Here's what people attending a 'Stand Up for Life' march in Cork at the weekend had to say

By Olivia Kelleher

Among the crowd who gathered at a "Stand up for Life" rally at the Grand Parade on Saturday to voice their opposition to repealing the eighth amendment were people from very diverse backgrounds and age groups.

Among them was 19-year-old Caolan Curran from Douglas in Cork who said he was vehemently opposed to abortion.

"I came because I am a Christian so I am religious. Quite a few of my friends are passionate about it. A lot of people don't realise that once we hand over the (say) we are not getting it back. It is no longer our say anymore.

"I think we are being lied to. A lot of politicians it is very clear what they think in this situation. If we give it to them we know what is going to happen. People don't fully understand the implications."

Caolan said some teenagers are "very hostile" to discussions around abortion issues and people are often "set in their ways."

"But there have been times where I have had conversations over tea at home. A lot of people are open to discussing it."

Mother Siobhan Lane from Blarney, Co Cork said she believed the Government should be putting money in to supports in crisis pregnancy situations.

"I have a son with Down Syndrome, Levi, who is going to be seven next week. I think supports need to be put in to situations where they have what they call a 'crisis pregnancy.'

"I think if we are going to have a debate we need a debate that is fair. The posters that have been defaced is not fair. To say that it is for women's health is not fair because there are children that are dying. The children who are here should be funded not taxpayer money going in to abortion.

"I am very uneasy that it is being left to politicians. If you look at how many politicians have changed their minds even before this debate. There are quotes out there from Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney and Micheal Martin about being pro life and now they want to say that they are still pro life but want to bring this in."

Supporters pictured at a rally on Grand Parade, Cork at the weekend organised by the LoveBoth for the Stand Up For Life campaign ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Pensioner Joe O'Leary from Kinsale, Co Cork said he was "uncomfortable" with the idea of abortion being introduced in to Ireland. He said "our mothers and fathers gave us a chance" and that he would like to think that future generations would get the "same chance."

"I think the media are very one sided. I was at the rally and there was about 100,000 people at it and it got very little coverage. If that was for abortion it would have got more coverage. The other side seems to be more aggressive than the pro life movement. You are not cool now for not following the liberal agenda. I am attending the rallies to show support."

Among the speakers at the rally was Mary Kenny who found herself unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 19 in 2013. Ms Kenny, who is from Limerick, said she immediately decided that abortion was the only answer.

"Anyone who knew me at the time was well aware that I never wanted children, I was not what you would call a maternal young woman and the thoughts of a child crashing into my life in nine months was something I wasn’t going to allow, and it’s my body my choice right?"

Mary decided to travel to England to have an abortion and was left "frantic" when she realised that her passport had expired. She ordered abortion pills online but they never arrived.

Mary said she received support from a work colleague after she broke down in tears to her.

"I told her how I had been feeling. I told her of my plans to travel, of the hopelessness I’d been feeling, that I felt my life was over.

"What she told me I will never forget. She told me that although she had a family, all of her children were adopted because she was unable to become pregnant naturally.

"She told me that so many women would give their right arm for what I had growing inside of me right now. She reminded me of the strong young woman I was and that this would not ruin me. At that time, those words of encouragement were all I needed to hear."

Ms Kenny said the eighth amendment gave her time to think about the issue at hand.

"Our 8th Amendment is precious, and so is life. We ought to fight for this right to life amendment and celebrate it before it’s too late."

Meanwhile, Bernadette Goulding who had an abortion at the age of nineteen said it was a life changing experience.

Ms Goulding, of the abortion recovery support group, Rachel's Vineyard, said she suffered depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-hatred and low self-esteem in the aftermath of her abortion.

Ms Goulding also warned that men are being alienated in the abortion debate.

"I have met so many men who are deeply damaged by abortion. I have heard the stories of men who suffer from depression, anxiety self hatred and shame and broken relationships and lives.

"They suffer deep regret over an abortion they made have paid for, an abortion they had no control over or an abortion they forced their partner to have with a threat of abandonment."

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