Former Minister Lucinda Creighton has warned that pro-choice campaigners are trying to frame the debate around abortion to exclude talk about the unborn child who loses his or her life as a result of a termination. She also dismissed media claims that politicians who support abortion are ‘brave’ and criticised TDs and Senators who sacrifice their principles to gain media approval.
Ms Creighton – who was seen as a rising star and a potential future Taoiseach before Enda Kenny sacked her because she wouldn’t support abortion – also described interventions by Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin on the issue as “entirely predictable”.
She said “the almost unanimous support for liberalising Ireland’s abortion regime among the media is remarkable” and described as “remarkable” the “uniformly rapturous welcome from Irish journalists” when Mr Martin said he would support repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
When Mr Varadkar made a similar announcement, Ms Creighton said “the journalistic euphoria on social media was palpable”.
Writing in her column in The Irish Sun newspaper, the former Minister for Europe insists that “while journalists, like all citizens, are fully entitled to hold opinions on issues of public concern, they should at least attempt to demonstrate some balance in their reporting”. However, she warned that “such objectivity has long disappeared from the media coverage of abortion here. We have become used to this.”
Ms Creighton writes that it is “worthy of mention that while the Irish public is still divided on the issue, the media, to a man and woman, appears to hold one view — that abortion on demand ought to be introduced”.
Noting that a recent poll found only 51% of voters support the Government’s abortion proposals, she describes this as “a remarkably slim majority, which is surprising given that our media seem to suggest the referendum to repeal is almost a done deal.
“The disconnect between the media and the public makes me wonder whether there are journalists who do not buy into the general consensus that abortion is the only ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ course,” Ms Creighton writes.
She questions whether there are other journalists “who are cowed and fearful of challenging this consensus because they know they will be labelled as ‘backward’ and ‘regressive’ — or, worst of all, ‘Catholic fundamentalists’.
“I should know, since I was hounded relentlessly by biased journalists for not falling into line with the supposedly modern liberal view back in 2013,” she writes.
Referring to the vote when she refused to support abortion Ms Creighton recalls: “once I dared not to vote for the legislation put forward by Enda Kenny’s government, it was the only issue journalists wanted to discuss with me.
“I recall the serious issues and experiences of abortion in other countries which I raised being dismissed by journalists as ‘misleading’. They sneered and constantly tried to pigeonhole me as some sort of relic from 1950s Catholic Ireland,” the former Dublin South East TD writes.
Referring to journalists’ attempts to label her she notes that “none of them had any idea whether I had any strong religious views at all. As it happens, I don’t.
“It suited their narrative to write what fitted their convenient characterisation of anyone who disagreed with them, rather than actually addressing the arguments made,” she writes.
Ms Creighton also reveals that the births of her two children since 2013 have only strengthened her pro-life convictions.
“I have a six-month-old son, a wonderful, unique little person who brings joy everywhere he goes. I had my first scan with him at 11 weeks. It was amazing — I saw his little heart beating, his perfectly formed body and him moving.
“He was not a blob or a clump of cells. He was, and is, a unique person,” she says, adding, “he was the same baby at 11 weeks as he is today — just at a different stage of development and not simply a foetus. The doctors and nurses talked about my baby, not some alien being”.
On the current proposals – which would see abortion permitted in all circumstances up to 12 weeks – Ms Creighton points out that “this perfectly formed, innocent baby can now be aborted for no reason at all. Commentators and campaigners can try to dehumanise him and call him an ‘it’, but he was not and is not an “it”. He was and is a person.
“There is only one of him. That is what makes the discussion so difficult. The entire debate is being framed by our politicians now, and their cheering media, in terms of women only,” according to Ms Creighton.
In the article, she is sharply critical of media caricaturing politicians who support abortion as ‘brave’.
“Why is it only the politicians who fall into line with the journalists who want abortion on demand are deemed to be brave or laudable? What is so brave about succumbing to the editorial line of every newspaper? What is so brave about taking a decision which you know will simply gain gushingly positive column inches in every paper?
“Being brave used to mean being prepared to face danger or discomfort. These days bravery in politicians seems to be failing to stand up for what you previously said was right, and doing so because you know you will receive wall to wall fawning media coverage.
“There are very few brave politicians in this country.
And there is no shortage of populist opportunists who will do anything and sacrifice every ‘principle’ to gain approval from the media pack,” Ms Creighton added.