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10 / 07 / 2009 - Pro-Life Ireland Unites Against Threat of Abortion from London, UN and EU
An organizer of a large pro-life rally in Dublin says she and the other key figures were "jubilant" at the turn-out of seven thousand people on Saturday. Bernadette Smyth, Director of Belfast's Precious Life, also told LifeSiteNews.com that pro-life leaders in Ireland are especially encouraged by a growing cooperation between North and South in the pro-life movement in Ireland.
A major breakthrough of the pro-life campaigns in all of Ireland, she said, has been the growing awareness that if legalized abortion is forced into Northern Ireland, it will be effectively made available in the Republic of Ireland as well.
The All-Ireland Rally for Life was organized by a cross-border coalition of pro-life groups such as Youth Defence, the Life Institute, and Precious Life.
Smyth told LSN, "If abortion becomes legal in the north, it becomes legal in the south. It's only a car journey across the border. Irish children will die regardless of whether it is in the north or the south."
The rally, she said, was organized to raise awareness of the multiple threats to Ireland's abortion-free status, including those from the British Parliament in Westminster, the UN, the EU, International Planned Parenthood, and many other organizations working to declare abortion a "universal human right."
Smyth pointed to a recent Early Day Motion put forward at Westminster to force Northern Ireland, against the will of the public, to grant the same abortion access as in the rest of the UK. Also highlighted at the rally was the push by US President Barack Obama and his administration to have abortion declared a "universal right" for all women.
Of grave concern too, she said, is the ongoing pressure from the government of the Republic to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, the replacement for the EU's failed Constitution that would likely end the ability of the Irish to oppose abortion in their own country. The threat of the Lisbon Treaty was a major point at the rally.
"The government has to accept that the people of Ireland say No to the Lisbon treaty. Do they not know what 'No' means?" Smyth said.
However, one disappointment for the pro-life movement, said Smyth, has been the lackluster support for the initiatives of the movement by the Catholic bishops on both sides of the border. While all the bishops were asked to attend the rally last year, Smyth said, none even responded to the invitation. At the same time, while no Catholic bishops attended the annual pro-life event, Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, attended a rally organized by a socialist organization opposing bombings in Palestine.
"Lots of people say to us, why is the Church not coming out to support us in the pro-life efforts?" Smyth said that although her group would "never want to criticize the Church," the lack of interest by the Catholic bishops of Ireland is a "puzzle."
Similarly, she said, it is a mystery to many why in the Protestant Northern Ireland, the pro-life position has been so strongly defended by politicians, while at the same time, in "strongly Catholic" southern Ireland, so many of the politicians are pro-abortion. Asked if the Catholic Church in the Republic was supportive of the idea that Catholics cannot vote for pro-abortion politicians, Smyth said bluntly, "No."
While the pro-life movement in Southern Ireland continues to be a major voice on the No side of the Lisbon Treaty debate, the bishops have supported the Treaty. A statement was issued by the bishops in the last election that did say Catholic voters should support candidates who uphold the teachings of the Church, but the following page carried an endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty.
The split between the politicians and the broadly pro-life public is a serious issue for the pro-life movement said Smyth. "I don't think the bishops take into consideration the fact that there are a lot of pro-abortion politicians [in the Republic]. In the next election, that is something we need to get our act together over. Northern Ireland has been able to keep abortion out because of their pro life politicians."
"At the end of the day the Church has a lot of authority, but they're just not speaking out as they should be."
Despite this, Smyth was optimistic about the growing cooperation between north and south on the life issues. The people of Ireland, she said, oppose abortion generally and are increasingly aware of the threat on both sides of the border. Many people don't fully accept there is a border there, and they believe that all of Ireland must remain abortion free.
"The Irish people will never accept the killing of their unborn children. It's the one thing that unites Ireland north and south, their opposition to abortion and their love for unborn children."
"I think that's where our strengths lie, in unity."
Source: Hilary White - LifeSiteNews.com