Irish pro life group criticised for all-male panel on abortion

“Oh super. A conference on women’s wombs, run by men. Welcome to Ireland”

Siobhan Fenton@SiobhanFenton
Wednesday 13 January 2016 15:03
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Abortions are illegal in the Republic of Ireland, unless the woman's life is at immediate risk
Abortions are illegal in the Republic of Ireland, unless the woman's life is at immediate risk

An anti-abortion campaign group in Ireland have been derided online for holding an event on women’s healthcare- with only male speakers.

Family and Life, a Dublin based organisation, is holding an event tomorrow evening in the capital city. Titled ‘How to Protect the 8th amendment’ in reference to the constitutional clause which bans abortion, the event is described as “pro-life”.

The discussion will feature three men; David Quinn, Patrick Carr and Paddy Manning.

Sharing the poster online, Laura Lee commented: “Oh super. A conference on women’s wombs, run by men. Welcome to Ireland.”

Irish Times columnist Una Mullally told The Independent that the all-male panel was “absolutely preposterous”.

She said: “For generations, women in Ireland have been dictated to about their bodies by male priests, gardai [Irish police], doctors, politicians and legislators, so a panel like this continues that lineage of control and mansplaining.

“There is an inherent misogyny, not to mention ignorance of an all-male panel discussing the reproductive rights of women.

"Those who want to “protect” the eighth amendment want to prevent women from making medical choices about their own bodies, so considering they see fit to have greater knowledge and authority over women’s bodies than women themselves, they’re hardly interested in women’s bodies.”

Róisín Ingle, columnist and producer of The Women's Podcast with The Irish Times, told The Independent: "It was amusing to hear about the all-male panel for the planned anti-choice meeting but not exactly surprising given the deeply conservative nature of these [anti-abortion] groups.

"It's worth pointing out that men in Ireland are never forced to leave the country to access medical care whereas around 12 women a day leave to have terminations elsewhere."

One of the speakers, David Quinn, has defended the event, telling The Independent: “I don’t regard abortion as a woman’s healthcare issue only but as a right-to-life issue as well.

“The right to life of the unborn is obviously at stake in this debate and that is a human rights issue, not a woman’s issue or a man’s issue per se.

He added: “I do know that at other events they have organised around the country there have been female speakers.”

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland unless a woman’s life is in imminent danger, regardless of rape, incest or fatal foetal malformation.

At least 4,500 women travel from Ireland to England for an abortion every year.

The Independent has contacted Family and Life for comment but received no response at time of publication.

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