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Taken star Liam Neeson faces anti-abortion group boycott call

By Claire McNeilly

Published 23/10/2015

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson

Opponents of Liam Neeson's participation in a new Amnesty International campaign calling for the decriminalisation of abortion in Ireland have urged the public to sign a petition in protest.

The Ballymena-born actor has also been criticised for lending his voice to a harrowing short film made by Father Ted creator Graham Linehan that asks the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment of the Irish Constitution that makes abortion almost completely illegal in Ireland.

LifePetitions - which calls itself "a community of grassroots activists" - has urged people to boycott the Hollywood A-Lister over what it calls a "shockingly offensive pro-abortion ad".

At present women are only legally allowed to terminate a pregnancy if there is a "real or substantial" risk of death, otherwise they face a potential 14 years in prison for having a termination in Ireland.

This means that any woman experiencing a fatal foetal abnormality who is told she will suffer a miscarriage or that the baby will not survive outside the womb, but who will suffer no physical harm herself, is expected to carry the baby to term and perhaps even give birth to a child who will not survive.

The only other option is to seek a termination in another jurisdiction - as many do.

Since 1971 it is understood that around 177,000 Irish women have travelled abroad for an abortion - some 4,000 a year.

In the film, the 63-year-old says: "A ghost haunts Ireland. A cruel ghost of the last century. It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches. Feared by politicians, this is a ghost of paper and ink… a constitution written for a different time. It is the shadow of the country we'd left behind. Ireland doesn't have to be chained to its past. It's time to lay this ghost of rest."

Writing for National Catholic Register, blogger Matthew Archbold said: "I expect this from Amnesty International but not the guy who voiced Aslan…"

Newsbusters.org also accuses the ad of "championing abortion" as well as containing "anti-Catholic messaging".

Those behind the petition have accused the Taken star of "directly targeting the lives of countless unborn Irish children, who risk being brutally killed if Ireland repeals its humane pro-life laws".

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