Friday, November 6, 2009
Fiasco at 'Human Rights' meeting
We reported last week in advance of a pro-abortion meeting at University College Galway. We now have a report from Liam Gibson who attended the meeting on behalf of the society for the protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)
Roughly 100 people turned-up, mostly of student age as you would expect but there were members of staff and graduates as well. Each of the he speakers made their presentation without interruption and received polite applause. Once the floor was opened for questions, however, it was clear that a substantial section (if not most) of those attending the meeting were pro-life. One after another, members of the audience denounced the speakers and also the human rights centre for organising such a biased event whilst pretending to be neutral. The chairman allowed people a bit of time to complain but since they weren't asking questions he moved on to the next person only to hear another pro-life argument. Out of about 10 members of the audience to speak only two were not solidly pro-life. One was actually one of the organisers and another person asked a largely irrelevant question which appeared to little to do with abortion or human rights.
When the chairman called an end to the questions, Prof Eamon O'Dwyer who had tried to speak, interrupted him. At first the chairman refused to allow him to say anything and became clearly irritable when Prof O'Dwyer persisted. Once given the opportunity Prof O'Dwer began by explaining that he had been member of NUI for 33 years and had been part of the university’s governing body. He said that such a 'charade' would not have taken place during his time. He spoke about the 1983 referendum which acknowledged the right to life of children before birth, of Ireland's maternal mortality record (recognised by the World Health Organisation as the best in the world) and spoke of his experience working as a doctor in Africa.
The speakers were not impressive, and showed little command of the material. They made points which would have easily been refuted had the event been organised as a debate. Even Christina Zampas, was not impressive despite the reputation of the CRR. The Irish speakers were disorganised and their presentations were little more than a long rambling complaint about how little progress they were able to make.
Only the African speaker would have made any impression on a general audience. She had previously worked for IPPF and recited the same old slogans and highly speculative figures about deaths due to self-induced
abortions. Since she believed she was speaking to a friendly audience
she spoke candidly about using WHO guidelines, the Maputo protocols
and the Millennium Development Goal number 5 (on maternal mortality)
to widen the scope of abortion in Africa. Predictably she referred to
illegal abortions as "unsafe," implying that legalising abortion makes
it safe. One member of the audience pointed out that the two things
where not the same, adding the abortion is never safe for the baby.
I was able to ask the speaker from the north why after years of trying they had failed to make any progress and had lost the battle for public support. I think the IFPA were probably asking the same question after the meeting. They were clearly frustrated by the lack of support they found at their own event.
A fuller report can be viewed on John Smeaton's Blog