by Martin Odoni

My earnest hope for today is that the people of the Irish Republic vote to repeal the confounded ‘8th Amendment‘ of their nation’s constitution. It is an oppressive, paternalistic clause that deprives women of the most fundamentally feminine part of their own autonomy – control of their own reproductive abilities. The passing of the Amendment in 1983 was one of the most obsolete, regressive moves of the Irish Government in the modern era, as it places a powerful legal barrier in the path of any Irish woman seeking to abort a pregnancy, no matter the reason why she needs one.

Repeal the 8th Amendment

The Irish Constitution was amended in 1983 to provide an extra legislative barrier preventing abortion.

Now, I need to make clear that I am not a ‘fan’ of abortion, and I will always hope that a woman would only resort to one in dire circumstances. But I am a ‘fan’ of human rights, and I also recognise that, as a man, I will never be in a position truly to understand the emotional impact of being pregnant and having to face such a choice. I cannot accept that any male should have a decisive say on this issue at all, because in the end, it is not about what happens to his body.

Around the world, older generation males, especially of a religious/conservative disposition, seem to think otherwise, and assume women should always do whatever the men decide is best for them. Refreshingly, modern generation males seem to take a less arrogant stance. This includes, according to some media reports, many younger generation men in Ireland itself. According to feedback received by some pro-choice campaigners, many young Irish men have gone as far as to say they will not vote in the Referendum, saying that they want to leave the matter to women to decide.

Now, this wish to concede to the informed perspective is perfectly sound and creditable up to a point, but unfortunately,  it gets matters in the wrong order. The men can only take that step back after abortion is legal, not before. The Referendum is not a consultation on whether a specific woman should have an abortion. It is asking the very question as to whether women should be allowed to make this decision when the circumstances arise. The current position default in Ireland is ‘no, they should not be allowed’. As things stand, the matter is not left to women, so if an Irish man does not vote for repealing the 8th Amendment, he is not leaving the matter to women to decide.

Therefore, if men of Ireland wish to let women decide these matters – as they should – then they must get out today and vote in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment. Women will probably not be able to provide enough votes on their own.

Come on, men of Ireland, help to make this happen. Do not complacently imagine that you can let it happen for itself. When ordinary people assume that, nothing changes for the better.