People from the "Yes" campaign react as the results of the votes begin to come in for the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution at Dublin Castle, in Dublin, Ireland, on May 26, 2018. Ireland appeared to move away from its conservative Roman Catholic roots and embrace a more liberal view Friday as two major exit polls predicted voters had repealed a constitutional ban on abortion. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Some Irish Catholics worried, dismayed after abortion vote

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish Catholics attending Sunday Mass were disappointed with the result of a referendum in which voters opted to legalize abortion and think it reflects the weakening of the church — a situation that was unthinkable in Ireland a generation ago.

There was no mention of the referendum during the sermon at St. Mary's Pro Cathedral, but it was weighing heavily on the minds of some worshippers as they left the Mass in central Dublin.

Ireland voted by a roughly 2-1 ratio Friday (May 25) to end a constitutional ban on abortion, and Parliament is expected to approve a more liberal set of laws governing the termination of pregnancies.

Some worshippers said the overwhelming victory of abortion rights activists seeking the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution reflects a weakening of the Catholic Church's historic influence and fills them with dread for Ireland's future.

"I think the 'yes' vote was an anti-church vote," said Annemarie McCarrick, referring to the "yes" vote in favor of ending the constitutional ban.

The 52-year-old lecturer said on the cathedral steps that a series of sex abuse scandals had undermined the influence of the church in Ireland. She said the church had in recent weeks taken a "quiet" stand against repeal but hadn't been able to sway people.

"I am religious but the church has definitely lost influence here because of the scandals," she said. "The people will not take direction from the church anymore. It's hard for the church to have credibility."

Recent census figures show a small decline in the number of Catholics in Ireland, but it remains by far the dominant religion.

Frank Gaynor, a 75-year-old retiree, said after the Mass that he never imagined the vote in favor of abortion rights would be so lopsided.

He said he was troubled by the way the "yes" campaign used the case of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who died of sepsis during a prolonged miscarriage after being denied an abortion in Galway in 2012, to drum up support for repeal.

"I was disappointed to see the tragic death of Savita being shamelessly used as an excuse for introducing abortion into a country," he said. "That was a sepsis issue that was mishandled. Not an Eighth Amendment issue."

He felt alienated by the campaign: "It's extraordinary the way the campaign focused so much on 'me, me, me,' the rights of the mother, and very little mention of the unborn child. That was sidelined."

With the vote decided, attention is turning to Ireland's Parliament, which will make new laws to govern abortions.

The referendum vote ended a harsh anti-abortion regime enacted in 1983 that required doctors to regard the rights of a fetus, from the moment of conception, as equal to the rights of the mother.

In practice, it meant Irish women had to travel abroad for terminations.
The nationwide rejection of the amendment represented a growing tolerance on social issues in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the vote as bringing a new era to Ireland.
He said it will be remembered as "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light. The day we came of age as a country. The day we took our place among the nations of the world."

His government will propose that abortions be permissible in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It isn't yet clear what strategy abortion opponents will use in Parliament in light of the unexpectedly large vote in favor of repeal. Some opposition figures have indicated they won't block legislation because they must respect the public will.

The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum was cast as a historic victory for women's rights. Exit polls indicated that the repeal was endorsed in urban and rural areas alike, with strong support from both men and women.

Backing for repeal was highest among young voters, including many who returned from jobs or universities in continental Europe to vote, but was also high among every age group except those 65 or older.

Since 1983, the Eighth Amendment had forced women seeking to terminate pregnancies to go abroad for abortions, bear children conceived through rape or incest, or take risky illegal measures at home.


  1. The article opens with this: “Irish Catholics attending Sunday Mass were disappointed with the result of a referendum…”

    I suggest maybe 1/3 were disappointed and 2/3rds of those attending Mass were not disappointed. In this overwhelmingly Catholic country there were more Catholics voting to get rid of the abortion law than voting to keep it.

    There are Catholics who think the draconian abortion law went too far, denied women an ability to protect themselves – their health and their lives – to protect a woman from having to go through a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest, even a very young female/child, too young to put the stress of a pregnancy on her not yet developed body.

    Women who become pregnant are not cows, they are still fully human. When becoming pregnant, they do not give over their humanity, their conscience, their will, their hopes, dreams, plans for themselves. They are not breeding animals for the political farmers or busy-body neighbors to decide their fate.

    Several countries in Europe have shown ways to reduce the abortion rate – primarily through access to effective contraceptives, good sex education, a social attitude that emphasizes the importance of planned pregnancies, and a robust safety net to assure women who do choose to carry an unplanned pregnancy to term have access to health care and won’t starve. I suggest Ireland study what has worked in countries like Switzerland, Germany, Belgium.

