Abortion and a United Ireland

In his most recent podcast, The Zman touched on something interesting about Ireland’s decision to remove restrictions on abortion, and that is its fertility rate. As of 2017, the Republic of Ireland’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) stood at 1.97. It is reckoned a TFR of 2.1 is required to maintain a population size in a developed country, so in other words, Ireland’s population is shrinking. This situation isn’t unique to Ireland – fertility rates are collapsing all over Europe – but it effects Ireland in unique ways.

One is that a majority of people in the Republic of Ireland wish to see reunification with Northern Ireland (currently a part of the United Kingdom). The only feasible way this will occur is if a majority in Northern Ireland vote for reunification, and as things stand this doesn’t look like happening; if Wikipedia’s sources are correct, even a majority of Catholics don’t seem keen on reunification while the Protestants are overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the UK. The hopes of those dreaming of a United Ireland rest entirely on demographic changes, the argument being that Catholics have more children than Protestants so eventually Northern Ireland will switch to majority Catholic.

However, having secured abortion rights for those in the Republic of Ireland, pro-abortionists are now switching their attention to Northern Ireland, where it remains highly restricted. The main obstacle in the path of liberalising abortion laws in Northern Ireland is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which represents Protestants and forms a crucial part of the coalition in Westminister propping up Theresa May’s government. On the other side you have Sinn Féin, which represents Catholics and supported the repeal of the 8th amendment to the Republic’s constitution, who are now in a bit of a bind over what stance to take in Northern Ireland. The last thing Sinn Féin wants is Catholics in Northern Ireland having abortions, because churning out kids is the only way to achieve their ultimate goal of a United Ireland. But having jumped on the liberalisation bandwagon in the Republic, they can’t really oppose it in the North, hence the accusation of double standards. Meanwhile, if this article is true, while the DUP is hardline on abortion its supporters are more liberal, but in the case of Sinn Féin it’s the exact opposite. According to Amnesty:

68% people from a Catholic background support access to abortion in cases of rape or incest, with just 17% disagreeing.  Among respondents from a Protestant background, the figures were 72% supporting increased abortion access with just 16% disagreeing.

Typically for Amnesty they spin the results to suit their agenda. Reading the above you’d think 68% of Catholics and 72% of Protestants support abortion, but looking more carefully you see 68% of Catholics only support abortion in the case of rape or incest; they don’t say how many Catholics support abortion outside these cases, almost certainly because the numbers don’t suit the narrative. But it appears 72% of Protestants support abortion in general, not just in specific cases.

In other words, the good people of Ireland have voted to allow greater access to abortion which has now heaped pressure on their brethren in the North to follow suit. The only trouble is, the Catholics in the North don’t want it whereas the Protestants – the citizens if not their political leaders – don’t seem to mind. On current trends, I expect it is only a matter of time before abortion laws in Northern Ireland are liberalised to match those of the Republic of Ireland and mainland Britain. One can probably assume any Protestant who wants an abortion goes to the UK and has one, but Catholics will be more reluctant. The result of liberalised abortion laws in Northern Ireland will therefore be fewer Catholic babies being born, thus thwarting the already slim hopes of achieving a Catholic majority sufficient for reunification.

What amuses me is a majority in the Republic of Ireland want to see a United Ireland via demographic means, i.e. an increase in the Catholic population, but at the same time two-thirds of them just voted to make abortions easier to obtain, which will almost certainly have the long-term effect of reducing the number of Catholic babies being born in Northern Ireland. I expect over the coming period we’re going to see two things: Irish liberals attempting to foist unwanted societal changes on Catholics in the North (but blaming the DUP for obstructionism), and United Ireland fanatics (i.e. Sinn Féin) depriving their Northern brethren of rights they’ve just demanded of themselves. We should remember this when people in the Republic of Ireland tell us how concerned they are about the rights of Northern Irishmen in the wake of Brexit.

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33 thoughts on “Abortion and a United Ireland

  1. There’s another aspect to consider. The Yes campaign in Ireland played heavily on anti-Catholicism to win votes, such that the Irish Church generally kept a low profile in order to avoid giving ammunition to its opponents. If you were a Catholic who took his religion seriously enough for it to play an important role in which country you want to be part of, why on earth would you seek to join a country where the majority of people clearly hate the Catholic Church?

