A movement disheartened but certainly not defeated

A movement disheartened but certainly not defeated
Críostíona Ní Láimhín

A year on, the pro-life movement remains stronger than ever, writes Críostíona Ní Láimhín.

From the Government side at least, the cheering that was heard on this May 25, the first anniversary of the referendum that obliterated the pro-life Eighth Amendment, was a far more muted affair.

In exchange for the surreal celebrations and political selfies of Dublin Castle in 2018, we were treated instead to a parade of self-indulgent and politically ‘measured’ communications around how the battle to secure ‘reproductive rights’ was a difficult but necessary fight.

In fairness, there was some consistency 12 months on and that was the stubborn refusal to even acknowledge the existence of the unborn child. It was absent then. It is absent now.

Behind the optics however it was still possible to hear and witness the attitude so crudely put forward by Deputy Kate O’Connell during the Dáil debates on the abortion legislation that gave effect to the referendum result: “We won. We’ll get our way…ye can talk for as long as ye like…ye lost. It must be hurting.”

Well the fact of the matter is, that it does hurt; of course, it hurts. But not for the reasons that Deputy O’Connell thinks.


We in the Pro-Life Campaign and the hundreds of thousands who voted against repeal of the Eighth Amendment did not and do not treat this struggle as an exercise in political vanity.

It hurts because we know what abortion does to a culture. It hurts because we know how abortion degrades, hurts and exploits the most vulnerable women and children. We know this is a truth that is slowly dawning on a significant proportion of those who were categorised at the time as ‘reluctant Yes voters’.

One year on, we have chosen to turn our hurt into hope. We have been renewed and re-energised by this resurgence in active pro-life voices.

Time and again over the course of the last year we have been contacted by people who have been prompted into a sudden awareness of the scale of this Government’s ambition for abortion.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the past year has been the estimate that there will be 10,000 abortions in Ireland annually following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment”

They feel betrayed. They feel they have had their innate kindness and empathy turned against them to advance a political agenda that has nothing to do with the genuine care of mothers and babies. Many of them voted ‘Yes’ over concerns around life limiting conditions or in the government’s words “fatal foetal abnormalities”.

Yet they have now seen the government’s response to the tragic misdiagnosis of an unborn child at Holles Street. Utter silence bordering on indifference.

Although initially told the child had Trisomy 18, or Edwards Syndrome, it later transpired and only after the abortion, that the child was in fact perfectly healthy.

We warned that such scenarios would inevitably become more frequent. Sadly, that has now come to pass.

Those people who are contacting us are determined to undo this catastrophic legacy. We stand ready to work in partnership with them.

The same of course cannot be said for this government.

Instead, it’s defining approach to this issue has been characterised by hubris and a staggering determination to compound the removal of the right to life with a commitment to erode basic civil liberties like free speech and free assembly.

This has become unavoidably clear with the repeated insistence from Minister Simon Harris that he is to push forward with introducing legislation next month that will see the introduction of so called ‘exclusion zones’ around facilities providing abortion.

Within such zones, even the right to peaceful gatherings in the form of silent prayer vigils could be criminalised. No other country in Europe has such draconian restrictions in place.

It is our hope that this will alert people to the truth of a fundamental principle which has been the signature of the Pro Life Campaign: without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.


Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the past year has been the estimate that there will be 10,000 abortions in Ireland annually following the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

This information was only put into the public domain following a Freedom of Information request to the Rotunda Hospital Board.

That this represents an over 200% increase on the number of abortions that took place in the period prior to repeal speaks to the scale of the deception that was perpetrated on the Irish public.

Our response to all of this has been to meet the challenges head on. The adoption of a defeatist attitude is something we will never contemplate.

We will not abandon mothers and babies to the desperate scenario of a culture emptied of hope.

We are currently running a billboard campaign and other major educational drives to secure practical and meaningful support for pregnant women and new mothers.

We are heartened by the emergence in some quarters of a renewed political emphasis on fundamental human rights”

While they are initiatives that we have had great success with so far, we urgently need active and ongoing assistance of whatever kind is available.

At the political level we continue to prioritise our support and engagement with elected representatives, particularly those who have demonstrated clear and consistent support for pro-life principles.

There is no doubt this will be a major challenge to many in the pro-life family who feel deeply betrayed by the lack of political and humanitarian leadership during the referendum and political debates.

We are heartened however by the emergence in some quarters of a renewed political emphasis on fundamental human rights and we will work to nurture this towards achieving our shared goals of restoring a culture of life in Ireland.

It has been said that the world breaks everyone but that some are then stronger at the broken places. Have our hearts been broken over the last year? Yes, they have. Have we emerged stronger? Of that I have no doubt.

Críostíona Ní Láimhín is a spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign.