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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Why I'm Going To Celebrate The 8th...by Sinead Slattery

The 8th Amendment ensures the equal right to life and importance of all Irish citizens – both the life of the mother and the life of her baby.

I have listened very carefully to the testimonies of Irish women who face a crisis pregnancy and I believe we need to work far harder to find better and more civilised ways to respect and understand their circumstances and concerns in this difficult situation. Despite all of the conversation and debate surrounding the 8th Amendment, the only government report commissioned to identify the factors which contribute to the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and the issues which resulted in women choosing the option of abortion was in 1995 (Women and Crisis Pregnancy Mahon, Conlon and Dillion).

We need a new report and we need a truly enhanced and sincere pro-women environment where women don’t feel like they have no other choice than the option of abortion. I care about women’s rights very deeply and it is my view that women should not have to decide between having their baby or finishing college; having their baby or choosing their career; having a baby or paying unaffordable childcare costs. 

I find it deeply disturbing that should a women experience regret, distress or physical side effects following this procedure, such as preterm birth in her next pregnancy; she is told that it is her fault. She is told that she either has a severe mental illness, she was coerced into the procedure by someone else or she had a negative attitude to abortion to begin with. No accountability is taken by those who carried out the abortion even if the procedure results in her dying in the back of a taxi. Liberalising abortion does not solve the underlying issue, it merely masks it and in my view, women deserve better than this.

We have shown the world that we are a humane society which stands up for the rights of every individual, especially minority groups. The 8th Amendment is a proof point of this as it ensures that each human being in any Irish hospital is given equal medical care and goodwill regardless of their health, their ability and their gender.  This is not the case in many countries where children who have been given a diagnosis before they are born of potentially having a life limiting condition, a disability or they are simply identified as being female.  Whether they are allowed to be born is something which will be decided upon at the discretion of another.

We cannot deny the devastating effects that this would have on our society should we repeal the 8th Amendment and liberalise abortion. We only have to look to other countries to see the devastation that abortion wreaks on human dignity. One in every four human lives are ended in England and Wales before they’ve had a chance to be born. Denmark has set itself a goal to be Down Syndrome free by 2030 and over 160 million baby girls are aborted in countries and cultures where baby boys are revered more highly than baby girls. 

To infer that abortion can be restricted is misleading for many reasons. One example of this is the interpretation of wording e.g. in England and Wales, a cleft palate and club foot are deemed “severe disability” and therefore any baby diagnosed with those conditions can be aborted right up until birth.
I am in favour of choice…but I don’t know any human being that would choose the ending of their own lives, often times very violently, at someone else’s discretion. So if we wouldn’t choose it for ourselves, then why choose it on behalf of the smallest, youngest most vulnerable in our society?

The unborn don’t have a voice, they’re too small. They need yours and they need the protection of the constitution and it is for this reason that I’m going to be there on June 4th to help celebrate the 8th Amendment and find out how I can use my talents to help protect this life-saving provision.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Introducing our Guest Speaker at Celebrate the 8th - Heidi Crowter

All those coming along to Celebrate the 8th on June 4th have  a real treat in store.  Among the guest speakers is Heidi Crowter who is coming to us from Coventry to share her thoughts on the need to protect and guard the human dignity of every human being.

Heidi is a disability rights activist who hasn’t allowed Down’s Syndrome to dictate how she lives her life.  She first came to public attention when she became the target of internet trolls and was featured on the BBC, Daily Mail and other media outlets as she worked with the authorities to help gain control of this serious and ongoing issue.

She then became involved with the “Don’t Screen Us Out” campaign in England to oppose the introduction of a new screening test of Down’s Syndrome which, if introduced, is expected to result in a profound reduction in the number of children born with Down’s Syndrome.  The campaign, which garnered the support of actors, politicians and other public figures, led to Heidi being invited to make a speech outside Westminster in April 2016.  A video of Heidi’s speech went viral on Facebook as a result. 

We are so lucky to be able to welcome Heidi and  her mum Liz to the Celebrate the 8th event.  Heidi continues to smash stigmas for people with Down’s Syndrome, living an independent life and working as a hairdresser.  She has a unique and very personal reason for opposing attempts to target vulnerable children in the womb and her testimony at Celebrate the 8th is sure to be one of the highlights of the day.

Make sure you don’t miss out on this incredible event which will change the fact the abortion debate in Ireland.  Be there on Molesworth Street on Saturday, 4th June from 3-4pm and find out why we need to retain the life-saving 8th Amendment which guarantees the equal right to life of every precious human being in our society.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why I'm Going To Celebrate The 8th...by Yi Wang

I believe Ireland should Celebrate The 8th for a few reasons, but one of the biggest factors as to why I think unborn babies should receive equal protection under the law is because adoption is why I am here today. 

My grandmother found herself pregnant in her early twenties.  She had no boyfriend, her family was not supportive, and she was urged to terminate the pregnancy.  I am Canadian, and Canada is one of only three countries worldwide with absolutely no laws restricting abortion.  Our abortion laws were set with the intention of allowing abortion in some cases only but in just a few decades the laws had expanded so much that we were left with a country where abortion was allowed at any time, for any reason, and nearly a third of our pregnancies end in abortion. 

