The result of the abortion referendum was a wound to the soul, and the complicity of the people in removing all protection from helpless babies is a dark stain on our nation. We have lost something precious and beautiful and we are broken-hearted.

It felt like an unexpected and traumatic death, because that’s what it was, the death of decency and kindness and real compassion, and a victory for cruelty, selfishness and misinformation. But we will fight on, because no referendum can ever make abortion right. We must keep the path lit so that we, together with the next generation, can rebuild the culture.

Every one of you who took part in what was an inspiring, brilliant and heroic campaign to save the 8th should hold your head up high. Your conscience is clear, because you fought to protect both mother and baby, and to save entirely innocent children from abortion.

You stood up against the greatest injustice in the world, and time will show that you are on the right side of history. As the date of the referendum drew near, successive opinion polls began to show that support for the Yes vote was slipping. Abortion campaigners believed that the final result would be very tight, and they were hoping for a very slim victory, perhaps 52% to 48% at best.

Yet 66% of people eventually voted to repeal the 8th amendment. The size of the vote took absolutely everybody by surprise – including the media, political commentators and their allies in the Yes campaign. So what happened?

There were three main factors that led to the shocking result:

  1. It was more a vote against the 8th amendment than a vote for abortion – because voters had been persuaded by the media that the 8th was harming and even killing women. That lie had become an unshakable certainty in people’s minds, and it overrode their doubts and misgivings when it came to casting their vote in the ballot box. Voters said that they had changed their minds on the abortion issue, not during the campaign, but five years previously – precisely the time when they were repeatedly and convincingly told by the media that Savita Halappanavar died because of the 8th amendment. The relentless media campaign making this claim was bolstered by the blatant lies of pro-abortion doctors campaigning against the 8th.
  2. People also wanted to make abortion legal for what the media calls the ‘hard cases’ – and they were repeatedly, and falsely, told that there was “no other way” to help women in these difficult circumstances.
  3. We also need to face the reality that there are significant numbers of people who think abortion should be legal for any reason at all. This culture shift, boosted in part by a media-hyped anger at the Church and at women’s perceived oppression, was expressed in a swing in favour of legalised abortion, particularly amongst younger voters and female voters. The irony is, of course, that a ‘pro-choice’ culture simply tells women that they are on their own, and that instead of love and support, society will only offer abortion.

The 8th has been repealed, but you should know that in keeping abortion out of Ireland for 35 years, you have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. That is no small achievement, and you should feel very proud that, because of you, Ireland protected preborn babies long after many other countries had fallen.

History has shown us, time and time again, that evil eventually destroys itself. Abortion, too, will destroy itself. As Tim Jackson wrote in the days after the referendum: “..this will not be the last word. Whilst the deconstruction of the island of saints and scholars is nearing completion, the architects in their haste have forgotten to ask: who will inherit the land – is it those who kill their young or those who welcome each as gift?”

We did not lose on May 25th, the unborn child did. They lost their right to life because so many voters were cowed and bullied and deceived, but we will fight on, because every life is worth protecting, and because abortion is never the answer.

Written by Niamh Uí Bhriain