Pro-life campaigners have vowed to continue to speak up for the right to life of unborn children despite an overwhelming vote paving the way for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
With final results from all 40 constituencies, citizens voted by 66/4% to 33.6% to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
John McGuirk of the Save the Eighth campaign described the result as “a tragedy of historic proportions”.
Dr Ruth Cullen of the LoveBoth campaign said: the vote represents “a sea-change on abortion in Ireland and sadly paves the way for an abortion regime that has nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with abortion on demand”.
Referring to the campaign, Dr Cullen said that “it’s most regrettable the Taoiseach, Minister for Health and some leading medics received a free pass from scrutiny in pushing for abortion, thereby depriving the public the opportunity to hear them defend their pro-abortion positions.
“We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances. He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach’s promises in this regard,” she said.
The exit poll asked voters what motivated them to opt for either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Among ‘yes’ voters, the most important issues were the right to choose (84%), the health or life of the woman (69%), and pregnancy as a result of rape (52%).
Among ‘no’ voters, they were the right to life of the unborn (76%), the right to live of those with Down syndrome or other disabilities (36%), and religious views (28%).
Mr McGuirk pointed out that “the Eighth Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child – it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed, and will always exist,” he said, insisting that “a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it”.
Mr McGuirk said that “we are so proud of all of those who stood with us in this campaign – our supporters, our donors, our families, and our loved ones. This campaign took a huge personal toll on all of us who were involved, and we have been so grateful for their support”.
He has vowed that the organisation will continue to fight for the right to life of the unborn. “Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country. We will oppose that legislation. If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the Government to keep their promise about a GP-led service, we will oppose that as well.
“Every time an unborn child has his or her life ended in Ireland, we will oppose that, and make our voices known. Abortion was wrong yesterday. It remains wrong today. The constitution has changed, but the facts have not,” he said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Catholic hierarchy. Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin is expected to address the issue during a homily at the national Marian shrine of Knock on Sunday. The Irish bishops’ conference is also scheduled to meet for their quarterly plenary meeting next week and is expected to issue a statement on the issue then.