  2. @ zut alors!

    How Catholic is the Pope? He was notably silent during the campaign.

    The Yes-supporting Irish media (also known as “the Irish media”) was pretty anti-Catholic. A papal intervention might have helped — Pope Francis has much higher approval ratings than any local Irish prelate — but then again it might not have, since the angry editorials practically write themselves (“Who does the Pope think he is anyway, to dictate to us what we can and can’t vote for? For too long the Catholic Church has exercised a stranglehold on Irish politics, and it’s time for us to rise up and say, ‘No more!'”). In retrospect it was probably a mistake for the Pope to stay silent, since the result couldn’t really have been much worse for the No side, but before the vote I don’t think it was really clear what the correct course of action would have been.

  3. “As of 2017, the Republic of Ireland’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) stood at 1.97.”

    Interesting to learn that.

    There’s a possible mechanism where making abortion available could increase TFR, by increasing the amount of shagging, basically.

  4. “The result of liberalised abortion laws in Northern Ireland will therefore be fewer Catholic babies being born…”

    The impact could be minuscule but only time will tell. Anyway, the birth rates of the two communities are bound to converge pretty soon, abortion or no abortion, and the demographic takeover isn’t going to happen. At most, a re-partition, with two or three more counties joining the Republic, and even that only in theory. A more sensible route for the nationalists would be to stop equating Irish with Catholic, reach out to the less fanatical of the Ulster Protestants and offer them some kind of deal. After all, the Republic is no longer the Catholic backwater it became under de Valera, and the 20th-century Irish nationalism that led to the Free State was very much a Protestant invention.

  5. How Catholic are people who are in favour of abortion?

    Not very, I’d say. It would be highly ironic if genuine Catholics in the Republic of Ireland have been cast aside by the majority, while the Catholic view of abortion in Northern Ireland is supported by the DUP and by extension the British government.

  6. A more sensible route for the nationalists would be to stop equating Irish with Catholic

    Indeed, and in this post I’ve equated Catholic with Nationalist and Protestant with Unionist just to avoid the whole post turning into an unholy mess.

  7. SOT, I read that a Ryanair plane, carrying Irish people to Eire to vote on the abortion referendum, was damaged when it came into contact with another plane. Fortunately, the flight was not aborted. You have to laugh.

  8. If one was cynical you could think that this was part of a program to reduce the Irish population and replace it with a multicultural pot of random nationalities and turn it into a generic ‘place’ that has little to do with Ireland other than a historical geographic coincidence.

    If one was cynical.

  9. Abortion is hard to justify within any moral framework that holds the right to life above all others. The clear data from countries with easy access to abortion is that it becomes a form of contraception (45 million abortions in the USA since Roe vs Wade – just think about the human cost of that for a moment, an entire country’s worth of people flushed down the gurgler).

    That Ireland has voted this way now speaks volumes about the EU-ification (I’m going to copyright that) of the country. Perhaps it’s a long bow to draw but one wonders whether the voters doubled down on being more like their EU peers after watching the Brexit vote.

  10. I find it hard to believe that Britain would give up rule over the six counties particularly as an offspring of some kind of equitable abortion right or Brexit (which is dead anyway) or under any other conceivable circumstances. Britain doesn’t want to give up rule over the north and therefore its influence over the south, which is as strong as it has ever been particularly since the Queen’s official visit to the south. They successfully defeated the provisionals in the troubles and kept the six counties and I can’t see the well being of unborn children being a game changer in this regard.

    The Irish are very well on the road to oblivion anyhow judging by their anti family senior politicians and leaders, the emasculation of their young males and mass immigration.

    As for the Pope he only gets involved when it concerns climate change, socialism and homosexual activism. If Ireland were to leave the Paris Accord he would have something to say about it alright.

    Maybe Ireland in an effort to motivate Irish mothers to have more children and preserve its nation should adopt the admirable system of the German Reich the “Cross of Honour of the German Mother” or the “League of German Girls Faith and Beauty Division”. I bet the Pope would have something to say about that.

