Catholic Church muted in Irish abortion vote

By | September 7, 2019

Ireland is still an overwhelmingly Catholic
nation. But during the country’s big debate on abortion
rights, the Catholic Church mostly sat on the sidelines. The Church was instrumental in enshrining
a strict abortion ban into Ireland’s constitution in 1983. Clergy members have spoken out against repealing
the ban, but the church hasn’t taken a leading role in the new referendum. Instead, pro-life campaigners in Ireland have
made secular arguments about preserving the human rights of unborn children. Pro-choice activists have argued repealing
the ban will help give women in Ireland access to essential health care. Ireland has been steadily decoupling its laws
from the church’s positions, following a wave of global and local scandals. Most recently, Ireland legalized same-sex
marriage in a similar referendum in 2015. Despite the church’s more muted opposition,
the referendum has been deeply divisive in Ireland. Abortion activists say cultural taboos about
discussing sex and sexual health have enshrined the church’s position on abortion. Ahead of the vote, the Irish government outlined
its plans for new abortion laws if the referendum passed. Those included a controversial measure allowing
women to have abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without giving a specific reason.

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