The Dublin Abortion Rights Group [DARG] today held a protest at the 'International Pro-Life Conference' being organised by the anti-choice group Youth Defence. The aim of the protest was to highlight the silence and fear imposed on Irish women by extremist groups such as Youth Defence.
Aileen O Carroll, a DARG spokesperson, said:
" The lack of political opposition to Youth Defence in the past few years has encouraged these moral fundamendalists to attack family planning clinics. In Dublin they have staged invasions of the IFPA and Marie Stopes clinics and assaulted staff. In the North the intimidation activities of 'Precious Life', the Northern branch of Youth Defence, has led to the closure of the Ulster Pregnancy Advisory Association. Pro-choice activists must stand up for our reproductive rights against this group of anti-woman bigots.'
In holding this conference Youth Defence have brought over 80 American activists for meetings in Dublin and Belfast. The keynote speaker is Joe Scheidler, the leader of the 'Pro-Life Action League', who was the architect of the violent 'Operation Rescue' campaign in America in the early '90s. Scheidler has been fined $3 million after being convicted of using threats of violence to prevent women visiting abortion clinics in the US.
The DARG spokesperson continued:
" The ongoing links between Youth Defence and violent anti-abortion fringe groups internationally is a serious cause of concern. Joe Scheidler's book, 'Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion', is being used as a handbook for the planning of Youth Defence actions in Ireland. When Rev. Pat Mahony, a US activist, came to Ireland last March he led a violent attack on the IFPA clinic in Cathal Brugha St., he is also in Dublin this weekend to speak at the conference. We have more than enough home grown bigots without importing American ones to inflame the latest abortion debate in Ireland.'
The Dublin Abortion Rights Group has a policy to promote pro-choice views and to campaign for provision of free, safe and legal abortion services to be made available to women in Ireland. We refuse to be intimidated into silence by fundamentalist groups such as Youth Defence.
* See Appendix for a history of Youth Defence Activities
* An information pack on Joe Scheidler is available &endash; contact firstname.lastname@example.org