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Pro-lifers protest as the Irish government announces the abortion referendum language on International Women's Day Save the 8th
K.V. Turley

Opinion

Irish media supports pro-abortion referendum while absurdly trying to appear balanced

K.V. Turley

March 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Irish media’s major players are almost all liberal, and, to varying degrees, backing a ‘yes’ vote on repealing the constitutional protection of the unborn. The media’s main problem is that it has to appear to be even-handed while backing the repeal. 

The Irish mainstream media must give coverage to events such as the pro-life march held on 10 March 2018 or be open to the charge of biased reporting in the ongoing debate. 

So the pro-life march was covered.

The Irish Times carried a picture – slightly blurred – of the marchers passing through Dublin.  The main banner at the front of the march appeared in the photograph both tangled and hard to read. The picture gave the impression that the whole thing was a shambolic event, and a drab one at that. Today, when state-of-the-art photographs are readily obtained on most people’s phones, was this the best that a national newspaper could do?  

Ireland’s state broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTE) had an even more dull picture of the march: demonstrators, mostly young men, carrying a statue of Our Lady. They looked reminiscent of pilgrims from 50 years ago traveling to a remote Catholic shrine instead of what the photograph actually represented: 100,000 people in the capital city saying a collective and forthright ‘no’ to legalized abortion.

Bizarrely, later that day an RTE news report on the march focused on a group of Evangelical Christians from the United States. Dressed like the Amish, these Americans had come to be part of the protest. Why did RTE feel the need to single out this small and unrepresentative group instead of presenting the tens of thousands of Irish marchers upon the streets of the nation’s capital? 

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What is taking place in Ireland is all too obvious. Coverage will be given to all sides. It has to be. RTE and others feel that balanced reporting is necessary. What is important, though, is not simply coverage but what type of coverage is offered.

Why, for example, is it necessary in both The Irish Times and RTE to present images of the pro-life  ‘Save the Eighth’ side that are overtly religious? The march earlier this month, and countless other demonstrations on behalf of retaining the constitutional protection of the unborn, are rarely religious processions. Instead, they are protests mounted by the concerned citizens of the Irish Republic. 

Many of the pro-life op-eds — at least those chosen to appear in the pages of the nation’s main newspapers — appear to be written by men. They are published at a time when the pro-abortionists are keen to make any opposition to repeal the Eighth Amendment open to the charge of stemming from misogyny. Better still, as has happened, get a clergyman to write such opinion pieces: then the charge can be leveled of both misogyny and clericalism. That’s a home run for those in favor of repeal as these strands play into the dark recesses of the Irish psyche given how in the past Ireland has suffered from both misogyny and clericalism and is now hypersensitive to both. 

The fact is that the campaign to retain ‘the Eighth’ is not a religious one nor is it led by men. It is a secular campaign with women at the helm. These are women who, when given a chance, are just as well educated, just as fashionably dressed, and even more articulate than those pushing for abortion.

The stereotype of old, drab, superstitious country folk opposing progress is just not true, and deliberately misleading. 

This manipulation is not just about the media images that are being peddled and those that are being suppressed. The pro-abortion campaign narrative is changing, too. Stories in the media backing the repeal of the Eighth Amendment have subtly altered. They focus less on the issue at hand — the debate on whether to change the constitution — and more on emotions, less on moral and constitutional positions and more on people’s stories, especially human stories around the shock of an unplanned pregnancy. The solution presented in such narratives is always ready access to abortion. It is never questioned whether the depression and pain of the post-abortive women stem from having to travel to England for an abortion or on account of the trauma of the abortion itself. 

The media war will intensify in the coming weeks. The reason for this is that the polls are far from clear and, if anything, are starting to suggest an increase in the ‘no’ vote. This is, perhaps, as unwelcome to sections of the Irish media as it comes as a surprise to some in it. It is also a testament to a much-noted characteristic of the Irish – rebelliousness.

The Irish electorate, just like any other, despise being taken for granted. On that count alone, there is still hope. 

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