Pro-life activists in Ireland have not backed down on defending the right to life, according to the Irish Examiner, holding protests in at least 10 counties in the formerly pro-life nation.
Despite claims from the Department of Health that pro-life activity has been “limited,” research from Maynooth University and the Together for Safety Campaign found that pro-life activists have been making their views known to GP surgeries and clinics in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Louth, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford, and Wicklow. Additional protests have taken place outside of maternity hospitals in Galway, Cork, Drogheda, and Dublin since abortion was first legalized in 2018.
Maynooth University sent a questionnaire to health care workers and has received reports back from 27 health care providers who commit abortions regarding pro-life activists outside of their facilities. As part of the legalization of abortion, maternity hospitals and clinics were told so-called safe access zones would be created to prevent pro-life activists from being present outside of the facilities. This has not been implemented by the Department of Health, which said “there has been a limited number of reports of protests or other actions relating to termination of pregnancy” and noted that when “problems do arise with protests outside healthcare services, there is existing public order legislation in place to protect people accessing services, staff, and local residents.”
Maynooth University has now come under fire for this questionnaire, which Senator Rónán Mullen fears is less than impartial. The Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland noted that Sen. Mullen’s concern is to ensure “that academic research is conducted in an objective, unbiased and impartial way.” A questionnaire that openly refers to pro-life individuals as “anti-choice” calls this objectivity into question. In a letter to the university’s president, Sen. Mullen asks, “Is it ethical for Maynooth University or any other institution to promote or sponsor academic research where such research is manifestly being conducted in furtherance of a political campaign to change the law?”
Camilla Fitzsimons of NUI Maynooth said she has heard reports of pro-lifers exercising their right to pray, to display abortion-related images, and distribute brochures outside of abortion facilities. “What healthcare workers are saying is that it’s unsettling for staff and it’s unsettling for patients — that word is used more than once,” she said. “People also describe it as being upsetting. The thing that we need to bear in mind is that all patients are impacted by this, particularly outside the GP surgery.”
She added, “There is an understanding within the healthcare profession of the nuance of this because people do have the right to protest, people’s civil liberties are important.”
Abortion violently destroys innocent human lives, and it is for this reason that the prayers, abortion victim images, and brochures are “unsettling” and “upsetting” to those seeking abortion or in favor of abortion. Many women, when they learn the truth and are offered resources, choose life over abortion — cutting into the abortion industry’s profits. And many women who encounter pro-lifers outside abortion businesses have expressed gratitude for the help offered to them. Because of this, the abortion industry seeks to silence pro-lifers.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he is “committed” to prohibiting pro-lifers from exercising their right to protest. He gave no more information on the matter or a timeline for when such zones would be created.
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