DUBLIN, June 10, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Forty thousand people marched in opposition to the Irish government’s abortion bill at the National Vigil for Life this Saturday in the centre of Dublin. According to organizers this made the Vigil for Life the largest pro-life gathering in Ireland’s history. 

Carrying a huge banner reading, “Pro-woman, Pro-baby, Pro-life,” the marchers said they wanted to send a message to Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the coalition government that public opposition to proposed abortion legislation will not “simply go away.” 

The government intends to vote in proposed abortion legislation, called the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, in July. 

Rebecca Roughneen of Youth Defence told LifeSiteNews.com that Saturday’s rally was a sign that the fight against the bill has been broadly successful, at least as far as generating public antipathy. 

“[Prime Minister] Enda Kenny is saying it’s the ‘protection of life,’ bill, about saving lives, but in reality it’s about killing babies,” Roughneen said. “Irish women are already safe here. The fact is, he’s trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, and they’re not being deceived.”

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Asked whether she thought the rally would send a message to the government, Roughneen was less optimistic. “No. Kenny is ignoring it.” Thousands of attendees at the vigil signed a “pro-life pledge” which included a promise never to vote for Enda Kenny again.

The government's bill would legalise abortion through all nine months of pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk, or if she threatens suicide.

Irish pro-life activists say that the bill is unnecessary, since Irish law already allows doctors to perform medical procedures that may unintentionally cause the death of an unborn child, if doing so is necessary to save the mother’s life. They also say that there is no evidence that abortion is necessary to treat a mother who is suicidal, adding that the suicide exception will likely only open the door to widespread abuse.

The rally was organised by Pro-Life Campaign, whose spokesman, Cora Sherlock, called “meaningless” the government’s repeated assurances that the bill is “restrictive.”

“The only thing that matters,” Sherlock said, “is what is contained in the Bill, and what it provides for is abortion on potentially very wide ranging grounds throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy.”

She added, “It is shameful the way some members of government have started calling the bill pro-life. How can anyone possibly say the bill is pro-life when it allows the direct targeting of the life of the unborn child, based on a threat of suicide where there is no medical evidence whatsoever to justify it?” 

Sherlock added, “If the Government’s proposed legislation were about safeguarding the lives of pregnant women we would all be supporting it. However, it is about something entirely different.

“What is being proposed is certainly not pro-woman or pro-baby; it is about opening the door to abortion. More and more, people are starting to realise that.”