Demonstrations and intimidations: a few reflections on the abortion demo.

Me and another demonstrator at the pro-choice demo. We're both blowing bubbles. I'm holding a sign saying "One body, one choice. Against abortion? Don't have one!"

This is not about how I feel about abortion and the rights of people to choose whether to become/remain pregnant.

This is about tactics, about intimidation, about honesty.

I went to a demonstration last Saturday. That’s me in the picture above, up on the left. We were a pro-choice counter-demonstration to the Rally for Life. There were about 300 of us, about 5,000 of them, as far as I’m aware.

So far, so good, right? We had signs, they had signs. They marched, we lined the path in the middle of the road. Everyone got a bit shouty. We blew bubbles!

Like I said: so far, so good. I disagree with their opinion, but if I have the right to march and demonstrate then so should they. But this is not about how I feel about abortion. This is about hatred. This is about dishonesty. This is about violence.

Last Saturday I was called a murderer. I had parents with their children shouting at the tops of their voices that if I had my way, their children wouldn’t exist. Those children likely believe now that I feel they should never have been born. I was called a Nazi. I was told that I hate children, that I hate babies, that I hate life. I had people getting up in my face, screaming “LIFE LIFE LIFE LIFE,” before being told to move on by Gardaí.

I have never been to a march that was so aggressive, so vitriolic. At the time I didn’t mind. I had my sign, I had my bubbles, I had the company of a few hundred like-minded people, and I had some serious-looking guards between myself and them.

Later that day, I minded. When I was walking around town, seeing people still carrying their signs? I minded then. I hoped that they didn’t recognise me, because now it was just me and my mother, doing our shopping, not a guard in sight. That evening, I minded. When I got home and remembered the level of hate in their faces, their voices.

I don’t mind differing opinions. I mind dishonesty. I mind mischaracterising those who disagree with you.  I mind hatred. I mind being villified.

Picture from the pro-life demonstration. Picture is taken of the top of an open-topped bus, focusing on an angry-looking priest.

Demonstrations and intimidations: a few reflections on the abortion demo.

8 thoughts on “Demonstrations and intimidations: a few reflections on the abortion demo.

  1. 1

    I’m against abortion. I have 3 children. I love my children. I love life. If my daughter told me she was pregnant (I’d freak because she’s 11 – but when she’s older), I’d advise her to keep the baby.

    But I also feel strongly that we must have abortion in this country (de facto, we already do – it’s just that the clinic is at Dublin Airport).

    Anyway, I thank you for supporting my views and the rights of my daughters.

    1. 1.1

      Thank you for replying! You know, I think that views like yours are incredibly common amongst pro-choice people. Many people see abortion as, well, a lesser evil which is sometimes necessary. And that the person making the decision as to whether it is necessary has got to be the person whose body, health and sometimes life are at stake.

      Also, by the way: pro-choicers aren’t anti-kids! I’m quite the adoring auntie, I’ll have you know. To a couple of kids who are almost certainly the most adorable and smart minihumans you’ll ever meet ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. “pro-choicers arenโ€™t anti-kids!”

        I hope I didn’t suggest that – I’d consider my self pro-choice as well (and pro-life too).

        I’m also no fan of chemotherapy – but very much in favour of it.

  2. 2

    It’s always irked (understatement) me that people who are against abortion seem to equate believing that women have the right to make decisions about their bodies to advocating that all people should terminate their pregnancies. It’s takes a bizarre twist of logic to think like that. Although perhaps they’re just setting up a strawman to knock down while at the same time villainising their opponents. I tend to prefer to think that people are just ignorant rather than malicious liars.

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to make a decision of that kind of magnitude, and whatever decision a woman in that situation decides, it is hers to make and there should be structures in place to help her. No one has the right to force a woman to use her body in a way she doesn’t want to, she’s not an incubator!

    I really like the slogan one of the women in the counter-demonstration was holding: “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries”.

    And finally a plea to write more. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog since I came across it and I particularly love how patient you are to explain things to those of us who are just starting to open our eyes.

  3. 3

    Oh and one other thing I noticed, the title of this post appears to be hidden on the main page, making it difficult to get a direct link to the article.

    Also it’s awesome that you and so many other people took the time to counter-protest on an issue that is so important.

  4. JJR

    The Irish constitution makes a handy teaching tool when people claim the USA was founded as a Christian nation; I can pull it up on my iPhone and say “No, THIS is what the constitution of an explicitly Christian country looks like”.

    I know it was amended recently to allow the dissemination of information about abortion services and prohibit travel bans, though the language used is so euphemistic and vague that unless you already know that’s what’s under discussion, you’d miss the point.

    Very brave of you to protest as you did.

    BTW, Freethought Radio in the US recently featured a former Church of Ireland (Protestant) minister turned atheist, Patrick Semple. It was an interesting interview and I’m interested to read his de-conversion memoir, especially his commentary on the increasing secularization of Ireland. I don’t know what his personal views are on abortion, didn’t actually come up during the interview that I remember.

    Although I do believe Irish society is becoming more secular (from what I can observe from afar), eventually the Irish constitution will need to be amended or flat out re-written and re-ratified to reflect this. Semple did note that the government doesn’t seem to show the same complete and utter deference to Catholic Church opinion that it used to, which is a step in the right direction.

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