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'Abortion is a licence to kill'- Save the 8th launches its referendum campaign

The campaign claimed today that it has already canvassed 300,000 homes.

Updated 4.23 pm

THE MAIN CAMPAIGN group advocating a No vote in the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum launched its campaign in Dublin today.

The event from a number of speakers who questioned the medical basis for repeal and described abortion as “a licence to kill”.

Save the 8th was opposed to the holding of a referendum but now that it has been confirmed for 25 May it says it will aiming to convince voters to reject the proposal.

Vote No 945_90540957 The Save the 8th campaign's launch this morning. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Speaking at the launch at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel, Save the 8th spokesperson John McGuirk said that it was “an outright falsehood” that “the medical evidence in this debate is tilted in favour of repeal”.

McGuirk was speaking following an address by obstetrician Dr John Monaghan who has long opposed abortion and today said that “there is no medical evidence for getting rid of the Eighth Amendment”.

“The repeal of the Eighth Amendment will not make women safer in pregnancy, it will simply change only how politicians may legalise abortion,” he said.

It will mean for example that a doctor, confronted with a perfectly healthy young woman with a perfectly healthy pregnancy, may be asked by law to either terminate the life of the unborn child, or procure someone else to do so.

The government has previously stated that GPs will be permitted to conscientiously object to providing abortion services.

Monaghan went on to say that the abortion debate has heard “the personal views of some of my colleagues dressed up as expertise”.

20180329_121259 The Save the 8th launch was held in Dublin's Gresham Hotel.

Speaking yesterday at an event with the pro-choice Together for Yes campaign group, Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony called for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Mahony described the “horrific” case where the life-support of clinically dead pregnant woman was kept on pending the outcome of a High Court decision.

Speaking about that case today, Monaghan said that the question in that case was not about health and was “a noble thing”:

It was the case of the woman who had already passed away and was on a life-support machine and to comment briefly on that. It was described as macabre and various other things. I didn’t think there was anything macabre about it, and I thought it was a noble thing although almost an impossibility that the baby could be kept alive until such time it could be able to survive.

Life and death

Another one of the speakers, Dr. Eimear Thornton of NUIG, described the debate as “an issue of life and death”.

Thornton said she has been a pro-life activist for most of her life and that this was made more personal to her after becoming a mother.

“As a mother of four very young children I have had four experiences of being pregnant with a baby and I therefore have far more experience in the area of pregnancy than Katherine Zappone, Leo Varadkar and not forgetting Simon Harris.”

During her presentation, Thornton held up a small plastic doll which she said represented “a 12-week-old baby” and said that point of gestation it is a “living human being”.

She added that the referendum is asking people to sanction the killing of human life:

Every time we kill a baby a new life is snuffed out, we lose a bit of ourselves, as a vote I’m being asked to sanction this to put ourselves there in the room with the person carrying out the abortion.

“Abortion is a licence to kill and that is why we must and will Save the 8th,” Thornton added.

vote No 129_90540965 Dr Eimear Thornton holds up a small plastic doll during her speech. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The group’s launch comes after several interventions from Tánaiste Simon Coveney who previously voiced concerns about the 12 weeks provision being proposed by the government but has since come to support it.

A suggestion by Coveney that a Dáil two-thirds majority would be required to change future abortion laws was dismissed by several politicians including the Taoiseach.

The Save the 8th Campaign had called Coveney’s suggestion “utterly ridiculous” but said that his concerns about future laws were valid.

Coveney was referenced at today’s Save the 8th launch by nurse Marie Donnelly who stated that: “Abortion is not healthcare…calling it healthcare is like calling Simon Coveney principled and consistent.’

Asked whether the Tánaiste had in some way helped the No campaign, McGuirk said that Coveney “has had a number of messages in this campaign” and has effectively said that he “does not trust politicians”.

“If the Tánaiste of this country, the deputy Prime Minister, doesn’t trust his own colleagues that they’re telling the truth that this bill is restrictive and remain restrictive, why the hell should anyone else?” McGuirk said.

A number of politicians were present at today’s Save the 8th launch including Fianna Fáil’s Mary Butler TD and Eamon Scanlon TD; Fine Gael’s Peter Fitzpatrick and Sinn Féin’s Peadar Toibin TD and Carol Nolan TD.

Independents Mattie McGrath TD, Michael Collins TD and Senator Rónán Mullen were also in attendance.

Online advertising

protest 161_90540971 Save the 8th spokesperson John McGuirk. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Save the 8th previously confirmed that UK consultancy firm Kanto was hired as part of its campaign. Kanto was closely aligned to the Brexit Vote Leave campaign and the company’s director previously worked for Cambridge Analytica.

Asked about online campaigning today, McGuirk said that the Save the 8th group has had no dealings whatsoever with Cambridge Analytica.

He did however say that online ads will be a big part of their campaign.

“It’s going to very significant, we’re going to spend a significant chunk of our budget, reaching voters. For the simple reason that we have to,” McGuirk said, adding that the overall budget was €400,000.

“We have to get our message out there and make sure that’s being seen by people. So we’ll make no apologies for spending significantly online, a significant portion of our budget will go there, but it’ll be all above board. People will be able to see who’s advertising, if it’s us it will have our logo on it.”

Read: Pro-choice campaigners say they will ‘of course’ accept result of referendum >

Poll: Do you plan to vote in the Eighth referendum on 25 May? >

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