Save the 8th: Irish Pro-lifers Counter Pro-Abortion Media With Grassroots Action
"A real, proven example of why abortion is never necessary."
This is the second in a two-part series, featuring an interview with prominent Irish pro-life activist Niamh Ui Bhriain. She spoke with The Stream about the battle to preserve Ireland’s strong pro-life laws. Read the first installment here.
Ireland will decide next year whether to nix its Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn.” The push for the referendum comes after a Citizens Assembly voted in favor of legalized abortion. But as Niamh Ui Bhriain told The Stream, those votes don’t reflect public opinion.
Another thing that doesn’t reflect public opinion on abortion? Irish media. Public support for abortion has grown in the past decade. Ui Bhriain says this is thanks to “funding from abroad.” But media support for abortion has always been strong, she said.
Ireland’s Life Institute, where Ui Bhriain writes, analyzed abortion bias in the country’s largest papers. The Irish Times, a leading publication, “showed 90 percent of relevant news articles were biased for abortion,” Ui Bhriain said.
The bias is evident in the media’s coverage of “half-truths,” she said. In March a story went viral about a young pregnant girl admitted to a mental health hospital. Many headlines claimed she was admitted because she asked for an abortion. According to the Child Care Law Reporting Project, the girl felt suicidal upon learning she was pregnant. She felt an abortion would help. But a psychiatrist determined abortion “was not the solution for all of the child’s problems.” She was later discharged at the recommendation of another doctor.
Women Aren’t Dying For Lack of Abortions
Another example often cited by pro-abortion media is the case of Savita Halappanavar. She requested an abortion in Ireland while miscarrying in 2012. She later died in the hospital of severe sepsis. The pro-abortion narrative claims that the Eight Amendment is to blame.
But there’s more to the story. Halappanavar miscarried due to an Ecoli ESBL infection. And her medical staff didn’t catch it until it was too late. If they had, “they would have been perfectly free under the law to give her any treatment required to save her life,” Ui Bhriain said. The Eighth Amendment allows termination if the mother’s life is at risk.
“Ireland’s experience shows that you could ban abortion and protect women’s lives.”
“Her tragic story was exploited … to insist that Irish women’s lives were in danger without abortion,” Ui Bhriain said. She noted that Ireland is among “the safest places in the world for a woman to have a baby.” A recent analysis of various world reports by Ireland’s The Journal confirms this.
“Several parliamentary inquiries have found that not one woman has lost her life in this country because of our ban on abortion,” Ui Bhriain said.
Grassroots Efforts to “Save the 8th”
Volunteers around the nation are working on a major collaboration campaign to “Save the 8th.” Through their efforts, they hope to counter the pro-abortion media and foreign funding.
Efforts include The Life Canvass, started in 2015. There are over 1 million households in Ireland. Ui Bhriain says they’ve reached 200,000 so far, going door-to-door to answer questions about abortion.
There’s also the annual Rally for Life. Last month, about 70,000 people gathered in Dublin to “Save the 8th.” Some counter protesters made an appearance but were “significantly outnumbered.”
The rally’s main speaker was Karen Gaffney, an American pro-life activist with Down syndrome.
“In my country, and in many countries all around the world, babies who may have Down syndrome are being wiped out before they can even take their first breath,” she said. In nations like France, Denmark, and the U.S., the majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. The Down syndrome abortion rate is 100 percent in Iceland.
“But not here, not today,” Gaffney said in Dublin.
“A Proven Example”
Youth Defence, “Ireland’s leading pro-life organization,” also pushed the “Save the 8th” theme on its annual roadshow in July. The group went to 15 cities around the nation to answer questions about abortion, the Eighth Amendment, health care for women, and more. They also joined with local volunteers to hand out educational materials. Four “mobile billboards” also followed the roadshow, highlighting the plight of unborn babies with Down syndrome.
“Ireland’s experience shows that you could ban abortion and protect women’s lives,” Ui Bhriain said. She believes there’s one main reason abortion advocates are so desperate to dump the Eighth Amendment. “They know pro-lifers the world over can look to Ireland as a real, proven example of why abortion is never necessary.”