News Roundup

Pro-life event hosting rape survivors cancelled by 2nd hotel, proceeds in open air

A pro-life event featuring rape survivors was cancelled by a second hotel after members of staff received death threats. The event however went ahead in a public square with a makeshift platform and sound system. Laura Ní Chonghaile of Unbroken Ireland who represent women who became pregnant through rape or were conceived in rape said: “We are tired of being silenced, and we will no longer accept attempts to silence us, or to make us feel ashamed. Is this the 19th century where aggressive men feel they can tear down our message and abuse us for sharing our experiences and having a point of view?”  One of the speakers on the night, Louise, a woman from the UK who asked not to be further identified, was 18 when she was raped and found herself “railroaded” into having an abortion. “I grieved terribly for the baby,” she said. “My feeling is at the moment women and babies in Ireland are protected … If the eighth amendment is done away with, women will end up having abortions they don’t want.” The meeting was also addressed by two women who became pregnant through rape but opted to give birth to their babies, and one woman who was conceived in rape.


People Before Profit defend destruction of pro-life posters advertising event with rape survivors

Trinity People Before Profit have defended their members who were pictured cutting down posters advertising a pro-life event in Dublin. The event was due to feature various women who were either conceived in rape or became pregnant after rape. The posters used the phrases “I was conceived in rape. I’m still a human being” and “My child is innocent, just like me. Our laws should punish rapists, not babies”. In a statement released to Trinity PBP defended the removal of the posters while adding that the two members pictured in the post were operating in a personal capacity. “We took it upon ourselves to remove a number of vile anti-choice posters dotted around the campus.” the statement read. “We believe that it is fair and right to take direct action to counter far-right politics including anti-choice zealotry that seeks to traumatize and shame women. This action was taken by two individuals and doesn’t reflect on People Before Profit or its Trinity branch.”

The venue for the event was cancelled by two different hotels on foot of threats before eventually going ahead in an open-air square. In response to their posters being taken down Laura Ní Chonghaile of Unbroken Ireland said: “There is no place in a democratic debate for this extremism, and for shouting down women who have been raped.”



FG running from Citizens’ Assembly recommendations on abortion, but Taoiseach says they must ‘be seen to do something’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told Government Ministers that the Government “has to be seen to do something” on abortion, even as the party is busy backing away from the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly.  Yesterday, the Chairman of the Oirechtas committee on abortion, FG Senator Catherine Noone, said the Government need to be prudent in putting a question to the people that would be passed. “It wouldn’t make sense to put forward a referendum that was going to be defeated,” Ms Noone said. “The Citizens’ Assembly came up with quite a liberal position. They would have been in favour of abortion without restriction – you know, which a lot of people feel the Irish public wouldn’t agree with. But there’s no tangible evidence of what the Irish people actually feel, or actually would vote for in a referendum.” Meanwhile, the Irish Times reports that it understands that the Taoiseach told Ministers earlier this week that the Government “has to be seen to do something” on the issue. They had earlier reported that various front benchers and party members said the recommendations of the Assembly, that called for abortion to be available for most reasons up to 22 weeks, and up to birth for more serious reasons, would not pass either the party, the Dáil, or the people. Spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Campaign Cora Sherlock said it was “entirely predictable” that politicians would be seeking to water down the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations.

“The Citizens’ Assembly was very extreme. It would lead to abortion on demand, and it’s consistently coming back from the public that they don’t want UK-style abortion in Ireland,” she said.

“There is no such thing as restrictive abortion,” Ms Sherlock added. “I would expect politicians to seek to restrict the grounds for abortion in the referendum. But ultimately it boils down to the same thing – removing protections from one class of human beings.”


Marriage has been devalued and children have suffered most as a result, says Bishop

The Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown said marriage no longer marks the “hugely significant” transition from the single to married life, and as marriage has devalued, children in particular have suffered.

