The Repeal movement’s biggest challenge

Heated debates about the upcoming referendum have began to sweep across the country- Ellen Fitzpatrick discusses some of the challenges the Repeal campaign faces.

The abortion campaign is always going to have its complications and no matter which side you support or have no opinion in the slightest, there are still going to be major challenges that come with either side. For the pro-choice movement, what looks to be their biggest challenge to date is swaying the older generation to vote repeal.

It is not news when I tell you that people over the age of 65 are more than likely going to vote to keep the eighth amendment. It’s a generational thing. In the 2016 census, 637,567 people in Ireland were over 65. My grandmother is an 88-year-old inner city Dublin lady whose favourite pastime is to cause fights with people over topics such as abortion. She won’t listen to a single word said to her that supports it and this is all down to the age she is and the strict Catholic Ireland she grew up in. I think that my grandmother is a shining example of the older vote and is an ideal representation of most of these voters.

Now, I do understand that most people living in Ireland are not the elderly. There are almost 3 million voters in Ireland between the ages of 19 and 64, with the average age of the population being 37.4. And yes, many of these voters are predicted to vote repeal. In a poll carried out by the Irish Times last year, 62 per cent of people said they would like to see the constitution amended. Broken down, 42 per cent of 18-24-year olds, 47 per cent of 25-34-year olds and 42 per cent of 35-49-year olds wanted to see the constitution changed to give greater access to abortion. Meanwhile, 26 per cent of 18-24 and 25-34-year olds voted to give the Dáil access to rewrite legislation, with 28 per cent of 35-49-year olds supporting this.

This begs the question; is the pro-choice side depending too much on young people to secure the vote? It is in no way hidden that their target audience is young people, a large sector of the population and those who grew up without the strict influence of the church. The repeal campaign thinks these voters are definite but have they considered what the older generation will do to fight it? Looking back to my grandmother, there are thousands of people just like her that will want to keep Ireland from evolving, maintain the country they were raised in. People like this should be feared by the repeal campaign.

Also, the rural community is on a different scale than Dublin. We see protests all over urban areas and assume the amendment will be repealed. But what about rural voters? They aren’t being focused on and according to a recent Ipsos MRBI poll conducted by the Irish Times, the majority here will vote no.

It is too late in the race to change this, you can’t change people’s opinions, but you can educate and hope they make their best decision in the end.

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Image Credit Mark Carroll