Ireland’s anti-abortion activists prepare at “boot camp” for battle

October 5, 2012

(Bernadette Smyth, Director of the Precious Life organisation, poses for a photograph in her office with a life size replica of a foetus at twenty weeks, in Belfast, Northern Ireland September 27, 2012.  REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Patricia Casey’s views on abortion were formed at the age of 12 when she came across an image of what looked to her like a torn-apart baby – an aborted foetus.

Now, at 25 a veteran anti-abortion campaigner in the semi-autonomous UK province of Northern Ireland, she’s committed to a fight to ensure the abortion law in neighboring Ireland remains one of the world’s strictest, preventing terminations in nearly all circumstances.

“It is a battle, definitely it’s a battle,” she said. “You’ve got to go out there fighting.”

The issue pitches Ireland’s Catholic conservatives against a younger secular generation at a time when the church’s grip on society is weakening and the European Union, of which Ireland is a member, is demanding a review of its laws.

But the active involvement of not just the Catholic church but also the international anti-abortion movement, which often cites Ireland as the jewel in its crown, means the country could become a battleground for a global fight.

“It’s nearly as if Ireland is the last bastion within Europe, this is the final frontier, this has to be protected,” said Kathleen Lynch, the Irish republic’s junior minister for disability, equality and mental health.

“I’m not certain we should equally be used by others, to avenge something that they couldn’t withstand in their own countries.”

Read the full story by Lorraine Turner here.
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