Prominent American “pro-life” figure Rebecca Kiessling is currently touring Northern Ireland at the invite of Bernadette Smyth’s Precious Life group. Her visit takes place against the backdrop of the election of Donald Trump as US President, who has said women should face “some form of punishment” for having an abortion.

On this, all five main parties at Stormont are agreed with Trump. None support a woman’s right to choose. They preside over a legal framework which has criminalised women for accessing abortion pills, exercising the right to control their own bodies. Kiessling’s visit is aimed at propping up the cruel, ineffective, unpopular and hypocritical status quo.

The fact that some principals in secondary education and successive Education Ministers – both Sinn Féin and DUP – think it acceptable for groups like Precious Life to spout their propaganda in the classroom, especially when pro-choice groups are excluded, speaks volumes. They are condoning this group’s thuggish harassment of women seeking medical advice and assistance.

Precious Life do not provide factual information. They engage in emotional blackmail, manipulation and outright lies. They stigmatise women who choose to have a termination. They undermine young people’s right to have a serious, secular and rounded-out discussion about sex, relationships and reproductive choices.

Amnesty International’s recent poll shows that most people in Northern Ireland support full decriminalisation of abortion, with large majorities supporting the right to access terminations in cases of sexual crime and fatal foetal abnormality. Why, then, are figures like Kiessling and Precious Life – whose views represent a minority – given access to speak in schools unchallenged when those who speak for the majority are excluded?

 

Taken from a letter to the editor of the Belfast Telegraph from Courtney Robinson