Tag Archives: Abortion


An anti-abortion protester has been convicted of harassing a Marie Stopes clinic director at her Belfast city centre offices.

Bernadette Smyth, who leads the anti-abortion group Precious Life, was warned she could face a jail sentence for her campaign against Dawn Purvis.

The judge said: “This case was run, no-holds barred, in a vicious and malicious fashion.”

He said an investigating police officer had been deliberately slandered.

Ms Purvis had been the victim of an unwarranted attack, the judge said.

Mrs Smyth was also told she will be ordered to pay compensation and would be restrained from the area around the clinic.

The 51-year-old had denied harassing Ms Purvis – a former Progressive Unionist Party assembly member – on two dates earlier this year.

With sentencing put back until next month, Mrs Smyth was told her potential punishment could be community service or prison.

The judge said anti-abortion campaigners stationed outside the clinic had been forcing any women of child-bearing age to identify their reasons for entering.

Because of that conduct, he said the range of possible sentencing may go from community service to imprisonment.

Mrs Smyth was told she will certainly have some form of restraining order imposed on her.

Although she left court without making comment, her solicitor described the verdict as “a disappointment for Christians worldwide“.

Anti-abortion protester Bernadette Smyth guilty of harassing Dawn Purvis (BBC News NI)

Previously: Bernie Smyth on Broadsheet


Elsa Crowley


I don’t know if this goes against the politics of Broadsheets or if it would be of any interest. I wrote my journey around abortion, or for that matter the lack of abortion facilities in Ireland and the need to travel. I would appreciate it being shared.

I am tired of there being stigma, judgement and misunderstanding surrounding something that is happening in our country, EVERYDAY. The majority turn a blind eye because it isn’t happening to them, so yeah lets just let England deal with our “little problems” instead of offering support and safety to those who need it .

It was something I had never really thought much about, abortion. I assumed a lot about the people who had them but I never knew the statistics, I never really understood why it was illegal in Ireland and I certainly never thought I would be having one.

I thought I was immune from pregnancy, that it would never ever happen to me and well it did and my world crumbled. I used to hear my friends say from around 17 onwards ” oh if I get pregnant I will just hop over to England and get the abortion tablet, sorted”. Part of me always thought it would be a simple solution almost like a safety net, a back up plan. I was wrong.

I sat in the doctor’s office and made her do five tests, all dipping in clear and coming out positive. I always laughed at those scenes in movies, you know the ones where the main character gets bad news and everything goes muffled and slows down and fades away and its like a spinning camera sensation, well that is honestly what I felt in that moment staring at those 5 tests.

I think it was clear from my face that it was not planned, so my amazing doctor gave me some advice and talked through all my options, have the baby, give it up for adoption, or travel to England and have an abortion. I knew the first two would be impossible for me to do. I was innocent to the world and I was not set up in life to have a child. I did not want to fall into the system and be trapped in life. So I made the best decision I could with the options I had.

I didn’t tell anyone at first, just my boyfriend at the time. He was supportive and rallied around me and travelled with me to England. The clinic I went to was small and discreet and the people who worked in there were some of the sweetest, most understanding people I could have hoped to meet in this situation. Coming from Ireland where you feel like you are carrying a dirty secret, to this clinic where everyone else was in your shoes or knew the feeling, it calmed me.

I was under 8 weeks pregnant and so was given a simple procedure of a tablet orally, followed 6 hours later by suppositories in my cervix as the final dose of the drugs required. Going to England was a struggle as we had to scrape the money together and borrow from a friend of mine to help us and we just managed to gather enough to stay one night. Now in normal scenarios from the abortion procedure under 8 weeks the oral tablet is taken on the first day and you are to come back the following day and receive the suppositories. I was leaving the following morning so the clinic were kind enough to accommodate my travel arrangements and a nurse stayed late to administer the second dose.

