Where would we be without the Irish? Thomas Cahill’s famous book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” tells the story of how the Western world would still be barbarian savages running around in animal skins, raping and pillaging our neighbors if not for the Irish monks who salvaged the great books of Greece, Rome, Israel and the Early Church and returned them along with an authentically Christian culture back to Europe after the fall of Rome. However, the barbarians are back, but the Irish are fighting.
Today, a new savagery, one more clinical, legal and political, has overtaken Europe with the collapse of Christian culture there. A darkness has covered Europe in its embrace of abortion as a juridical “right.” But despite enormous pressure, for over 20 years Ireland has kept the light of true civilization burning by keeping abortion out of Ireland, standing for the inviolable dignity of the human person – the foundational Christian principle of a civilized society.
Yet, Ireland’s pro-life public policy is under extreme attack right now and there is a 50/50 chance that abortion may become legal by the end of the year.
Following the Lisbon Treaty, an abortion rights case akin to Roe v. Wade and funded by International Planned Parenthood was taken directly to the European Court of Human Rights against Ireland, bypassing the Irish courts and the lower European courts. The Court ruled that Ireland had to change its laws to permit abortion in cases of the health of the mother (including the mother’s threat of suicide), a ruling that has no court of appeal. There are legal scholars that dispute the binding nature of this ruling, however, millions of dollars are flowing into Ireland from giants like Google and Goldman Sachs to fund this change in Ireland’s pro-life laws and culture. Under this pressure, the Irish government has created a special commission (of pro-abort “experts”) to study the issue. The commission will likely recommend the legalization of abortion and put it to a referendum with subtle language that will seem harmless to the Irish people who are substantially pro-life. The pro-life forces in Ireland are in full crisis mode trying to respond to this David versus Goliath attack as they battle a hostile media and government elites who are pushing abortion against the will of the Irish people.
Ireland has been targeted because it is strategically vital for the global pro-life movement. Even Julie Kay, an American attorney with the Momentum Legal Fund and lead counsel for Planned Parenthood who has given over 10 years of her career to making abortion legal in Ireland, said that Ireland is the “jewel in the crown of the pro-life movement.” Why?
Ireland is a living example of a modern Western country that stands for the principle that abortion is never a medical necessity. As a result of its pro-life policy, Ireland has the best maternal health statistics in the world. Just across the Irish sea, England has five times more maternal deaths per capita than in Ireland. Ireland’s very existence tells the world that banning abortion is positively correlated with the best health care outcomes for women and children. The nation of Chile has just this past month discovered this correlation in their own experience of banning abortion.
International abortion advocates hate Ireland for this because developing countries being pressured to legalize abortion look to Ireland and point to her in response to the claims that “when abortion is illegal, women die” as being the lie that it is.
Keeping Ireland pro-life is enormously important in the global fight for life. Yet the Irish pro-life forces are in need of our help because the attack coming from Europe and funded by America is daunting.
In response, a new American organization, Life House Ireland, has been created with the help of the Thomas More Society. Life House Ireland’s mission is to keep Ireland pro-life, and to grow Ireland as a powerful global force for re-planting a culture of life throughout Europe and the World. Through education, networking and support, Life House Ireland helps Americans stay connected to the fight and become part of the pro-life success story in Ireland.
Towards this end, Life House Ireland and The Thomas More Society, with the support of CatholicVote.org, are hosting the First Annual Irish Festival for Life on June 3rd in Chicago, with Prof. Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame Law School Charles Rice, Fr. Thomas Loya of the Tabor Life Institute, Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, Tom Brejcha of The Thomas More Society and Ireland’s “pro-life Joan of Arc” Pro-Life Champion Niamh Ui Bhrian president of the Life Institute along with traditional Irish music and dancing. The event will help to raise awareness of the pro-life crisis taking place in Ireland and call for support to keep Ireland for Life.
We owe a great debt to the Irish not only for their contribution in the early days of Christianity, but in large part, it was the Irish priests, nuns and bishops and surge of immigrants that turned a fledgling Church in America into a powerful institutional force in healthcare, education and service to the poor. And the Irish have made their mark all over the world through its monumental missionary movement that has touched a multitude of developing nations. Even today, Ireland’s pro-life movement is keeping the light of a culture of life alive, giving hope and support to other pro-life nations, and training young pro-life missionaries to send them out into Europe and America to re-seed a culture of life throughout the whole world. History is repeating itself, the Irish are saving civilization once again, but they need our help, and we owe it to them.
As Blessed Pope John Paul II said, “Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.” With our help through the work of Life House Ireland, we will echo John Paul’s words and add that “love and life are never defeated, and the history of Ireland and America will prove it again!”
Michael C. X. Sullivan is special counsel to the Thomas More Society, a board member of Life House Ireland, and the founder of the Divine Mercy Project. He lived in Ireland for 10 years and believes that Ireland is a key to the re-evangelization of the world.