BY Daniel Harkins | May 25 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-ABORTION-REFERENDUM

Scots ‘flooding Heaven with prayers’ ahead of Irish vote

Polls predict abortion will be introduced in Ireland, but pro-lifers keep Faith — By Daniel Harkins, Amanda Connelly and James Farrell

Scottish Catholics are ‘flooding Heaven with prayers’ in support of the unborn, as Ireland goes to the polls in an historic abortion referendum that will decide the future of life in the country.

On Friday May 25, voters will decide on whether to remove the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution, which was passed in 1983 and gives unborn children an equal right to life ‘with due regard’ to the life of the mother. Irish minister for health Simon Harris has announced plans to allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, up to 24 weeks on unspecified grounds for the health of the mother, and up to birth where the child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition that means he or she may not live long after birth.

Opinion polls have given the abortion lobby a strong lead, though different companies are predicting wildly different results, and a high number of undecided voters could swing the result. A May 17 Ipsos MRBI poll found a drop in support for the repeal of the amendment, with 44 per cent of voters intending to vote Yes (down five points from April), 32 per cent intending to vote No, and 24 per cent not expressing an opinion.

 

Scottish support

In Scotland, the Church has offered its support to the pro-life community across the Irish Sea. Anthony Horan, director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, said: “The consequences of a ‘yes’ vote in the Irish referendum are grave.

“Repealing the Eighth Amendment and subsequently permitting abortion in Ireland could lead to in excess of 10,000 further abortions per year in the country, if the rate develops similarly to that in the UK.

“The Church in Scotland is hopeful that the Irish people will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment and protect the lives of innocent, unborn babies from the cruel reality of abortion.”

Bishop John Keenan of Paisley Diocese has written a letter to his counterparts in Ireland assuring them of his prayers.

“As a ‘son of Ireland’ myself—having three grandparents of Irish origin—and speaking on behalf of many Catholics in my diocese who are sons and daughters of Erin, I, with my people, promise you union in prayer, heart and spirit, in this time of threat to your unborn children, and to the very soul of our beloved Ireland itself,” he wrote in the letter to the Irish bishops.

 

Parish prayers

Parishes across Scotland have been holding prayer vigils in solidarity with the Irish pro-life cause. At St Joseph’s in Clarkston, Fr Jonathan Whitworth is leading a Holy Hour of Adoration on Friday from 8.30am, concluding with Holy Mass at 9.30am, in ‘solidarity with the Church in Ireland to make sure that on the day we are firmly united in prayer.’

“Historically the Church in this part of the country was nourished by Ireland, so we see this as our fight as well,” Fr Whitworth said. “We are flooding Heaven with prayers and please God it works.”

Fr Whitworth argued that there will be a large number of undecided voters in Ireland, and people who won’t publicly state their opposition to the repeal of the amendment for fear of ‘suffering ad hominem attacks until you shut up.’

“Many will vote with their conscience,” he said. “We are hoping to win hearts and minds and give people spiritual sustenance.”

Sr Roseann Reddy campaigns for the rights of the unborn through the Glasgow-based Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative.

She said she had been praying for Ireland.

“We’ve been encouraging people to get active and to get onboard and to phone people in Ireland and say, ‘look, don’t sleepwalk into this, don’t get abortion in your country by default because you couldn’t be bothered to get up off your backside and go vote,” she said. “There’s only so much we can do here—at the end of the day it’s a referendum, we have no vote in it—but the one thing that we can definitely do is pray.”

She added that recent precedent with voting over Brexit and the 2016 US election suggested an upset could be possible in Ireland, and she stressed that the situation is different now than in the 1960s when abortion was introduced in the UK.

“The most common way that everybody advertises they’re pregnant now is they send you an ultrasound scan or you get it on Facebook,” she said. “So you can’t deny the humanity of the child.”

Meanwhile in Scotland, the pro-life community is fighting a push for liberalised abortion both nationally and locally.

In Glasgow City council area, a planned vote on introducing ‘buffer zones’ around abortion providers—essentially banning pro-life vigils—failed to get off the ground.

A lack of time meant the motion from SNP councillor Elaine McSporran wasn’t debated, though she has vowed to bring the plans ‘back to full council to be debated.’

In Edinburgh, pro-life group SPUC Scotland continued their battle against the introduction of the home abortion pill, arguing at the Court of Session that the move by the Scottish Government is unlawful and unsafe, and calling for a judicial review. Judge Lady Wise will issue her decision at a later date.

SPUC Scotland CEO John Deighan said: “We presented very strong arguments, and we didn’t feel that government side countered them very well. We showed them that the law just now does not allow them—our interpretation of the law certainly—does not allow people to have abortions in a place that’s not properly controlled, so the home wouldn’t fit in that.”

Asked his view on the Irish referendum, Mr Deighan said that in Ireland ‘there seems to be a great rebellion against the heritage which has in the past recognised the dignity of human life for everyone.’

“But we’ve seen every political party just about, all the press, the radio, television, everyone in government all pushing in one direction. So it’s been a massive war on the one-side, largely, in the media coverage. I think grassroots, the pro-life voice is strong and they’re fighting back, so the polls have continually been narrowing, despite the one-sided nature of the coverage.

“It looks worrying certainly at this stage, but we don’t know. I mean, things we’ve seen in the past sometimes, the poll can show one thing but when people think more about it and walk in and cast their vote, they might do something different. So we are trying to be hopeful.”

He added that the result will be closely watched in Scotland and that whatever the outcome, the message is ‘that people at grassroots level can still stand up for life, even when the media and the political elite have been so strongly one-sided the other way.’

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