No one I imagine is so stupid as to believe that truth or even an approximation of truth is derived from counting pieces of marked paper and that the largest pile of papers is it. What makes democracy so fragile is the certain knowledge, even by the winners, that it is often wrong and if they think it’s right now, then it’s either been wrong at some time in the past or will be at some time in the future. There is then a shaky agreement on both sides of a democratic debate that there is some more fundamental reason for using this method to make decisions than that it is always right. In Western Europe over the last century or so that shaky agreement has not always held together and indeed it still is far from ordinary worldwide.
A common everyday reason why most people accept democratic results is that they are rarely always on the losing side. And in the case of government elections they can have another opportunity to persuade the majority that the opinion they hold is correct and hope that the mistakes of the previous few years are not so very bad.
On a much deeper level however respecting the “will of the people” comes from a profoundly scary place. If we do not have the people mark ballot papers and count those papers in order to make decisions, what then? A sudden dictatorship is in fact the least worst outcome of the mass of people losing faith in this way of doing things, more common in the history of the world is Civil War. And presumably regardless of your own political taste this is the one thing we can agree on dreading, and not just if we lose. Because even if “our side” wins, people will die. Many people. And the grievances of Civil War usually cut deeper and last longer than even those of wars between different countries. So at the back of the willingness to accept the highest pile of marked papers as a means of making decisions, especially of national importance, is the imperative that the issue is not worth killing or being killed over.
That is why the Repealers, whose ballot pile was in the end so much higher than ours, cannot even begin to contemplate the enormity of what happened on May 25th last. They hail it with the slogans of “nothing will ever be the same again” but they don’t understand how true that is. Many claim it as a victory over the Roman Catholic Church, when it is nothing of the kind, there are in the hierarchy more than one who cared little or nothing for the result either way. There are many who think they are getting their own back for some perceived or real time when they felt put down, or were genuinely harmed by people they, in some unquantifiable way, associate with a No vote. It’s impossible to be exact but so many campaigners say it was about much more than abortion that we have to believe some of them at least in their motivation. The problem is that it was about abortion and whatever other things they were seeking redress for through a Yes vote they aren’t going to get. Abortion is what we will get.
And the underlying agreement of democracy has been breached fundamentally. We count ballots so people don’t die but this was about abortion, abortion on demand for 3 months, and practically for six, with some small barriers to be breached for that to become up to birth. In short as the Abortion Never posters exhorted people to realise “Babies Will Die”. When the winners say to accept the will of the people, they are not making a moral statement in this instance but asking us to evaluate a power equation. Grown persons are stronger than unborn persons, in the conflict of interest without the protection of the State the grown person wins. When two thirds of the country adamantly impose their will (let’s dispense with referendum chatter about choice) on the other third they are doing so because they can, but in this specific instance above all others they are not doing so by assent.
No, we do not accept!
We neither have the means nor have I heard anyone express the desire for a revolution in the violent sense, but there is an unwillingness to accept the result as valid or binding, because it involves an injustice much greater than breaking the law. Nevertheless, it is within the law that the fight back will take place if only for practical reasons. Though talk of exclusion zones for even peaceful protest means even the question of “within the law” may not count as an absolute.
There has been another fundamental breach which the “winners” may come to regret. The principle of Natural Law as opposed to Positive Law which is at the heart or has been at the heart of jurisprudence in this country since literally “time immemorial” and though often ignored in the case of grievous injustice never before has it been denied in principle. It is the idea that some things are so indelibly imprinted as right and wrong on our nature as human beings that if there were no such thing as religion, or the supernatural, we would still be bound to obey them. That not to do so is to make us no better than animals. Positive Law on the other hand says you can do whatever is not illegal and we are held to account only by the written word, formulated by whoever governs, and whoever governs ultimately does so by resort to the argument of force and force alone.
The Supreme Court affirmed this shortly before the referendum, the unborn child had no Constitutional rights outside the Eighth Amendment because only within that amendment was there anything written down. Judicial activism has motivated them occasionally to do the opposite and find non-existent reasons to change the law to what they obviously preferred it should be, but that is an issue for another time.
Now there is most certainly a utilitarian case for abortion, as there is for infanticide or indeed common homicide. There are lots of reasons why a person might feel alleviated of some burden or find advantage in another person no longer being alive. It’s an ever increasing feature of “modern” life and death that individuals take the opportunity when presented. The murdered person may not qualify as wholly innocent either, but it is still reasonably unusual, and more to the point the murderer, whatever the utilitarian gain, is both aware that it is a murder and that it is wrong even if they feel no particular remorse or regret. We have never before in Ireland accepted a utilitarian case for murder argued out over weeks on radio, television, newspaper, computer, phone, poster, indeed every means of human communication, without recoil.
The deliberate and intentional killing of the child in the womb, the commonly understood definition of abortion in this campaign and the certain meaning of “termination” in the proposed legislation is objectively murder. Nothing more, nothing less.
It may be argued and indeed ought to be argued in a court of law as to whether in a particular instance for the woman who procures an abortion, whether there are or were extenuating circumstances; coercion physical or psychological, the state of her own mind at the time, the precise deciding factor, which taken together may lessen responsibility or remove it entirely. She may subjectively have murdered no one, but objectively a murder has been committed, and there is guilt somewhere upon someone. People who voted No were not without compassion for difficult circumstances, by the same token people who voted Yes were not, in the main, unaware that a child would die.
There were many times during the referendum campaign when deliberate lies were told, and in the long run most of them will be forgotten. The campaign was “rigged” in many ways but the final vote was not. In the last analysis we all know deep down what happened, the country was offered the death of the innocent as an option and grasped it with both hands.
However nothing is stasis. Times change, people change, whole generations come and go and in the words of the song “the loser now may be later to win.”
But people, babies for the most part, but women as well, will be killed by the abortion industry as it moves its machinery of death to Ireland. Repeal of the repeal will bring no one back to life and there will have to be a reckoning, with the abortionists and their political facilitators. They will plead then that revenge solves nothing and may even appeal to the natural law they vehemently denied. If it’s the National Party, they will have what the unborn child did not get, a fair trial, a defence counsel, and a considered verdict. There could be much worse for them, a vengeance that uses the recommendations of the 8th Committee as a template, and concludes “without restriction”.
Uachtarán An Pháirtí Náisiúnta