By Linda Greenhouse
I happened to be in Dublin last week when the Alabama Legislature voted to ban abortions. Foreign travel tends to enhance a person’s perception of what’s happening back home, and that was certainly true for me on this trip.
It’s almost exactly a year since Irish voters, by an overwhelming two-thirds majority, threw off the shackles of the Roman Catholic Church and repealed the country’s constitutional provision banning abortion. On Friday, voters are expected to defy the bishops again and repeal the provision that requires at least four years of living apart before a couple can apply for a divorce. (Ireland legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote back in 2015.)
Back in Alabama, the state’s governor, Kay Ivey, issued this official statement when she signed the abortion ban into law: “To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
People in Ireland, so many of whom have relatives in the United States, are watching closely. Una Mullally, a prominent columnist for The Irish Times, reflecting on a recent trip to New York for a conference on reproductive rights, had this to say in a column last week: “So much of what we see with anti-abortion movements — in which religious fundamentalism, fake news, propaganda and hysteria are embedded — comes from the American playbook, so it behooves us to keep a close eye on what’s happening in the U.S. right now.”
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