My grandmother’s choice to choose life for my mother and give her up for adoption in a crisis pregnancy, especially amidst a culture that so often pushes women to abortion, saved not only my mother’s life, but allowed her to become a doctor and a wonderful mother to myself and my eight siblings. 

If my grandmother had decided to have an abortion, then my mother would never have been born, and I would not be here today.  That’s the reality of abortion and that’s why we need to keep the 8th Amendment in the Irish Constitution – because it is a provision that saves human lives.

I strongly believe we should stand up for the rights of the unborn because every life matters.  I am in medical school, and my studies in embryology in particular have highlighted for me that the humanity of the unborn is a scientific fact, not a matter of opinion.  Ireland has stood alone as a country that has continued to recognize that and to provide world-class care to both mothers and their unborn children.  I think that is something to celebrate, and so I will be there on June 4th to Celebrate The 8th.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Introducing the keynote speaker for Celebrate the 8th - Melissa Ohden

In a move that will bring a whole new perspective to the abortion debate in Ireland, the Pro Life Campaign is delighted to welcome Melissa Ohden as the keynote speaker of the Celebrate the 8th vigil which is due to take place from 3-4pm in Molesworth Street, on Saturday 4th June 2016.

Melissa has an extraordinary story to tell.  She is a voice for the truly voiceless in society – people who survived abortions and were left to die but were saved when a member of hospital staff decided to intervene and save them.  Melissa was one of those babies.

The whole issue of babies born alive and left to die after failed abortions is, understandably, something the most abortion advocates don’t want to address.  It highlights what is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the abortion debate – how a lack of respect for unborn human life in any way can lead to the kind of abuses that would shock even the most ardent supporter of the pro-choice cause.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that this is such a horrific issue, it’s something which doesn’t come up in the abortion debate in Ireland very often and even when it crops up in other parts of the debate, we find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that anyone would treat a baby in such a cruel way.  

Sadly too, Melissa’s story is not an isolated incidence. Official reports from England and Wales show that 66 babies died in this way in one year alone.  One of those babies struggled for life for 10 hours before expiring. But this fact inspires disbelief, not shock, in many who follow the debate in Ireland.

Just last week, Ireland was subjected to criticism from Canada at the UN’s Universal Periodic Review when Canada called on Ireland to make abortion available. But Canada itself has a record of allowing 491 babies to be born alive and left to die over a ten year period beginning in 2000.  The UN does not stand up for the right to life of these babies and international human rights groups like Amnesty International remain steadfastly silent.

Considering these facts, we hope that Melissa’s testimony will help to focus on the issue of what happens to babies when they are born alive after botched abortions.  What rights do they have? Why do the laws in so many countries disregard them in such an inhumane fashion? 

The Abortion Survivors Network (ASN) was set up by Melissa to help educate the public about failed abortions and survivors, and to provide emotional and psychological support to abortion survivors.  Since its inception, Melissa has been in contact with 206 survivors.

We are delighted and honoured to welcome her as a keynote speaker for the Celebrate the 8th event and we look forward to hearing her contribution on this very complex issue.  

Make sure you don't miss out on hearing Melissa speak - find out how you can organise a bus or find one in your area today!

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Why I'm Going To Celebrate The 8th"....by Clare Cromie O'Toole

I’m going to Celebrate the 8th to distribute sunflower seeds for "Sunflowers for Life", which is a new initiative set up to encourage pro-life advocates everywhere to grow sunflowers as a public witness of their support for life at every stage of development.

As the push to repeal the 8th Amendment becomes more and more likely a topic of a future referendum, engaging the people of Ireland in the conversation about protecting life is hugely important.

The goal of the "Sunflowers for Life" campaign is to provide an avenue for demonstrating support for the pro-life cause in a positive, beautiful, non-confrontational way by engaging people in doing something that strikes a chord with the essential idea that nurturing life is worthwhile.

This simple act of planting a seed and nurturing its growth is a peaceful and positive affirmation of life. It answers the call to stand up and be counted as a voice for the voiceless.

"Everything beautiful starts small
Anything worthwhile needs nurturing"

"Sunflowers for Life" aims to build solidarity across the pro-life movement with this joyful personal and public affirmation so that we can begin to recognise each other whether politically active or not.

Look for the bouquet of sunflowers and come by to collect your sunflower seeds!

