Members of the Midland Life Network held a rally outside the arts centre in Mullingar on Saturday morning.

Rally for Life urges all to #ReThinkAbortion

Pro-life volunteers in Mullingar held one of 55 ‘Rallies for Life’ on Saturday urging the public and TDs to #ReThinkAbortion following the release of figures from the HSE last week.

“We were promised – voters were promised – that abortion would be ‘rare’ post-repeal, but for the second year in a row, we have seen a huge rise in the number of abortions carried out in contrast to when abortion was illegal in Ireland,” said Raymond McIntyre of the Midland Life Network, who helped to organise the rally in Mullingar.

The organisers described the rallies as a “witnesses to the need to stand for life, and to continue to protect both mother and baby, especially in the light of what had been revealed about abortion in Ireland, including late-term abortions and the disturbing rise in the number of abortions”.

People attending the rally held signs showing the number of abortions reported to date. Figures released last week showed that 6,577 abortions were carried out in Ireland in 2020. The 2019 total was 6,666

The figures are from the 2020 annual report into the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act.

Mr McIntyre said the 2020 figure for Westmeath was 108 and for Longford it was 52.

“This shocking rise in the abortion rate, with twice as many women undergoing abortion here as previously travelled, is indicative of the government’s complete lack of interest in reducing the number of abortions taking place,” said Mr McIntyre .

“The reality is that abortion is anything but rare, and the abortion campaign’s mantra in the Referendum campaign of 2018 that abortion would be ‘safe, legal and rare’ really rings hollow in the face of these shocking figures.”

The rallies also sought to highlight that late-term abortions are taking place in Ireland, despite assurances by abortion campaigners that that would never happen.

Local activists described the late-term abortions as terribly “cruel” and drew attention to the efforts of Deputies Peadar Tóibín and Carol Nolan to introduce a ‘Foetal Pain Relief bill’ in the Dáil in May.

Mr McIntyre also pointed to the recent case in the National Maternity Hospital in which a baby, named baby Christopher by his parents, was ‘terminated’ after a misdiagnosis as evidence that steps needed to be taken to ensure parents were not pressured into having an abortion.

“Unfortunately stories like the baby Christopher case are not unique,” said Mr McIntyre. “Over the last few years, attending meetings and rallies, I have heard first hand from parents similar stories of lack of any real support for life affirming options when they receive the news of their baby being diagnosed with a ‘life limiting condition’ in the womb,” he added.

The rally in Mullingar on Saturday morning included a silent reflection on the “lives lost and the lives touched by abortion” in County Westmeath during 2020. As attendees lit 108 candles and placed them one by one to spell out that number, they were asked to reflect silently on the significance of each individual candle representing a human life and the women, men and families involved in each case.

People, generally, are also being asked to support all the local initiatives that offer life affirming support to women and families experiencing a challenging pregnancy.

The number of abortions carried out in Westmeath last year was 108, represented at the rally by a candle display.