NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times
May 26, 2018
By Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura
Dublin – Ireland voted decisively to repeal one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, sweeping aside generations of conservative patriarchy and dealing the latest in a series of stinging rebukes to the Roman Catholic Church.
The surprising landslide, reflected in the results announced on Saturday, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years alone, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.
But this was a particularly wrenching issue for Irish voters, even for supporters of the measure. And it was not clear until the end that the momentum toward socially liberal policies would be powerful enough to sweep away deeply ingrained opposition to abortion.
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The church lost much of its credibility in the wake of scandals involving pedophile priests and thousands of unwed mothers who were placed into servitude in so-called Magdalene laundries or mental asylums as recently as the mid-1990s.
The church was, in fact, largely absent from the referendum campaign. Anti-abortion campaigners actively discouraged its participation, preferring to emphasize moral values and human rights rather than religion, possibly to avoid being tarnished by the church-related scandals.
During the campaign, the Association of Catholic Priests urged its members not to preach politics from the pulpit. The guidance came after some priests had threatened their congregations that they would not be able to receive Communion if they voted “yes,” according to people who attended the Masses.
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