I have heard from other women that the pain level is different for everyone, for me it was excruciating. But in that budget hotel room, right by the airport my abortion was complete. I was exhausted and travelling back took a toll on me. I slept for about three days in and out of pain, bleeding for about two weeks after. Coming back to Ireland was heartbreaking and one thing that stung me the most was the morning we arrived back my boyfriend went off to work, leaving me lying in bed, crying alone. Realising that as much as he was a part of what my body went through, he could never know the pain, the sadness. He got to step out of the apartment and go off to his life, leaving all the worry and sadness with me in that room. I was so jealous of him for that, for being able to leave me and join the world again, no one the wiser. For me, I felt like I had blood trailing after me when I went out in public, like everyone knew what I had done.

This stigma, this stain on my conscious followed me for a very long time after the abortion. My boyfriend got over it outwardly and quickly went back to his life before the pregnancy. I on the other hand was stuck, unable to feel what I needed to feel for fear of judgement and scrutiny in this country. I slowly opened up to close friends and I can now say three years on that I am no longer ashamed of my decision. Quite the contrary, I am proud, proud of every single woman who has travelled the same journey I have. Proud of their decision , their courage, their resilience. I am a part of a secret club in Ireland, a club hidden in the shadow of a over bearing government and a “ignorance is bliss” mentality, with a religion that has women grasped firmly by the ovaries.

This secret club, these women warriors, they took a stand on the 27th of September. We walked out of the shadows and into the sun, quite literally that day. I felt such pride marching with 5,000 other people, men and women, young and old, who care about women’s health, not just physically but mentally too. They marched and waved banner and made noise for all the days I stayed silent, for the days all of us travelled in silence and came home to silence.

I don’t want to be silent anymore. I am standing up to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland.

Thank you for reading my story and I hope it has broadened your view on what all these women go through, silently and by themselves.

The Silence I Am Breaking (Elsa Crowley)

In the first three months of last year there were 1,667 abortions performed in Britain on Irish women. During the same period, there were 13,894 births in Ireland. By that ratio, one in nine Irish pregnancies end in a British abortion. (IrishHealth.com).


If you want to know how flimsy we hold women’s humanity, start by looking at the laws governing pregnancy. The 1967 Abortion Act is often claimed to have legalised “abortion on demand”. It didn’t. In practice, the 1967 Act modifies the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act sufficiently to allow most women who seek a termination to obtain one within the law under most circumstances – but to do so, a woman must convince two doctors that continuing the pregnancy would cause “grave permanent injury to [her] physical or mental health”. It’s not enough for her to simply say, “No, I do not want to have this baby”. Ever so subtly, our law starts from the position that the default outcome for all pregnant women should be motherhood: it’s left to each individual to persuade the medical authorities she is an exceptional case who should be allowed to determine the use of her own body.

Perhaps this doesn’t sound so terrible to you. Maybe you consider abortion a grave matter, one of such moral consequence that no woman alone should be able to make it for herself. After all, it is the end of human life – a foetus that would become a baby, then a child and then an adult before dying in its turn – and surely any decision that ends a human life is to be taken seriously. Except, all of us make decisions every day about whether or not to support other human lives with our own flesh, and most of us choose not to. For example: 96 per cent of us choose not to give blood even though we’re eligible to, and 68 per cent of us choose not to join the organ donor register. People die on waiting lists. And this is sad, but it’s also acceptable: no one is entitled to your blood or your organs unless you are generous enough to share them.

Read in full: My body, my choice: from now on, abortion rights must be fought for from first principles (Sarah Ditum, New Statesman)

Pic: sarahditum.com



As part of the Knickers for Enda campaign, you can put pen to panties paper and post your smalls to:

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Government Buildings
Merrion Street
Dublin 2

Give him a frill..

Speaking of Imelda (facebook)


The Pro Life Campaign held its national conference in the RDS on Saturday. One of the issues raised was media bias.

Caroline Simons, legal consultant for the Pro Life Campaign said:

“For over two years now, every time this issue comes up in the news there has been an almost exclusive focus on abortion. This is doing a massive disservice to women. How many women end up going for abortion in this situation having heard nothing whatsoever about the extraordinary support which perinatal hospice care offers to the mother and baby for whatever short length of time the baby may live? There is urgent need for more balance in this debate.”

Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro Life Campaign said:

A majority of people in this country consistently say that they want to keep a pro-life model in Ireland. Put simply: we’re not into ending lives here. We are into saving them. Recent polls claiming widespread support for abortion fail to take into account the fact that the evidence shows abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings. The Government ignored this when introducing abortion last year.”


According to today’s Irish Times, 68% are in favour of referendum in cases of rape or where the foetus will not be born alive.

Majority of voters want abortion law liberalised (Stephen Collins, Irish Times)

Previously: No Direction Home

Pic: The Scientist


Last night, Prime Time ran an item on TFMR (Terminations For Medical Reasons) with Katie Hannon revealing correspondence between the Master of the Rotunda Hospital Dr Sam Coulter-Smith and the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health highlighting safety concerns of women who travel to Britain for a termination and return to Ireland half-way through the procedure.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of The Life Institute described it “as abortion in the case of profound disability and the misinformation needs to be dealt with….where we’re talking about bringing in abortion because a child has a disability however profound.”

David McCullagh was then joined by Dr Peter Boylan of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street and solicitor Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign for the inevitable FIGHT.

Watch in full here.

Abortion: Medical concerns over new trend (Susan Mitchell, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: “Bad Law Makes Hard Cases”

When Dr Boylan Met Dr Kiely

Dr Peter Boylan and Breda O’Brien: The Transcript

“Would He Prefer For Both Of Them To Die?”




Greystones GP Dr Ciara Kelly and member of RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, writing in today’s Irish Independent outlines how her views on abortion have changed.

Like most people my age in Ireland, I was brought up in a pro-life household. My 12-year-old self accepted without question the explanation, that abortion was bad and I saw the tiny brass feet worn on jacket lapels in 1983 as cute rather than macabre.

Despite being otherwise liberal, I was slightly appalled when someone suggested to me that their solution to a theoretical, unplanned pregnancy was a flight to the UK. “Never,” I thought. My self-righteous teenage self believed that having a baby in every circumstance was the right thing to do.

I entered my 30s. I was now a GP and a parent. I’d four healthy children born into a loving home. I was lucky. But I saw many pregnant women who weren’t. Women on their own, unable to cope. Women who were sexually assaulted. Women with cancer. Women with foetal abnormalities. I saw the harsh reality that in a crisis pregnancy, there’s an incredibly private, personal and difficult choice to be made. I became, over those 20 years, pro-choice.

Because we don’t have ‘no abortion’ in Ireland, we merely import the service, by exporting our patients. This is a continuum of the treatment of women that saw mother and baby homes, forced adoptions, a ban on contraception and still, to this day, the mighty legal framework of the constitution imposed on what should be a deeply private and personal decision.

We wouldn’t force someone to donate an organ against their wishes, to save someone’s life – even if they were the only one who could save them. Because we respect a donor’s autonomy and right to choose. But that’s what we force on women: The legal right to life of one, at the expense of another’s body.

You will never convince me that an embryonic being is equal to a sentient grown woman. It’s like comparing an acorn to an oak tree. And I fail to understand why we’ve been so fixated on this single issue – but part of me feels it’s punitive. Feels it’s about punishing those ‘easy’ women, the way we’ve always done in this country. Heaping shame, misery and a good dose of guilt onto them Irish style. The way we’ve always done.

I’ve never been in the position where I needed to consider an abortion – lucky me. But not every woman is as lucky. And unless you walk in those shoes you shouldn’t get to decide about her body and her life. These women are not vessels to be forced into pregnancies against their wishes. They’re independent adult women who will likely agonise more about their decision than all those who lecture them.

It is for these reasons that I must add my voice to the increasing clamour to repeal the eighth amendment. A foetus is not equal to a grown woman and only a strange mind-set would think it was. The same mind-set that ironically would ban contraception but punish girls for unplanned pregnancies.

Dr Ciara Kelly: ‘The harsh facts that saw me change my mind on abortion’ (Irish Independent)

Previously: Critic Proof