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'There is no public demand to repeal the 8th and politicians know that'

The clamour to repeal the 8th Amendment and legalise abortion as a matter of ‘choice’ is almost entirely media led and driven, writes Niamh Uí Bhriain.

Niamh Uí Bhriain

TWO MONTHS AGO, up to 30,000 people brought Dublin to a standstill as crowds marched through the city-centre against abortion.

The Rally for Life was led by people with disabilities advocating the theme that every life matters, and it was a huge, colourful, upbeat celebration of life. In contrast, the March for Choice, despite massive media and trade union support, has barely ever managed to muster a tenth of that crowd.

That’s because the clamour to repeal the 8th Amendment and legalise abortion as a matter of ‘choice’ is almost entirely media led and driven.

The Labour Party who are saying ‘a vote for us is a vote to repeal the 8th Amendment’ continue to languish in the polls in dismal single digits. The mobs on Twitter don’t make up a real grass roots movement to legalise abortion.

Inconvenient truth 

And here’s an inconvenient fact that all the bluster in the world can’t change: polls show that only a minority of Irish people support abortion-on-demand, the ‘right’ being demanded by the March for Choice and the Labour Party.

In fact, support for the ‘pro-choice’ position has barely increased since the pro-life amendment was approved in 1983.

Have a look at the polls, and what they actually say.

When asked if abortion should be legalised as a matter of ‘choice’, recent polls by Red C and by Millward Brown for the Sunday Independent, show that only a minority – between 29% and 34% – think that abortion-on-demand should be legalised.

When it comes to aborting babies in certain circumstances, such as a severe disability, the questions asked in polls can also give skewed results, and, as noted in a recent Sunday Times article, as the debate opens up on those issues, support for abortion falls.

Opposed to abortion 

So it seems, that despite 30 years of media bias and relentless, well-funded pro-abortion campaigns, Irish people are, in general, opposed to abortion. That’s because they understand that abortion kills children and harms women.

The extreme, and frankly disturbing, views of abortion campaigners who support abortion on demand, through all nine months of pregnancy, does not find favour with most ordinary, decent people.

The problem for abortion advocates is that we know that abortion kills babies – and this has been the case for decades. Denying the unborn child is a baby just won’t work. Too many people have seen ultrasounds, and have marvelled over the amazing photographs of babies in the womb which pop up everywhere on social media.

Too many people have heard their own baby’s heartbeat, or seen their baby waving or smiling in scans, to believe this propaganda. The reality of abortion, the inhumane death these babies receive, is also now impossible to ignore.

Abortion campaigners can’t close that window to the womb. So that’s why they try to ignore it, to obfuscate the humanity of the baby with strident claims of competitive rights between “the woman and the fetus”.

Crisis pregnancy 

But that isn’t working either. It would be a very strange and distressing world if women saw their baby as an enemy. Most women with crisis pregnancies don’t do that: they are in crisis and they need support, but sometimes all they are offered is abortion. In this country, most women with a crisis pregnancy go on to have their baby, and those babies are much loved and cherished. No-one regrets giving life to their child.

In fact, the 8th Amendment, by banning abortion, has kept our abortion rates low – 5% of babies in Ireland are aborted, while that number is a shocking 21% in Britain, with 37% of those 200,000 abortions being repeat abortions.

By contrasting those rates, we estimate that some 150,000 Irish babies have been saved by the 8th Amendment, enough to fill Croke Park twice over. Someone in every street, in every class in school, in almost every workplace, owes their life to our ban on abortion. And their mothers are glad of it too.

That’s why opposition to abortion remains so strong, and no-one knows this better than the major political parties like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. They understand middle Ireland better than journalists who are spearheading the current push for abortion.

No plans to repeal the 8th 

Enda Kenny says he has no plans to repeal the 8th, because he knows there is no public demand to do so. He’s looking at the massive crowds out against Irish Water, at people angry at austerity and unemployment, and he knows that despite the increasingly shrill media clamour, legalising even more abortion is not a priority for voters.

He also understands that his abortion bill in 2013 almost tore Fine Gael apart and led to the setting up of Renua. But most of all he sees that pro-life events like the Rally for Life can bring 30,000 people to the streets and that those people are committed to making abortion a general election issue.

In fact, as the March for Choice takes place this weekend, pro-life activists will be organising street stalls, canvasses and other outreaches to share information with the public about abortion.

The media push for abortion will not match that grassroots support for both mother and baby, or the compassionate desire to love them both because abortion is not the answer.

Niamh Uí Bhriain is a spokeswoman for the Life Institute and a member of the Rally for Life Committee.

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About the author:

Niamh Uí Bhriain

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