The 1983 abortion referendum campaign, much like the current one in fact?

scolairebocht

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They say he who controls the present controls the past, because they have access to the historical records and media so they can release and highlight what they wish to, and he who controls the past controls the future, because so much of the future political course is set by those who claim to be correcting historic wrongs etc. So it seems important to get a clear understanding of the 1983 campaign which gave us the 8th amendment and on that score I thought this, from a private facebook forum, was of interest:

"Therefore, I will briefly give my recollection of 1983 and its aftermath.

Firstly, it must be remembered that the Eighth Amendment to Irish Constitution is the only amendment which originated in popular demand. There was no official appetite for it, and the FitzGerald government proposed an alternative wording drafted by the then Attorney General, the late Peter Sutherland SC which would have prevented a Supreme Court ruling finding abortion rights in the Irish Constitution but which would have allowed the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion. Fianna Fáil, joined by several Fine Gael TDs (we all remember Alice Glenn, Tom O’Donnell and Oliver J Flanagan, but there were more I don’t recall at present), some Labour TDs (Seán Treacy and Frank Prendergast I recall) and the late Neil Blaney defeated this and voted for the wording which the public accepted.

This was bitterly resented and within a year to eighteen months, linkage was made between the Pro-Life Amendment and the tragedies around the Kerry Babies case and the death of Anne Lovett in Granard. In 1983, The Irish Times was anti-amendment; The Irish Press and sister papers, though reputedly a Fianna Fáil-supporting newspaper, was anti-amendment; The Irish Independent, ironically supporting Fine Gael, took an editorial line in favour of the amendment, but most of its journalists opposed it (true of the entire Independent group). I can recall Des Rushe and John Feeney in the Evening Herald who was killed in an accident a couple of years later as among the few pro-life journalists at the time. The provincial press was different, and I believe the Limerick Leader took a robustly pro-life line. The statement by the Catholic Bishops was hardly robust and there were priests who opposed the amendment. However, at the time most people in Ireland went to Mass and the topic was certainly preached about. My own rural parish priest, I think, had the idea most of his parishioners would vote pro-life and said nothing. I think that the media bias reflected an establishment bias though. When the former Senator Mary Robinson ran for president in 1990, her opposition to the amendment was off-topic, as the Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford, John Browne discovered to his cost, but when she was elected, a very different message was taken. Mary McAleese, on the other hand, was pro-life in 1983 and anti-divorce in 1986 and she wasn’t forgiven until she asserted her liberal credentials after the 1997 presidential election.

In terms of the debate, I was probably an open door from the pro-life campaign’s point of view (I was old enough to see what was going on, but too young to vote), I was impressed not by religious arguments (not that I recall hearing any), but human rights argument and I recall William Binchey’s advocacy of the human rights of the conceived child was very convincing and I don’t recall any argument from a theological standpoint trumping this.
...
In 1983, I was a pupil in Synge St CBS in Dublin, where we had a few teachers who campaigned for the referendum. We also had a few that campaigned against it, but that’s another story which underlies the point that there wasn’t a totalitarian Church running Catholic schools. But I will concentrate on one of those in favour, Frank Burke, who was active in extra-curricular activities as well as teaching.

Mr Burke began teaching us religion just days before the referendum (this was on 7 September, a couple of days after the summer holidays ended), but he told us about an interaction he had with two past pupils he met in the street shortly before. The two lads told him they were going to vote no and he tried, without much sign of success, to persuade them otherwise. At this point a woman in the street interrupted and said she should be part of the discussion as she was the only one there who had had an abortion. She looked at the two young men and said that she could not understand why they would vote no. ...[Then he talked about the great trauma, and sometimes depression, that so many women feel after an abortion, and that these things are more known about and recognised now and hence it makes less sense for abortion to be more popular now.]"
Its clear that we are being treated to a massive amount of disinformation here. The fact is that the establishment - with the exception of Charlie Haughey who, whatever his faults, was rarely a member of the 'establishment' - in Ireland has always been quite anti-Catholic and slavish in their adherence to what are deemed 'progressive' causes.

Endless nonsense has been pored out about the great courage of people who dared to vote No that time etc when, as you can see, they had the support of the media, as always, and the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Attorney General of the day, etc etc. Meanwhile the Bishops only issued a soft statement that for example heavily emphasised that those who wanted to vote No could do so with a clear conscience. Most of the leading No figures of that 1983 pro-choice campaign in turn went on to take their pre-ordained spot in the Irish establishment, as Presidents, Robinson and Higgins for example, and a remarkable number as senior judges, of the High and Supreme Courts, etc.

