The Catholic Church and believers must always be “pro-life”, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. He was speaking at the Dublin diocesan pilgrimage to Knock 2018 where he told the assembled congregants that the Church cannot be subject to conformism or compromise as it is called to preach a message that will always be counter cultural. “In our time, the Church and believers must always be pro-life“, he said. “The new family of Jesus, the Church, must always be a beacon of support for life at its most vulnerable moments and a beacon of support at any vulnerable moment of any woman or men along the path of life”.
He continued: “The Church must be pro-life when it comes to the unborn and those who are vulnerable at the end of their lives”.
A political mural in support of the repeal the 8th campaign has been removed from the Project Arts Centre Dublin. The public-finded body is also a registered charity whose aim is apolitical, specfically, to advance the cause of “education”. The Charities regulator had written to them warning them that they risked losing their charitable status by engaging in political activity that was not directly related to their charitable purpose. Unlike Amnesty Ireland, who chose to defy an order from the Standards in Public Office Commission to return an illegal, foeign donation of over €130,000, the Arts Centre decided to comply reluctantly.
Pro-life groups had not called for the mural’s removal. The Love Both campaign had said that if publicly funded buildings were to be used to advertise either side in the abortion referendum, then the only fair thing to do would be “to allow both sides equal time and space”. Spokesperson Cora Sherlock said they had repeatedly asked the Project Arts Centre to allow them to paint a mural on their building depicting the harm caused by abortion. However, “Despite our repeated requests for equal access to space in the Project Arts Centre we have received no access, nor any realistic prospect of access in the time remaining before the referendum”.
Ms. Sherlock concluded: “Perhaps the artist Maser was trying to be ironic by painting a picture of a heart to support abortion the Government’s abortion on demand plans. However, people must know that the first thing abortion does is to stop the beating heart of a small unborn child. If artists want to promote respect for all people, then they should be calling for a ‘No’ Vote to Governments abortion plans on the 25th of May.”
The Referendum Commission, chaired by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, launched its public information campaign today ahead of the referendum on May 25th. The Commission is meant to provide impartial and factual information during the campaign. Ms Justice Kennedy says it is not the role of the body to debate the merits or the arguments on either side but to provide an independent, neutral account of what is being proposed. Toward that end, the Commission will distribute a booklet to every home across the country and a website, refcom2018.ie, will be launched offering guidance on the question people will be asked.
Ms Kennedy’s opening advice is that the forthcoming referendum is not a vote on the legislation that the Government have proposed to replace the Eighth Amendment: “Laws are made by the Oireachtas. You are not being asked in this referendum to vote on any particular law relating to the termination of pregnancy”. While this is true from a strictly constitutional perspective, it does not take into account a political perspective, which would recognises the effect of a Yes vote would be to implicitly consent to the proposed legislation allowing abortion unrestricted up to 3 months and for mental health reasons up to six months.
Longtime feminist campaigner, Nell McCafferty caused shock and dismay when she questioned some of the centrally held theses of the pro-abortion movement. Speaking at the Women in the Media conference in Ballybunion on Saturday, she said: ““I’ve been trying to make up my mind on abortion. Is it the killing of a human being? Is it the end of potential life?” She said she could not answer the question. “But it’s not that I’m unable – I am unwilling to face some of the facts about abortion.” She went on to say that “the pro-lifers are right” that allowing terminations at the 12-weeks stage of pregnancy means the dismembering of babies in the womb.
She was roundly attacked on social media by pro-choice campaigners.
She recalled the 1983 abortion referendum campaign, when “the pro-lifers were going around showing videos and telling us all that babies are being dismembered in the womb through abortion. “I thought, ‘Nonsense.’” However, she said she recently googled what a pregnancy looks like at 12 weeks. “They [the babies] suck their wee thumbs and they have toenails, fingernails and arms and legs.”
She said that in an abortion “they scrape the contents of the womb. The pro-lifers are right. Out come the wee arms and legs, and I thought: ‘Oh God, is this what I am advocating?’”
Ms McCafferty was speaking during a discussion entitled: “Celebrating 100 years of the vote for Irish women: Would the Irish suffragettes be happy with the progress to date in securing equality?” and she then compared the abortion to the mass slaughter at the Somme. She said: “Abortion was beyond our consciousness and here we are, 100 years after slaughters like the Somme and places like that, offering abortion on request.”
