Founded in 1992 after the X-case to insist that the Irish state force a suicidal 12 year to have her rapist’s child. During the 90s they violently attacked pro-choice demonstrations, intimidated activists, dragged a 13 year old rape victim known as Ms C through the courts to prevent her travelling to the UK for an abortion. Then leader, Justin Barrett attended neo-Nazi rallies on the continent and published an extreme-right screed in ‘98, which advocated the expulsion of Northern Protestants.
They regularly picketed family planning clinics and intimidated employees. As more people began to recognize them for the pricks they are, they have tended to opt for the moniker ‘Mother and Child’ campaign in more recent years. They still intimidate women at the Mary Stropes Clinic on Blessington St.
If YD had their way there would be no IVF in holy Ireland. In 2006 they campaigned to prevent Ms D traveling to England for an abortion. Ms D was pregnant with a fetus missing a substantial portion of its brain and skull, which would die hours after birth.
This brings us to today’s notorious poster campaign: “Abortion Tears Her Life Apart”. Youth Defence say abortion damages a woman’s mental health. Problem is, in 2011 the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges carried out a review of all English language scientific papers that looked at mental health and abortion. It concluded that ‘unwanted pregnancies’ caused mental trauma regardless if the outcome is abortion or carrying to full term. Abortion doesn’t make things worse it just gives women another choice.
So how does YD approach the issue of contraception? Abstinence!! At least that is the message in the Junior Cert SPHE book which is linked to a defunct website www.yourontrack.org that was registered by Una Nic Mhathuna, YD spokeswoman. That’s who is teaching your kids about sex in the classroom. In response to the campaign people defaced the posters. Others called for the posters to be removed because they were lies. Hundreds attended a rally outside the Dáil against the posters.
Youth Defence are a bizarre relic of Catholic fundamentalism grasping at the reins of power. That FG senators and TDs won’t legislate for the X-case is evidence of this. So we continue to export our problem or force women to endanger their lives by buying uncertified abortion pills online. Organisations like Women on the Web supply abortion pills to desperate Irish women who are seeking some control over their bodies and their unwanted pregnancies.
Abortion is going to keep happening. Legislate for choice, listen to women.