Wendy Grace: Woman of integrity did nation proud
Lucinda Creighton's stance was a boost for the pro-life movement and for her long-term career.
Loud cheers met Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews and Peadar Toibin as they left Leinster House in the small hours of Friday morning. But one woman's star rose higher than all. She did not put in an appearance, but Lucinda Creighton, the woman who walked, was the new hero. If Lucinda had been a pro-choice woman defying a male-dominated party attempting to restrict abortion, she'd be an international superstar by now. Organisations would queue up to give her awards. She'd have to hire an agent.
Paradoxically, her lonely walk to the opposition benches may be the first step in a longer walk to ascendancy in Irish politics. Where do we look for politicians of integrity? Actually, we may just have found one.
The implications of her actions for the pro-life movement are massive. Traditionally on the back foot for supposedly trying to deny women the right to abortion, the moral authority has switched back to the pro-life movement. Its new symbolic head had paid the big political price – because she wanted to save two lives and not just one.
In the short term, Enda Kenny and Phil Hogan managed to browbeat worried backbenchers into supporting the legislation and isolated the dissidents. Abortion activists secured the legalising of abortion by dressing it up as medicine – as has happened in so many countries before. But the seeds of pro-life recovery have been sprouting vigorously in recent weeks. Even as all seemed lost, the largest pro-life gathering ever and the largest gathering of the year met in Dublin city centre. Arty, talented young people joined more seasoned pro-life activists. The pro-life movement now has identifiable political heroes who can speak their mind.
The international outlook is positive too. In America, in particular, abortion is coming under close scrutiny and is being subjected to greater restrictions as happened only last week in Texas.
In Ireland, the pro-life movement has new, clear objectives which become the focus of political activity: Removing the bogus mental health ground for abortion which has been so widely abused elsewhere; review pregnancy counselling practices to ensure that public money doesn't get used to advocate abortion; promote positive alternatives to abortion and happier outcomes for women.
The work is only beginning. But, for now, thank you Lucinda.
Wendy Grace is a spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign.