About 25 pro-life activists gathered outside of the Irish embassy Friday afternoon to protest the Irish government’s attempt to legalize abortion in the country.
The government of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is pursuing legislation that would legalize abortion for women who are threatening suicide over their pregnancy. The legislation would mark a sharp turn toward liberal mainland Europe for traditionally Catholic Ireland.
"A nation cannot be blessed or honored which kills its own children," said Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition and a Presbyterian minister.
Mahoney, along with the pro-life groups Live Action and Students for Life of America, organized the event in front of the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C., to protest the pending legislation.
Ireland is one of the last countries in the European Union that still has not legalized abortion, although it is legal in order to save the mother’s life. The Catholic Church has long held tremendous power in Ireland, even being enshrined in Ireland’s constitution after its independence from the United Kingdom, and the church’s pro-life doctrine has been part of the country’s public policy.
"I look to them really as a light to the world," said Kate Bryan, who works for the pro-life group Live Action, noting that she is Irish Catholic. She conceded that the Catholic Church in Ireland has lost credibility in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals over the past few years.
Despite Ireland’s outlier status in the European Union (only Malta has a similar ban), it has a very low maternal mortality rate—6 per 100,000 births—compared to other European and Western countries. The United Kingdom’s mortality rate is 12, and the United States’ is 21.
"It’s a thorn in their side to have Ireland, [which] has this great rate of helping pregnant women, for them to not have abortion," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life.
Some in Ireland have wanted to change Ireland’s abortion law for years. However, the death of an Indian woman in Ireland who was refused an abortion gave the debate a new face and caused the formerly pro-life prime minister to flip, the Weekly Standard wrote.
The protesters were worried about what the new legislation would do to Ireland.
"You legislate abortion in certain circumstances, and it opens the floodgates," Bryan said. She contended that 100,000 babies would have been aborted in Ireland if abortion had not been illegal.
Mahoney spoke to the deputy chief of mission inside the embassy during the protest and emphasized how this law runs against Irish culture and the Irish emphasis on family. Americans are shocked at how many children are running around in Ireland, Mahoney told the Washington Free Beacon after the event.