Keynote speaker Abby Johnson with her husband Doug.
Almost 1,000 people packed out the Concert Hall in the RDS on Sunday for the 2017 Pro Life Campaign National Conference. An enthusiastic audience heard from national and international speakers at what may be the last Conference before a referendum on the 8th Amendment.
Keynote speaker Abby Johnson spoke of her experience as a former director at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in the US, where she worked for eight years. She became appalled at what she witnessed on a daily basis and decided to leave the industry. Her book ‘Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’, became an Amazon best seller. She has been the inspiration behind numerous others leaving the abortion industry.
She said:
“Too often, the debate on abortion talks around the issue rather than dealing with the reality of what abortion involves.  I have first hand experience of working at an abortion clinic and I can tell you that the reality is entirely different to how it is presented.  People don’t want to think about the brutality of what happens to the baby but when you’ve worked in an abortion clinic or thought about it, there is no escaping what it entails.”
She also spoke about her regret at standing by and doing nothing to intervene when she attended an ultrasound-guided abortion and saw the baby trying to move away from the instruments that were being used to end the life of the baby.  She told attendees at the conference not to stand by and do nothing when it comes to protecting the 8th Amendment and she encouraged everyone to speak up for the voiceless, unborn children and their mothers, many of whom she said go on to regret their abortions.
Lord Alton is a member of the British House of Lords since 1997, having previously been a member of the House of Commons for 18 years. An author of 12 books to date and world respected human rights campaigner, he is best known for his work promoting the right to life of unborn babies, his outspokenness on global human rights abuses and his work in founding Jubilee Action, a humanitarian children’s charity. He is a regular visitor to Ireland, his mother having hailed from Co. Mayo. He received a standing ovation after his inspirational speech and said:
“What organisations promoting human rights and pushing abortion at the same time forget is that all other rights are meaningless if you are denied the right to life.  When abortion was introduced into the UK under the Abortion Act 1967, no-one intended it to have such widespread consequences but 50 years on, we have seen over 8 million abortions taking place. An abortion takes place every 3 minutes in the UK – surely these kinds of figures are reasons for everyone in Ireland to continue to support the 8th Amendment.”
Other speakers included Liz McDermott of the group One Day More, who spoke about her presentation to the Oireachtas Committee when she talked about the experience of being pregnant in Ireland with a child with serious disability.
“We need to provide more supports for families and their babies, not abortion,” she said.  “In the case of children who are diagnosed with disabilities in the womb, abortion becomes a very obvious form of discrimination. The 8th Amendment acts as a vital protection for those children.”
Emma Maloney spoke about how becoming pregnant with her son Rossa while she was in college has had a positive experience that she could never have foreseen:
“When I became pregnant in college, it was very traumatic but I want to send out the message that an unplanned pregnancy does not hold women back. I have continued my education and travelled more with him than before. I feel that the 8th Amendment protected him and has led to the happy life I have today.”
Commenting on the conference, PLC spokesperson Cora Sherlock said:
“We are delighted with the numbers that turned out today and the enthusiasm of the crowd. There is no doubt that minds were focussed today with the impending report due from the Oireachtas committee later this month. The fact that they have invited 24 pro-choice advocates to present and just 4 pro-life speakers is a sign of the imbalanced way that they have approached this life and death issue.  This fact was not lost on the crowd who turned up here today to hear inspiring speeches, meet other supporters and find out more about how they can get involved in the campaign over the next few months.”