Guest Column

GUEST POST: New voter guide informs Irish voters where candidates stand on abortion

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the guest author. 

Irish voters will go to the polls on Friday 7th June to vote in two important elections being held on the same day: the European Parliament and local authority elections. As part of the work of the Pro Life Campaign, we have recently produced a comprehensive Voter Guide which contains information on the stances of all candidates on abortion.

In the aftermath of the abortion referendum in 2018 and the consequent introduction of abortion legislation, the rate of abortion has skyrocketed. In 2018, the final year of the life-saving Eighth Amendment, there were 2,911 women who went to England and Wales for abortions from Ireland. Throughout the campaign, advocates of abortion repeatedly claimed that legalising abortion in Ireland would not result in a rise in the number of abortions compared with those already travelling abroad. However, last year (2023), indications suggest there have been well in excess of 10,000 abortions. This represents a 244% increase.

Many politicians want to put their heads in the sand and ignore the abortion issue, claiming the debate is “over”. However, in light of information pointing to the shockingly high abortion rate, it’s a matter of urgent public concern. Thousands of Irish voters consider this the top issue on their agenda, yet their voices are frequently being ignored and even censored.

The upcoming elections present an opportunity for Irish voters to have their say on numerous important issues. Our guide was produced to clearly show pro-life voters where candidates stand on the right-to-life issue.

READ: March for Life Ireland promotes electing pro-life politicians as abortions climb annually

Over 2,200 candidates are contesting the upcoming elections on 7th June. We have asked all candidates to complete and return a questionnaire clearly stating where they stand on the life issue; including whether they will support proactive pro-life steps to reduce the spiralling abortion rate, whether they will defend and strengthen freedom of conscience for all healthcare workers to ensure nobody is forced to perform an abortion against their will, if they support the restoration of rights for the unborn child, where they stand on the issue of euthanasia/assisted suicide, and finally, how they voted in 2018.

The responses we have received have been illuminating and allow us to grade candidates according to five categories: pro-abortion, mixed record, pro-life, strong pro-life record, and unclear. There are many good pro-life candidates contesting these elections either as independents or on behalf of parties. In some cases, candidates will have a very strong background in pro-life activism, and this deserves to be recognised with the grading of ‘strong pro-life record’. However, many candidates are equally sincere and committed to the pro-life cause, but will not have the same background of involvement in activism but will still receive a grade of ‘pro-life’.

Some political candidates have taken the regrettable approach of adopting a policy of deliberate ambiguity. However, pro-life voters have become very attuned to recognising where candidates are being deliberately deceptive or vague. Voters have a right to know where their candidates stand on this key issue. Even at local level the abortion issue is still important, as councils can debate motions related to the impact of the abortion law. In addition, the composition of councils is critical to shaping the next Senate, because local councillors each have votes in the Senate elections. They should therefore not be reticent about expressing their view on the abortion issue to voters in a clear and open way.

There has been a significant shift in Irish public opinion since the last time Irish voters went to the polls. Most recently, the government suffered a serious drubbing on 8th March in two referendums it proposed which aimed to change the constitution. The defeat of the government’s proposals has been interpreted as signifying that the media has less of a hold over public opinion than in previous referendums and contests. These elections will be an important litmus test for the new Taoiseach (prime minister) Simon Harris, who spearheaded the pro-abortion campaign in the 2018 referendum. Thousands of pro-life citizens will not have forgiven Mr. Harris or his party for their role in the abortion referendum, yet they feel equally repulsed by the other government parties and by many of the opposition parties. This has left many pro-life citizens feeling confused and conflicted about how they should vote.

It’s up to voters how they vote, and we do not endorse any particular candidate at election time. But our Voter Guide exists to provide fair and accurate information to pro-life citizens to allow them to know the facts about the candidates they must choose from on the ballot paper. It provides them with the ability to make a more informed decision.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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