“I think it’s really important that people put a face to the movement,” said Rory McGuire from Castleknock in Dublin. “People have incomplete information on the topic. [Abortion] is a shortcut and results in long-term hurt, I don’t think people fully understand just how well-developed the little babies are.”
His wife Mary, who was holding the couple’s three-month-old baby Sarah, agreed.
“It’s such a shame that the most important aspect of this whole debate is being left out and that is the humanity of the unborn baby. It’s the one thing that’s not really being discussed in public. Human is human and no matter what the circumstances are, it is never right to take a human life intentionally.”
The Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, the chair of the Catholic Bishop’s Task Group on Bio-ethics and Life, said that while debates inevitably “divide between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, I don’t think debates need to be nasty”.
“Inevitably people will disagree, but I think we have to disagree with respect because if you don’t respect living people in front of us, it’s very hard to convince anybody to respect the life of the unborn who we don’t see.”
He said he did not believe the outcome of a proposed referendum was certain. “A lot of people who feel uncomfortable about speaking publicly about difficult issues still have personal convictions and in fairness it has been made extremely difficult for people to stand up and say I believe in the right to life for the unborn because the way sometimes it is presented.”
He suggested people who were anti-abotion were sometimes portrayed as “anti-women or anti-common sense, where it is in fact the most reasonable and rational thing in the world to respect the life of the unborn”.
“This is a real opportunity for people to hear logical pro-life arguments and really compelling stories from the pro-life point of view,” said Katie Ascough, the former UCD Student Union president, who was recently impeached following a controversy over the reprinting of a student magazine which contained abortion information.
‘Lots of stories’
“There are lots of stories that you won’t hear highlighted in the media,” she said. She criticised the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment.
“We have seen around 24 witnesses who were pro choice and around four who were pro-life. So we’re just not seeing a balance at the minute. I believe there is a lot of room for discussion.”
Robyn Conway is a Dublin student who has been campaigning against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
“I think it’s a really valuable part of the Irish Constitution. There’s a lot of open conversations and that’s very positive because the more conversation the more we have the opportunity to express the truth of the situation. So I’m hopeful that there will be an open conversation from both sides.”