By editor - 20 January, 2013
25,000 people turned up for a United for Life Vigil in Dublin’s city centre last Saturday (19.01.13). Beforehand a beautiful and moving prayer service took place in St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row. Addressing the huge congregation which stretched right out into the street, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin noted that the church was one of the largest in Dublin, and warmly thanked all those present for coming along to pray. At 4.00pm, the congregation left, and joined a huge throng walking towards Dublin’s Merrion Square.
At the vigil, which stretched the entire length of the square, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte spoke of how Irish people always feel and react to the suffering of others – whether that is the death of a young person or cancer in a friend. What does this tell us?” he asked. “Every human life is sacred. We all rejoice when a life is saved or prolonged.”
He went on “Ireland is almost unique in the Western world in looking out for, and fully protecting, two patients during a pregnancy – a mother and her unborn child,” he said. “We are here to oppose the unjust targeting of even one unborn child’s life in circumstances that have nothing to do with genuine life-saving medical interventions”.
“No individual or nation is perfect – we all have our faults and failings but when it comes to life before birth, we have a value system, an ethos which we should proudly share with the rest of the world,” he said.
And he urged those at the vigil to “keep in touch with Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore and let them know repeatedly that the middle ground of Irish opinion opposes what they are proposing. There is no point in saving the economy if the right to life is compromised or forgotten,” he added
People travelled from all over Ireland for the vigil. Duncan Barclay came with a hundred others from Letterkenny in Donegal, leaving at 11.00am Saturday morning, and only getting home twelve hours later. “It is a great thing to stand up for the unborn,” he told CatholicIreland.
David Manley from Family and Life spoke of how culture can debase and dehumanise the unborn. A mother and her unborn baby, becomes a ‘pregnant woman and her foetus’. “I know in the UK and other countries where people have become so desensitised to the realities of conception, pregnancy and motherhood that they no longer understand what is wrong with abortion.”
Bernadette Goulding from Women Hurt by Abortion, spoke of the pain she suffered after her own abortion. “You cannot rip a baby from its mother’s womb without deeply hurting the mother,” she said. “I was told there was nothing there. It was just a bunch of cells.”
The grief after an abortion is always hidden, she said. “There is no body, no funeral, no graveside, no family and friends to grieve your loss.” Ms Goulding said that there was much suicide after abortion. “I see women self harming, cutting themselves. I’ve met countless women who have slit their wrists.” She said people in favour of abortion blame this on social or religious conditioning, but even when she visited Korea and the Lebannon, she found the same suffering. “The grief and the pain is all the same,” she told the thousands of people, holding placards and candles, “abortion is an inhuman act.”
PLC Legal Advisor Caroline Simons said that at the hearings of the Oireachtas Committee last week all of the psychiatrists, “to a man and a woman said that abortion never addresses suicidality in pregnancy and they had never prescribed it.”
“If the government legislate for the X case ruling, it knows it is flawed. It knows its understanding of medical practise is wrong. And we know that for the first time, the government would be sanctioning the killing of unborn innocent life. We know that for the first time, psychiatrists would be being asked to prescribe procedures for which there is no psychiatric justification. We know that for the first time obstetricians would be asked on the basis of this bogus psychiatric prescription to terminate the lives of babies in physically healthy women. And for the first time our government, our legislators, would have violated the most basic right of all for a reason which is no reason at all.”
Obstetrician Dr John Monaghan, interviewed in the crowd, urged politicians to “have courage – not to be afraid”.