I admit there was a time when the Irish - specifically Dublin - media were not as anti-Catholic as they normally are, say 1920-55, but that narrow period is massively outweighted by the endless anti-Catholic vitriol that we have got since long before the 1980s, and which mimics the atmosphere of before that period when we were so influenced by the anti-Catholic atmosphere of the British establishment. Currently I am reading a lot of 19th century Irish newspapers for example which are relentless in their endless trotting out of the 'priest ridden Irish being held back by mere superstition' line, the Inquisition, blah blah blah, etc etc which is so familiar to a modern reader! (Although I admit there were some Catholic newspapers in the 19th century, more than there are now.)

In any case I know this issue is not a religious one per se, but obviously a lot of the Repeal campaigners, who talk about 'facts' and scientific this that and the other are clearly, if you watch their videos etc, simply motivated by an anti-Catholic prejudice, so I thought it was a point worth making.

Anyway the next time you are mesmerised by an older pro-choice campaigner regaling you with the usual story that tiger hunting in India and landing on Omaha Beach are nothing in comparison to canvassing for No in 1983 try and add this little perspective to the tale!
 
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Sync

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The fact is that the establishment - with the exception of Charlie Haughey who, whatever his faults, was rarely a member of the 'establishment' - in Ireland has always been quite anti-Catholic and slavish in their adherence to what are deemed 'progressive' causes.
Stopped reading after this. Rarely have I seen someone so ignorant of Irish history.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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So the OP is quoting an unnamed private facebook account and is a long whinge trying to re-write history and completely ignores organisations like SPUC who were very closely linked to the RCC and their part in the 1983 amendment.

I remember that time well and the version attempted in the OP is unrecognisable from the truth.
 

paddycomeback

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So the OP is quoting an unnamed private facebook account and is a long whinge trying to re-write history and completely ignores organisations like SPUC who were very closely linked to the RCC and their part in the 1983 amendment.

I remember that time well and the version attempted in the OP is unrecognisable from the truth.
Yes. I wonder who the author of the excruciatingly long quote was?
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Repealers who were anti-amendment in 1983 have seen disaster after disaster in the Irish legal and medical quagmire because of that referendum.

It is hardly 'fundamentalist' to have held to a position for over 30 years and watched the agonising effect of that thoroughly misguided maneouver in 1983 which was actually installed in the constitution by fanatics.
 

Catalpast

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Well I can well recall 1983 and while there were fanatics on both sides

- its certainly not the case that people were intimidated from voting for what they believed in

But of course we cant have that now can we!:roll:

No History is now to be re written so that anyone who so much as put their nose over the parapet in favour of the NO campaign

- was hounded from public life etc etc etc ...

I will admit the Church was much bigger influence then than it is now

- and that swayed a lot of people

But on the other hand the Liberal Globalisation Agenda

- was a minnow in the Western World compared to now

- their Power and Influence has grown by leaps and bounds

- and they are surprise surprise they are all for Abortion on Demand....:|
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No offence, but it’s hard to take a denial of fundamentalism seriously if you call pro-amendment people “fanatic” and use a Savita quote as your signature (which is as bad as “pro-lifers” evoking children with DS).
My signature refers to an expert's statement on the effect of the 8th in Savitta Halappanavar's case. Whether you choose to believe otherwise or to ignore it is completely up to you.

I campaigned against the amendment in 1983 and am more than aware it was a maneouver calculated to prevent the Oireachtas legislating in this area.
 

eoghanacht

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drjimryan2

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this is a really important issue, the details can come later, the most important thing now is to repeal the 8th.........and I feel sense will prevail and we will..........
 

O'Quisling

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. . . . . .
Firstly, it must be remembered that the Eighth Amendment to Irish Constitution is the only amendment which originated in popular demand. . . . ....
Correct. But the past is a foreign country; people do things differently there.

Irish society is unrecognisably different today from 1983.

The decision was made in the late '70s by organised political Catholicism to make the issue of abortion their Alamo.
Look how well it worked out for the fella's under siege in Alamo the first time around.
 

Socratus O' Pericles

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I have rarely read such a piece of revisionist, disingenuous propaganda as that OP.
 

razorblade

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I suspect its vastly different in fact different age group for one thing different country for 2, much more powerful RCC back then as well which tended to influence decisions made in this country, so an awful lot of change has taken place in those intervening 35 years.
 

Mitsui2

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They say he who controls the present controls the past, because they have access to the historical records and media so they can release and highlight what they wish to, and he who controls the past controls the future, because so much of the future political course is set by those who claim to be correcting historic wrongs etc. So it seems important to get a clear understanding of the 1983 campaign which gave us the 8th amendment and on that score I though this, from a private facebook forum, was of interest:



Its clear that we are being treated to a massive amount of disinformation here. The fact is that the establishment - with the exception of Charlie Haughey who, whatever his faults, was rarely a member of the 'establishment' - in Ireland has always been quite anti-Catholic and slavish in their adherence to what are deemed 'progressive' causes.

