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DUBLIN, February 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life groups have reacted with outrage after the Irish Times newspaper claimed this weekend that high school pupils are being mislead on women’s medical issues by pro-life speakers.

Irish Times reporter Peter McGuire opened his piece this Saturday with the claim that “teachers and outside agencies such as Life Pregnancy Care and Family & Life” are teaching high school students that “a rape victim can’t become pregnant. Abortion damages a woman’s internal organs. Abortion destroys a woman’s mental health.”

McGuire said the Times had interviewed “14 students, five other under-25s, and a parent,” who “reported encountering anti-abortion messages at school.”

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One student, whose name the paper redacted, said that  “the speaker told the class that a woman who has had an abortion may feel that she is being punished if, in later pregnancies, she suffers a miscarriage. She says the speaker also told them that women can feel suicidal and may harm themselves after abortions.”

McGuire went on to hint darkly that pro-life groups such as Youth Defence are violating the country’s rules demanding that schools give only accurate “objective” information about sex and reproduction.

McGuire quoted “Sarah” directly: “The speaker presented one anecdotal story of a woman who had an abortion in her early 20s, got married around the age of 30, got pregnant and then had a breakdown and had her child taken away from her,” says Sarah. “Then she told another story, similar to that, about a woman who got pregnant and aborted again because she didn’t feel she deserved to have a child.”

Niamh Uí Bhriain, head of the Life Institute, confirmed that the outside speakers schools bring in for civic, social and political education (CSPE) classes, as well as sex and health education, have included pro-life speakers and medical professionals who talk about abortion and related topics.

The piece, she speculated, may have been payback for the embarrassment the paper suffered when pro-life advocates revealed that their coverage of the Savita Halappanavar case, which helped launch the country’s successful push to legalize abortion, was based on unreliable reporting. The paper’s pro-abortion campaigning was laid bare by Youth Defence who revealed that the original story covering Savita’s death was held until a strategic moment to add fuel to the fires of pro-abortion demonstrations.

Later, the lead writer on the story, Kitty Holland, admitted that there “may have been no request” for a “termination” made either by Savita or her husband before she died of sepsis. The story that Savita died because she had “been refused a termination,” later repudiated by the medical inquest, swept around the globe and caused an international furor that included demands from India’s ambassador to Ireland to legalize abortion. The original story, however, was never corrected or removed by the Times.

The Times was later forced to print a retraction when it claimed in September 2013 that the first “legal abortions” had been conducted in Ireland.

Commenting on Saturday’s article, Uí Bhriain told LifeSiteNews.com that the Irish Times now had a serious case to answer. “This claim was clearly meant to paint pro-life groups in the worst possible light, and the article was written by a commentator who has very clearly shown his opposition to pro-life and pro-family groups in the past,” she said.

“Whipping up hatred against pro-life groups and individuals is a real consequence of this kind of misreporting. The Irish Times needs to clarify whether this was the intended consequence and it needs to apologize.”

Youth Defence, one of Ireland’s busiest and most successful pro-life education and advocacy groups, which trains young people to make the case based on established medical science, reacted with outrage, calling the story “utterly extraordinary.”

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“Clearly the claim – made in the first line of the opening paragraph – was meant to create the worst possible impression of pro-life groups and to stir up opposition and anger.”

A Times editor reacted on Twitter, saying the article had “made it clear that the piece covered teachers and outside groups,” but this has done nothing to assuage pro-lifers’ anger.

“This weak justification does not stand up to scrutiny,” Youth Defence responded. “The first paragraph opens up with this shocking claim and names two pro-life groups. But the article never returns to the claim. It never states that a teacher made this statement. It never clarifies that no pro-life group made such a statement.”

McGuire accuses pro-life speakers of telling students “that, in some countries, abortions are conducted right up to term, and that as the baby crowns they ‘crack its skull’.” The speaker, he said, also asserted, in accordance with the findings of human embryology, that human life begins at the moment of fertilization. That assertion, he said, made “Sarah” “feel silenced.”

McGuire implies, but never says, that the information given by the unnamed speakers was inaccurate, adding instead that the government prohibits schools from using “scare tactics”. He writes, “Life Pregnancy Care is one of the participants in the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme’s Positive Options scheme,” who are “obliged to provide nondirective, medically accurate counselling that discusses all possible options, including keeping the baby, adoption or foster care, and travelling abroad for an abortion. They are prohibited from presenting medically false information.”

A quick search, however, will show that much of the information McGuire paints as inaccurate is factual or heavily supported by research. Abortions can be conducted legally up to the last moment of a healthy pregnancy in Canada, and with the suspicion of “severe fetal abnormality” in the US and Britain without a gestational time limit. A brief examination of the medical and legal literature will also show that what is given is a crude but accurate description of a so-called “dilation and extraction” or “D&X” abortion in which the child’s skull is pierced and its contents removed before it is crushed and removed from the mother’s body.

A description of this gruesome procedure, known in the US as a “partial birth” abortion, was given to a US court in 1997 by late-term abortion specialist LeRoy Carhart. So horrific is the procedure that many had difficulty believing it is real when described in blunt terms by doctors. When Fianna Fáil Senator Jim Walsh read aloud in Ireland’s parliament a description of the procedure by former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino, Walsh’s fellow TDs reacted with outrage, calling it “inappropriate,” “over the top” and “fear-mongering.”

The mental and physical harms of abortion on the women undergoing them are also well documented in many peer-review scientific journals, though it is often repudiated by the abortion-friendly medical establishment and media. In 2006, a New Zealand study of 500 women found that young women who have abortions subsequently experience elevated rates of suicidal behaviors, depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and other mental problems.

In 2010, the University of Manitoba published a study that analyzed data from departments of psychology and psychiatry, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. They found that abortion was associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and suicide attempts.

In 2011, a study financed by the pro-abortion Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation found that women in Denmark who have abortions are far more likely to seek psychiatric help. Titled “Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder,” and published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the analysis of Danish medical records covered the years 1995-2007.

Last July, research conducted at the University of Siena, Italy found a statistically significant link between abortion and subsequent mental illnesses like depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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