Rally for Choice loudly demand their 'rights'... but just who will speak up for the unborn child?
The group's crude protest made no mention of the two lives at stake in the abortion debate, writes Nelson McCausland
Last Saturday, there was a pro-abortion march and rally in the centre of Belfast. It drew around 1,000 marchers from across Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and some of them had come from as far away as Kerry. There were also some pro-abortion activists from England, who had travelled across to take part.
The event was called Rally for Choice and was organised by a group with the same name. Rally for Choice was formed in 2011 and is one of a number of pro-abortion organisations that campaign for unrestricted abortion on demand in Northern Ireland. They believe that women should be allowed to access an abortion at any stage in a pregnancy - even up to birth.
The march was around the city centre and the rally was in the park that lies between Ulster University and St Anne's Cathedral. The tone was raucous and the event had the nature of a pumped-up street party. It was clearly intended to shock and to show how revolutionary they are.
One of the speakers was a young woman from the Rally for Choice committee, who said that they were "revolutionary feminists".
Her agenda was much broader than abortion and she said that "winning abortion rights is just one step on the road". She described herself as "queer", demanded LGBT "rights" and linked their pro-abortion campaign to the current demand for an Irish Language Act.
Dr Goretti Horgan, a university lecturer and mainstream pro-abortion activist, also addressed the rally. Dr Horgan, who is a Trotskyist and wife of former People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann, stuck to the issue in her speech, but that was certainly not the case with one of the other speakers.
Ellie Evans is originally from Essex, but moved to Belfast two years ago. She came to prominence earlier this year when she attempted to carry a "F*** the DUP" placard at the Gay Pride parade in Belfast. She had previously carried a "F*** the DUP" placard at a Gay Pride event in London and, this time, she wore a purple headband with the same words on it during the pro-abortion march.
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Her speech on Saturday included the words "F*** the Tories and f*** the DUP" and she even called on the crowd to repeat the words with her, which many of them did.
Several things about the event were particularly noteworthy and one was the crassness and crudity of it all.
The crudity of the posters and the crudity of the chanting created an air of vulgarity about the whole thing.
One young woman carried a placard with the message, "If I wanted the Government in my womb, I'd sleep with an MLA".
Others made use of the "F" word and there were various references to female sexual organs.
Is that what Saturday afternoon shoppers in Belfast city centre have to expect when pro-abortionists are on the march?
The second thing that struck me was that, in all the video clips of the march and rally, there was no mention of an unborn child.
When a woman is pregnant, there are two lives, and both lives matter. Time after time the message was about "my rights", "my womb" and "my body". There was no mention of "my unborn child" and it was almost as if they wanted to remove the child from the conversation.
Rally for Choice is a "revolutionary feminist" organisation, dedicated to abortion on demand, same-sex marriage and an Irish Language Act. But, really, these are just steps on a longer revolutionary road.
What was particularly troubling, therefore, was that mainstream pro-abortion groups, such as the Abortion Rights Campaign, Alliance for Choice and Amnesty International, also took part in and supported the event and former Alliance MLA Anna Lo was one of the participants. I don't know if groups such as Amnesty International were expecting an event of this nature, but their participation and their subsequent silence have demeaned and tarnished their organisations.
It was a sad day for Belfast - and, indeed, for Northern Ireland.