  2. THEY BOTH CAN’T BE RIGHT. Or can they?

    Associated Press here reports that “Catholic[ism] in Ireland … remains by far the dominant religion.”

    Yet New York Times reports elsewhere that “[whereas] in 1983, when the Eighth Amendment was voted in, 80 percent to 90 percent of Irish citizens attended weekly Masses … today, that figure is down to 20 percent to 30 percent.”

    Source: Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, “Ireland Votes to End Abortion Ban, in Rebuke to Catholic Conservatism”, New York Times, May 26, 2018.

  3. Dismayed church-going pro-life Catholics in Ireland? Cry me a river !!

    The RCC has been holding Ireland back for centuries and abusing its women and children. Maybe they should show some humility and learn some lessons.

    After the SSM vote and now this Prop-8 referendum…perhaps the Irish would rather have the snakes instead of Saint Patrick and his church.

  4. It’s obvious that The imnipotent god did nothing to change anything, and thus clearly does not agree with the church. It’s clearvthe omniscient god did not see this one coming.

  5. “I think the ‘yes’ vote was an anti-Church vote,”


  6. I guess that you consider yourself omniscient — an attribute normally assigned to gods. An interesting position for one who decries theism.

  7. Yeah. My reaction to that statement was “ya think?”

  8. Not at all. My point was simply that if abortion were asimportant to god as it is to a certain subset of his followers, he could have done something. But he didn’t. So maybe it isn’t so important to him, after all.

  9. Fair enough.

    I just don’t believe that God intervenes as much in the minutia of our lives as some seem to think.

  10. Hey theocrats, guess what? When the church is entangled with the state, it creates wholesale resentment and hostility to both.

    In Ireland, the Catholic Church was very much entangled with the state and responsible for decades of abuses, including human trafficking. Any pretension of moral authority exuded by the Church was lost in heavy handed efforts to give their dogma color of law.

    A free society is a secular society. This is a step towards a more free Ireland.

  11. At least the snakes wouldn’t be wearing Roman collars.

  12. “That was a sepsis issue that was mishandled. Not an Eighth Amendment issue.”

    The ignorance burns. The length these moral monsters will go to to deny that pregnancy itself can kill is truly astounding.

    The sepsis was a side effect of the miscarriage. The bacteria didn’t come in through a paper cut – it came from the dying fetus and the rotting contents of her womb. The only way to prevent or treat it was surgical abortion Sepsis is why women whose miscarriages take too long or who have even a slightly elevated temperature while miscarrying are given immediate abortion in civilized countries.

  13. “I suggest maybe 1/3 were disappointed and 2/3rds of those attending Mass were not disappointed.”

    I suggest the article is correct.

    The 2/3rds who were not disappointed were not attending Mass and rarely do.

  14. There is no deity-bashing in that approach, and that is what he is after.

  15. No, the Catholic Church was not responsible for decades of abuses, including human trafficking.

  16. The inquest said otherwise, and contained nine recommendations for fixing the healthcare failures.

  17. You don’t understand the medical report. What do YOU think the source of the sepsis was? Why do you think literally everyone acknowledges she’d have survived if they’d given her an abortion the first or second time she asked? Heck, why do you think they were going to provide a medical abortion after the sepsis had taken total root? Sepsis is the primary way a miscarriage kills a woman. Ask any obstetrician.

  18. Actually it is you who do not understand the medical report.

    You begin with your preconceived conclusion and back into the report.

    The source of the sepsis was an infection. The medical staff missed it totally until it was too late.

    She would not have died had she not:

    – been alive in the first place

    – engaged in sex

    – etc etc

  19. “No, the Catholic Church was not responsible for decades of abuses, including human trafficking.”

    Your are correct. . . . The Catholic Church was responsible for centuries of abuses, including human trafficking.

  20. Nope.

    However, I did expect the resident anti-Catholics to join the fray, as you so well demonstrated.

  21. So Ireland will follow some of the more ‘enlightened’ Western EU counties by destroying the ‘seed corn’.

    It will be to see the result 30-40 years from now, as Japan & China are finding out.

  22. I presume you’re aware that there never were any native snakes in Ireland.

  23. Yup – and if he thought his believers needed to finance their activities supporting his work the creator of the universe would drop a gold bar, as necessary, into the church safe wouldn’t he?

    It’s an odd god that shows it’s gratitude by beggaring its followers and not those who don’t believe.

  24. I’m not particularly anti-Catholic – though the RCC does have a long and deplorable history of malice and greed – unfortunately it’s not alone.

    I just oppose the insidious and baleful effect that superstitious belief has on decent people.

    The RCC only qualifies as a subset of a grouping within a division of risible nonsense.

