monopoly on morality.

But I did have one question. It was related to the talk of refusing to administer pain relief to an about-to-be-aborted baby on the grounds that it would further “shame” the mother.

The cruelly dismissive word coined by an Irish politician to describe this, “obsession with the foetus” over the rights of the mother is, “foetocentric.” It’s not even a real word. But what a word. And what a concept. Foetocentric. Caring too much.

We don’t know what the final legislation will be. We don’t know who is going to profit, but, rest assured, someone will, massively. We don’t know how our already broken health system will deal with the projected numbers.

What we do know, however, is we have a Government that has already shown how psychotically callous it can be to our most vulnerable citizens. So, is it unfair to ask if we should perhaps petition for basic pain relief to be granted by law to a soon-to-be painfully dying human being?

That’s all I’m asking. And, for that absurdly basic question, the Broadsheet attacks began. For those of you who want to write, “way-to-make-it-be-all-about-you,” this is a personal post. That’s all it is.

I have never insulted anyone from the YES side. In fact, the only time I passed public judgement on anyone was when members of the Irish Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (ICBR) stood outside maternity hospitals with images of developing babies.

All I have tried to do is wrestle with a profoundly painful moral question. And I did it publicly in the hope that conflicted people like me might receive insight beyond that complex quandary. I never wanted to hurt anyone. And I still don’t. And that’s why this will be my last post on this subject.

Having asked that basic question about pain relief for an about-to-be-aborted baby, a  commenter on Broadsheet, who I don’t know, and who hid behind an alias, publicly posted the following:

“Do you want answers about abortion, Terry? Have some conversations with women who have experienced it. Listen.

And while you’re at it, ask us about our experiences of being sexually harassed in our school uniforms, assaulted in bars, abused by boyfriends, abandoned by baby-daddies, humiliated by doctors, forced to walk past gory foetus porn during the referendum, kept in the dark about our cervical smear results, and blamed for rape because of our knickers.

Ask us what a miscarriage feels like. Ask us how we feel about the cost of childcare, the lack of subsidizing of childcare, and the fact that we do most of the grunt work in raising children and keeping homes.

Ask how it feels for us to have to defend our decisions and experiences to people like you, who perform a burlesque of macho concern, but are actually as thick as two planks.”

It’s tame compared to some of the things that have been posted about me – no doubt there is more bile to come – but this well-written articulation of her accusatory hatred does seem a fitting end to what has been a horrible education.

Thank you for engaging.

Terry McMahon is a filmmaker and can be found on Twitter @terrymcmahon69

Previously: Terry McMahon on Broadsheet


Previously:  A Conscientious Objection

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


US pro-life couple Emily Faulkner (above centre) and Nathan Berning (second left), of LetThemLive and their handiwork (top) in Dunmore, County Galway. The couple said they were ‘pro-life journalists’ on a crowdfunded assignment in Ireland.

Louise Glavey writes:

Dear Emily Faulkner and Nathan Berning,

I hope you enjoyed your recent trip and all the “journalism” you did while you were here.

Any chance you could crowdfund a return trip to clean up all the litter you left behind?

While I make this submission as a tongue-in-cheek take on the situation, I want you to know that I am taking it seriously.I am filing a police report with photos. (top panel)

The posters are illegal in that they do not display the name of the printer or publisher. They are still up more than 7 days since polling day. Not to mention that they are offensive and upsetting to many local residents.

A further concern of mine is that the couple claim to have printed 5,000 posters for distribution all over the country. I wonder how many other towns and villages have been left with the same litter post-referendum.

We have counted 12 posters still up in Dunmore, Co. Galway…


‘We consider ourselves pro-life journalists in a kind of activist way’ (Irish Times, May 5)

Former MEP Kathy Sinnot with Independent TD Mattie McGrath at a Pro0life demonstration outside Leinster House last November

The pro-life group that rallied 30,000 people to pray the Rosary on the coasts of Ireland in the fall is now organizing a public penance in the wake of the abortion referendum.

Forty Days of Reparation for Life and Faith” will give Irish Catholics the opportunity to “come before God and ask for His mercy and forgiveness” in response to last week’s right-to-life catastrophe.

