My experience of researching the 8th Amendment ahead of the referendum

One reader talks about the different view points they’ve seen on both sides of the debate

Written by Anonymous


Where I started

Here’s why: I’m an 18 year old Irish male, so I have the privilege of being able to vote in the upcoming Referendum regarding the possible repeal. I have this gut feeling that it’s going to pass, and that the 8th Amendment will be repealed. It seems to me that the majority of young people are pro-choice, and that many, if not every single young person I know wholeheartedly support the repeal. I know that the Irish, who used to be a hardline conservative, Catholic people, are now moving much closer to a moderate political and religiously liberal stance. The young people are leading this change, and I love that!

I’m a libertarian, I want freedoms, and rights, and liberties; from Government, from oppression and from inequality. I used to be Catholic – I’m not remotely close to that anymore. It seems to me that I represent the core of Irish youth, politically. There’s just one problem – I’m almost Pro-Life. The first time I ever told somebody this, I knew nothing about the entire debate. I actually assumed that everyone was Pro-Life. You’re pregnant? You lose your entire way of life!- for nine months. Then you give the child up for adoption, or you keep it. (Of course, it’s heartbreaking to let a child go, and utterly life changing to keep one. But you have the choice of either). Imagine my surprise when I was yelled at on a bus to town by my female friend after expressing this. I didn’t understand. I had probably fallen victim to privilege – I’m a upper-middle class white male, I couldn’t have been more at risk to that pitfall. Whatever the reason for my ignorance, I was definitely rudely awoken from it.

Do some research

Later, said friend mentioned that I was Pro-Life to somebody in school, and he said something that made me lose my faith in my freedom of speech, belief, and opinion: “What the hell is wrong with you?” I very quickly realised that I was on ‘the wrong side of the fence.’ I did what I knew how to – I googled. Never in my life have I attempted to grasp something so complex as the debate over the 8th amendment. It was impossibly difficult for me to pin down what was right and what was not. This is what I believed before I researched: I know one thing for certain: to me, murder is wrong. Deliberately depriving a foetus of life is wrong. At the moment, we have equality. The foetus’ life is the same as the mother’s. People want to change that. They want to make the mother’s life worth more than the foetus’. I disagree – I believe the opposite should be done.

I’ll tell you straight; personally, I feel that, because the mother has lived as long as she has, that the foetus’ right to life is not only equal with her own; it may even supersede it. This line of thinking isn’t just my own: children are saved from burning buildings before others, parents often physically shield their children from harm, subjecting themselves to the harm instead. I’m no mother, but if I were aged 30, I feel it would be selfish not to allow a child to live in my place. In some ways, if I were pregnant, and planning to adopt, I’ll only have lost nine months of my life, I think. Nine months of my life in exchange for a potential 100 years of my child’s? To me it doesn’t seem like much.

Then I tried to understand the other side of the argument. I realised why this issue is so complicated: the other side of the argument is completely viable and fair, for totally different reasons. Imagine the rush of information as I read article after article about the people who disagree with my core beliefs: I don’t own anyone … how dare I tell somebody how to live. I, sworn to equality, social justice, everything that libertarianism represents … audacity to hope to play God, in situations between child and parent … I am no Supreme Being … can’t know every situation … cannot presume to know what’s best for another person. It’s unethical to force someone to carry a baby … infringement upon another’s free will … nearly all abortions take place in the first trimester when a foetus is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord to the mother … its health is dependent on her health … not a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb.

“Look up the argument of both sides. Let yourself actually see the other side’s points. Without bias.”

I, somehow, managed to leave myself fully supporting both causes. I utterly confused myself. I wasn’t unbiased – I was biased both ways! The most confusing realisation I came to was that, as a male, I really have no right to decide what is best in a situation that I’ll never experience. I’ll never get pregnant, how can I dictate what happens to people that do? That’s like a Rabbi being allowed to vote with the Cardinals for the next Pope – it’s ludicrous!

I’ve flooded you with opinions, many you won’t agree with. I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything. Maybe I lied – I can’t really be Pro-Life, if I can’t fully support the Pro-Life campaign without overwhelming guilt. The point I’m trying to make is this: educate yourself. Look up the argument of both sides. Let yourself actually see the other side’s points. Without bias. If you come out the other side with the exact same beliefs as before, you probably didn’t do it right. In the end, I’m not sure I can bring myself to vote. I can’t commit either way. I can’t shake the feeling that I will regret the choice I make. I’m just being honest with you here, I want you to question your beliefs, but don’t end up like me. If you can make an educated choice that lets you sleep at night, great! I’m jealous. Just don’t go yelling at people or asking what is wrong with them. Maybe if we had fewer overly passionate, single-minded people, I wouldn’t be so sure of the referendum result before the votes are even cast.


Our work is supported by