  25. What! …St Patrick was a liar?

  26. If he ever claimed to have banished them – yes.

    But it’s OK provided he was lying to save a soul for Jesus.

  27. It’s predictable that they’d draw the wrong conclusion from this event. Instead of considering that their beliefs may be wrong, they decide that the opposition ‘cheated.’ This is what blind faith does to the brain.

  28. Raised by two parents from Ireland I was not surprised or disappointed with this referendum result. In the end, most Irish who are not hardened by partisan Roman Catholicism, will put aside clerical moral decrees in favor of looking at specific human dilemmas. Those Irish who know people who are gay or who face an unwanted pregnancy will favor the human being they know over church decrees. … P.S. In the 1920’s my aunt in Ireland, from a “respectable”(respectability being an Irish hang up at that time) abd prosperous family, became pregnant “out of wedlock” to a poor laboring many lacking property ownership money. Sending the aunt away was never considered, although the family was divided about whether to support her marriage to the man she loved. Why? The dowry. To protect women’s equality in a marriage both the man and the woman had to bring something of economic value – ownership of a frmr or shop, or money – to the marriage. My mother was her sister;’s advocate and won the case. Everything turned out fine. The aunt went with my mother to NYC, was joined these by the man she loved, they married there, and then emigrated to Australia where they prospered. So Not all Irish, even back in the 20’s, in this and other instances (supporting a conversion to Judaism, for instance) feared the church. Quite the opposite. Any attempt by a clergyman to have a say in a family matter wold have been met with a firm, “Stay out of our family business.”

  29. Anti-church was an aspect, but people voted primarily not to be anti-church but pro-women’s rights. Many practicing voted for repeal on the basis of a women’s rights and many practicing Catholics long ago learned to discount the opinion of the clergy and the pope in favor of real human beings and their needs.

  30. For centuries Ireland was under the thumb of London and Rome resulting in an backward society held back by these dual and conflicting oppressors. As an Irish American, I am glad a modern, wealth, and mostly Independent Ireland has finally emerge.

  31. Worried yes but about the wrong issue:

    What Irish Catholics should be worried about:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

  32. Bob, Now that we’re a fact based society that believes in conspiracies theories, how about: “The medical report was ‘fixed’ by the Yes side so as to swing the vote.” or “The medical report was ‘fixed’ by the No side to cover up the awful effects of the Eighth Amendment.”
    By the way, Mom says “Sepsis is the primary way a miscarriage kills a woman.” Is that true?

  33. Ben, I think God did do something. He made us the way we are. More fertilized eggs spontaneously abort than ever implant in the womb. That’s the way we’re made.

    My mother the nurse used to say that a miscarriage, as awful as it is for the parents, meant that the child likely would not have survived long (she lived long before today’s neonatal intensive care and the extraordinary measures they have at their disposal).

    Two conclusions. It would seem that if God thought it critically important that every fertilized egg survive to birth, God would have arranged things differently. Two, God gave us minds capable of learning how to save many that would have otherwise died, but never insisted that we save them all. That means God left the decision up to us. So if we choose to legislate that decision one way or the other, it’s on us. Personally, I think the Catholic Church lost its way in the 20th century and is now paying the price for a bad human decision.

  34. I have seen zero indication the report was “fixed”.

    What seems to have happened in the case of Savita Halappanavar was that despite the facts, her husband – who was nearly irrational – concluded that the law prevented a life-saving abortion and went public with it.

    As with the Bon Secours fiasco in Ireland, those with axes to grind jumped on the bandwagon.

    Since there was a political campaign being waged to legalize abortion, this played right into the hands of the propagandists. They didn’t wait for an inquest.

    We’ve seen this before with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, “Hitler’s Pope”, Maria Monk, and on and on and on.

    I don’t see any data that would support the conclusion that sepsis is the primary way a miscarriage kills women.

    There are three kinds of miscarriage.

    1 – the fetus is entirely expelled from the uterus. This is known as a “complete” miscarriage.

    2 – only a portion of the fetus and placenta are expelled, and some remains inside of the uterus. This is called an “incomplete” miscarriage.

    3- the tissue remains entirely in the uterus. This is a “missed” miscarriage.

    And that is also the ranking by danger to health.

    A missed miscarriage – the most dangerous – can cause a severe infection in the uterus, or even sepsis – a severe infection that gets into the bloodstream.

    Also about 9% of pregnancy-related maternal deaths are caused by ectopic pregnancies.

    In each case prompt competent medical care is critical. Failure to provide that killed Savita Halappanavar as an infection went undetected until sepsis occurred.

