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.