As politics continue to divide our nation and divide nations across seas, Ireland sets its sights on an approaching referendum that could liberalize one such hot-button issue that divides the world: abortion.
While abortion seems to be an issue where there could not possibly be a middle ground, I feel as though lawmakers and the general population of Ireland could work together to find a solution benefiting all parties involved.
May 25 is the set date for Ireland’s vote on whether or not Article 40.3.3, otherwise known as the Eighth Amendment, should be repealed.
As it stands now, illegal abortions are punishable with a maximum of a fourteen year prison sentence.
Abortions are permitted only in the case that the mother’s life is in danger, and that stance has only been allowed since 2013, when a complete ban was lifted.
The repeals of article 40.3.3 would allow for abortions up through the twelfth week of pregnancy, with no restrictions.
While the question for this vote is obviously two-sided, whether to repeal or not to repeal the article, there could be a third option.
Pro-life and Pro-choice parties can find a middle ground by continuing the stance currently found in Ireland (by allowing abortions if the mother’s life is in jeopardy), and by repealing the fourteen year prison sentence.
While appealing to pro-life advocates could be challenging, there are other ways to de-incentivize abortion without an entirely absurd punishment that leads to the mother’s imprisonment.
A rape victim wishing to terminate a pregnancy caused by assault, for example, could face up to fourteen years imprisonment, which according to Guen Murroni from the Independent UK, is equal to, or longer than, the prison sentence of the rapist.
Ireland has had a history of rape cases, spanning from 1992 to 2014, which have caught public attention.
These cases have shown in various instances the government taking either a pro-life or pro-choice stance.
For example, in some cases, the government has allowed the rape victims to travel abroad to receive an abortion in the case of suicidal threats, or the government forced the woman to continue with her pregnancy.
As Catholic country, Ireland has a strong reason to consider all life important, including that of an unborn fetus.
But, one must also consider the impact these stances can put on females, especially those who have been raped. By repealing the Eighth Amendment, which the UN’s human rights committee has called “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”, and revoking the mandated prison sentence for a woman receiving an abortion, Ireland could satisfy those who are pro-choice.
On the other hand, pro-life parties can be satisfied by a government effort to incentivize woman to keep their babies, while also making peace with their history of degradation towards women, especially those who had babies out of wedlock.
In the end, though, a prison sentence is not the answer to ending abortions.
It only causes more problems for everyone involved.
Kassidy is a sophomore studying psychology.