  35. Re: “Irish Catholics attending Sunday Mass were disappointed with the result of a referendum in which voters opted to legalize abortion and think it reflects the weakening of the Church — a situation that was unthinkable in Ireland a generation ago.”  

    Yes, and this was entirely under the control of those Catholics! Prior to about 20 years ago, the Church they belonged to virtually controlled Ireland, mostly owing to their own fierce allegiance to it. This influence was so powerful that the Church was able to run what amounted to an institution of slavery (i.e. the Magdalene laundries) and they allowed Catholic clergy to abuse children virtually at will.  

    Since then, the Church’s influence has waned and many Irish Catholics have left. Some of those who remain in the Church are not as fervent about their involvement as they had been. But, let’s face it … any Catholics who are, now, disappointed by this development — a product of their Church’s waning influence — have no one but themselves to blame for it! They’re the ones who, in the past, purposely allowed their Church to run roughshod over people. They stood back and watched (sometimes happily) as “fallen women” were made into indentured servants. And when they heard about clergy abusing kids, many looked the other way.  

    This attitude has now cost them, and their Church, a great deal of credibility. This is the natural consequence of their Church’s conduct and of their own complicity in it. If they dislike it, well … too freaking bad. They need to accept the reality in which they and their Church now live — due to its, and their, own past behaviors — and move on, instead of being childish little whiners.  

  36. I can see that point of view, absolutely. I don’t disagree with it.

    As I wrote at length elsewhere in one of these three columns on the Ireland vote, I am not a big fan of abortion, and never have been. But I am even far less a fan of people who claim to care about the problem, but do nothing about it other than to say NONONONONO.. And way less a fan of moralizing busybodies who are happy to interfere in the personal lives of others, but never have to suffer the consequences of their interference, and would scream like little babies if they did.

  37. Fool J_Bob never heard of immigration.

    The primary way a developed country, like the US especially overcomes declining demographics caused by gender equality, education and an advanced economy is by bringing in people from places which do not have any of the above. Its why the anti-immigration/white supremacist lobby is largely self-destructive in nature.

    BTW even Japan has it. They just don’t talk about it openly. There are enough Brazilian immigrants living in the Tokyo metro area they have a festival commemorating them.

  38. It should be a lesson to the Catholic Church and any other religion that when you use the government to enforce sectarian beliefs, people will ultimately rebel against it when the chance comes. There’s a lesson for American Evangelicals in Ireland’s vote.

    Freedom is a terrifying thing to religion because it means people get to decide for themselves on stuff. As George Bush said, you can’t stop people’s desire for freedom. The Irish people have tasted freedom and they rather like it. The Catholic Church won’t be able to snuff that out.

  39. Why should Catholics be dismayed, since nobody will be forcing them to have abortions? Surely this would only be a concern to people who want to control what OTHERS are allowed to do.

  40. Sadly, I doubt that the American evangelicals will learn that lesson in time.

  41. The largest Japanese community in the world outside of Japan is in Sao Paolo. That also has something to do with it, I’m sure.

  42. Yup. Sort of the same reasons for both. Japanese were imported labor in Brazil in the late 19th Century/Early 20th Century. Brazilians were brought in for the same to Japan in the 80’s

  43. Dude, we are moving toward “one planet, one people” whether or not the “social Neanderthals” approve of it or not. The anti-immigration “Christian White” are simply folks afraid of being “left behind” by social changes that will happen with or without them. All Trump and company are doing now is making America fall behind instead of pushing ahead.

  44. The miscarriage began. The fetus could not survive, but it had a beating heart for several days as it died. The partial miscarriage caused an infection. If an abortion had been performed immediately, the source of the infection would have been removed. This is what happens in countries that provide decent medical care.

    But because the dying and non viable fetus had a beating heart, the mother did not receive proper and necessary medical care. She died needlessly.

  45. Are you quoting from something?

    If so, please provide a citation to it.

  46. ‘Fool J_Bob never heard of immigration.’

    Seems you ran out of logic, & have to resort to labels.

    P.S. Tokyo metro is not Japan, either in area or population, 6th grade geography, Sister Mary Jude.

  47. You are annoyed at the label, but not refuting its accuracy. Here is another label which suits you: snowflake.

    In your need to pretend that family planning and respecting the personhood of women is somehow destructive to a modern developed society. I pointed out how they deal with such issues as demographic decline. A method employed which should be obvious to any American especially.

    “Tokyo metro is not Japan”

    Sister Mary Jude owes you a refund.

    Having looked on a map, been to the city several times, and having a brother in law living there I can say without hesitation Tokyo and its metropolitan area are very much in Japan. 🙂

  48. One cannot judge others without being judged. So I am doing it right.

    I am sure you meant that to come out differently. 🙂

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