For those of you convinced that we are in the final stages of one of the last great Irish moral battles of our age, I hate to break it to you.
This abortion “debate” and whatever legislation it serves up will not bring closure, simply because once again we are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people.
The Supreme Court decision (subsequently ignored) that compelled the Irish government legislate following the X case was deemed by both sides to be a victory of sorts for the liberal agenda.
It was nothing of the kind, as it allowed for a very narrow definition of what the problem – and the possible solutions – actually are.
Suicidal thoughts are a problem in pregnancy.
Are they the reason ten or twelve Irish women every day go to England for abortions? No.
Will legislating for abortion in cases where the woman is suicidal help those women? No.
Will the Orwellian notion of six other people deciding whether or not a woman is to be trusted be good for them? No.
In fact, it will effectively roll back the clock for Irish women on all those years of clawing for rights automatically granted in other countries.
The definition of legislation within this narrow field of view allows the Irish taliban to do what they do best – argue anything but the point in question.
In fact, they’ve already done it.
They decide what the frame of reference is, and conveniently it’s chosen to to suit their arguments.
(If you’re an academic, they’ll also draw conclusions form your research that you expressly didn’t reach, and then won’t stop repeating them, but that’s another matter.)
They do the same on marriage equality.
They never talk about the gays, only about “the children,” which in itself is a massive own goal, when you think about it – anyone aligning themselves politically with Maude Flanders and Helen Lovejoy isn’t exactly credibile.
They cling blindly to such ridiculous statements as “Ireland is a very safe country to have children in” and “there is no scientific evidence to say abortion is a solution for suicidal mothers.”
There are glaringly obvious gaps in those arguments – the first is that those looking for abortions don’t want to have children, for whatever reason.
The second is that it’s amazing to find such a reliance on science all of a sudden, when they’re more than willing to accept any ould claptrap and hearsay in church on a Sunday.
The point is this – the government and the liberal-minded majority of Irish people have allowed the Christian far right to steer the proceedings.
Seeing the writing on the wall, the Irish taliban have grudgingly conceded that something must be done – but in doing so, that something must be so narrow and so ludicrous as to be entirely unworkable.
The solution is as simple as it is democratic.
We need to tell our legislators what we want, loudly and clearly.
We need to leave them in no doubt as to the fact that most people want abortion to be available to Irish women. In Ireland.
And we want an end to this charade of waving off our women on the early flight to Liverpool and pretending there is no problem.
We need to make them well aware that most people in Ireland don’t give a shit if you’re gay or not any more, and that we’re more likely to get offended by what football team you support.
And we must send a message, loud and clear, to Enda Kenny and everyone else in Leinster House – that the tiny, bobbed, Jesus-loving tail will no longer be allowed to morally wag the Irish dog.
It bears repeating: the time is ripe for a redefinition of our Republic, who we are and what we value.
That redefinition should be steered by our dreams of a better future, not by the clammy ghosts of our past.
Until we do that, we are condemned to repeating these moral battles, generation after generation, asking the wrong people the wrong questions, and then wondering why we keep getting the wrong answers.