Rosary on the Coast organizer Kathy Sinnott told LifeSiteNews that the national will to abolish the right to life of the unborn child wasn’t as strong as has been reported.

“I was devastated not just by the loss of protection for the baby before birth but by the size of the vote,” Sinnott told LifeSiteNews.

“[But] as the litany of irregularities in the voting process mounts up, I am no longer am so sure that the election figures are real and the gap as big as it appears.”

Heartened by this suspicion, she is now organizing a spiritual battle against Ireland’s new culture of death.

Irish pro-lifers organize 40 days of public penance over abortion referendum (LifeSite)

Pic: Twitter

GOD decides.

Further to bishopric calls for confession for Yes voters.

Phil Noonan writes:

Bless me father for I have voted
To repeal the Eighth to which you were devoted
Will an Act of Contrition
Absolve the commission
Of murder you so often quoted.


Earlier: A Limerick A Day

Previously: But Top Of The List Would Be The Matter Of You Kicking me Up The Arse

Pic Alamy Stock

From left Senator Catherine Noone, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris during the referendum campaign

Minister Harris has sought permission to work through his summer break to draft abortion legislation. While he has been hailed as the poster boy of the Yes campaign, and he can finally take some heat away from the CervicalCheck scandal and hospital overcrowding, this is not necessarily good.

Speed is not conducive to good law.

The legislation that is created must be perfect. Not right, not good. Perfect. This campaign has been divisive and although the outcome was decisive even those who voted for repeal are not in agreement about what they want to see.

Having repealed the 8th it now lies on our lawmakers to to ensure that women are supported, treated with dignity and medically cared for in every aspect.

However, Minister Harris and Taoiseach Varadkar do know what they want to see. They have seen an opportunity: “69% of the population voted for repeal, lets plaster our names, faces and views to this and quick. If Fianna Fáil bring us down at the next budget we’ve legislated for marriage equality and repealing the 8th…what could possibly go wrong.” (Coincidentally, a large cache of documentation relating to the SCU was released Friday evening)

With the emphatic passing of this referendum Fine Gael have understandably taken the seismic events in Ireland and wish to harness them. Additionally, because Fine Gael have taken this stance a large number of TDs are pushing for speed. No voice can be seen to be delaying this legislation. This needs to be carefully considered.

Lets for an instant consider if the referendum had been split 53/47. What if SImon Coveney’s Cork South Central Constituency had split 54/46 or if Damien English’s Meath West had been tighter?

If the referendum outcome had not been so clean cut would Fine Gael be so keen to get this through? I think it may well have been left in the long grass until after the next general election.

A Fine Gael-led government could pick it up again after forming a new government and the next time an election rears its head it would be a distant memory, or if Fianna Fáil had won the election it would be a little grenade ready to rip the newly formed government asunder. I do realise that these musings are an irrelevancy: The majority of the country said repeal and so it will be.

The referendum has been supported and opposed from all sides of the house. The success of the Yes campaign is commendable and shows Ireland to be progressive building on the support for the marriage equality referendum. It also shows how politicians can work together for the good of the nations citizens from all sides of the house.

This does not give the government the right to ram legislation through.

There is an obvious problem to what I am saying: abortion is needed. It is needed now. As a nation we need to avoid trauma, hurt and stigma that has been associated with abortion.

Potentially, the state can support women with crisis pregnancies. In situations potentially offer financial support to procure the necessary treatment in England, possibly the judiciary could ensure that no custodial sentences are threatened or enforced in the case of terminations.

Steps need to be taken to support our citizens in times of crisis, however the law we enact must be perfect, not rushed. Bad cases make bad law. Often bad cases result in rushed law. It remains to be seen if this case will result in rushed law becoming bad law.

What Minister Harris needs to do is take time to ensure that the law now made is perfect. Having removed the 8th we now need to make sure that the constitution is as perfect as possible. Time is needed.

Rushing through law in a bid to ride on its coat tails to the next general election is a dangerous move. The 8th amendment lived longer in Ireland than I have. We only get one chance at getting this right, let’s make this law perfect.

David Wall is a freelance writer