Abortion has always been a contentious issue, and there is still a debate raging between three sides to this day: pro-choice, pro-life, and then those in the middle, who are unsure what to think. Debating is of course a good thing, and encourages people to think about situations differently, however the abortion one has always been dangerous, because of the possibility of leanings towards propaganda. This was epitomised by an Irish Times investigation into what exactly children are learning about abortion in schools in Ireland.
The results are quite astonishing. Across this country, various organisations go into schools to explain abortion to children. The Irish Times spoke to a woman who claimed that she and her classmates had been told stories about women who got abortions. All of these stories ended in misery and damnation for the woman involved. Even more chilling is the description that was offered to children of a secondary school in Tallaght, Dublin. They were shown a video clip of Dr. Tony Levatino explaining how the limbs, organs and brain of the foetus are removed after the abortion. The evidence, as outlined in The Irish Times piece, just keeps mounting. Children are being offered a pro-life view on abortion in schools across this country.
And then, with shock, I realised that I too had been a victim of this pro-life message in school. I had completely forgotten about the experience until reading The Irish Times piece.
I attended a Catholic ethos secondary school. The intention of my secondary school was that it catered for people of all kinds of backgrounds and religions, however it was clearly predominantly Catholic in its outlook. My school was by no means a bad school, and I always received a fair and balanced education on matters such as sexual health and morality.
On the downside, as a Catholic school, and as a ‘Catholic’ student, I was compelled to take part in various religious activities. When I was a teenager, I decided that I was going to disassociate myself from the Catholic religion, but because I was registered as a Catholic, and had been baptised, I was considered to be within that religion by my school. One of these activities was going to a religious based event with the rest of my year group when I was about sixteen or seventeen.
My main recollection is that there was a lot of music, and there were inspirational words as well. We were privileged enough to hear the experiences of a recovering alcoholic that day. And then the priest who had organised the event stood up. He too was full of wise words on various things, and was a compelling public speaker. But then he moved on to his abortion speech.
I won’t repeat in detail the description that we were given of abortion; I don’t even remember the complete story myself. But I do remember feeling horrified, and petrified, and repulsed at the story of how a baby survived being aborted, and grew up to live with the scars for the rest of her life. She had been found in the bin of the hospital. This was, of course, presented as divine intervention, rather than poor practice on the part of the medical professional who carried out the procedure. I have no proof or evidence that this story was a true one, other than that priest’s word.
We were only a large group of frightened children, really. I remember how affected we all were, as we listened to his story. People were terrified. And that was our lesson – if you get an abortion, you are committing an atrocity equal to murder.
Looking back, I believe that it is shocking that such a graphic story was told to a group of teenagers. I wonder why parents didn’t react, or complain to the school. I questioned this even more when I learned that this same speech had been given to both of my sisters in the years gone by, who had also gone through that school.
As the investigation by the Irish Times explains, the school is not the place for one-sided and frightening information to be relayed to students. Abortion should be breached and explained to students by teachers who neither condemn nor condone such a practice. Give the children the information, and let them decide for themselves what they think.