Trigger Warning: This article discusses abortion and the pro-life movement, and contains images of propaganda posters that some readers may find upsetting.
On Friday 25th May, Ireland will hold a referendum on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the constitution. The Eighth Amendment, in short, removes bodily autonomy from uterus-owners once they become pregnant.
For over a month, posters from both the YES and NO side have been erected all across towns, cities and villages throughout Ireland. However, while the VOTE YES campaign chose to base their movement on compassion, care and bodily autonomy, the VOTE NO chose to go a more aggressive route.
Not one Save the Eighth poster uses the word ‘foetus’. In fact, it’s a word that the campaign tends to avoid. Regardless of the gestational age, so-called pro-lifers always refer to the zygote or foetus as a baby.
Some posters even go so far as to have pictures of actual babies, wrapped up like a burrito, or sleeping soundly, in order to guilt individuals into equating a foetus with a rosy-cheeked, chubby, adorable, living, breathing baby.
Other posters state that abortion is murder and use the loaded phrase “abortion on demand”, and “LICENCE TO KILL.” This is despite the fact that abortion on demand isn’t a thing, anywhere. People have abortions because they need them, be it for health, socio-economic or other highly personal reasons. No one just pops out in their lunch break and gets an abortion on a whim.
The locations of these posters are no accident either. They have been strategically placed on school routes, outside pre-schools and nurseries, and, on at least one occasion, a “LICENCE TO KILL” poster was tied to the fence of Glasnevin cemetery.
All over Dublin especially, many graphic posters have been erected opposite schools, outside maternity hospitals and along the tourist traps. Each location has been chosen specifically in an attempt to elicit an emotional response, and yet, no one from the Save the Eighth campaign condemned the positioning of these posters.
It should come as no surprise that the pro-life crowd are not above targeting the vulnerable. An anti-choice group targeted three of Dublin’s maternity hospitals, by harassing and attacking patients with banners containing graphic imagery of a dismembered foetus.
That wasn’t enough though. Pro-birth groups invaded pro-choice rallies and handed out foetus dolls, heckling the speakers and making people feel unsafe. These dolls have also been handed out to children on the street, if their accompanying adult happens to wear a Ta badge.
Oh did you think that we were done? We’re not. Because spitting at women in REPEAL jumpers in the street isn’t quite extreme enough for the anti-choice side, they decided to write the word “NO” in giant letters on a mountain. Think like the Hollywood sign, but with a lot less charm and a lot more hatred for equality.
Then to top it all off, the ‘Love Both’ crowd decided to line the roads of Donegal with hundreds of tiny white crosses, because what’s a hazard to road safety when you’re on a cruel crusade?
But the tactics of the Save the Eighth campaign aren’t just dubious, they’re downright immoral. Their posters and campaigns aren’t just emotive, they’re full of out-and-out lies. They trot out stats like “In Britain, one in five babies are aborted,” despite the fact that the statistics they use don’t take into account miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or spontaneous abortions.
One poster reads “I am nine weeks old. I can yawn and kick. Don’t repeal me,” even though so-called ‘kicking’ is an uncontrolled reflex, and movement can’t be controlled until around six months. Another reads “If killing an unborn baby at six months bothers you, vote no,” even though the legislation proposed by the Oireachtas would only allow abortion up to 12 weeks, unless there was a risk to health, life, or a fatal foetal abnormality.
Combine outright lies and emotional manipulation with the revelation that the majority of the Save the Eighth’s funding came from US and UK-based pro-life groups, and it’s clear that the No campaign’s tactics aren’t just morally questionable, they’re abhorrent.
The referendum in Ireland was always going to be an emotional one, whatever side you fell on. But while Together for Yes has focused on facts and the lived-experiences of pregnant people throughout Ireland, Love Both has resorted to outright propaganda that’s propped up with graphic images and complete and utter lies.
Save the Eighth claims to ‘Love Both’, but their campaigning proves that they don’t have an ounce of compassion or love in them.