Speaking at a Mass to mark the Derry Diocesan pilgrimage to Knock, Bishop McKeown asked why the state is “in the slightest bit interested in sanctioning anybody’s private relationships?” It was, he suggested, “because of the enormously important role it plays in both social stability and the formation of children.  Marriage has been legally recognised because it is a crucial private and public arrangement.  When the vital role of marriage is downplayed society and especially children lose.”

People today though no longer recognise the full reality of marriage and children suffer as a result. “When the challenging ideal of marriage is watered down in the service of adult comfort, it is not surprising that children – both born and unborn – are seen as of lesser importance than the adults’ wishes.” Even for the couple involved, the act of getting married is itself no longer seen as something of crucial importance. “In the past the marriage ceremony marked the hugely significant transition of two people from being single to becoming a couple.  Our modern culture tends to suggest that promiscuity is just part of growing up and that the use of pornography is fine.  In that situation, for many the marriage ceremony marks not a key transition point in people’s lives but rather the time when they have been living together and gathered enough money for a great party.”


FG Ministers believe only restrictive abortion law will pass

Fine Gael Ministers do not believe the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion would get sufficient support to pass into law and will have to be significantly amended.

The issue was discussed at their weekly pre-Cabinet meeting on Tuesday at Government Buildings. No conclusions were reached, but several Ministers said that most of those present believed the assembly recommendations, which suggest changing the Constitution and legislating for general access to abortion up to 22 weeks into a pregnancy, would not be supported by the Fine Gael party, would not pass a vote in the Dáil and would not be passed by the electorate in a referendum.

According to a report in the Irish Times, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring both stressed they would not be in a position to support the recommendations of the assembly. One Minister said the assembly’s proposals would not pass “party, Dáil or country”. Another said he shared that view “very much”. Another said the discussion made it clear that any proposal for a change in the law would have to be quite limited and not provide for a complete liberalisation of the law. Sources say this means a much more restrictive abortion regime is likely to be proposed by the Government.


Pro-life meeting featuring rape survivors cancelled, posters torn down

An event featuring survivors of rape who got pregnant but chose not to abort their babies has been cancelled by a Dublin hotel. Unbroken Ireland, a group which represents and advocates for those affected by pregnancy after rape, has had its booking at the Gibson Hotel cancelled after pro-abortion protesters threatened to demonstrate against it.

The Life Institute, which is co-hosting the event, hit out at the hotel for giving in to intimidation. Spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said: “It is absolutely shameful that pro-abortion campaigners feel that they can shout everyone down, and that the Gibson Hotel have effectively let Repeal the 8th extremists silence women who have been raped.

“Whatever your views on abortion, I think most people would recognise that these women have an important part to play in the debate – and that their voices are rarely heard. It is frankly disgusting that abortion campaigners want to silence them.”

The event has now been rescheduled for the Spencer Hotel, Excise Walk, IFSC, Dublin 1 on Thursday, Sept 28th at 8pm.

Separately, members of the Trinity College branch of People before Profit boasted on social media of having cut down 32 posters advertising the event. They announced their exploits, with photographic evidence, in a Facebook post where they wrote: “2 comrades, 1 pair of scissors, 32 vile anti-choice posters surrounding the campus. A successful evening indeed. Fuck the anti-choice brigade and their attempts to intimidate and shame women. We’re fighting for free, safe & legal abortion in the 32 counties.” In response, a spokesperson for Unbroken described the actions as “really shameful”, and wondered: “Is this the 19th century, where women are shouted down and censored?” They then asked TDs for People before Profit, Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Bríd Smith TD and Gino Kenny TD of PBP “to condemn this theft, and censorship of women, and to ask Trinity PBP to apologise”.


Abortion referendum set for May or June, Taoiseach adopts wait-and-see on whether to support

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that a vote on the pro-life Amendment is likely to take place in May or June of next year. He will however wait until the wording is set before deciding whether to support the measure.

His spokesman said Mr Varadkar would have to see the specifics of any proposals arising from the all-party committee which is currently considering the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion. In a statement released later, Mr Varadkar’s office said: “The Taoiseach has always said that his personal views should not determine the final referendum.”

