The people of Ireland have been asked to “stand in the gap” for mothers and babies by preventing the liberalisation of the State’s abortion laws.
The call was heard as tens of thousands attended an anti-abortion demonstration entitled the “Rally for Life” in Dublin city centre on Saturday. Participants marched from Parnell Square to Merrion Square, where a rally calling for the preservation of the Eighth Amendment took place.
In an address to the rally, Save the 8th campaign spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said there were 10 weeks left to save the Amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the unborn and the mother.
“Ten weeks to ensure that the best of Irish people vote ‘No’ to abortion,” she said. “Stand in the gap against the media and the international elites who think they could browbeat and bribe the Irish people into accepting the unacceptable, the killing of our own children, but who are to discover in that assumption that they were totally and utterly wrong. Because we know that in repealing the right to life there is no going back.”
Ms Uí Bhriain claimed the abortion industry saw profit to be made in every pregnant woman.
“Pro-choice actually means telling women they are on their own. And it’s easy to be pro-choice, isn’t it, when you are not the one being chosen?”
The rally took place ahead of a referendum that is due to be held in May, in which voters will be asked if they wish to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
An Oireachtas committee has recommended that the constitutional Amendment, introduced in 1983, be removed and that a regime allowing unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy be introduced.
‘Beacon of light’
In his address to the rally, businessman and former European elections candidate Declan Ganley described the numbers that marched across the city as "phenomenal".
“This is the grassroots of the movement, marching because they are proud of their country. Ireland has been a beacon of light to the rest of the world with the most progressive Constitution in the world with the protection of the unborn,” he said. “This is the future. We abolished slavery and we will abolish abortion as one of the greatest con-jobs in the history of humanity.”
Caoimhe Lynch, a student from Killarney, Co Kerry, told the crowd her mother was in college and not in a relationship when she fell pregnant.
“It was suggested to her that the best option was to have an abortion. Imagine if I had been aborted. I wouldn’t be here to experience all the wonderful things life has to offer. Luckily for me, she chose not to,” she said.
“She went for her 12-week scan and saw that I had 10 fingers, 10 toes and a heartbeat. I wasn’t just a foetus. I was a baby and I was her baby. She always tells me how happy she is that she had me.”
She told the crowds that the Eighth Amendment is “precious and priceless”.
Independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath, who took to the stage to the tune of The A-Team TV show, said the crowd that had assembled for the rally showed there was “people power” in favour of keeping the Amendment.
He called on the media to report fairly during the referendum campaign.
“We will put a halt to the gallop of the repeal movement,” he said. “We can win this . . .”
Doctors not consulted
Dr Judy Ceannt, a relative of 1916 leader Éamonn Ceannt, told the crowd that doctors had not been consulted in the Government's plans for the provision of abortion should the Eighth Amendment be repealed.
“They have not even consulted us doctors. The basic law that governs our actions as doctors is first do no harm. We are not meant to intentionally kill or harm any patient, least of all the most helpless, the unborn baby. The Government has no right to impose this on us,” Dr Ceannt said.
“The 1916 Proclamation promises to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally’, surely that includes our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, the helpless baby in the womb,” she said.
Bernadette Goulding told the crowd she suffered from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and self-hatred after having an abortion.
“By exercising my ‘right to choose’, my baby’s heart was stopped and my heart was broken,” she said. “With abortion there is no focus for your grief. There is no body to bury, no funeral, no graveside to visit. Just emptiness and isolation.”
Ms Goulding added: “It was presented to me as a very simple procedure, with no consequences. The doctor did not warn me about the possible physical and mental effects of abortion. He said that there was nothing there, just a clump of cells.
“When I walked into that abortion facility that day, my baby’s heart was beating, my child was alive, and when I left, my baby’s heart was stopped, my baby was dead.”