Catholics and Protestants must unite against abortion in North, meeting told
Anti-abortion group says strategy to oppose legalisation should use religious argument
Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrating the result of the abortion referendum in Dublin. Photograph: Reuters
Catholics and Protestants must unite to oppose the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland, a public meeting in Derry has been told.
“We can’t do it without our Protestant brothers and sisters,” said Patrick McCrystal, the executive director of the Irish branch of Catholic anti-abortion group Human Life International (HLI).
The North was “one of the last places in the world not to have full legalised abortion”, and this was due “in no small part to our Protestant brothers and sisters”, he said. In Northern Ireland abortion is illegal in most circumstances, including in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, incest or rape.
About 100 people attended the event, which was held in a Carmelite retreat centre on Tuesday evening. It is the first in a series of four events organised by HLI which are taking place in Co Tyrone, Co Derry and Belfast.
Referencing the placard held aloft by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and the party’s Northern leader Michelle O’Neill after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise abortion up to 12 weeks by repealing the Eighth Amendment to the constitution, Mr McCrystal told the meeting “the North is not next”.
“When those two Sinn Féin ladies lifted up that banner saying the North is next I thought to myself, what a despicable image to go around the world,” he said.
“We proclaim that Jesus Christ is lord of Northern Ireland and we say no to abortion in Jesus’ name.
“We need to pray for those two ladies, their lives, their hearts, their souls, their conversion and everyone associated with them because whether they realise it or not they are agents of the culture of death and we have to pray for them as we have to pray for everyone,” said Mr McCrystal.
The meeting also heard from a number of international members of HLI, including its director of international outreach and expansion, Dr Joseph Meaney. Dr Meaney criticised the “contraceptive mentality”, which he said “leads directly to abortion”.
Quoting the founder of HLI, Fr Paul Marx, Dr Meaney said that “in every country bar none contraception has led to abortion and abortion to infanticide and infanticide as the prelude to full blown euthanasia”.
He said: “Once the purposes of sex are torn loose from procreation and family the homosexual agenda rises.” He said Fr Marx had said this because “contraception is the first step”.
“If contraceptive sex is okay, if infertile sex is okay, if sterile sex is okay, there’s only one more step to go to say homosexual sex is fine too,” he said.
Mr McCrystal – a former pharmacist who resigned from his job because of his unease at dispensing the contraceptive pill – said that he had already been in touch with Protestant pastors and politicians in the North.
“They’re receiving the message very well and they too want no abortion in Northern Ireland,” he said.
He told the meeting that in deciding not to use the religious argument during the referendum campaign in the Republic, the anti-abortion movement “fell into the trap” set by their opponents.
“Abortion is a grave sin,” said Mr McCrystal. “The s-word was virtually not spoken in the entire debate in the Republic of Ireland.
“So when people went to the polls, they didn’t hear that word, and to some degree they can’t be held culpable for what they didn’t know.”
He said that had they done so, people would have voted from an informed position. “Giving them the truth forces them to make a choice for God or against God,” he said.
Mr McCrystal outlined a number of strategies, including praying along the Border and not restricting the anti-abortion movement to the “secular argument” in order to combat the legalisation of abortion in the North.
“We in Northern Ireland are now being faced with that choice, and I believe that we can change the psyche of this province back to God to stave off this threat,” he said.
“Northern Ireland is a different animal from the Republic of Ireland. We are downright stubborn.
“Our Protestant brothers and sisters, whatever our differences have been marvellous in holding true to the word of God, so it is within our hands,” he said.