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Friday, November 27, 2015

Abortion and "healthcare": dispelling the myths

by Clare Cromie

Recently I stopped to have a conversation with a young man raising funds for Amnesty International on College Green. We bantered back and forth about what it really meant to be a person, and why babies didn’t make the cut. His response was telling and it put me on the back foot.

He summed up Amnesty International’s recent push to introduce abortion to Ireland as not rejecting the essential humanity of the developing fetus, per se. Instead, he insisted, it was just “really all about healthcare.”

It’s easy to find yourself on the back foot when abortion is introduced as simply a “healthcare” measure. Healthcare, you see, has such immensely positive, humanitarian connotations. How can a person really argue against providing access to healthcare?

It’s important to recognize that the “abortion as healthcare” line is not new to the political discourse. But, is it true? Can abortion really be called healthcare?

If we look at the definition of healthcare in any number of established dictionaries, the answer has to be - absolutely not. Cambridge defines healthcare as “the set of services provided by a country or an organization for the treatment of the physically and the mentally ill.” Abortion is factually the exact opposite of healthcare; rather than treating ill health, it purposefully takes the life of a human being.

The concept that abortion is healthcare because it serves the health and mental well-being of the mother (rather than preference or convenience whether her own, her partner’s, or society’s) also deserves scrutiny. Treatments that ended a pregnancy that were necessary to save a woman’s life were always permitted in Ireland.  We also know that there is no medical evidence to suggest abortion as a treatment for suicide or mental health problems, in fact quite the opposite. We know that post-abortive stress syndrome is a significant threat to women’s mental health.

It is our duty to call attention to these fallacies and carefully and respectfully steer the conversation back towards objective truths. Truths about what abortion is - the termination of the life of a human being - and what it is not. We know for example that abortion is not an evidence-based treatment for suicidal ideation. We know for example that abortion does not eliminate the pain of an infant’s life-limiting diagnosis for his or her mother and father.

We know that all of us at some stage in our lives will receive news of life limiting diagnoses for either ourselves or for our loved ones. While this will never be welcome news, we know that all human beings, regardless of their age or diagnosis, deserve respectful, end-of-life palliative and hospice care. We also know that meeting your baby and holding him or her in your arms is not accurately described as “torture.” We know that Ireland tops global statistics for excellence in maternal health.

Playing around with the meaning of the term “healthcare” is not a small matter of semantics. Abortion advocates are attempting to shroud abortion in the same positive humanitarian halo with which actual healthcare is rightly associated. Let’s challenge this misappropriation, arm ourselves with the facts and have the courage to add our voices to the conversation.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Taoiseach Faces FG Revolt Over Party's Abortion Position"

Irish Independent 7th March 2015

Interesting that three reporters contributed to the above-named piece in today's Irish Independent and yet there is not a single on the record quote from anyone in Fine Gael,  just a "senior FG source". So there is zero justification for the headline "Taoiseach Faces FG Revolt Over Party's Abortion Position."
Now that an impression has been created by the piece that Fine Gael fear they will lose votes for not being pro-abortion enough, Regina Doherty or one of her Fine Gael colleagues is sure to go on the record to back up what some of their pals in the media have said. 
Sadly the abortion debate has now become utterly predictable and one-sided. The reality is FG lost lots of votes in the local abortion for breaking its pro-life promise. The same is going to happen in the general election. The Dublin media bubble might think otherwise but the votes Fine Gael in December 2012 after announcing they were legislating for abortion will not be won back even if they try and rebrand the Taoiseach as pro-life as it appears some are trying to do. 

Read the piece here  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Labour’s meltdown and the election results – what it means for the pro-life cause

The results of the European and local elections are further proof that in politics nothing is set in stone. Just when you think certain things are settled everything can change. It is important to get to the heart of what the results mean and not to overstate the pro-life political implications.

While there were some disappointing results, a significant number of new councillors were also elected who are immediately identifiable as strongly pro-life from their vocal opposition to the recent abortion legislation. This is a really encouraging development.

