By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 October, 2013
Former Fine Gael representatives lend support to PLC's grassroots campaign.
Former Fine Gael TD, Terence Flanagan, told the Pro Life Campaign’s annual AGM in the RDS on Saturday that he would do everything to turn things around “to get rid of” of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy law.
To applause, he told nearly 600 delegates that the way the legislation had been presented to the Irish people by the Government and the media was “very wrong and very dishonest.”
He said he and his colleagues who were expelled from the party for opposing the abortion act now found themselves “outside our political party because we honoured our commitment – the pledge that our party made to the Irish people” on abortion.
Deputy Flanagan was joined by his colleague in the Reform Alliance, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who told CatholicIreland.net that she had “absolutely no regrets” over her expulsion from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for her opposition to the abortion act.
“I think this was meant to be – I have absolutely no regrets. It is a really exciting time,” she said.
Admitting this was the first time she had attended a pro life event, she said, “I have found this movement very important. They respect life to such a huge degree and they want to protect life in all its forms and in all its difficulties.”
Referring to Hilary Ní Lorcáin’s moving testimony about the life of her baby daughter Margaret who lived just two and a half days, Senator Healy Eames said she had been really impressed by that.
“We need to lobby for peri-natal care and peri-natal hospice care. Whether you live one day or 40 days or 40 years – every life counts.”
The Pro Life Campaign was forced to change its venue due to demand for places at the AGM. According to a PLC spokeswoman, the venue where the organisation traditionally holds its national conference seats 400.
“We were expecting at least 600 people to attend this year’s conference. That’s why we were forced to switch venue just a few days ago,” Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said of the decision to move to the RDS in Dublin.
Asked why there was still such enthusiasm for the issue when the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act had been passed into law, Ms Sherlock responded, “The Fine Gael leadership told its backbench TDs that once the legislation passed through the Dáil the pro-life movement would become deflated and defeated.” She said they were wrong on that.
The Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman said the task ahead for pro-life supporters was “to undo the false perception that the Government’s legislation is about life saving treatments for women and not abortion.”
“As more and more people come to realise that an abortion regime has been introduced, support for the repeal of the legislation will grow,” Cora Sherlock said.
“We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that members of the public are given an opportunity to hear exactly what the Government’s legislation entails. Repealing this unjust law will not be easy but the work in achieving that goal has already commenced,” she warned.
Other speakers who addressed the conference in addition to Hilary Ní Lorcáin were Adele Best of Women Hurt and Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com which now has over 750,000 readers around the world.
Meanwhile, Senator Fidelma Healy said she was “proud of the Irish people for the message they delivered to the Government on the Seanad vote” and this was greeted by cheers and applause from up to 600 pro-life supporters in the RDS.
“I think the lack of listening [by the Government] had an impact. The growing sense of arrogance, the bullishness, definitely there was a reaction by the Irish people against that,” she commented to CatholicIreland.net
The Irish people are after doing a wonderful thing in my view by rejecting the Seanad referendum, she said. “They are after saying ‘stop, pause, and rethink’ and they are throwing a lifeline to An Taoiseach. I am saying listen to that lifeline and take it on board and recast the future for Fine Gael because Fine Gael is a very fine party.”
She expressed support for the PLC’s forthcoming nationwide grassroots campaign which is aimed at getting the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act repealed, but she urged pro life supporters not to wait until the 2016 general election but to begin selecting people to stand in next year’s local elections in May 2014.
In his address, Steven Ertelt lashed out at the biased media coverage of the Gosnell case, the US late term abortionist, noting that it was 56 days into the trial before the mainstream media in the US reported on the case.
However, he also said that abortion in the US has fallen to its lowest point in 36 years and that 44 abortion clinics had closed in the last year in the US. Some 6265 remain which is down from a high of 2,20o in 1991.
Meanwhile, Edel Best recounted her personal journey from aborting her son at 25, aborting her daughter at 30 and being on the way to her third abortion at 33 when she had a life changing encounter with God.
Asking why more women who know that abortion is not good for women’s health don’t come forward to tackle the misinformation out there, she said they were effectively silenced by the media.
Explaining that difference that her faith had given to the healing process, Edel Best said “secular counselling can only deal with guilt but it can’t deal with shame.”