Ireland’s Pro-Life Army Isn’t Going Anywhere

Ireland’s Pro-Life Army Isn’t Going Anywhere

After the wreckage of the abortion vote, Ireland’s young, vibrant Church is ready to keep going

By now, nearly everyone has heard the devastating results of the abortion referendum in Ireland.

On May 25th, the Irish people voted to repeal the country’s only protection for unborn children within their Constitution — the 8th Amendment. Everyone knew it was a real possibility, especially in 2018, that Ireland would vote for abortion, but we lived in hope, thinking the Irish might be the ones not to conform to the world’s abortion regime.

Unfortunately, the 8th amendment was repealed by a landslide vote — 66.4% yes, 33.6% no.

After losing a battle like this, especially one where so many innocent lives are now in jeopardy, the following days are spent in a daze — reflecting, praying, trying to make sense of what just happened.

Could we have done more? Could we have done things differently? Is there any hope for Ireland or for our world, or has the world just become so secularized?

After some time to reflect, I can say with great confidence that we did everything we could, and I’m beginning to find glimmers of hope in the wreckage of the vote.

I know it’s difficult to talk about success or hope when you’ve just witnessed a massive failure, but I think there’s more to this vote than meets the eye — and that gives me great hope for the world and for the Church.

The Irish pro-life movement had everything stacked against it — the media, politicians, Google, money. But while all the odds favored the YES campaign, the NO side put up an incredible fight. We were neck-and-neck with the YES side throughout the entire campaign.

This referendum is good for the future of Ireland because it separates the sheep from the goats. The debate over abortion was so intense and divisive that you had to be steadfast and courageous if you spoke out at all.

Ireland felt like a war zone, a great battle between good and evil — and it took a tremendous amount of courage to stand up for life, but so many people did. God raised up a mighty army through this campaign and that army isn’t going anywhere.

The vote also brought Ireland’s pro-life laws and their excellent record of maternal healthcare into the spotlight, and forced the world to talk about it.

Since 1983, the 8th Amendment protected the life of every unborn child from the moment of conception and prohibited abortion in Ireland. This was in place for over 35 years, and it’s important to note that the 8th amendment saved hundreds of thousands of lives, making Ireland one of the safest places in the world for women to have a child.

While the Irish government and YES campaigners tried to spin stories of women dying, allegedly because of the 8th Amendment, the truth always remained — Ireland’s 8th Amendment was good for mothers and their babies.

The Irish people kept abortion out of their country for the past 35 years and that’s something to be applauded.

It’s also critical to remember that the 8th Amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child – it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed and will always exist. This is something that, as Americans, we should take to heart as well. We don’t need a law in place to create the right to life of the unborn child. This right exists, and we must do everything in our power to protect and promote that right.

Over the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to get St. John Paul II’s quote, “We are an Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song” out of my head.

At first I was annoyed by it, but it’s actually quite poignant for this moment in time. It took the crucifixion in order for us to see the resurrection, just like we have to experience this darkness in order to come to the light.

One of the greatest, most inspiring things coming out of this referendum is the small, yet vibrant young Church. They are not the future of the pro-life cause and of the Church — they are the now.

This dedicated group of young people has worked to keep abortion out of Ireland since 1992. Throughout this entire campaign, they spent their nights and weekends going door-to-door, canvassing, passing out leaflets in city centers, putting up posters — every waking hour they had outside of work and school, they fought for the unborn.

These young people took weeks off of work to participate in the Vote No Roadshow. They fearlessly catechized the public (including priests and religious) where the Church remained silent or fell short.

It is hard to be a young Catholic in the Church in Ireland, when 15,000 daily communicants voted for abortion in the referendum and 30% of regular Mass attendees did the same.

While the young Church in Ireland may be small, they are vibrant, passionate and faithful. And they are a witness to Ireland and to the rest of the world.

These young people are not the future of the Church, they are the reason the Church is still alive — and why the Church in Ireland and abroad will survive.

They are the reason I have hope.

Kate Bryan lived in Ireland during the recent abortion referendum and holds a Master’s from the Dublin Institute of Technology in Public Affairs and Political Communications. You can find more of her writings at: katembryan.com or on Twitter: @katembryan

Originally published by Angelus News.

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I’m a Pro-Life Feminist

“Feminism” is a divisive and controversial word in the world today.

When it comes to feminism, there are those who align themselves with vocal feminists like Gloria Steinem, Lena Dunham, or Jill Filipovic and those who simply don’t want to consider themselves feminists.

But then there are women like me — and there are many of us — who don’t fit neatly into either of those sides. We are the women who consider ourselves feminists, but also have respect for all human life from conception.

My journey with feminism began at a very young age. I come from a strong family, filled with powerful, tenacious women. They taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to, that as a woman I had the power to change the world.

My mother was the poster child for feminism. She worked her way up from a telephone operator at Michigan Bell (now AT&T) and became one of the first female telephone installers in Michigan, a job that was long considered for “men only.” She had a great career, traveled the world, got married at 34 and had four kids. My mom exemplifies the idea that women really can have it all.

Although my mom was a feminist raised in the ’60s and ’70s amid the sexual revolution and the legalization of abortion, she always believed that women deserved better than abortion, that every life was precious, no matter how small.

