By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

A St. Amant teenager preparing to embark on a mission to Ireland said she is heartbroken by that country’s vote opening the door to abortion on demand. Yet, she said, the vote is only further evidence that God is leading her where she is needed. Results from the nationwide referendum showed that 66.4 percent of citizens opted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Irish constitution, while 33.6 percent voted to retain it. Turnout was 64.5 percent. Voters inserted the original amendment in the constitution in 1983 by a margin of 2-1, and it “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” That text will now be deleted and replaced with an article stating that “provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.” “I have personally always had a massive heart for the pro-life movement, and it absolutely breaks my heart to know that this is something we will be battling over the next year while serving,” said Rachael Duchmann, 18, who is a member of Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant. “To me personally, this is just one more affirmation that this is where I am needed,” added Duchmann, who will be a missionary in Ireland for 11 months beginning this fall through NET Ministries. Duchmann was with a friend when they learned of the repeal and believes it was “truly all in God’s plans for me to be there with my pro-life voice. I think it will shape our mission because these kids will be growing up in an Ireland that is as carefree with life as we are. In a sense it’s one more way we will be able to relate to them and help them to grow in their faith.” Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he would introduce legislation that would allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks, up to 24 weeks on unspecified grounds for the health of the mother, and up to birth where the child is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition that means he or she may not live long after birth. An exit poll conducted by the Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE 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 percent), the health or life of the woman (69 percent), and pregnancy as a result of rape (52 percent). Among “no” voters, they cited the right to life of the unborn (76 percent), the right to live of those with Down syndrome or other disabilities (36 percent), and religious views (28 percent). “I think (the vote) is tragic for a number of reasons,” said Danielle Van Haute, prolife coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “We see Ireland taking a step back but doing it by proclaiming that it’s a step forward and a right gained for women. “But it’s anything but that. It’s taking away from the dignity of women, it’s taking away the protection that was given to the unborn and it’s taking away from society as a whole.” Van Haute said there is no way to calculate how many lives are going to be affected by the vote. She said when the life of an unborn child is taken through abortion, not only does it affect the mother and the father of that child but also current or future siblings and other family members. Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick told Mass-goers on May 26 that the result “is deeply regrettable and chilling for those of us who voted ‘no.’ ” He said “the final result of the referendum is the will of the majority of the people, though not all the people.” John McGuirk, spokesman for Save the Eighth, which campaigned for a “no” vote, described the outcome as “a tragedy of historic proportions.” “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.”

Insisting that pro-life campaigners will continue their efforts, McGuirk told Catholic News Service:

“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 (general-practitioner-led health) service, we will

oppose that as well.”

Van Haute also warned of those abortion supporters who insist any news laws will be restricted.

She recalled how when the Roe v Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States in 1973 many

pro-abortion supporters cited the alleged restrictions.

“Regardless of restrictions that are in place, once you go down this road, it’s just a matter of

time before the restrictions are gone or just become meaningless,” she said.

(Catholic Commentator assistant editor Debbie Shelley and Catholic News Service contributed to this report.)