Endless nonsense has been pored out about the great courage of people who dared to vote No that time etc when, as you can see, they had the support of the media, as always, and the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Attorney General of the day, etc etc. Meanwhile the Bishops only issued a soft statement that for example heavily emphasised that those who wanted to vote No could do so with a clear conscience. Most of the leading No figures of that 1983 pro-choice campaign in turn went on to take their pre-ordained spot in the Irish establishment, as Presidents, Robinson and Higgins for example, and a remarkable number as senior judges, of the High and Supreme Courts, etc.

I admit there was a time when the Irish - specifically Dublin - media were not as anti-Catholic as they normally are, say 1920-55, but that narrow period is massively outweighted by the endless anti-Catholic vitriol that we have got since long before the 1980s, and which mimics the atmosphere of before that period when we were so influenced by the anti-Catholic atmosphere of the British establishment. Currently I am reading a lot of 19th century Irish newspapers for example which are relentless in their endless trotting out of the 'priest ridden Irish being held back by mere superstition' line, the Inquisition, blah blah blah, etc etc which is so familiar to a modern reader! (Although I admit there were some Catholic newspapers in the 19th century, more than there are now.)

In any case I know this issue is not a religious one per se, but obviously a lot of the Repeal campaigners, who talk about 'facts' and scientific this that and the other are clearly, if you watch their videos etc, simply motivated by an anti-Catholic prejudice, so I thought it was a point worth making.

Anyway the next time you are mesmerised by an older pro-choice campaigner regaling you with the usual story that tiger hunting in India and landing on Omaha Beach are nothing in comparison to canvassing for No in 1983 try and add this little perspective to the tale!
:)

"...from a private facebook forum..."

An impeccable source indeed!
 

gerhard dengler

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Very thought provoking op.

The one who tries to control the message aspect is a very important point.

The media unfortunately held sway in this country for far too long. Thankfully their influence and hold has been reduced because the disinformation it provided across a whole set of issues has been exposed.

The media for decades knew the truth but published only its version of what it wanted portrayed as truth.

In terms of the unborn life, science and technology has gone a long way to validating what Catholicism has always held, namely that human life commences at conception.

The arguments made by this side of the debate in 1983 have been validated by things which were not widely available in 1983, such as ultrasound technology.
 

GDPR

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Many of us are unaware that at the same period, the UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was profoundly sympathetic to the Provisional IRA.
 

scolairebocht

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Many thanks Gerhard and anyway if people dispute this history they might like to read a comprehensive book on the 1983 referendum, which was an offshoot of a Phd study on the campaign I think, its called The Second Partitioning of Ireland and you might be able to read it online here: https://archive.org/stream/secondpartitioni00hesk#page/1/mode/2up . You can read there that for example the Yes side were nervous about the Bishops issuing any statement about the referendum because they felt that any intervention by Catholic figures like this would give grist to the mill of the endless media narrative about over weening Catholic influence etc etc. In otherwords the climate was much like it is now, with Bishops statements quite likely to end up counter productive because of the media atmosphere.

Although admittedly, as Catalpa says, its an atmosphere that was milder then than currently but still there was a very strong anti-Catholic current, or at least anti-clerical one, among the media and establishment. Thats why the establishment has never forgiven the people for passing that clause, it is the only example, I'd say virtually anywhere till Brexit, where the people pushed the referendum rather than any professional body or political party. The government of the day never wanted it, and campaigned vigorously against it, but were unexpectedly wrongfooted in the Dail and then in the campaign.

Also the writer of the quote in the OP added later the point that nearly the whole time the referendum was expected to fail, only a few days before the poll was there any change in that. Then the result ended up being surprisingly decisively Yes.
 

razorblade

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No women who voted in the 83 referendum are now of childbearing age so its not really relevant to how things will pan out in the upcoming referendum very different mindset altogether.
 

GDPR

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Many of them are still alive and are registered voters. The social environment may have changed and mindset along with it, but don’t write them off or what they went through (interesting those who are in their 40’s have the highest for repeal as they can vividly remember the 1983 campaign in their schools)
Not really, they seem to be in general a group who's sense of self worth is in a large number of cases tied into the fantasy that it was there generation "which broke the power of the Church". The emotional reaction to the OP which from all I have been able to gather appears to be factual is obviously also tied into similar fantasies.
 

razorblade

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Many of them are still alive and are registered voters. The social environment may have changed and mindset along with it, but don’t write them off or what they went through (interesting those who are in their 40’s have the highest for repeal as they can vividly remember the 1983 campaign in their schools)
Yes but its the younger generation of women who are the ones who get pregnant and will be the ones most affected by this.
 


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