Rockaway, N.J., USA, July 3, 2013 ( – For years Ireland has been a beacon of hope for pro-life activists worldwide, who have pointed to the country as an example of how the well-funded advances of the abortion lobby can be repelled by organized opposition, and how doing so actually enhances, rather than hurts women’s health. 

But now the Irish government has introduced a bill that would allow abortion in certain circumstances through all nine months of pregnancy, a move that local pro-life activists say is likely only the first step towards abortion on demand. 

The prospect of witnessing the Western world’s strongest holdout topple to legal abortion has motivated pro-life activists worldwide to rally to that country's defense. Now Irish Pro Life USA, a new faith-based grassroots movement of Catholic pro-life groups and supporters from across the United States, has announced a nine day worldwide prayer novena, starting on Monday July 8, for the safety of Ireland from legalized abortion. 

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As lawmakers in Ireland’s Oireachtas (Parliament) debate and prepare to cast their final votes on Ireland’s abortion bill, the American pro-lifers are warning that America’s long and tragic history of legalized abortion should be a wake up call to Irish politicians. 

Over 50 million babies have been aborted since the US Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling legalized abortion across America in 1973. However, the door was opened to Roe v. Wade over a decade earlier, when the American Law Institute proposed its “model penal code” for state abortion laws, which supported legalized abortion in cases that included the mental health of the mother. 

“Simply put, this global novena is about saving thousands of innocent lives,” said. Fr.  Father Shenan J. Boquet, President of Human Life International in Virginia. “This is a critical time for the people of Ireland, and for the world. Make no mistake, those wishing to eliminate legal protections for the unborn in every country are watching the situation in Ireland very carefully. Please join in prayer during these nine days for Ireland to remain abortion free.”

“Pro-Life America stands beside pro-life Ireland at this defining moment in their history,” said Dr. Pat Castle, co-founder and president of LIFE Runners of America, the world’s largest pro-life running group. “We urge the Irish government to reject this abortion bill and to defend the sanctity of human life. This bill would change the culture of Life in Ireland, permitting the intentional murder of an unborn Irish child.”

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C.J. Doyle, executive director of The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said: “Forty years of legal abortion in America has resulted in dead children, damaged women, demographic decline and a host of restrictions on civil rights and religious freedom. It would be a heart-rending tragedy for Ireland to imitate the failed policies of the United States and United Kingdom. We welcome and support the novena.”

Wall Street consultant Jack Hughes, a member of Irish Pro Life USA, said he is pleased to promote and spread the novena in his native Philadelphia. Hughes is well-known in Wall Street circles. He served until 2008 as senior vice president and director of Capital Markets at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia attracted international media attention recently with the gruesome case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He is the abortion provider who was found guilty of killing babies by cutting their spinal chords with a scirrors. Hughes and his wife, over the course of 17 years, opened their home to nearly two dozen children who needed support, and they adopted three. Jack Hughes said he is praying that Ireland will reject The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

“Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby, much safer than the US or Britain where abortion has been legal for decades,” said Marcella Taggert, a native of Dublin who trained as a nurse and midwife in Ireland and who now lives in Rockaway, N.J. “I have also worked as a hospice nurse and I can see the sacredness of all human life- from conception to natural death,” added Taggert, a supporter of Irish Pro Life USA. “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill will make lawful the direct and intentional killing of the unborn.”

Irish Pro Life USA spokesman John Aidan Byrne, a native of Ardee, Co. Louth, who emigrated to the United Stated over 25 years ago, said the support shown for the novena and for keeping Ireland free of abortion was heartening.

“We encourage people worldwide to pray the novena and to stop this unacceptable bill,” said Byrne who is also a member of St. Cecilia’s Pro Life Ministry in Rockaway, N.J., and leads the local chapter of LIFE Runners. “This is not a so-called restrictive bill as An Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, claims,” he added. “Abortion is a terrible and unethical procedure for suicidal ideation in pregnant women. The mother is further harmed and an unborn child is deliberately killed.”

Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue, Ph.D., Prefect of Studies, at Redemptoris Mater House of Formation in the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, said he and his fellow Irish pro-lifers are pleased by news of the novena.

“As Ireland faces the dreadful prospect of legalized abortion under the pro-abortion Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, prayer and faith are essential to stop this. The worldwide novena being promoted by Pro-Life supporters and groups across the United States is, therefore, very welcome and timely,” he said.

Fr. Neil, a native of Ballincollig, Co. Cork, Ireland, was recently reassigned to Ireland from the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, where he served at Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in Kearny, N.J. He was an ordained in Newark in the year 2000 and was based there until June, 2013.

Fr. Neil travelled by car through the night from Kearny to support the Vigil outside Boston College. It was organized by Students of Life for America to protest the honors conferred by Boston College, a Catholic university, on Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Fr. Neil led the vigil in prayer.