Wednesday 26 October 2016

Ronan Mullen: Repeal turns to repulse in war of weasel words

Campaigners for abortion will stoop to any tasteless stunt

Ronan Mullen

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Protest: The Repeal the Eighth Amendment march on Merrion Square, Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney
Protest: The Repeal the Eighth Amendment march on Merrion Square, Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney
Ruth Coppinger Photo: Sam Boal/

My father was a big fan of the great Kerry football team who, but for Seamus Darby's late great Offaly goal in September 1982, would have won an unprecedented five All-Irelands in a row.

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Mick O'Dwyer's men had a will to win and self-belief that made them almost impossible to beat.

It sometimes seems that a similar challenge faces the Irish pro-life movement in its struggle to persuade people that Ireland without abortion is a much happier and humane place than an Ireland with abortion. It's not that our opponents are so good, though. They just have power- ful backers. Some are outside the country. We recently learned that American billionaire George Soros is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign for abortion in Ireland.

Also, and particularly in our public service broadcaster, we see massive double standards in the way abortion stories are covered. Last weekend's pro-choice march got generous coverage on RTE, but not the fact that the organisers got a much lower attendance than they had hoped for, and not the hideous message on some of their placards. What kind of person turns their child into a sandwich board with the message "I was a chosen child"?

Last week we saw the latest pro-abortion stunt as hard-left TDs led by Ruth Coppinger took their Repeal jumpers into the Dail. But behind the hijacked rhetoric of compassion is a cold, ideological agenda to destroy vulnerable human beings instead of living in solidarity with them.

Abortion campaigners are never asked where they would actually draw the line. They talk about foetal anomalies and hard cases like rape and incest. Only when you press them further do you discover that many of them don't favour any limits at all. Or they clam up and won't say. I can't think of a single abortion campaigner who will say: "It should not be legal in this or that case."

How come they are not asked about the British abortion laws, where children can be and are aborted up to birth if they have even a minor disability?

Do abortion supporters have a problem with such late-term abortions, or with the fact that anaesthetics are never used? Are they willing to discuss the different abortion techniques? Do they think it is right for pregnancy counsellors to tell women that their unborn child is just a clump of cells or to discourage women from looking at the ultrasound monitor, as some pregnancy counsellors routinely do? Or to hide the fact that the baby recoils during the procedure?

What do the people who want abortion legalised in Ireland think of this? To match the kind of scrutiny pro-life people get, questions like these would have to be asked again and again.

How come Minister for Children Katherine Zappone wasn't asked how she could reconcile her role with her call last weekend for the legalised abortion of children as a matter of choice?

A few weeks ago, Minister for Health Simon Harris tweeted his support for the abortion social media campaign, TwoWomenTravel. This was a travelogue that conveniently left out what went on in the abortion clinic but finished up with the cruel message, "Done-and-dusted".

At Electric Picnic, Harris even backed the idea that there were mental health implications for the women having to go to England for abortions. Here you have our health minister, desperate to appeal to the trendy people at the Picnic, refusing to insist on evidence for his claims, failing to note the mental health consequences of abortion for some women and failing to suggest there was a baby involved.

What about the thousands of lives saved by Ireland not having abortion? A study commissioned by the Pro Life Campaign estimates conservatively that 100,000 people have lived because of the Eighth Amendment. Britain, with a population of about 64 million, has slightly fewer than 200,000 abortions a year. Ireland, with a population of 4.6 million, had fewer than 4,000 women who travelled last year for abortions. Tragic, but a lot fewer than the 14,500 abortions we would be having if we were to match the British rate.

Lately, we have been presented with the sad scenario of people who got a diagnosis of foetal abnormality. We were told how tragic it was for them to have to go to England for an abortion, and that they had to use a courier to bring their baby's body back for burial. Doesn't that sad little story, in which a sick unborn baby was denied the dignity of being allowed to reach a natural end, illustrate how heartless abortion providers are? Whether it's in Dublin or Durham, the contents of an abortion are debris - not the kind of thing you put into a coffin and grieve over.

Instead of abandoning parents to the cold choice between going to England for an abortion and letting their baby die in his or her own time, shouldn't Irish doctors be helping people to care for their sick child until the end, and to prepare for death and grieving in a dignified way (assuming, of course, that the diagnosis isn't faulty and the child won't live on, perhaps with a less serious condition, to give and receive love)?

We should insist on answers to these questions from the people who would deny unborn babies the protection of our Constitution.

Ronan Mullen is an Independent senator for the National University of Ireland constituency

Sunday Independent

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