Demonstrating what defenders of the 8th Amendment have been saying for months, Simon Coveney has shown that politicians cannot be trusted when it comes to abortion. An Tánaiste provided definitive proof that they neither have the ability or willingness to protect unborn life in any meaningful way if the 8th amendment to the Constitution is removed.
Looking foolish on a number of fronts, Simon Coveney sacrificed his own credibility in attempting to ingratiate himself with the government and its position on abortion, while revealing himself to have little understanding of the Constitution of the country where he is the second most senior political figure.
While Leo is being pushed to shut down his accomplished and expensive spin team. Minister Coveney may have demonstrated the need for the current government to maintain a strategic communication unit.
Our most senior politicians cannot be trusted to think and speak for themselves. On Monday 26th of May a spokesperson for the Tánaiste said he was “looking for a two-thirds majority to be necessary if there was ever any attempt to alter the [abortion] law in the future … Tánaiste hopes this will go some way towards countering the reckless claims that our parliament can’t be trusted and to reassure voters that there will be no creeping change over time if they vote repeal.
Ironically, as pointed out by his own party members, opposition TDs, as well as John McGuirk of Save the 8th who was the first to tweet what was obvious, Article 15 of the Constitution requires that laws be made by a simple majority in the Dáil, and this cannot be trumped by meaningless promises.
“We agree with Simon Coveney that politicians simply cannot be trusted with abortion, and that additional safeguards are needed. But what the Minister is proposing is crazy, unconstitutional, and telling. Article 15 of the constitution says that all matters before the Dáil shall be decided by simple majority,” he tweeted.
Prior to this, not one mainstream newspaper had picked up on the recklessness of Coveney’s own proposal – with most reporting it without question.
The Tánaiste has succeeded in doing little more than embarrassing himself and his government, highlighting the flippant and expedient attempts to dupe the voters into ‘trusting’ politicians with thefuture Irish abortion regime.
The irony was doubled with an attempted sideswipe at those more seriously engaged on the issue: “This referendum campaign needs fewer media cheerleaders or scaremongers and more facts”. Unfortunately the facts escaped the Tánaiste.
And if politicians, aided by well-paid advisors and spin doctors, cannot be trusted to know the fundamentals of the legislative framework in Ireland, how can they be trusted with the lives of women and babies?
How can they be trusted when they claim to have a better alternative to the “cruel inadequacy of our current laws” when they refuse to discuss the cruelty of their proposed solutions to an Irish problem?
How can our politicians be trusted when the Minister of Health considers it a “peculiar decision” by so many TDs to vote against holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment? When is it peculiar in a civilised society to be of the view that the right to life cannot be taken away from one group by another?
Does the Health Minister consider human rights peculiar? Human rights are anti-democratic. Human rights mean that the majority or the zeitgeist don’t get to take them away from others arbitrarily. Human rights protect the vulnerable from the powerful. It is peculiar when the vulnerable is the unborn child and the wolves include the Minister for Health and Children taking to the podium, looking forward to a referendum designed to facilitate the erosion of the last protections of the unborn child dressed up as health care.
It is peculiar that Leo, Simon and Simon, have all ‘evolved’ a pro-life position that values the life of the unborn child only so long as a simple majority or a super majority considers that life worth protecting. That is not pro-life- whether two-thirds or four-fifths or nine-tenths, the life of the unborn child becomes subject to the caprices of the politicians of the day.
It ends up as a strange life calculus. Minister Coveney obviously believes that the unborn child is more than a lump of cells but his own internal logic has tied himself up in knots and made him a laughing stock.
Whether legislation is changed by one, all or some part in between, ultimately what happens is that a child dies. A full child dies. Not two thirds or a half. That is where the peculiar logic of our ‘pro-life’ abortion leaders falls down.
And that is why however the Strategic Communications Unit tries to spin the discussion, however much we are told we ought to trust doctors, trust women, trust our lawmakers, in the end, abortion hurts women and kills a child.
Dualta Roughneen is a writer and researcher