Citizens' Assembly defends role of abortion advocates
The chair of the Citizens' Assembly has defended the presence of abortion advocates, saying it would have been a "serious omission" not to include them.
The assembly, headed by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, heard evidence from 17 groups on either side of the debate on the Eighth Amendment - which at times was graphic and emotional.
Lynda Delmar spoke of her anger that lobbyists are using Down Syndrome children in campaigning against abortion. The Dublin mum is a member of Parents for Choice, and mother of Shea (5).
"Shea is loved and cherished by all around him. I find the use of pictures of children with Down Syndrome in the pro-life campaign to be deeply upsetting," she said in a statement.
"It's an insult to Shea, to his family and friends. Shea is perfect, Shea is our choice."
Cora Sherlock, from the Pro Life Campaign, went on to discuss how abortion could be used as a method to terminate children with Down Syndrome.
Sinead McBreen claimed she had been advised to have a termination, but went on to give birth to daughter Grace. Ms McBreen claimed mothers of children with Down Syndrome had come to her with similar stories and were "told their child wouldn't survive. The pressure is there already".
American former abortionist Dr Anthony Levatino, campaigning for pro-life group Women Hurt, said he'd carried out thousands of abortions - but after the death of his daughter, he perceived a foetus as a "daughter or son".
But Union of Students in Ireland president Annie Hoey said: "When we hear horror practices, it's important we call them out . . . They are designed to cause upset and horror. Safe abortions happen every day across the world."
A member of the Citizens' Assembly questioned how the Church could comment on abortion after the unearthing of baby graves.
Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said: "We're as shocked about this as everyone else but it brings home to us the key point that a society has - to both the born and unborn - welcome them, care for them and protect them."