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DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Hours before Irish voters cast their ballot in Ireland's abortion referendum Friday, pro-lifers are exposing the "extreme" measure that would decriminalize the murder of an unborn child for any reason up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Of the six referendums on abortion since 1983, the May 25 abortion referendum is the most important. The Eighth Amendment — the constitutional provision protecting the right to life for the unborn — was passed that same year with 67 percent approval.
The Save the Eighth Campaign is one of 62 local groups that worked across Ireland to train 1,000 volunteers to protect the lives of the most vulnerable ahead of the referendum.
Catholics are split on the subject, with 45 percent supporting abortion up to 12 weeks and 40 percent opposed, contrasting with 69 percent support and 26 percent opposition amongst those with no religion. And Catholics are the most likely to be undecided — 15 percent answering don't know or preferring not to say, against 5 percent of those with no religion.
Father Ruairí O'Domhnaill of Kildare and Leighlin questioned any Catholic "who consider[s] voting yes [to repeal the eighth] that they need to seriously ask themselves what they believe."
"The heart of our Christian faith is that God took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and that he took on the human condition," remarked O'Domhnaill. "That he was a living human being in the womb of Mary and it's fairly hard for anyone who would say that if they believed that to then say they didn't believe that he didn't have a right to be born."
And several Irish bishops issued pastoral letters last month, urging voters to defend the unborn, including Bp. John Buckley of Cork and Ross, Bp. Alan McGuckian of Raphoe and Bp. Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin.
"We will never again have a more important vote," Bukley said. "There is no cause more noble than to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Never before in history have we had so much scientific proof that the unborn baby is, in fact, a living, breathing human being."
Nulty explained that once we deprive the unborn of the right to life, "we can no longer defend ourselves from what flows from an abortion culture," which "fundamentally alters our attitude towards disability."