Originally titled “The Referendum on the 8th amendment will be a referendum on women” I’m sharing this post to encourage all progressive minds to come to the polling stations given the chance next year. At this point in time the tide is against the 8th movement, although advocates may feel very different as there is a lot of energy in the campaign. However not enough people on the fence are being delivered the facts, the weight of conservative Ireland is being underestimated, and confusion amongst certain groups that a women’s lead movement for women’s rights, is a for women only movement, which has led to the labeling of men pushing for equality as virtue signalling mansplainers who have no place on the pitch.
The referendum on the 8th amendment will be a referendum on women
The inevitable abortion referendum hasn’t yet been announced but it’s very inevitability has been enough to ignite a very familiar fury. The recent placing of a ‘REPEAL’ jumper on a shrine, and the chalking of the same word on the plinth of a statue have given a flavour of the impending paroxysm of righteousness.
The placer of the jumper was said by the Sunday Times to be ‘unrepentant’, which seemed to strongly imply that the festooning of an altar with a worded fabric was an outrage too far for the Church of the Magdalene Laundries, and its fervent acolytes. This is how the religious right operates; largely ignoring the malfeasance of the church it represents, but hyperventilating when women — the principle victims of its ideology — insist that the same church and its advocates should not be groping around issues which specifically involve women, both because they have no business doing so in the first place, and because of their utterly scandalous track record.
Between the pro- and anti-choice campaigns is a morass of bewildered mass-going and lapsed Catholics who remain ignorant for the most part.
But they needn’t endure their ignorance much longer since the debate doctrine will see paid religious advocates given the same say as medico legal experts, obstetricians, and human rights campaigners. Quite how this has become an accepted approach to balanced debate is mystifying, an expert must always be neutered by a contrarian with a questionable agenda.
Even with this undeserved prominence the religious Right still won’t be happy: religious extremists are never happy. Theirs is a psychopathology of victimhood and the grasping narcissistic paranoia that everything must be about them, and if not, why not? They’ll be demanding apologies, crying “bias”, and they’ll write haughtily in national newspapers about the ‘lack of balance’, the ‘unfair treatment’. ‘Abortion is different’, they’ll protest, just as they protested women’s rights for decades with the same rigid absolutism.
They always have a reason, and they will peddle their deceptions just as they have always done. Because for these people abortion is about controlling women and staying culturally relevant. Contraception, divorce, gay marriage — all of which the Catholic church fiercely resisted — were about controlling women. And the religious men who resisted countenanced no nuance, no compromise, no empathy — nothing less than a total ban on anything they saw as a threat to their hegemony would satisfy them.
What terrifies them is autonomous young women unencumbered by guilt, enjoying sex on their terms, not circumscribed by the dictum's of religious elders.
In the coming abortion ‘debate’, the anti-choice message will distill down to a sanctimonious chorus of “WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES, YOU MURDERERS?!” But the fate of “the babies” is never at the top of the list. For many it is well down the list, if there at all. The eighth amendment is a way to undermine women, who have fought hard for divorce, gay marriage and even contraception, while the religious Right has blocked them at every turn. In a longstanding societal struggle over the roles of women, the Right sees in the eighth amendment a key asset, which serves both as a stranglehold and a moral baton. They won’t give it up easily.
(Imagine is one of my favourites by @HBtoons )