The Taoiseach has previously said that he does not believe a wide-ranging liberalisation of the law, based on the recommendations of the assembly, would be passed in a referendum and he also believes the unborn should have some rights, which would conflict with an unrestricted abortion license.


School divestment should be parents’ choice, says Taoiseach

Divestment of schools from church patronage should only occur where parents want it to happen, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil. He said he expressed that view in a meeting with members of the Catholic church last month, which was led by Archbishop Eamon Martin. Speaking in the Dáil yesterday he said: “The issue of patronage and divestment was discussed. The Government expressed the view that it would like to see more divestment occurring but that our principal interest involves taking into the account the views of parents and that the most important thing is that divestment should only occur where the parents and prospective parents of children attending those schools want it to occur.”


UK University bars research on transgender regret citing political correctness, fears of social media criticism

A researcher has been refused permission by a UK university to study cases of people who regretted their gender reassignment and had embarked on a process of detransitioning. The proposal was rejected as it was potentially a “politically incorrect” piece of research that could lead to online criticism detrimental to the institution’s reputation. James Caspian, a psychotherapist who specialises in therapy for transgender people, wanted to conduct the research for a master’s degree in counselling and psychotherapy at Bath Spa University, but the university’s ethics sub-committee, after discussion with the dean of the relevant department, rejected his request, saying: “Engaging in a potentially ‘politically incorrect’ piece of research carries a risk to the university. Attacks on social media may not be confined to the researcher but may involve the university. . . The posting of unpleasant material on blogs or social media may be detrimental to the reputation of the university.” Caspian has since accused the University of failing to follow “the most basic tenets of academic and intellectual freedom of enquiry”.

Commenting on the case, columnist Janice Turner noted that no one could accuse Caspian of being hostile to trans people. A gay man, and a trustee of a gender educational charity, in 16 years as a counsellor he had helped hundreds of patients through their gender transitions. The topic of “detransition” however implies there should be some level of “gatekeeping” by medical professionals before a patient might change gender. Turner explains: “lately trans activists have argued that any requirement for psychological counselling is insulting. The mere fact they ‘self-identify’ as the opposite gender is proof enough. Detransition therefore is heresy. It suggests some ‘gatekeeping’ is required: that it is misguided to allow ever younger people to take sterility-inducing hormones and have life-altering surgery without professional constraints. Detransition undermines the whole push towards instant, early diagnosis demanded by groups such as Mermaids and administered by Helen Webberley, the Welsh GP interviewed this week in The Times, who is under investigation for giving cross-sex hormones to 12-year-olds.”


Gene editing pioneer warns of embryo factories, fears cheapening of human life

Jennifer Doudna invented the revolutionary gene-surgery tool called Crispr-Cas9. It enables scientists to cut out any piece of DNA a scientist wants from fledgling human embryos with ease and precision. For some biologists, this god-like editing suite for the book of life is the most important technology since the gene reader. For others, the most interesting prospect is the ability to make predictable changes to the human gene pool. For Professor Doudna, however, a molecular biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, her technological advance is giving her literal nightmares. In one dream, she was asked to explain the tool to a man sitting in the next room. When she opened the door, this man turned out to be Adolf Hitler, but with the face of a pig. “I want to understand the uses and implications of this amazing technology you have developed,” he said.

Now she is worried about the latest use of the tool, developed by researchers in the UK, who have begun removing individual genes to learn how they make the very earliest human cells tick.

In an interview with The Times, she raised concerns that Britain could allow scientists to set up “factories” churning out embryos for research, or roll back the ban on keeping them alive in the laboratory for longer than two weeks.

In the race for scientific firsts, Professor Doudna thinks the UK could end up crossing some difficult lines. “I myself am struggling with this,” she said. “I’m trying to get my mind around what’s a responsible path forward. I have to admit that I feel personally uncomfortable with the idea that there could eventually be factories pumping out lots of human embryos for the purposes of experimentation. I can’t put my finger on why but it feels like it cheapens something about human life.”