  11. Overly cynical, I think:
    – The Catholic church didn’t seem too interested in the sanctity of babies when they filled those mass-graves outside “orphanages”. Their marginalisation has been well-earned.
    – The Catholic majority is already baked into the demographics. No need to oppose abortion on those grounds. I think SF are simply representing their voters, as is their job.
    – By treaty, a border poll will decide reunification of the whole province.
    – Polls show that the republic is also not in favour of reunification (on cost grounds, I think) but my bet is that on they day they’ll vote to reunify anyway. Ditto Northern nationalists.
    – Per capita income in the republic is twice that of the North. The economic temptation with be strong.
    – The republic does not share either the content or intensity of the UK’s opinions about immigration or the EU – I doubt they were influencing factors.

  12. @Bardon: Emasculation? We send our young boys (and plenty of girls too) out into the fields to beat each other with Ash sticks: It’s called Hurling. They’ll be fine.

    There is no mass immigration.

    “successfully defeated the provisionals” A dubious claim. Public opinion, British recognition of the previously disregarded concept of universal civil rights, and negotiation defeated the provos. I know some brits like to think of themselves as glorious bearers of civilisation in the name of the Queen… in Ireland they brought only cruelty and oppression…

  13. A not insignificant factor in the North will be, when inside the ballot box, “Do I vote for the Irish Republic’s welfare benefits, or retain those of the UK?”

  14. By treaty, a border poll will decide reunification of the whole province.

    I’m curious to know how that will happen in the absence of demographic changes favouring Catholics.

  15. I find it hard to believe that Britain would give up rule over the six counties

    Britain would give up rule over the six counties in a heartbeat. Ruling said counties is a pain in the arse, costs money and no-one in the UK really gives two shits about them.

    At some point in the future, NI is going to be sufficiently secular that Catholic or Protestant? is no longer a relevant question, in which case I suspect NI will happily vote for a united Ireland. No-one in the rest of Britain will care (in the nicest possible way, I should add).

  16. in which case I suspect NI will happily vote for a united Ireland.

    What on earth is that based on?

  17. @ Bardon:

    Maybe Ireland in an effort to motivate Irish mothers to have more children and preserve its nation should adopt the admirable system of the German Reich the “Cross of Honour of the German Mother” or the “League of German Girls Faith and Beauty Division”.

    My own favourite solution would be to (1) remove or drastically reduce the state pension, and (2) make children legally liable for the upkeep of their elderly parents. That way having lots of children would once again be a sensible investment in the future.

    @ HibernoFrog:

    – The Catholic church didn’t seem too interested in the sanctity of babies when they filled those mass-graves outside “orphanages”. Their marginalisation has been well-earned.

    From the statistics I’ve seen, the mortality rate in Irish Catholic-run orphanages was about the same as infant mortality rates in general.

  18. MrX

    The downside of welfare which is a relatively modern day concept is well documented, it may well in fact be a method of ensnaring folk into the state net. Tim has ran a few posts on Africans and their way of life with respect to sending the money home and I actually went against the grain to point out the benefits of a system like that as opposed to welfare. The one thing that I have also noted in my travels to non developed countries is how close the family unit is, even after catastrophes you see them gathering, talking, laughing and singing, the overthrow of Suharto was one that I actually witnessed and something that I will keep. Millions of folk were relegated to poverty overnight, these people got up, cleaned up and got on with it. Whereas it would be a mass casualty event if it happened in the west.

  19. “I know some brits like to think of themselves as glorious bearers of civilisation in the name of the Queen… in Ireland they brought only cruelty and oppression…”

    Irish independence and unity is a case of natural justice, British intrigue may well have impeded the rights of Ireland and the Irish people but given this unacceptability and history we have numerous occasions where they still kowtow to the Queen or act in insincere ways was my point here. Sometimes the Irish are their own worst enemy.

  20. Sometimes the Irish are their own worst enemy.

    Sometimes? See today’s post.

  21. @MC- “Britain would give up rule over the six counties in a heartbeat.”

    Okay so what has changed since the troubles and lets not forget we had Maggie in charge then and she was no shrinking violet in making hard decisions including economical ones. I don’t believe that Brexit will happen and the US will still not allow NI and the island itself to leave NATO, so why now, what has changed?

