Belfast Telegraph

Campaigners urge debate on ‘barbaric’ reality of abortion before referendum

LoveBoth campaigners are urging people to vote No.

Ireland needs to have an honest discussion about the “barbaric” reality of abortion ahead of next month’s referendum, anti-abortion campaigners have said.

Activists from LoveBoth urged people to vote against changing the country’s strict abortion laws as the group launched their campaign for a No vote.

Citizens will be asked on May 25 whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution, a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances.

LoveBoth spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said the debate in Ireland has become so “sanitised” that it is regarded by some as “extreme” to describe what is being proposed “even in the mildest way”.

Addressing a crowd of about 60 people in Dublin, she added: “But voters are entitled to know what a vote to repeal would mean.

“It’s certainly not restrictive abortion that they would be voting for.

“A vote for repeal is a vote for one of the deadliest abortion laws ever proposed.

“It’s a proposal that obliterates the right to life of unborn babies and makes little attempt to hide that fact.”

Ms Sherlock went on to describe the stages of an abortion procedure, which she said was according to a doctor’s testimony.

“The Government’s proposal opens the door to these barbaric procedures,” she said.

Asked about accusations that the anti-abortion movement uses language intended to shock, Ms Sherlock said: “What I would say is that the idea that we are even thinking about introducing abortion on demand and those type of procedures into our country is shocking.

“And I think it would be foolhardy to think that a mature society like Ireland could have the debate that we are having, and have a vote on abortion on demand, in just a few weeks’ time, without actually looking at what abortion involves.

“Abortion is shocking. It ends the life of a baby.

“The proposal at the moment is to introduce abortion on demand for the first three months of pregnancy at a stage when a baby has a face, a baby has a beating heart, a baby is sucking his or her thumb, and moving in the womb.”

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Cora Sherlock speaks at the launch of the LoveBoth 'Vote No' campaign (Brian Lawless/PA)

She added: “That procedure that I described was the procedure described by an abortionist brought in and invited by the Government to the Oireachtas committee just a few months ago just before Christmas.

“So it’s reality. I know the reality of abortion is shocking.

“I absolutely agree with that, but I think if we’re going to be honest about what is meant here we’re going to have to address that and actually discuss it so that people can make an informed decision on the 25th.”

Ms Sherlock also expressed concerns about what a vote for repeal will mean for GPs.

“If the Eighth Amendment is removed from the constitution on May 25, the Government will initiate a nationwide, GP-led abortion service, providing for unrestricted abortion on request in the first three months of pregnancy,” she said.

“That means that doctors who are trained to protect life will suddenly be expected to facilitate the taking of life.”

Ms Sherlock added: “If repeal happens, it will transform local GP practices in devastating ways.

“As a group, GPs will be expected to routinely harm their pre-born patients in the false name of choice.

“And not just harm them, but actually kill them.”

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Campaigners at the launch in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms Sherlock said more and more people are starting to realise “what is at stake” in this referendum.

“And that’s certainly been my experience from talking to people over the last number of months.

“Ireland would be a very different place if we removed the Eighth Amendment and it would not be for the better,” she said.

Among those gathered at the campaign launch were TDs Michael Healy-Rae and Mattie McGrath.

Mr Healy-Rae said he believed the referendum would be close.

“I sense that it is going to be tight. It might be tighter than people think,” he said.

The total electorate currently stands at around 3.2 million and eligible voters have been encouraged to ensure they are registered.

Voters will be asked whether they want to replace the Eighth Amendment, which gives the mother and unborn an equal right to life, with wording that hands responsibility for setting the country’s abortion laws to politicians.

If the public votes to repeal the constitutional provision, the Irish Government intends to table legislation that would permit women to abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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