There’s nothing the pro-life campaign loves more than reasoned and civil debate, right? Sometimes it feels like we hear more about how mean the pro-choice side are than any actual arguments for maintaining the 8th Amendment.
Just look at accusations of bullying being levelled at the democratic campaign to impeach the UCD Students’ Union President, or unsubstantiated claims that pro-life events were cancelled by hotels after threats by pro-choice campaigners.
It’s clear to see that those against repealing the 8th wish to portray themselves as calm, reasonable and polite, while insisting that the opposite is true for those who support wider abortion access.
Unfortunately for them, this pretence falls apart once you actually examine the behaviour of anti-choice individuals.
Case and point is the behaviour of Senator Ronan Mullen, a prominent pro-life activist and a member of the Oireachtas committee currently examining the 8th amendment. Mullen’s involvement in the committee has thus far consisted of him berating guest speakers and throwing tantrums over the “bias” of his fellow committee members.
His antics have included: leaving the committee with Mattie McGrath to go and take pictures with pro-life campaigners, making aggressive verbal attacks on guest speakers from the World Health Organisation, and threatening to resign from the committee over the disproportionate number of pro-choice speakers vs. pro-life speakers.
He lashed out at the Chairwoman of the committee, Senator Catherine Noone, complaining that he hadn’t been given enough time for his questions. In fact, he has often been given more time than other committee members and has only been cut off when his ranting impedes on the time needed by the speakers to answer those questions.
On the balance of speakers, the facts are that Mullen had every opportunity to call forward pro-life advocates to address the committee, and none of his suggestions were rejected. In reality, he paints medical experts who argue that the 8th is a threat to women’s health as “abortion advocates” when in reality they are giving an honest opinion from a medical viewpoint.
Mullen clearly has no interest in actually examining the evidence relevant to this debate, as the Citizens’ Assembly did. When the experts stand up and say that the 8th is harmful, he either shouts them down or leaves the room. Surely we expect more from an elected representative in a democratic country?
Mullen’s behaviour truly show up the hypocrisy of the rhetoric used by pro-life campaigners. They want to muzzle their opponents, to police the language and tactics used by those looking to make abortion in Ireland safe and legal.
However, when it’s their turn to speak the gloves come off. Mullen is a prime example of how they will be as aggressive and rude as they want to be. They will bully and shout and do everything they can to try and stop this debate from happening at all.
And they will do all of this while complaining that pro-choice campaigners are being mean to them. Three words, Mullen: Pot, Kettle, Black.
Image by Mark Carroll