Ireland’s March for Life draws thousands amid ‘soaring’ abortions

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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 8, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Thousands of pro-life activists participated in the Ireland March for Life on Monday, marching from St. Stephen’s Green in central Dublin to the Irish Parliament.

The Irish Catholic, a Dublin-based news source, reported that thousands of pro-lifers attended the march. Video of the event posted online shows large crowds of pro-life activists, many of whom appear high school and college age, holding balloons, banners, and signs with pro-life messages. 

The crowds appear joyful with many marchers smiling and cheering. 

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, head of the Irish Episcopal Conference, participated in the march along with several other Catholic leaders. He called the event “uplifting and positive” in “contrast to the dismal, negative messages of aggression, violence, and death that threaten to overwhelm us at times.” 

Ahead of Ireland’s elections, speakers urged march attendees to “think pro-life” this year. 

This comes just days after Ireland passed a “Safe Access Zones” bill that mandated 100-meter (about 300 feet) zones around abortion provider entrances and exits in which “certain conduct aimed at impeding access or influencing decisions in relation to termination of pregnancy services will be prohibited.” 

Eilís Mulroy, one of the march organizers and speakers, urged Irish citizens to prioritize voting for pro-life candidates and parties amid abortion rates he said are currently “soaring” and having a “devastating” effect on Irish society.

Abortion became legal in Ireland in 2018 and is currently allowed until 12 weeks of pregnancy. Before 2018, Ireland’s eighth amendment allowed abortions only in cases in which the mother’s life was in danger. 

A commission set up to review legislation introduced after the 2018 referendum passed is considering eliminating a three-day waiting period, removing criminal penalties for medical professionals performing abortions, and changing the legal definition of fatal fetal anomalies.

According to Irish news source Offaly Independent, Ireland saw an all-time high of 9,218 abortions in 2023. This is up from 8,876 abortions in 2022 and approximately 7,000 abortions each year from 2019 through 2021. In total, there have been approximately 38,018 babies killed by abortion in Ireland since the procedure was legalized in 2018. 

Shortly before the march, Martin and several other bishops and priests celebrated a Mass at nearby Newman University Church. 

Bishop Kevin Doran of the Diocese of Elphin, chairman of the Irish bishops’ Council for Life, gave the homily in which he said: “We are called — in whatever we do or whatever we say — to be witnesses to the love of God made present in Jesus Christ. For us, that inevitably means bearing witness to the inherent value of every human life.”

Alluding to the Safe Access Zones law, Doran added that “nothing — no law, no public policy, and no peer pressure from neighbors or colleagues can remove our right and indeed our responsibility to advocate publicly for those who are most vulnerable, especially at the beginning and at the end of life.”

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