The ‘Your Rights. Right Now’ report which has caused so much controversy in the past week is just 11 pages long, with 16 pages of additional notes. Although its producers make much of the public consultation undertaken in producing the report, it’s striking that an average of just 13 people attended each of the public meetings to discuss its content. And the report, submitted to the United Nations last week for their review of Ireland’s human rights record, makes only 17 recommendations. Yet one of those recommendations is given over to a demand for immediate action by the government to ensure abortion is legalised in Ireland. It’s a jarring, divisive paragraph in the report. What kind of human rights advocates see the killing of children as an answer to anything? And who would endorse submitting such a report to the United Nations to represent the Irish people?
What has become very clear from our investigations during the past week is that the production of the report was hijacked by abortion campaigners, who then used the good reputation of other organisations to further their own pro-abortion agenda. The Irish Family Planning Association and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties are listed as primary producers of the report. It’s no surprise then that Section 12 of the document accuses the State of interfering with women’s rights by restricting abortion, and then calls for abortion to be legalised in Ireland. What was surprising to the Life Institute when we looked at the website of ‘Rights Now’ on Tuesday of Holy week was that it boasted that it had ‘over 100’ groups endorsing the report – and that list included major Catholic organisations such as Trócaire and Crosscare and other organisations doing admirable work such as the National Council for the Blind and Simon.
That led us to begin the process of emailing these organisations and we sent out an ezine asking many others to do the same. The responses were most enlightening. It soon became apparent that endorsement of the report had sometimes been presumed by the ‘Rights Now’ team; and that the section approving abortion had not been directly approved by a significant number of organisations, who were unknowingly being used to push a pro-abortion agenda.
At this point in time, several key organisations have withdrawn their endorsement of the report. Trocaire were first to do so, stating that it had never been discussed by their management group and that they were “at a loss” as to why they were listed as having endorsing the document. Crosscare, the Catholic social care agency, then followed, saying in an email to the Life Institute that it was asking for its endorsement to be removed from the report “to avoid any further link between Crosscare and a call for the legalisation of abortion.”
Crosscare stated on Easter Saturday that “at no time was there any intention for Crosscare or any of our projects to offer support to a campaign to legalise abortion.” Two days later, the Vincentian Refugee Centre also requested that its endorsement of the report be removed from the ‘Your Rights. Right Now’ website. ACTS, who provide transport to people with disabilities, then withdrew their name from the report’s supporters, as did the community group APS, and EFL Ireland.
Brother Kevin Mascarenhas from the Integration and Support Unit for New Communities also confirmed that the group had withdrawn its support from the report.
From our conversations with a number of organisations it became clear that the process of endorsement for this report was not what it should have been, and that Section 12 of the report, calling for abortion, was not presented clearly to all of the organisations.
The National Council for the Blind of Ireland told us that they were “endeavouring to discover how our review and comments on the area of this report sent to us by DFI [Disability Federation of Ireland] came to infer our endorsement of the full report”. They later issued a statement saying they did not endorse the pro-abortion section of the report, and were unfailing courteous and helpful to every person who called them to query the issue. The NCBI then withdrew their endorsement, a move which earned them the admiration of the pro-life majority. The Life Institute has called on groups such as Dóchas, the Disability Federation of Ireland, Simon, the Mercy Justice Office, Ruhama to follow and withdraw their endorsement from the report, pointing out to the latter two groups that they are Catholic organisations whose endorsement of the report is simply untenable.
Some organisations are unhappy with the position that has been forced on them by the producers of the report, since while they are unhappy with the link to a call for abortion, they feel that to withdraw support entirely would undermine the sections of the report which they support, such as those calling for improvements in services to disadvantaged communities or people with disabilities. However, this reasoning not only does the organisation endorsing the report a huge disservice, it practises the most astonishing discrimination against a whole section of the human family, the unborn child.
Firstly, allowing the IFPA and their cohorts to give the misleading impression that these organisations actively support abortion does their cause a huge disservice. Most Irish people oppose abortion, and the underhand attempt to link groups working to assist disadvantaged people or third world communities with the killing of preborn babies is truly despicable.
Secondly, this is not an issue of minor consequence – it’s a matter of life and death. We’re talking about real children, with real lives here. It would be entirely unacceptable to accept a report calling for the legalised killing of any other section of society on the basis that the same report contained other salutary recommendations.
As things stand the report contains a disclaimer which states that all the views in the report might not reflect the views of those who produced or endorsed it. But this disclaimer means nothing. It is already being overlooked; the Irish Times’ coverage on the launch of the report focused entirely on its support for abortion, with obvious approval from Kathleen Lynch, the Labour Minister who shares a Worker’s Party background and all that entails with Eamon Gilmore.
It should be noted however that several organisations, including the Children’s Rights Alliance to which more than 90 NGOS are affiliated, clarified in writing to the Life Institute that they did not endorse Section 12. Furthermore, it has emerged that one organisation whose name was added to the list of those endorsing the report actually no longer exist. These and other matters will be brought to the attention of the Department, the Minister and the UN in an official complaint from the Life Institute.
This report aims to be high-profile and influential and to push the UN to call for abortion in Ireland. It has now been discredited by the public disassociation of the NCBI, Trócaire, Crosscare, the Vincentian Refugee Centre. ACTS, and the positive statements by others on Section 12. We can and must do more to bring others to this position in the coming days. Human life, and its contingent human rights, begin in the womb. We’re all human from conception.