A group of GAA figures, including Tyrone manager, Mickey Harte, launched the GAA Athletes for a No Vote campaign in Dublin on Saturday. Gaelic Athletes for Life said the Government’s proposals on abortion are not inclusive and “seek to exclude one group of people – the unborn – from society”. The group said its members “respect and cherish women. We support them, and we believe that as a society we have much more, so much more to offer women than the death of our children”. The GAA as an organisation said it will remain neutral on the issue of the Eighth Amendment.
A new student-led pro-life campaign is calling on younger voters “not to vote blind” in the abortion referendum on May 25th. The #OurFuture campaign, which describes itself as a “young, secular voice for keeping the Eighth Amendment”, seeks to challenge some of the “misconceptions around what a repeal would mean” and to educate students on the State’s abortion legislation, says campaign spokeswoman and former UCD Students’ Union president Katie Ascough.
Ms Ascough says the #OurFuture campaign aims to present the case for protecting the Eighth Amendment in “a concise, fact-based way” and then to leave it up to people to make up their own minds on the issue. “We’ve found that when presented with the realities of repeal and when the soundbites of the Yes campaign are challenged, people are really concerned about exactly what the introduction of abortion into Ireland would mean.”
One hundred lawyers from across Ireland have issued a statement calling for a “No” vote, saying that the government proposal would introduce abortion on demand, and would remove all constitutional protection from the preborn child.
Signatories to the statement included Aindrias Ó Caoimh, Senior Counsel, and Former Judge of the High Court and of the European Court of Justice; and Iarfhlaith O Neill, Senior Counsel, and Former Judge of the High Court and one-time Chairman of the Referendum Commission.
The Statement says the Eighth Amendment respects the right to life of mothers, and protects the life of the unborn only to the extent that such protection is consistent with the life of the mother. If the Amendment were repealed then the proposed abortion legislation that would follow “would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until twelve weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions”.
“It is clear, therefore, that what is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases but a wide-ranging right to abortion”.
The Statement was widely welcomed by pro-life groups.
The latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll has shown a sharp drop in support for repealing the Eighth Amendment. Asked if they would vote in favour or against removing the Eighth Amendment, 47 per cent of voters say they will vote Yes, while 28 per cent said they would vote no. This represents a nine-point drop in support for repeal since January. Those who said they were not sure how they would vote were at 20 per cent, an increase of five per cent since last January. Three per cent said they would not vote and one per cent refused to give an opinion.
Responding to the poll, spokesperson for Savethe8th, Niamh UiBhriain said it confirms that the more people get to know about the consequences of a Yes vote, the less likely they are to vote for repeal. She noted that a third of those currently saying they will vote yes believe the proposal for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks goes too far. “Most importantly, we believe that when they find out that this proposal would also allow the abortion of a healthy baby, on UK style grounds, at 6 months gestation, many of those voters will reconsider their votes,” she said.
The Love Both campaign welcomed the poll and said the findings are “a devastating blow to the Government’s referendum proposal.”
A woman who died following a late-stage abortion procedure was discharged from the clinic despite vomiting and swaying so much she looked “drunk”, an inquest has heard. Aisha Chithira, 31, travelled to England from Ireland to have an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic in London, in 2012.
She suffered a tear to her uterus during the “blind” procedure performed under anaesthetic, as a surgeon struggled to dismember the 22-week-old foetus and remove the parts from the woman’s womb.
Afterwards she vomited in a stairwell and complained of feeling unwell to her husband, but was helped into a taxi by staff at the clinic. They had told her she could not stay overnight. One of the nurses denied they had pressured her to leave because they had wanted to go home. Corinne Slingo, representing Marie Stopes, said: “The taxi driver says he saw his passenger walking out of the building. He was quite shocked, she didn’t seem with it at all.
“She looked like she was drunk.” Reading from a statement, she added: “The nurse got her in a hug and she said ‘don’t do that, you will break my bones’.”
A sex education Bill co-sponsored by hard left TD, Ruth Coppinger, passed the second stage of the legislative process yesterday when it was approved by the Dail without being put to a vote. The Bill, if passed, would force schools to teach a certain model of relationships and sexuality education regardless of ethos including about abortion. A minimum of 10 TDs must want a vote for one to take place, but only two deputies rose to oppose the bill when it was put the the House. It will now be sent to a committee for closer legislative scrutiny, although, because it is a private member’s Bill it is likely to languish without progress.