In November 2007, Ultrasound hosted a pro-life blitz of five Irish colleges nationwide over a period of eight days. Since its formation in 2001, the original Ultrasound group has expanded to include many members on college campuses all around Ireland, and has formed a close alliance with YD. With sister groups in Australia and New Zealand, these Ultrasound branches all collaborate to accomplish the motto of ‘seeing is believing’ – this means that student affiliates on campuses constantly work together within universities to bring the message about abortion to students.
Two years ago, YD and Ultrasound were instrumental in inviting and hosting abortion-survivor Gianna Jessen on a ten day tour of Irish Colleges and Campuses. Ms Jessen was also featured in many media interviews during her stay in Ireland and the American-born 29-year-old touched many students with her story of her mother’s attempted abortion of her when she was just a seven-month-old baby. Despite the saline abortion Gianna suffered, her spirit remained undamaged and although she has cerebal palsy as a result of the abortion, this experience has motivated Ms Jessen to educate young people about the rights of the unborn child everywhere.
On 12-19 November 2007, YD and Ultrasound similarly held another college tour of the country, aptly christened The Witness Tour. Visiting Dublin City University, NUI Maynooth, University College Cork, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and University of Limerick, this year two notable speakers featured in our pro-life College Roadshow. Kathy Sparks, an ex-abortion nurse who worked for years killing unborn babies in a clinic in Granite City, Illinois, spoke extensively about her experiences in the clinic and how they affected the girls she treated, herself, and other members of the abortion staff. On all five campuses, Mrs Sparks shared that after a suicide attempt, she began to look closely at what was happening in the abortion clinic where she worked. During the tour, Kathy lifted the lid on all the ghastly aspects of the abortion industry, exposing all the lies, deceit and horror that is this deadly business. Today, Kathy runs a crisis pregnancy service in the USA and has many speaking engagements. She informed Irish students about what really goes on behind the closed doors of an abortuary.
Rebecca Kiessling was our second tour guest, and one with a truly amazing story. Mrs Kiessling was conceived through the brutal violation of her mother by a serial rapist. Rebecca spoke convincingly and passionately about the right-to-life of those children conceived through rape, and challenged her student audience to question what the truly compassionate answer to healing a woman who has been raped, and protecting her unborn child. Throughout her talk, Rebecca encouraged her listeners to consider adoption, just as her own mother did. In her testimony, Rebecca also elaborated on the oft-repeated statements that abortion should be legal in the cases of rape and incest, and shared her achievements and expressed her gratitude to her mother – with whom she has been reconciled and has a wonderful relationship - for giving her the gift of life, despite the crime of her father. Rebecca travelled to the Irish campuses with her five children, two of whom are adopted. These beautiful children were further proof of the blessings that can come out of a horrific situation when abortion is not chosen.
Both Rebecca Kiessling and Kathy Sparks passed their crucial messages to over 35,000 Irish students, through both their testimonies and the literature which was distributed to the students by our volunteers. Most young students on the campuses visited by The Witness Tour were largely receptive to the 20 Ultrasound volunteers who gave of their time and efforts to promote the message of Life.
With stalls set up on campus from early morning to 5pm, students who for whatever reason could not make the talks at 7pm in the evening still heard the pro-life message. Students were given pro-life wristbands and information, and those who stopped to discuss pro-life issues with us took away with them new materials designed and printed by the Ultrasound network and intended specifically for students. Leaflets, posters, information booklets, stickers, t-shirts, badges, DVDs and wristbands were distributed our presence on campus re-ignited the abortion debate and ensured that students everywhere were correctly informed of the true nature of abortion.
Only in Galway were we opposed, not by students themselves, but by the college authorities and by student union leaders. Authorities at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) tried to cancel the booking for the meeting room at the very last minute, although the room had been booked for weeks and payment sent well in advance. In a transparent effort to silence pro-life voices, GMIT attempted to bargain with Ultrasound, telling us that we might be allowed to continue with our scheduled talk, but stipulating that we were not allowed to promote our event on campus.
In a new low, and despite the fact that Ultrasound members secured over 200 signatures by students who supported our right to free speech and who were indignant that their right to information was being so blatantly censored by their campus Union, college authorities tore down posters advertising the talk and put up signs throughout the campus declaring that the event had been cancelled.
That evening Ultrasound members and our guests from America were literally locked out of GMIT by burly security guards and a near-hysterical Student Union. Yet despite all that, twenty young students followed Kathy Sparks outside into the cold college grounds in order to hear her story. Upon hearing Kathy’s testimony, these students have expressed an interest to Ultrasound in setting up pro-life societies on campus as they are adamant that the pro-life message should not be censored in Galway.
We also met with opposition from the Student’s Union (who it has to be said, are completely unrepresentative of the student body) in the University of Limerick, but persevered, even catching students at the college gates in the pouring rain. Leaflets and other pro-life materials were distributed to UL students. Again, that evening, Kathy and Rebecca shared their testimonies with students and others in the Jean Monet Lecture Room.
This Tour was an important witness and Ultrasound look forward to once again joining together next year to engage in a similar tour of Irish colleges. We’re determined to raise awareness about abortion and its grievous consequences on women, men and babies – and we’ll continue to work to make sure Irish youth insist that the abomination of abortion is not legalised in Ireland.