Monday, May 28, 2018

Abortion wins in Ireland

Over the weekend, Irish voters went to the polls in a referendum on their country's constitutional ban on abortion - and overturned it by a massive margin. While all the vote does is remove the constitutional prohibition, it is being interpreted correctly as a vote for change, and the Irish government is promising to pass a sane abortion law which doesn't kill women by the end of the year. Which will leave Northern Ireland as the only place in the British isles where abortion is still illegal.

This has put pressure on the UK government to Do Something about its backward colony, for example by legislating to allow for their own referendum. But that would be constitutionally improper. Northern Ireland is a devolved region, with its own government (though not at the moment) and laws. It is as inappropriate for Westminster to legislate for them as it would be for them to legislate for Scotland. They can only do so with consent. Unfortunately, due to the sectarian nature of Northern Irish politics, which sees bigot unionist parties holding a veto on government (which is why they don't have one ATM), that consent is unlikely to be granted. The only way to fix this problem is for Northern Irish voters to vote out the bigots and vote for people who will change the law. In other words, they have to solve this problem themselves.

Its also raised questions about why New Zealand is dragging its feet on removing abortion from the Crimes Act. Despite a clear promise from Labour, the issue has been parked with the Law Commission in an effort to gain political cover for change. Except that anti-abortionists won't care what the Law Commission says in its report, and will MPs will face a torrent of hate regardless. Which means the entire exercise is pointless - they might as well have simply cut out the middle man and introduced the law they wanted themselves.