The Irish pro-life movement rallied ahead of May's abortion referendum
“When I walked into that abortion facility that day, though I didn’t know it, my baby’s heart was beating under my own—my child was alive, and when I left, my baby’s heart was stopped, my baby was dead,” Bernadette Goulding told marchers during the All Ireland Rally for Life in Dublin on Saturday, as a tow-plane circled overhead, streaming a banner reading ‘Love Both. Save the 8th. Pro-Life’.
As the crowd gathered in Parnell Square the voices of speaker after speaker rang in our ears: “It was a perfectly formed baby boy! But I was afraid I would get into trouble if I tried to resuscitate him, so I didn’t, despite the fact the mother was there sobbing, sobbing and sobbing, because she’d lost the chance to save her baby.” “I suffered Septicemia during pregnancy and I received all the necessary treatment! Not once did anyone mention the Eighth Amendment or deny me treatment because of it! It is a lie to say that abortion is healthcare!”
“Irish have come out in their droves, despite the weather, united as one force to protect the unborn and the Eighth Amendment,” Michelle Quigley, an author from Derry, Northern Ireland, told me, while we waited in drizzling rain for the rally to begin.
But soon the rain cleared, the sun came out, and the rally got underway—but for most people, the waiting continued. Coaches from Northern Ireland alone, we learned, had trebled since the previous rally. The Irish Times reported that a crowd of 5,000 had already arrived at Merrion Square, the march’s destination, when a police officer confirmed that the back of the rally was still moving down O’Connell Street—and for those unfamiliar with Dublin geography, that means it was one long march! Up to 100,000 people attended, according to The Irish Independent.
The reason for the enormous turn-out wasn’t just up in the sky, it was on every placard, pin badge, and banner: Save the 8th. In just ten weeks time, the Irish people will vote in a referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment—which guarantees the right to life of the unborn in the womb—and bring in abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.
Campaign spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain urged us to “Stand in the gap against the media and the international elites who think they could browbeat and bribe the Irish people into accepting the unacceptable, the killing of our own children, but who are to discover in that assumption that they were totally and utterly wrong. Because we know that in repealing the right to life there is no going back.”
Some marchers, like Michelle Quigley, were equally confident: “Ireland is pro-Life, that’s what I believe.” Others sought “a miracle to save the Eighth”, such as Katherina Pettit, from Betty’s Town, County Mead, whose group had brought one of five statues of Our Lady that I saw being carried with such care and reverence. “This statue of our Blessed Mother has been all over Ireland,” Katherina told me. “She’s been carried in the May Day procession in Drogheda for forty years, and even went into Long Kesh prison during the hunger strike. We set a target of 1 million rosaries for the cause, and we’re almost up to 1.5 million and counting!”
Prayer for ‘the cause’ has been intense and is ongoing. John Howard, of Navan, County Mead, there representing the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration, explained that “a crusade of prayer is going on in front of the Blessed Sacrament all over Ireland, Great Britain and America for the retention of the Eighth. We want truth to win out, because when truth is compromised, children are aborted.”
Marchers were speaking passionately to one another as they walked: “We want Ireland to be the country to say ‘no, it’s not alright’, to be the role model to set the standard for pro-life throughout the world,” I overheard Christina Parkinson, from County Laois, telling the person beside her, as nearby, a Dominican Friar lifted a tired little nephew up onto his shoulders, and carried him.
Among the forest of ‘Save the Eighth’ placards were many homemade ones. These ranged from cautionary: “First they came for the unborn. Next they will come for the disabled. Then they will come for the elderly. Finally they will come for me & you.”
To prophetic: “When mothers murder their children, don’t be dismayed when children begin to murder their mothers.”
To uncompromising: “The answer to unwanted pregnancy is moral purity, not murder!”
“I’m here to protect all human life from conception to natural death,” said Fr Matthew Martinez, thirty-five, (another) Dominican friar. “What more is there to say?”
What more indeed? There are just ten weeks to ‘Save the 8th’. Please pray.