The balance of the Repeal Referendum won’t lie with conservative Grannies anyway, and everyone fighting the abortion rights campaign is aware of this. What they need to wake up to though is that there is an uphill struggle in this march for choice that they’re not fully prepared for.
You see the problem is that only 6% of Irish people identify as being non religious (as per the 2011 census). This is very significant, most people I know would be easily identifiable heretics but still say they are Catholic when presented with the question. It’s also more than just a tick in the box on a form, although people say they don’t practice religion they still baptise their children and enjoy other church rituals such as the kind of wedding ceremonies that would make Eamon de Valera proud.
This is significant in that most people still make decisions based on Catholic teachings, despite not attending Church or appearing to present liberal values. This is the result of early schooling indoctrination into the Catholic Church that we somehow have struggled to drive out of this country.
The point being that the Catholic Church is very strongly voicing its opposition to Repeal the 8th and we must assume this is a race to convert and deprogram the majority rather than a race to win the middle ground as previously stated.
The Repeal movement is acting under the assumption that Ireland has proven it’s a country of liberal values, as 62% of the population supported the Marriage Referendum. However what has to be considered is that same sex marriage is a more straight forward issue, we see civil partnerships in films and TV soaps all the time and people are generally more accepting of same sex relationships as a result of exposure and discussion. We also have to consider the strong political support the referendum had and the fact that people are more open about their sexuality nowadays, even prominent members of the GAA have come out as being openly gay which resulted in a whole new chapter of diversity and acceptance in communities all over Ireland.
A survey of American adults conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public life found that 57% of Millinnials are in favour of same sex marriage compared to only 46% who say abortion is morally acceptable. Although our referendum would suggest a higher percentage of Millinnial’s in favour of equal rights the sharp drop off is something to be very aware of and significant enough to suggest that the Repeal the 8th Referendum will not pass in Ireland.
The study also showed that although 70% of Americans identify as being ‘ProChoice’ a remarkable 66% also identify with being ‘Pro-Life’. This is because most people view themselves as being liberal and confuse ‘ProChoice’ as simply an issue about equal rights but when presented with an issue such as abortion revert back to the conservative norms which dominate mainstream thinking.
On a positive note the study published some factors which influence support for abortion such as;
- Knowing someone who’s had an abortion
- Watching MTV show about unmarried pregnant teenagers
- Situation based approach to morality
In summary if you want to repeal the 8th locking your granny in the closet won’t be enough to pass the referendum. The tide is against you despite the recent wave of emotion and success in securing a referendum. Finally if you want to repeal the 8th you must continue the discussion with all age groups explaining the different situations women might require an abortion, leave real life articles hanging around the house/office, and watch more MTV.
As a foot note it’s also worth remembering that although the Marriage referendum passed by a 62% majority several counties voted very marginally in favour of equality, representing heavily conservative populations in Donegal South West, Cavan-Monaghan, Mayo and Donegal North-East with Roscommon-South Leitrim voting a majority 51% ‘No’ to same sex marriage. So if you live in these areas get ultra active and start organising now.