Organisers of Saturday’s Celebrate the 8th pro-life gathering in Dublin, which aimed to highlight the positive impact of the Eighth Amendment, said they were “thrilled and very encouraged” with the massive turnout of several thousands.
Keynote speaker at the event was Melissa Ohden from the US, who in 1977 was born alive after a failed abortion and then left for dead. Her life was saved when a nurse on duty heard her cry and intervened to help her. In her address, Ms Ohden congratulated Ireland for affording legal protection to the unborn child in the Constitution. She also criticised abortion advocacy groups, in particular Amnesty International Ireland, over their stance in favour of abortion.
“You have every reason to be proud of the Eighth Amendment. Passing this provision in 1983 was a hugely positive step forward for authentic human rights. As an abortion survivor, I applaud your country for it,” she said.
“I think it is an awful tragedy that groups like Amnesty Ireland openly campaign for abortion and never speak up, in cases similar to mine, where babies born alive after botched abortions are abandoned as they gasp for breath and struggle helplessly to stay alive.”
The Pro-Life Campaign’s Deputy Chairperson Cora Sherlock told the crowd in Molesworth Street said “there are tens of thousands of people alive today” because of the Eighth Amendment. “These stories of hope and survival simply cannot be ignored in the debate. They deserve to be front and centre. The public have only heard one side of the story. With respect but without apology, we will continue to challenge the one-sided nature of the debate until the pro-life side is given a fairer hearing in the national media.”
A number of other speakers also shared their personal stories, including Mary Kenny from Limerick who explained she considered an abortion when she found out she was pregnant while in her second year at university. “My friends talked me out of it but I often wonder what the outcome would have been, if I only had to sit in my car and drive myself 20 minutes into the maternity hospital in Limerick to end the life of my own child,” she said.
Heidi Crowter, a disability rights activist from England with Down’s Syndrome, spoke about the importance of valuing everyone in society and her mother Liz criticised the injustice of the situation in England and Wales, where, she said, 90% of babies diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.
Other speakers included Sinead McBreen from Cavan who described the pressure she came under to abort her daughter Grace, who doctors said had a life-limiting condition with no chance of surviving to birth. She then introduced her daughter to the crowd and said that without the Eighth Amendment “the pressure on parents to abort their children in similar situations would intensify greatly”.