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.