Organisers say they are delighted with the attendance at the Pro Life Campaign National Conference 2016 which took place in Dublin last Saturday. Well over 800 people turned out, the largest attendance ever for this annual event which has been running for over a decade.
With the Irish Government due to begin a discussion next week on whether the pro-life provision known as the Eighth Amendment should remain in the Irish Constitution, the huge crowd that came together was a sure sign that the pro-life movement in Ireland is mobilised and ready to defend the country’s pro-life laws.
Particularly welcome on the day was the keynote speaker, film producer Ann McElhinney who spoke about her soon to be released film “Gosnell”, about convicted abortionist Dr Kermit Gosnell who has been described by ABC News as America’s biggest serial killer.
McElhinney, who hails from Bundoran in Co. Donegal and who currently lives in Los Angeles, told the crowd in Dublin “what you don’t know will hurt you. A lot of people in Ireland are debating this subject with very little information. People need to know about facts. I was very disinterested and neutral on the whole subject of abortion but the Gosnell case really opened my eyes. I’m a grown woman and I was profoundly shocked at what I learned about the methods abortionists use.”
The crowd on Saturday were very interested to hear that in order for the jury to understand the Gosnell case, they had to get doctors who performed legal abortions to give evidence at the trial. McElhinney told the crowd that their testimony was among the most shocking heard and she said “it’s very difficult to distinguish between what Gosnell did illegally outside the womb and what is allowed to take place legally within the womb.”
From this angle, discussing the Gosnell trial is extremely important in the context of the Irish debate because it received little or no coverage in the Irish media and yet the similarity between his horrific crimes and the actions of abortionists acting within the law must be understood by anyone trying to get a grip on the issue.
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McElhinney told the crowd “People need to know what ‘pro-choice’ means. What does it mean? There should be no talk of ‘restrictive abortion.’ If it’s okay, then it should be okay up to nine months.”
The real tragedy of course is that this highly successful campaign should be taking place a time when the Irish Government is not planning on expanding human rights but thinking about how to take them away from the most vulnerable and defenceless members of Irish society.
There is a continuing problem with the debate in Ireland, namely that we are prepared to talk about everything except what actually happens during the abortion. Honesty needs to enter the debate and we need to consider why those pushing for abortion shy away from any discussion of the procedure and what it means for the unborn child. There is no need to use graphic language or images but equally we cannot allow a spiral of silence to develop and to hide the true horror of abortion which is shown so clearly in cases like the Gosnell trial.
What Gosnell showed is that when ordinary people were confronted with the truth of what happens in perfectly legal abortions, they were horrified at what is permitted in the name of ‘choice’”.
The reality is that if the right to life was taken away from, say, a terminally ill unborn child, it would only be a matter of time before the grounds for abortion would be expanded. It is a nonsense to talk of ‘restrictive abortion.’ There is no such thing.
The title of this year’s conference was From Heartbreak to Hope. Some speakers courageously told their personal stories related to unexpected pregnancy and abortion, including Mary Kenny from Limerick. The Pro Life Campaign also launched a new video at the conference about an Irish medical student who decided not to go down the road of abortion and now has a beautiful son. Other speakers included Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign and Pablo Siegrist, Director of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, Madrid.