After the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar last October there was tremendous pressure to change Irish law to allow for abortion. The tragedy, which happened here in our own city, became the focus of international attention. The appropriate thing at this stage is to wait until the investigation is over before we can say with authority what happened but it is equally clear that before the story became known to the public that pro-abortion choice advocates were ready to use it to attack Ireland's laws that guarantee the equal right to life of mother and unborn baby. The "spontaneous" protests outside the Dáil that called for the liberalization of the law weren't spontaneous after all.
The vigil for Life was organized with about a week's notice and brought at a minimum of 5,000 to the protest. Other estimates were given of up to twice that. The 5,000 figure was given by the Irish Times but considering the fact that the same paper gave in to pressure to revise upwards the numbers at a pro-abortion march several months back their figures must be taken with caution. No doubt several more thousands were there according to their own standards.
Galway flag outside the Dáil at the Vigil for Life
At least two buses from Galway went to the vigil which exceeded all expectations. There was no trouble from pro-abortion activists despite some threats that were noted on social networking websites earlier in the week. The weather was very good, though earlier in the week it was cold and damp there was no rain on the day and the mood was good thorough. Some singing broke out in different pockets as the assembled crowd waited for the vigil to start. Many people held candles while others held placards calling on politicians to value mother and child equally and asking the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny to keep the promise he made before the general election last year that Fine Gael in government would not legislate for abortion.
A section of the crowd with candles and placards.
The festive spirit that could be felt was lifted by the speakers. Caroline Simons, legal consultant to the Pro-Life Campaign told the crowd that despite the impression that was given Ireland is under no obligation by the European Court of Human Rights to legislate for abortion:
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute told the vigil that "we need to ensure that both our mothers and babies are best protected by banning abortion." She also called on Enda Kenny to keep the promise he made before the general election.
All we are supposed to do is clarify our own position in relation to abortion here…We have one of the best maternal mortality rates in the world so abortion is never the answer. It is not going to save mothers lives and we don’t want to see it on our shores.
Dr Sean O’Domhnaill of the Life Institute was abother speaker as was Cliona Johnson who told her moving story of her John Paul, her son, who was born with anencephaly and died shortly after birth.
The vigil lasted only about an hour but people were in good spirits and made sure their voices were heard, they shouted in the direction of the Dáil that they did not want abortion, that Ireland without abortion treats pregnant women and that it is a safe country for them.
The vigil was a great success, bringing people from all corners of the country on a dark December evening, keeping their spirits up and delivering the message that there are many who will continue to speak up for those who have no voice of their own.