Why on earth did the British Prime Minister decide to join in the misplaced jubilation at the result of the Irish abortion referendum? Someone tweeted on her behalf:
“The Irish Referendum yesterday was an impressive show of democracy which delivered a clear and unambiguous result. I congratulate the Irish people on their decision and all of #Together4Yes on their successful campaign.” – PM @theresa_may #repealedthe8th
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 27, 2018
Why was this judged necessary? Does no one in Downing Street recognise that the prospective death of thousands of unborn children is not a matter for celebration, much less congratulation?
Mrs May does not have a reputation of being a pro-abortion ideologue, though her voting record on the matter is mixed. Perhaps Downing Street cannot resist the temptation to jump on any passing bandwagon? But in this case, silence would have been preferable.
The abortion issue may come to haunt Mrs May and even destroy her government. Given that there is pressure, in the aftermath of the Irish vote, to extend abortion legislation to Northern Ireland, something that the British government could do by Order in Council, Mrs May is in a bind, as her government relies on the votes of the DUP to survive, and the DUP are staunchly pro-life. It is not impossible to imagine a scenario where the government falls over divisions on abortion legislation for Northern Ireland. Governments have fallen over less. What an irony that would be: not the Northern Ireland border issue but the abortion issue finishing off Mrs May.
And if Mrs May thought her tweet would somehow soften up Leo Varadkar, the architect of the new pro-abortion Ireland, that strikes one as a most unlikely hope. In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the government of the UK has been desperately trying to seek allies in the EU, without much success, particularly in the one other English-speaking nation of the Union, with which we share a border.
As for Ireland, the abortion fight is not over there. A significant proportion of the population has shown themselves to be pro-life, and the pro-life movement has numerous devoted footsoldiers. When the matter comes before the Dail and the Senate, perhaps then, when the legislation is proposed, people will see that the hard cases which were the almost exclusive focus of the Yes campaign make very bad laws.
As for Mrs May, caught between some vociferously pro-abortion Conservative MPs and their allies from other parties, and the no-nonsense approach of Arlene Foster and her MPs, I might once have felt sorry for her. Now, after that tweet, not so much.