  22. in which case I suspect NI will happily vote for a united Ireland.

    What on earth is that based on?

    If – which would seem likely based on the example of everywhere else in Europe – the folk of NI become more secular, the Catholic v Protestant ‘thing’ stops being relevant. So the attachment to either RO Ireland or Britain becomes cultural.

    ROI has the advantage of being nearer and (at the moment) wealthier. Cultural links – NI rugby players playing for Ireland for example – will get stronger between NI and ROI. Protestants aren’t currently a huge majority. They will see the UK change more rapidly than ROI in terms of demographics and familiarity (and of course have already seen this).

    I have no idea how long it will take, but it would not surprise me to see it in my lifetime.

    My main point however is that no-one in the rest of the UK (except maybe Glasgow) gives a monkey’s. NI remained part of the UK because its people wanted that, not the rest of the Brits. Of course we had a responsibility to accommodate them and afterwards to protect them. But there’s no-one supping port in a London club saying: “Damme we lost the Indies but at least we still have Belfast!”

  23. So the attachment to either RO Ireland or Britain becomes cultural.

    It already is cultural, and I really can’t see the majority Unionists voting to join ROI any time soon, nor the Nationalists outbreeding them.

    ROI has the advantage of being nearer and (at the moment) wealthier.

    Ireland is wealthier than Britain? On what measure?

    My main point however is that no-one in the rest of the UK (except maybe Glasgow) gives a monkey’s.

    Your main point is irrelevant: the future of Northern Ireland will be decided by the people of Northern Ireland, not the mainland population.

  24. @Steve: The independent republic (eventually) prospered, I think the same can be achieved in the North. It’s not that long ago when it absolutely dominated the island’s economy.

    @Tim: I just meant it will be decided as a whole, one way or the other, as agreed by treaty. I think they can call a vote up to every 7 years or similar. I haven’t checked myself. Also, I have different information about the demographics, but again, I will verify before insisting.

    @Bardon: Holy crap! Darkies singing Danny Boy?!?!?! What an outage… Ok, but seriously, what on earth was your point there?

    @Mr.X: I was referring to the unconsecrated nature of the graves, rather than the mortality rate. But also, far from being actual orphanages, many were gulags for unwed mothers. It’s terrible that society allowed this to happen – we have indeed been our own worst enemy at times.

    @Bardon: “may” have ” impeded”. Clearly you know little of the horrors inflicted, or you wouldn’t try to trivialise it so. as for kowtowing to the Queen… no idea where you got that nonsense from…

  25. “Holy crap! Darkies singing Danny Boy?!?!?! What an outage… Ok, but seriously, what on earth was your point there?”

    Dominant black lady dumps wimpy beta white male and slags Irish, weak male recites some Irish poetry in consolation for his loss, multicultural customers break into Danny Boy, dominant black lady returns to further embarrasses and take a drink from the white wimp.

  26. I just meant it will be decided as a whole, one way or the other, as agreed by treaty.

    Yes, but as I understand it, both the ROI and NI have to vote yes. How do you envisage NI voting yes without demographic changes favouring nationalists?

  27. @Mr.X: I was referring to the unconsecrated nature of the graves, rather than the mortality rate. But also, far from being actual orphanages, many were gulags for unwed mothers. It’s terrible that society allowed this to happen – we have indeed been our own worst enemy at times.

    How do we know that the graves were unconsecrated? Even if there were records available about consecrations, I doubt many journalists reporting on the matter would bother to check them.

    As for “gulags for unwed mothers”, I don’t know much about that sort of thing, so I’ll just take your word that that’s an accurate description. I would assume, though, that such things wouldn’t have happened unless the Irish people as a whole were in favour, so trying to throw all the blame onto the Catholic Church seems a little off.

  28. ROI is vastly wealthier than UK in terms of GDP/capita. Yes, it’s because of US tech companies posting their EU profits there, but it’s a measure.


  29. ROI is vastly wealthier than UK in terms of GDP/capita.

    Right, so how do people on sink estates in Belfast capture some of that wealth? They can’t, which is why Ireland’s supposed wealth compared to the UK is irrelevant: there’s a reason why the UK and Australia are full of Irish.

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