The Life Institute’s “Rethink Abortion” rally took place outside Leinster House last night.
The protest came in light of the ongoing review of the 2018 abortion legislation.
Attracting a crowd of around 300, the protest sought to draw attention to the reality of abortion in Ireland under the current legislation, and promote the pro-life message as the review proceeds.
Organisers stated their opposition to the review being used as a means to further liberalise abortion laws within the country, which seems to be the intention of many in government.
A press release prior to the rally argued that the review must take into consideration high abortion rates, late-term abortions, abortions targeting the disabled, and pressure being placed on parents to abort.
It also recommended that the 3-day waiting period be retained.
Niamh Uí Bhriain’s speech opened proceedings, describing the number of abortions taking place within the state under the current legislation:
“13,243 children were killed by abortion in two years, that’s more than the population of Arklow, more than the population of Santry…and we’re here to say that must stop”.
Uí Bhrian drew attention to the fact that the figures constitute the equivalent of 529 primary school classes (based on average class size). A nationwide billboard campaign highlighting such high abortion figures has taken place in recent weeks, and generated considerable publicity.
Peadar Toibín TD addressed the crowd next, noting the need for on the ground pro-life activism and stating that those fighting abortion stood on the right side of history.
Vicky Wall described her work with “Every Life Counts”, a pro-life organisation which offers support to families whose children have been diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities. She criticized the tendency within the maternity system for such parents to be pressurised into abortion.
Megan Bopp was next to speak, detailing ongoing youth activism within the pro-life movement:
“If we don’t stand up for this, nobody will….but the reality of abortion as hard as it is, it cannot be dismissed and it cannot be ignored. We have to fight to bring this to the forefront, because on average we’re losing 18 babies a day.”
Bopp also spoke on the misleading rhetoric which had given voters the impression that abortion would be rare and resorted to primarily in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities, emergencies, and threats to the mother’s life. 98.1% of abortions in the state have not fallen under such criteria.
The night continued with further speeches, with speakers including Senator Katherine Keogan, Carol Nolan TD, Ben Scanlan and Michael Collins TD. Nolan mentioned late-term abortions taking place under the current legislation, alongside her work with other TD’s to introduce a Pain Relief Bill in the Dáil.
The three day waiting period requirement was mentioned, alongside figures which state that almost 900 women have changed their mind on whether to proceed with an abortion during this period. The testimonies of women who had availed of abortions and regretted the decision were read out, detailing their feeling of having been misled over the procedure.
Michael Collins TD noted how politicians had lied in relation to how prevalent abortion would be should a referendum pass. He continued:
“They promised us there would be no late-term abortions. They lied. They misled you. They misled this country bit by bit.”
Collins stated his opposition to any measures seeking to further expand abortion access as part of the review, and assured attendees of his commitment to the pro-life cause.
Representatives of the National Party and Aontú were in attendance at the rally.
The event proceeded smoothly and demonstrated the willingness of the Irish pro-life movement to continue its fight in a post-Repeal era. The nature of the legislation review will become clearer in the coming months, with the public being offered the chance to take part in a consultation process.