RTÉ is systematically excluding pro-life voices from the airwaves

RTÉ is systematically excluding pro-life voices from the airwaves
The State, backed up by the national broadcaster, is now trying to throttle the life out of the pro-life movement, writes David Quinn


RTÉ has evidently decided that abortion is a settled issue. The matter was decided in favour of abortion by a two-to-one margin last May, and those who run the show at Montrose have decided that is that. Pro-life voices no longer need to be heard, despite representative of a third of voters.

Meanwhile, the Government – and it will be supported by the opposition parties, including Fianna Fáil – wishes to curb the pro-life movement’s right to protest. Following small demonstrations (if they can be called that) outside a GP clinic in Galway and our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, Health Minister Simon Harris promised to bring in ‘exclusion zones’ around all places that provide abortions.


In the months since the referendum, hardly a pro-life voice has been heard on RTÉ. The airwaves have been clogged up with pro-choice voices, however. End-of-year shows, for example, looking back on 2018, contained nothing but panellists celebrating what had happened in May.

Programmes like Morning Ireland feature pro-choice doctors and other guests calmly discussing the implementation of the new abortion regime with no dissent to be heard or properly challenging questions asked.

In the minds of the top brass at RTÉ, the two-to-one referendum result was definitive and for all-time. The pro-life side was heavily defeated so why do we need to hear from them anymore?

But this is not the attitude it took in 1983 when the pro-life side won the referendum of that year by the same margin of two-to-one. Far from it. Following RTÉ’s current logic, the margin of victory then was so decisive that the pro-abortion side was a beaten docket that need never be heard from ever again.

In fact, if anything RTÉ increased the presence of pro-abortion voices on the airwaves. Certainly, the end-of-year shows back then did not have pro-life voices looking back on 1983 and celebrating their big win of a few months earlier, with not a dissenting noise to be heard. I know this because I asked the surviving pro-life leaders from that time.

What they remember is RTÉ constantly putting them on the backfoot about their win, and asking them lots of tough questions about the implications and difficulties of the Eighth Amendment.

In other words, RTÉ is very choosy – which is to say, biased – about what issue it decides are ‘settled’ and which ones are still to be contested.

If they were so minded, RTÉ presenters could easily ask tough questions about the new abortion law. They could highlight the fact that about half of the country’s maternity units are not currently performing abortions and it appears some of them won’t be, because so many of the doctors conscientiously object.

They could likewise do more to highlight the fact that a big majority of GPs will not be prescribing the abortion pill.

They could have done more to draw attention to the amendments to the abortion Bill refused by the Government, including a requirement to respectfully dispose of the remains of the unborn, a ban on late-term abortions and explicit protection for unborn children with disabilities.

The crude triumphalism of many pro-abortion politicians could have been highlighted also.

There was a report in the Irish Times last week about the death of a 21-year-old man in Germany who had Down syndrome. He had survived a late-term abortion. Germany does not permit abortion solely for the reason that a baby has Down syndrome. But they happen anyway, on the ‘mental health’ of the mother grounds.

Something like this could easily happen under Ireland’s new law and it is exactly the kind of thing pro-life campaigners warned about, but the story was completely ignored by RTÉ. No pro-life representative was invited on to talk about it, no pro-choice advocate was put on the back foot.

In this way RTÉ, and much of the rest of the media, have ordained that the issue of abortion is to be debated no more. They hope to make the pro-life movement in Ireland as irrelevant as possible.

To add to this, we now have the Government seriously considering enforcing exclusion zones outside hospitals and GP surgeries that perform or facilitate abortions to stop pro-life protestors in their tracks.

Protests of this sort need to be carefully done as they can be counterproductive or unnecessarily offensive. The purpose must be to highlight the pro-life point of view, but in a way that advances the overall pro-life cause. Protests by their nature will nearly always offend someone, of course, but the right to protest is protected in democratic countries anyway, because it is so important.


This is why exclusion zones are so rare. Parts of the US, Canada and Australia have them, and one has been applied in Britain in a very specific case. But there are no nationwide laws stopping protests outside abortion providers in any Western country because the right to protest is so highly valued.

If we introduced a nationwide ban on such protests, we would, therefore, be the first country to do so. It will be a measure of the degree to which the Government and the Irish State are deeply and tightly in the grip of the pro-abortion lobby if we do go down that road.

In the face of this, the pro-life movement is going to have to rely for the time being on direct communication with its supporters, on social media, and on the handful of pro-life columnists still writing for the national papers to get its message out.

All this said, that is something to take encouragement from, and it is that, unlike in the aftermath of other referendums, this time the voices of oppositions have not gone completely silent, despite the best efforts of the likes of RTÉ. We must continue speaking out so that we finally defeat the efforts of the national broadcaster and the Irish State to extinguish the pro-life movement once and for all.