31 days to go….Mass appeal… Who launched inclusion Ireland’s pro-repeal campaign (part 1)?

31 days to go…. to Ireland’s abortion referendum on whether or not to retain or repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution which gives equal right to life to mother and child.

Inclusion Ireland 4 people
Dr. Mark Murphy, Minister Finian McGrath, Inclusion Ireland C.E.O. Paddy Connolly and Suzy Byrne.


Every day, we promote Sr. Briege McKenna (O.S.C.) ‘s appeal for prayers, fasting and Masses to be said privately or publicly in parishes in reparation for Ireland’s turning from God, conversions of heart and for protection of the 8th amendment. There is nothing greater than the Mass. (See home page for links)



Inclusion Ireland the advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities, launched Ireland’s pro repeal campaign one week ago. This is an extract from radio station Newstalk 106’s website:

Disability rights activists say the Eighth Amendment is about more than abortion for the women they represent.

Disability organisation Inclusion Ireland has joined forces with the ‘Together For Yes’ campaign to call for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum.

They say that the Eighth Amendment creates additional barriers to care, including inaccessible travel options for those who may need abortion services.

Disability rights campaigner Suzy Byrne says some disabled women are told not to get pregnant.

She explained: “The Eighth Amendment is about an awful lot more than terminating a pregnancy when it comes to people with disabilities.

“People are told ‘don’t get pregnant because there’s nothing we can do to help you’. Then contraception may not work in certain circumstances depending on your condition – you may not be able to take medication because it may affect other medication that you have.”

She says travelling to the UK for some physically disabled women is sometimes not an option – and even if it is, it’s a logistical nightmare.

“The tube in London is not accessible… so there were taxis involved, a hotel involved… and the psychological impact is huge,” she observed.(1)

Suzy Byrne is a disability rights, L.G.B.T. and feminist activist and writer of an award winning blog: http://www.mamanpoulet.com. She was previously and publicly critical of Minister Finian McGrath in September 2017 in an Irish Times article entitled ‘Both sides of abortion debate abuse existence of people with disabilities’ (2): for only representing the views of carers and family members rather than the views of those with disabilities themselves. While the title of the article calls out both sides of the debate on using / abusing those with disabilites for their agendas and while she also complains about disability being used for right to die moves, she does come down on one side of the argument the way the Irish Times report it:

“Disabled women are hugely affected by the Eighth Amendment. Disabled women are not seen as sexual, not allowed control over their bodies when giving birth.”

Whatever about advocacy for the right to control how to give birth, the issue of taking the life of a developing baby is not given an mention.

Notably, she had previously also signed her name to a letter to the Irish Times 22nd January this year (3) by disability rights group: Repeal 8, which addressed (didn’t deny mind) any claims that people with disabilities would be more likely to be aborted as follows:

“concerns about pregnancy terminations on grounds of fetal impairment and anticipated disabilities are better addressed through ensuring that women and girls receive non-directive counselling following prenatal screening and access to pregnancy-related information that enables them to make informed choices and to prepare for caring for and supporting a child with a disability, as well as social and financial support for families raising children with disabilities”

This in spite of the 90% abortion rates of Down Syndrome babies in those who receive positive screening results in the UK and Germany.  (100% rates in Iceland and > 95% in Denmark) and that’s before N.I.P.T. / non-invasive pre natal testing is rolled out in the U.K., (which is now happening) which will permit Down Syndrome in particular to be predicted with an accuracy of 99% on a blood test from week 10 on.  Repeal 8 continued:

“With this in mind and based on the recommendation of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), Ireland should avoid enshrining into law a specific “disability exemption” because it tends to suggest that the law devalues the lives of people with disabilities. However, the UNCRPD does not allow the promotion of disability rights at the expense of women’s human rights and reproductive freedom. Rather, these should be pursued in tandem. This can be achieved through not only ensuring women have access to abortion, but that they have access to pregnancy-related information, including prenatal testing. Following receipt of testing results, women should receive accurate, non-directive counselling that works against disability-based stigma and discrimination, and informs women about the means of and support for caring for a child with a disability, as referenced earlier.”

Repeal 8 and Suzy Byrne, do not want any positive or negative discrimination in relation to the lives of unborn babies with disabilities. They do not want any additional protection or ground in the law exempting babies with disabilities as this is deemed to be discriminatory to the disabled who are being singled out for protection from abortion over non-disabled babies. They also feel it’s discriminatory to women in general, whom they feel need to receive non-directive counselling “that works against stigma” that allows them to decide on whether or not to keep a disabled baby like any other baby. Disabled rights must not trump women’s rights. And that is according to this coalition of disability rights activists. As long as there isn’t overt stigma against disability in any non-directive counselling a woman receives presumably, her right to choose trumps any right of the unborn baby, able bodied or disabled.

In one sense, this is coherent  / consistent as it at least calls out a hypocrisy in the Irish government proposals to exempt Down Syndrome abortions so as not to be seen publicly to be discriminatory to the disabled (which was a cynical move to get repeal over the line even though Down’s babies will not be exempted as no ban exists on Down Syndrome abortions, making the lack of a ground utterly meaningless as in the German model).

The pro -life position also would hold that ability or disability in the developing baby should not be grounds to abort by virtue of that little human being’s inherent dignity for his or her own sake. The position of the government if repeal happens, though mendacious,  as Down’s babies will be aborted mid-trimester on mental health risk grounds (no ground, no ban means no protection: can’t overstate this enough), was giving the lie that Down’s babies were getting extra protection while remarkably deeming ‘normal’ babies at similar gestations not worthy of a right to an exemption. Why?  By virtue of not having a disability. But that is the lie. If a woman mid trimester approaches two nominated family planning doctors stating inability to cope which is the mental health risk ground, what are the chances I.F.P.A. doctors will turn an abortion request down whether the baby is able bodied or not?

Mad stuff.

However at least for the purposes of the Inclusion repeal launch,(4), Suzy Byrne and the minister joined forces and at least overtly got over their differences. Or perhaps Minister Finian McGrath, was instrumental in inviting her to launch the campaign to smooth over previous differences.

(1): https://www.newstalk.com/Disability-organisation-Inclusion-Ireland-joins-Together-For-Yes-campaign-

(2): https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/both-sides-of-abortion-debate-abuse-existence-of-people-with-disabilities-1.3231980https://www.repealeight.ie/eighth-amendment-disability/

(3):  https://www.repealeight.ie/eighth-amendment-disability/

(4): https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/disability-group-backs-repeal-of-eighth-amendment-1.3463423

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