Anti-abortion campaigners say the live tweeting of a trip by two women to the UK for an abortion at the weekend was “insensitive”, “strange” and “stage-managed”.
On Saturday, the women, one of whom was having an abortion, tweeted from @TwoWomenTravel throughout the day. The account attracted widespread coverage on social media and internationally.
Cora Sherlock, of the Pro-Life Campaign, said the tweets were "insensitive" and didn't discuss the abortion procedure and ignored the "third human being travelling; the unborn child".
“And that unborn child had his or her life ended in an abortion clinic and that is the reality of abortion,” she said.
Ms Sherlock said there was a real emphasis on the journey, rather than on the procedure. “Of course I sympathise with any woman that finds herself facing an unwanted pregnancy but I think there was something very stage-managed about what went on,” she said.
She described comments from Minister for Health Simon Harris, praising the two women for documenting their journey, as inappropriate.
“I think his tweet . . . was just another way of reassuring the pro-choice campaign in Ireland that he is listening to what they are saying,” she said.
“He doesn’t want to hear anything from the pro-life side.”
Niamh Uí Bhriain, of the Life Institute, said there was something a bit strange about the twitter feed. It was "clearly a campaign", she said, and "wasn't someone sharing their personal story".
“It is a different thing than someone just tweeting their personal story; it was clearly part of the initiative to repeal the Eighth Amendment,” she said.
She described abortion as “medieval and barbaric” and said those who sent supportive messages on twitter to the two women, were “deluding themselves” if they believed most Irish people would support a model of abortion on demand.
‘A very hard issue’
, director of the
National Women's Council of Ireland
, said the women were brave and courageous.
“They really have highlighted the experience that so many women go through in terms of being forced to travel and what that is actually like,” she said. “This is a real experience that hundreds of women go through each year, so it’s absolutely genuine and real and it is a very hard issue in Ireland to talk about.”
She said it was very positive that they had received support not just from Ireland, but elsewhere, and the tweets had built “a sort of momentum on social media”.
Ms O’Connor said the citizens’ assembly, to be established in October and due to examine the Eighth Amendment, was a way for Government to put the issue “on the long finger”. But the council would engage with it, she said.