And check out our new website, www.sunflowersforlife.com

Friday, May 6, 2016

"Time for Irish Government to stand up to UN on abortion," writes Cora Sherlock

I don’t think anyone will be too surprised to hear that next week’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations will provide an opportunity for the UN to apply pressure to the Irish Government on what it terms our “restrictive abortion laws”.
Much like Amnesty International, the UN trades on its reputation for defending human beings but doesn’t live up to that reputation when it comes to unborn babies.  We’ve become well used at this stage to how the UN reviews Ireland on this issue – it ignores the excellent work done by our medical profession and the fact that we are world leaders when it comes to protecting women and babies in pregnancy. 
Never mind that, says the UN.  What about abortion?  Why isn’t that more freely available?  (If only the UN had taken such an active role in questioning the Irish Government back in 2013 when it introduced a law allowing for abortion during the full 9 months of pregnancy when there is a threat of suicide even though there is no medical evidence to show that abortion treats suicide ideation).
When the UPR takes place in Geneva, other countries will be given a platform to ask questions of Ireland – this regardless of the fact that Ireland has a good or better record in protecting women’s lives than any of them.  But still, this is the UN and there is clearly an agenda at work. 
So we’re told that Sweden intends to ask what the Irish Government is prepared to do “to bring its legislation and medical practices in line at least with minimum international standards of sexual and reproductive health and rights and to allow abortion in the most serious cases such as rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormality and serious risks to the health of the mother.”
In other words, Sweden wants to know when the Irish Government will introduce wide-ranging abortion to birth even though the language used in its question tries to disguise this fact.
The Netherlands will asked what the Government will do about “the restrictive abortion regime in Irish law.”
The framers of that question clearly don’t know – or care – about the 2013 Act which is hardly restrictive for reasons already mentioned.
And Germany wants to know whether the Government will review the 8th Amendment “in which the biological existence of a foetus is put on an equal basis with the right to life of a pregnant woman.”
The language here is particularly dehumanizing. We only have a “right to life” because we have a “biological existence” after all, but even the use of the term “foetus” rather than “unborn child” tells you all you need to know about Germany’s intentions in posing this question.
Two things would be great about the UN’s review next week. The first would be if the UN acted as it should, and actually framed a debate that would protect all human lives, born and unborn. While it’s at it, the UN could also ask a few questions of its own – like why countries that do allow abortion do nothing about abuses like babies born alive and left to die alone in hospital corners.  Or what they’re doing to encourage women to find another option, particularly given the recognized but mostly-ignored phenomenon of abortion regret.
But I don’t hold out much hope for that so I’ll opt for the second thing I’d like to see – the Irish Government putting up a robust defence to any questions that try to detract from the life-saving provision that is the 8th Amendment.   They should defend it as something which was chosen by the Irish People and acts as a beacon for the international human rights community.   They should point to the tens of thousands of people who are alive in Ireland thanks to the 8th Amendment.  And they should go to Geneva in the full knowledge that we have reason to be proud, not ashamed of a provision that has ensured our medical profession has not been corrupted by something as negative as abortion.
That’s what they should do – but will they?  On the basis of the last few years, it’s unlikely but we’ll wait and see.  And live in hope because that’s the hallmark of the 8th Amendment itself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Labour’s abortion proposal would lead to abortion on demand and does nothing to empower women


The Pro Life Campaign has said the Labour Party’s election proposal on abortion amounts to abortion on demand and does nothing to empower women. The PLC’s Deputy Chairperson Cora Sherlock was commenting on the Labour Party’s position at an event outside the Dáil today, in advance of Friday’s General Election.
Commenting on Labour’s policy on abortion, Ms Sherlock said: “No amount of euphemistic language from Labour can disguise the fact that what they are proposing is identical to the abortion regime that exists in England, where all respect for unborn human life has been completely stripped away. For example, in England, 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.
“As a society, I think we need to reflect on the horror of what is contained in Labour’s proposal and the total disregard it shows towards innocent and defenceless human life. Voters deserve to know what a vote for Labour would mean on the abortion issue.”
Ms Sherlock also commented on Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s idea of setting up a citizen’s convention after the election to look at the issue. She said the citizen’s convention proposal “has all the appearances of a repeat of what happened in advance of the abortion legislation in 2013. Back then, the Taoiseach initiated Oireachtas Hearings, then ignored the expert medical evidence presented to them and instead caved in to Labour’s demands for abortion to be introduced. Not once has the Taoiseach defended all that is positive about the 8thAmendment and the fact that there are thousands of people alive today because of our pro-life laws.”
Ms Sherlock said: “There is nothing liberal or life-protecting about Labour’s proposal. It is the same tired, clichéd and inadequate response that led to wide-ranging abortion in other countries. What is being proposed would do nothing to empower women or meet their needs when faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Many women who regret their abortions say that all it would have taken is for one person to have offered them support and encouragement and they’d have continued with their pregnancy. Labour’s proposal is the opposite of empowerment and freedom. In the name of ‘choice’ it pretends there is no social or emotional cost involved in going through with an abortion. That is a total betrayal of women.
“Despite all the criticism, the 8th Amendment was a milestone in human rights when introduced. As the debate develops and pro-life stories start to get a hearing, I’ve no doubt more and more people will see the value of retaining the 8th Amendment. This Friday, however, Ireland’s pro-life laws hang in the balance. Before voting, we encourage voters to take note of where candidates in their area stand on the right to life. They can do so by checking the Pro Life Campaign’s website www.prolifecampaign.ie.”

You can find out more by clicking here.