My Convention: Jane

Attending the National Convention for Life, which was held on The 12th of April in Dublin Castle, was an experience I won’t forget.

As soon as I arrived at 9am there was an huge crowd already queuing up for the conference. People of all ages had travelled the length and breadth of the country to be there and there was a buzz about the place from the get go. Everyone there, myself included, came with the hope of being uplifted and renewed in the prolife movement, and we certainly were not disappointed.

It has been a turbulent past year for the prolife cause in Ireland. This conference was vital to sustain us as we move forward with our prolife efforts.

The array of speakers from various countries highlighted the two options that were available to Ireland at present. The first is we could follow in the footsteps of somewhere like Nicaragua and relentlessly challenge the laws on abortion in our country until they are overturned. Nicaragua is a beacon of hope for us to never give up the good fight. Dr Rafael Cabrera spoke about how their his country reversed the law on abortion to ultimately ban abortion in Nicaragua. He shows us that determination brings results. Alternatively, if we do nothing, we could find ourselves in a similar situation to America. Prolife veterans Jill Stanek and Lila Rose exposed the reality of the heinous abortion industry in America and opened my eyes to what is at stake if we allow abortion in Ireland. These courageous women really stood out to me. Jill Stanek sacrificed her career to expose the awful truth that abortions were being committed in her workplace and that babies who survive abortion were just left to die without any medical care. Lila Rose audaciously went undercover to abortion clinics in America and discovered the abortion provider Planned Parenthood was breaking the law and covering up abuse. The testimonies of these two daring ladies made me more determined than ever not to let these appalling atrocities happen in my own country. The sharp contrast presented to us of what is possible when we persevere and what will happen if we make abortion permissible, fortified us in our fight for life.

Currently there is a lot of debate surrounding the issue of abortion for babies with terminal illnesses. It was so refreshing to hear the other side of the debate. The compassionate side. The side where a mother chooses to carry her terminally ill baby to birth, or for as long as she can, so that her baby has every chance at life. Tracey Harkin’s story really moved me. Tracey was told the devastating news that her baby daughter, Kathleen Rose, was diagnosed with Trisomy 13. She was told that she would not live for long after birth. However, to this day Kathleen Rose is still here and now aged 7 years old. This remarkable story highlights the fact that life is precious and is to be cherished. It also highlights the fact that sometimes there can be a misdiagnosis and that babies can fight the odds and survive for lengthy periods of time.

To hear from a survivor of an abortion was an incredible thing. To hear Josiah Presley say “Am I not a human being?” was powerful. I would like to see him pose this question to a person who is pro-abortion. His story is indisputable. His personal and touching story humanises the abortion debate. Babies who are aborted are not clumps of cells. They are real people, like Josiah.

The Convention for Life did not just talk the talk but also walked the walk. A criticism often argued against the prolife movement is that it does not care for women in crisis pregnancy. It is said that prolife people just judge women in pregnant crises without providing any actual help or support. Carolyn O’ Meara told us of the fantastic work done by the volunteers in Gianna Care who truly support and help women through their pregnancy. They provide free pregnancy ultrasound, free maternity/baby equipment and free post abortion support. Her account of the work done by Gianna Care is in sharp contrast to the so called ‘help and support’ provided to women by the Irish Family Planning Association who were caught telling Irish women to lie to their doctors about having an abortion and who were also found showing Irish women how to smuggle illegal abortive pills into the country. Gianna Care’s persistent presence at the entrance of Marie Stopes’ Clinics has saved many babies from abortion. The ceaseless work of Gianna Care for women in crisis pregnancy is astounding.

There were so many inspiring speakers at the National Convention for Life it is difficult to mention them all. But one thing is for sure, they all had a profound effect on me. They were all people I aspire to be like. It was evident from overhearing the people attending the conference that the speakers had a profound effect on them too. The prolife warriors who spoke at the conference renewed hope, rebuilt faith and revived commitment in the Irish people. I am looking forward to next year’s one already!