Irish Media Back Pro-Abortion Campaign With Vow: ‘We Will Protest Until We Win’

Twitter / @Beca_gray
Twitter / @Beca_gray

Irish pro-abortion campaigners insist that they will continue to hold regular protests until their demands that abortion be legalised are met. Spurred on by the legalisation of gay marriage by referendum earlier this year and sensing a liberalisation of Irish opinion, campaigners, aided and abetted by the media and NGOs including Amnesty International, are mounting a multi-faceted offensive.

Thousands are expected to take to Dublin’s streets tomorrow for the fourth annual March for Choice. They will be demanding a referendum on the repeal of Ireland’s eighth amendment, which grants equal status to the life of the mother and of her unborn child and guarantees protection of those rights for the child.

Protestors have been asked to bring a wheelie suitcase to symbolise the trips, usually to England, that women with unwanted pregnancies currently make in order to secure an abortion.

The Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC), which is organising the march, claims that 170,000 women have travelled to the UK for an abortion since 1980, a statistic that they believe to be beyond the pale. They insist that the right of a mother to abort her baby close to home trumps the baby’s right to life. And they are looking to ride the wave of last May’s gay marriage referendum to achieve their aims.

Doherty of ARC said: “The landslide vote for Marriage Equality and the passage of the Gender Recognition Bill this year demonstrate clearly the huge appetite for change in Ireland. This will be the last March for Choice before the general election, so we want to make it clear – to get our vote, politicians must make a commitment to repeal the eighth amendment, so we can take another step closer to securing free, safe and legal access to abortion for all living in Ireland.”

The campaign received a boost from the Irish Times recently when it put Roisin Ingle, a journalist with the paper who had had an abortion in her late 20s, on the front cover of their Saturday magazine.

“Why am I writing this? Because I want to be a part, however small, of the campaign to change abortion legislation in this country,” she explained. “Because if my daughters ever come to me and say they are pregnant when they don’t want to be, I don’t want them to have to get a boat or a train or a plane.”

Her colleague, journalist Una Mullaly has now taken to the pages of the Guardian to warn “there will be protests until Irish women have the legal right to choose abortion.”

She too has invoked the gay marriage referendum, writing: “In the aftermath of the marriage referendum, it has felt as if change was in the air, although the taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to commit to holding a referendum on the issue. But the taoiseach and the political establishment once again find themselves behind the times.

“In the absence of government leading on the issue, the public will continue to take to the streets until the law reflects this.”

But pro-life campaigners have slammed the media for using their position to sway the debate on abortion within Ireland. At a pro-life protest last year, Cora Sherlock, deputy chairwoman of the Pro-Life Campaign said there had been no honest debate on abortion legislation, and in particular on a bill passed two years ago that allowed abortion in circumstances where the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother, including through the risk of suicide.

“The media failed abysmally to ensure the content of abortion law and the Government’s claims about it were critically examined. The media were pushing the law instead of critically examining it,” she said.

Similarly, both Mulally and ARC have drawn attention to a poll carried out this week by the Irish Examiner which found that 64 percent of Irish farmers, traditionally a conservative group, now support the liberalisation of abortion laws. Pro-life campaigners have written the poll off as yet another example of the media attempting to railroad the issue.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Ruth Cullen, a spokesman for the Pro Life Campaign said: “If there was even the appearance of balance in media coverage of the current abortion debate, then I would be surprised at poll findings like these. But given how astonishingly one-sided the debate is at present, the results are not in the least bit surprising.

“The fact that in the space of a fortnight 33 articles appeared in national newspapers pushing for more abortion with only one from a pro-life perspective shows that the present debate is not serious but is a pretend one.

She said that the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment is not a grassroots movement, but is “almost exclusively a media driven campaign.” While the media often publish stories, such as Ingle’s in support of abortion, those of women who regret their abortions “are ignored or ridiculed,” she said, adding “A defence of the 8th Amendment simply never features. No one can deny this is happening.”


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