Varadkar refused to debate the referendum in public, citing protocol, but that didn't stop him grinning regularly for the media while promoting the Repeal side and parroting vapid soundbites such as Hillary Clinton’s long-obsolete “safe, legal and rare”. Both men refused to meet with women who regretted their abortions and women whose children, though diagnosed with “fatal fetal anomalies”, went on to give birth to their children.
These Irish politicians gave all their time and attention to women and abortion groups whose opinions tallied with their own, and these were the only stories that the Irish media actively engaged in. I myself wrote to both Varadkar and Harris on a number of occasions and to date, neither has bothered to reply to me.
Nathanson: “The second key tactic was to play the Catholic card”
Even though Catholics as such kept a low profile in the Referendum, international media such as the Guardian cited Ireland as being “shrouded in shame” thanks to repressive Catholic teaching, and yet 87% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted for Repeal, demonstrating that the Catholic Church had not influenced them.
Liam Neeson together with with Amnesty (the “human rights” group which supports legalised prostitution and still hasn't returned illegal funds from George Soros) produced a ridiculous and outdated video, with eerie graveyards and crucifixes, insinuating (but never stating) that this is how (Catholic) Ireland looks and treats its womenfolk, due to the Eighth Amendment.
Two-thirds of Irish GPs don't want to engage in abortions, which are not a typical part of general practice, but there is a presumption that this is for religious reasons. Even so, these doctors are going to be forced to participate in abortions or refer women to other doctors, a violation of their right to conscientious objection.
Nathanson: “The third key tactic was the denigration and suppression of all scientific evidence that life begins at conception”
Fifty years of legalized abortion in the UK meant that the Save the 8th campaigners had plenty of evidence to draw upon and stated these facts in their posters. Other posters stated correctly that abortion will be available in Ireland to six months for vague health reasons. Real-life experiences from nurses who had witnessed the horrors of legalized abortions in other countries were also cited.
The Repealers panicked. First, they denied that 1 in 5 British pregnancies end in abortion, as miscarriages weren't included in these figures. They also tried to deny the fact that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted in the UK.
When the Repealers couldn't protest the facts and stats on the posters dotted around Ireland, they did what frightened people often do. They tried to destroy the evidence. During the campaign, thousands of ‘Save the 8th’ posters were torn down around Ireland.
Journal.ie, an online Irish media forum claiming to give a non-biased guide to the Eighth Amendment stated that: “There is little consensus of when life begins”, which is absolute bunkum, but went unchallenged. Embarrassingly, retired OB-GYN Peter Boylan stated on Irish national TV that the preborn child in the womb is not fully formed at 12 weeks. He was corrected by pro-life OB-GYN, Dr. John Monaghan.)
Astoundingly, instead of challenging Boylan’s lack of basic scientific knowledge, the Irish media actually rushed to defend him, referring to his “expertise”. And Boylan’s reward for scientific ignorance if not blatant lies on Irish national TV? He was promoted by Health Minister Simon Harris to be Ireland’s first Abortion Doctor in Chief, to help usher in abortion to Ireland.
Who really ran the secular debate in the Irish referendum?
It was very obvious that the pro-life ‘Save the 8th’ campaigners, mostly women-led, were the true secular ones: to their lasting credit they called out the media for their prejudice; avoided religious references and representatives and used lots of scientific facts, stats, and logic to back up their arguments.
On the other hand, on the 26th of May, when the referendum results were announced, the pro-choice Repealers danced in a ritualistic manner at Dublin Castle, while Varadkar, Harris and other pro-abortion Irish politicians stood on a platform like “tin gods”, lapping up the attention and waving to their cult-like followers.
Maria Horan is an Irish teacher and writer living in the UK with her husband and baby son. This article is an edited version of one originally published on the Secular Pro-Life blog.