My parents instilled that same mindset within my siblings and me, which is how I came to see myself as a pro-life feminist.

Growing up, I saw feminism and being pro-life as inseparable. That women can create, grow and birth children is incredible and never understood how abortion could be seen as empowering to any woman.

As I got older and became involved in politics as a teenager, I began to see that not every feminist saw things the same as me. I started to feel like an outlier.

I became interested in politics because I had a passion for people and wanted to promote the protection of all human life regardless of age, sex, race or religion. I saw issues like immigration, the economy, and education through the pro-life lens. I wanted to do everything in my power to promote the dignity of every human life.

Many feminists appreciated that I was involved in other issues, but the second that abortion came up, I became an outcast. I’ve had friends break off friendships because of my beliefs and have been segregated at family parties. That may seem trivial, but as a young woman finding her voice and place, there were times these interactions were devastating.

The more I invested myself in politics, the more I found myself in situations like this. Looking back, I now see these were the instances that made me stronger and led me to where I am today. There are many women who have felt the same way, and it’s time for this to change.

A few months ago, my friends and I experienced the type of public discrimination that we never expected. When the plans started coming together for the Women’s March on Washington, a few friends and I decided we were going to bring the issue that we care most about to Washington, D.C.: life.

As pro-life feminists, we were launched into the forefront after The Atlantic ran a story about our plans to join the Women’s March. Shortly after the story, we were publicly “unwelcomed” by the Women’s March that had so strongly said “all are welcome” and claimed “inclusivity.”

 

We were told that we couldn’t join, that we aren’t feminists simply because we are pro-life. We marched anyway.

This was a huge missed opportunity and has unfortunately become a regular occurrence. You either follow the crowd, or you’re publicly shamed and segregated.

The Women’s March is case in point. Can you imagine how historic and powerful it would have been if the Women’s March had remained steadfast in their claim that “all are welcome” and allowed all women to participate?

In the current political climate, we don’t need more division or vitriol, we need more honest dialogue and understanding. We have the power to change that.

Women often don’t recognize their value and the power we have, individually or together. Every woman is a one-girl revolution and has the power to change the world.

If we stood together, it would be a real revolution.

Originally published at WaPo’s The Lily.

 

WaPo: I’m a 32-year-old virgin, and I’m living the feminist dream

My name is Kate. I’m 32 years old. I’ve never had sex.

When I was young, I always imagined I would be married by 25 and have a brood of kids. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew to “make disciples,” and I thought it would be cool to take that verse literally and have 12 kids. I wanted enough kids to fill a baseball team, a hockey bench and a big house full of love.

That obviously didn’t happen. Or it hasn’t happened yet. But I love my life. I spent last weekend learning how to scull on the Potomac River. I have good friends, a great family, hobbies and one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

Do I feel a void because I’m not married and I don’t have children yet? Sure. Do I wish I were having sex? Of course.

But I believe that I’m living a fuller, better life because of my commitment to sexual integrity. I spend all day, every day doing the things that I want to do, because I’m not wasting my time worrying about waking up next to a stranger, contracting a sexually transmitted infection or missing a period.

The truth is, I am able to live the feminist dream because I’m not stressing over the things that sex outside of marriage often brings. And I’m not alone.

A recent study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior showed that young people — specifically millennials – are now more than twice as likely to be sexually inactive than the previous generation. Although there are many possible causes for this shift, it’s quite reasonable to believe that this generation doesn’t want the stresses that sex outside of marriage brings — unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, to name a few.

Maybe they realize that a condom doesn’t protect the heart, and that true love is something worth waiting for and fighting for.

Celibacy and chastity, as I have come to understand as a Catholic, are virtues that are practiced with a purpose. Chastity isn’t simply the restraining of one’s desires, nor is it something you just practice before marriage and then disregard after the wedding. Chastity is a lifestyle, centered on freedom and love, that challenges all people to love themselves and to love others in the most perfect way possible.

As a teenager, I read Joshua Harris’s book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” I was enthralled by the view of purity that Harris proposed and decided I would save every act of affection, including kissing, until my wedding day.

My thesis was based on the book “Love and Responsibility” by Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Saint John Paul II. In this book, Wojtyla explained that every human being is a sexual being, but that we’re also rational — which means we don’t have to be mastered by our physical desires.

In the case of the single person, chastity does mean not having sex before marriage, but it also means striving toward the perfection of love. We must all aim to love ourselves and to love others in the most perfect way possible — this is chastity in its fullness.

With chastity, there are days you will struggle and fail. Some days, it will seem simply impossible. But you must always remain faithful and persevere, especially in the difficult moments.

As a Christian, I believe that all things are possible with God, and that has been the bedrock of my journey with chastity. I’ve also surrounded myself with good friends who support me and my beliefs, which has made my journey easier.

While I didn’t get my early marriage or my 12 kids or my big house with a white picket fence, my commitment to sexual integrity has allowed me the freedom to live the life that I want. I am living the life that feminists throughout history fought for.

Through the virtue of chastity — true freedom and the perfection of love — I am living the feminist dream.

Kate Bryan is a writer in Washington, D.C., who has worked for conservative and anti-abortion organizations. Follow her on Twitter @katembryan.

Originally published on Acts of Faith – Washington Post.