04.11.2017: PLC challenges Citizens Assembly to redress ‘unacceptable imbalance’ in speakers

04.11.2017: PLC challenges Citizens Assembly to redress ‘unacceptable imbalance’ in speakers

The positive impact of Eighth Amendment on Irish society ‘completely ignored’ to date

The Pro Life Campaign has expressed concern over a lack of balance in the line-up of speakers at the Citizens Assembly’s deliberations on the Eighth Amendment.

Commenting on the topics and speakers slated for this weekend’s discussions by the Assembly, Sinead Slattery of the Pro Life Campaign said:

“The pro-life movement has engaged with the Assembly process with openness and good faith notwithstanding major concerns about how the Assembly came about. However, with only two further weekends remaining, not a single day has focused on what the Eighth Amendment has achieved in terms of protecting human life and dignity. The positive impact of the Pro-Life Amendment on Irish society has been completely ignored to date.”

“By contrast, entire weekends have homed in on aspects of the debate used by abortion proponents to put the Eighth Amendment on trial focussing on issues such as abortion where babies have life-limiting conditions, pregnancy resulting from rape and criticism of the Eighth Amendment from international lobbies. Making these the focus of the Assembly’s work to the exclusion of the many achievements of the Eighth Amendment constitutes an unacceptable imbalance. Members of the Assembly are not being presented with the positive case for keeping the Eighth Amendment. They are being deprived of the full story.”

“It would be unthinkable for the Assembly to conclude its business without devoting several days to hearing the stories of lives saved by the Eighth Amendment – parents who contemplated abortion, changed their minds and who credit the Amendment for their children being alive today. Such stories deserve, but have been denied, prominent airing at the Assembly.”  

“Also excluded have been families of children with Downs Syndrome who feel that if they weren’t living in Ireland and under the protection of the Eighth Amendment, their children’s lives would be less valued,” Ms Slattery said.

The Pro Life Campaign’s concerns were exacerbated by the Assembly’s decision to invite the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) and the Guttmacher Institute to address the Assembly this weekend, Ms Slattery added.

“Both of these groups have deep roots in the abortion industry. BPAS is the leading provider of abortion in Britain and the Guttmacher Institute has been an affiliate member of Planned Parenthood and has received vast sums of money from that source.

“It is bizarre, to say the least, that a leading abortion provider in Britain, a business that has publicly campaigned against Ireland’s constitutional protection for the unborn, should be invited to present under the heading of ‘case studies’ and ‘care paths’.

“Even more strange is that an invitation was given to the partisan Guttmacher Institute to present an ‘overview of the availability of legal terminations in other jurisdictions’. Clearly, a neutral institute or group of scholars should have been asked to present such a dossier.

“In the light of the imbalance presented over successive weekends, fair play can only now be achieved if the closing two weekends focus almost exclusively on the achievements of the Eighth Amendment in protecting human life and dignity. Otherwise, the entire process will be tainted and any recommendations coming from the Assembly will lack credibility from the start.

“Questions will also have to be asked about how the Assembly came to pitch the debate in the way that it did. We now call on those administering the programme of the Assembly to redress the imbalance and to redeem the process.”