The Labour Party meltdown and resignation of its party leader, Eamon Gilmore, will also have far-reaching political consequences. While the primary reason for the collapse in Labour’s vote was economic, it also showed that their strident pro-abortion stance didn’t shield them in the slightest from voter anger over their promise-breaking.

Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore announces his resignation yesterday

The story regarding Fine Gael is quite different. While the principal driver of Fine Gael’s seat losses had to do with the economy, without question, the drop in their support was compounded by their betrayal of the pro-life movement. A number of media commentators pointed this out over the weekend. The fact that upwards of 15,000 people turned out for the recent National Vigil for Life in Dublin was a good pre-election gauge of the level of pro-life feeling around the country. Even if Fine Gael is unwilling to admit it, they know they lost tens of thousands of votes as a direct result of breaking their promise not to introduce abortion. This undoubtedly cost them numerous seats.

It is also great news that so many of the newly elected Fianna Fáil and Independent councillors are strongly pro-life. We base this on the fact that they either attended our vigils or have spoken out publicly on the issue in the recent past. Another straw in the wind was the re-election of Deputy Terence Flanagan’s brother Declan as a councillor for the Beaumont Donaghmede electoral area. Following Deputy Flanagan's expulsion from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for voting with his conscience against abortion, it is no secret that senior members of Fine Gael did all they could to scupper Declan’s chances of re-election.

Deputy Terence Flanagan

There were many other hopeful results like former Minister Mary Hanafin’s victory and the election of a number of Green Party pro-life candidates. Another success story was the victory of an Independent Fine Gael candidate who had resigned from Fine Gael over abortion and came close to topping the poll in his electoral area.

And there were dramatic finishes for two of the candidates we recommended last week. One was elected by 3 votes, the other by 2. The next time someone tells you there is no point in voting, remind them of these neck and neck contests!

The fact that Senator Rónán Mullen didn’t succeed in getting elected in the Midlands North West constituency is obviously disappointing. While ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s entry into the race was a factor, it was clear from the outset that Rónán’s key problem was low ‘name recognition’ in such a massive constituency.  This is something he can certainly address – as shown in the Seanad elections which he contested and won so comprehensively.

Senator Rónán Mullen

All in all, the election results are more encouraging than many expected. But a word of caution is in order – while many genuinely pro-life councillors were elected, there were others with no track record on the issue who described themselves as ‘pro-life’ simply to court votes. We must be clear in distinguishing one from the other.

The key to real progress is brutal honesty about where things stand and avoiding exaggerated claims at all costs. We need to focus on the many good results from this election and build on them. In addition to these positive outcomes, it is likely that a new politics of trustworthiness will soon emerge as members of the Oireachtas who broke ranks with their party over abortion present an alternative to the electorate.

The scale of the Labour meltdown and the speed of the political fallout remind us that a week is most definitely a long time in politics. This should be a constant encouragement to us never to give up and to stay the course until the right to life is fully protected.

Cora Sherlock is Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Time Of Challenge - Pro Life Campaign National Conference 2013

by Cora Sherlock

Energised, focused and organised, the Pro Life Campaign’s 2013 National Conference in the RDS on Saturday, 12th October celebrated the groundswell of public support and momentum generated last year, acknowledged the challenges ahead and announced several new Campaign initiatives. 

Wendy Grace welcoming delegates to the Conference

Many of the 600 attendees were to the fore-front of the Campaign against the Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill, which acted contrary to medical evidence and introduced abortion for the full nine months of pregnancy.  The theme of the 2013 Conference was “A Time Of Challenge, A Time Of Hope”, and it proved to be one that captured the mood of the room perfectly. 

Spontaneous bursts of applause greeted the video montage showing the events of the past year.  Images of the tens of thousands of pro-life campaigners that gathered in Dublin in January, June and July flashed up on the screen, followed by memories of the more somber moments like the all-night vigil held at the Dáil to witness the passing of the Bill.  The vigil was a moving tribute to a protest heard around the world.  In the RDS, the response from the audience was one of continued support and protest to this supremely unjust piece of legislation.

An excellent roster of speakers went on to provide a roadmap for the Pro Life Campaign’s future plans, including national and global initiatives.  Caroline Simons, Legal Consultant to the Pro Life Campaign, was up first, to highlight the movement’s influence in the European Union where the “One of Us” Campaign is among the first European Citizens’ Initiatives.  This write-in campaign has obtained more than 1.5 million signatures, reaching the quota required in 17 EU countries to press for legislative affirmation of the protection of the human embryo. 

Caroline Simons, Legal Consultant to the Pro Life Campaign 

In the Irish context, it is perhaps the new Grassroots Campaign which will bear most fruit and Ms. Simons spent some time explaining how the Campaign intends to work towards reaching all those who are deeply saddened and dismayed at this government’s betrayal of the most basic right of all – the right to life.  She promised that this new campaign will extend through every city, town and village – plus all the roads along the way! – to ensure that the pro-life majority have their voices heard.  Contact info@prolifecampaign.com to find out how you can get involved in this exciting new initiative!

Steven Ertelt, Founder and Editor of LifeNews.com, a US-based pro-life online news source, placed the Irish campaign in an international context.  He urged participants to keep heart.  Despite challenges, the pro-life message is taking root in the US which can act as a model for Irish pro-life campaigners who should not be disillusioned when the pro-life message seems lost.  Steven told the room “A report by Planned Parenthood’s former research arm found that the number of abortions nationwide in the US have fallen to their lowest point in 36 years!  The pro-life laws we are passing in our nation have worked!”  Steven encouraged attendees to keep the pressure on. 

Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com addresses the Conference

There was an buzz in the air as Caroline Simons stepped up to introduce Deputy Terence Flanagan and Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames to the Conference.  As two of the members of the Oireachtas who lost the Fine Gael Party Whip for their refusal to vote in favour of the legislation, they received a rapturous welcome from the attendees.  After a prolonged standing ovation to thank them, and those other TDs and Senators who stood against the legislation, Ms. Simons assured the Conference that we would continue to be active in coming elections, supporting those representatives who hold true to the pro-life message while holding Fine Gael accountable for their broken promise.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and Deputy Terence Flanagan thanked by delegates

Several speakers brought their own personal stories of courage, healing and hope highlighting the human side of this campaign. A moving speech from Hilary Ní Lorcáin described the support and care her family and daughter Margaret received in the US from a perinatal hospice; a “hospice in the womb” for babies with life limiting diagnoses.  “The hospice helped us to plan meaningfully for Margaret’s life,” Hilary told the Conference, “to think about how we would like to experience our time with her, to enable us to look ahead with courage, and indeed to prepare for her death.” It was a powerful call to action for the Irish pro-life movement to work towards meaningful palliative care services for families facing life-limiting diagnoses.

Adele Best brought the audience the difficult story of women’s suffering post abortion.  Many women suffer in silence the after-effects of abortion. Women Hurt (www.womenhurt.ie) provides information on counseling and healing services for women enduring loss and depression resulting from abortion. Adele’s courage and life-saving dedication to her counseling work was inspirational.

Hilary and Adele brought a human face to two very different aspects of the pro-life message.  Their courageous words were met with an atmosphere of respect and support from the attendees as they reminded everyone in the room of the importance of the work carried out by the Pro Life Campaign. 

Perhaps it was Steven Ertelt who best summed up the spirit of the Conference in his closing remarks:

“Never give up hope and always  persevere.  Do not rest until this abortion law is overturned.”

From the evidence of this Conference, the members of the new and improved Pro Life Campaign have taken his advice to heart.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Irish Times abortion story “raises major credibility issues” for the paper, says PLC

The Pro Life Campaign has said the recent apology from The Irish Times over its false and misleading story on abortion is “inadequate” and “raises major credibility issues” for the newspaper.

On 23rd August, The Irish Times ran a front page story claiming that the first abortion under the new legislation had taken place.
The paper claimed the abortion of twins saved the mother’s life and was carried out at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street. Last Saturday, however, in an embarrassing admission, The Irish Times issued an apology on page seven of its news section pointing out that “the case described in the article did not happen.”

Commenting on the saga, Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign said: “The revelation that the front-page story, which was picked up by the international media, never happened, is extraordinary.”
“It raises many serious questions, given that representatives of the National Maternity Hospital commented on the case. An apology for this extraordinary report seems inadequate and the public deserves a fuller explanation of how it came about”, she said.

Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said: “This latest episode raises major credibility issues for The Irish Times. It also rushed to judgement following the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar by concluding that Ireland’s abortion laws were to blame. Despite the findings at the coroner’s inquest, The Irish Times has refused to change its tune. There are countless other recent examples of biased reporting on abortion by the same newspaper. This would not be a problem if it were not for the fact that some of our weaker minded politicians have taken their direction on the issue from newspapers like The Irish Times, instead of robustly challenging the obvious agenda that is being pushed.
Dr Cullen said: “The headline and content of the recent inaccurate report in The Irish Times was clearly intended to create the impression that the new abortion law was needed to save women’s lives. Not surprisingly, that’s how the international media interpreted the report. For The Irish Times to print its apology on page seven of the paper only adds insult to injury.”

Read a report of this story in Journal.ie here


Friday, August 23, 2013

PLC comments on Holles Street “abortion” story

Dr Ruth Cullen criticises The Irish Times over its “misleading” reference to Savita Halappanavar case in today’s report

The Pro Life Campaign (PLC) has said the recent abortion legislation was not needed to safeguard the lives of pregnant women.

The PLC was responding to media reports today that the first termination of pregnancy under the new abortion legislation took place recently at the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street.

Commenting on the reports, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said: “While the precise circumstances surrounding the intervention in this tragic case are unknown, what is clear is that the Government’s abortion legislation permits doctors to blur the distinction between necessary life-saving interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion (where no effort whatsoever is made to save the life of the baby).

“Now that the blurring of such important ethical distinctions is permitted in law, it is inevitable that abortions directly and intentionally targeting the life of the unborn child will take place, even on the threat of suicide ground, where there is no medical evidence to justify an intervention.

“This is the stark reality of what members of the Oireachtas voted for recently and why the pro-life movement was so vocal in its opposition to the Bill.

“The new abortion law was not needed to safeguard women’s lives in pregnancy. The tragedy reported today of a mother losing two children has been used again to give the misleading impression that the recent abortion legislation was needed to safeguard women’s lives.

 “The HSE confirmed today that the law has not yet come into force. On foot of this, one has to ask is The Irish Times suggesting that the law was broken by the doctors in Holles Street or does it now accept that the new law was not needed to protect women’s lives?

“In truth, life-saving interventions have always been in place. Ireland, without abortion, is a recognised world leader in safety for pregnant women. It is a tragedy that those campaigning for abortion legislation have been successful in creating the opposite impression,” she said.

Dr Cullen also expressed concern at the way The Irish Times today repeated the claim that Savita Halappanavar died because she was denied a termination of pregnancy:
“The Irish Times has obviously decided to ignore the conclusions of the coroner’s inquest into the tragic death of Savita and decided instead to stick rigidly to its original misleading presentation of what happened. This is most regrettable,” Dr Cullen concluded.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Devote energies to the repeal of unjust law, 30.7.13

Pro Life Campaign 'will now devote its energies to the repeal of unjust law' as President signs abortion bill into law

PLC volunteers at Dáil Éireann during debates and votes on abortion bill

The Pro Life Campaign has said the passage into law today of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill “is a very sad day for our country” and “for the first time in our history makes it legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being.”

Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Despite what the Taoiseach and others claim, the new law is life-ending, not life-saving. The Government brought forward this law in the full knowledge that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings and ignored all the peer-reviewed evidence showing that abortion has adverse mental health consequences for women.

“This is a very sad day for our country. For the first time in our history, it is now legal to deliberately target the life of an innocent human being. The Pro Life Campaign will now devote its energies to the repeal of this unjust law. We will give very careful consideration in the coming weeks to the best way to bring this about."

“The pro-life movement is mobilised and growing. We have seen the biggest ever gatherings of pro-life people in recent weeks. The passage of this bill into law marks a new beginning not an end for pro-life activism. Fine Gael has broken its solemn pre-election commitment not to introduce abortion legislation. This will most definitely be remembered at the next election.”