#rabbleRaker: Women Have A Way Of Shutting It Down

In Blog, Culture, Politicsby Fedayn21 Comments

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Peter McGuire in yesterday’s Irish Times reports that secondary school students are being taught lies by teachers and anti-choice groups Family & Life (friends of Reform Alliance) and Life Pregnancy Care.

The Irish Times interviewed 14 students, one of whom is quoted:

Sarah says the class was also told that, in some countries, abortions are conducted right up to term, and that as the baby crowns they “crack its skull”. The speaker said that one such abortion did not succeed, but, as the baby had by then been born, they could not be killed: the child had been damaged by the failed abortion and was now in a wheelchair, with multiple disabilities.

While the article is notable, it won’t come as news to many schoolchildren and former pupils who have had pro-life teachers’ force their views upon them. A contemporary report from a young woman who was ‘educated’ by one of her pro-life teachers is available here.

The reaction to the story, online, is becoming the real story. The internetz were alive with legal threats and accusations as John McGuirk and the usual suspects are challenging the article’s veracity. Originally McGuirk tweeted that he believed the Irish Times was ‘irked as children told truth’ but then he became increasingly irked himself as he realised that the opening line ‘A rape victim can’t become pregnant.’  was becoming the story.

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McGuirk and others challenged that opening line and then they called for the sources and schools to be named. The pro-life brigade were objecting to the ‘lie’ of rape victims not becoming pregnant which they claim would not have been taught in schools. However, Ireland’s self-styled ‘#1 Source of Pro-Life Information’ the Life Zone website has previously published such ‘information’ as

  • Trauma from the rape may bring into play some natural defence mechanisms that reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, such as hormonal change and spasms of the fallopian tubes which inhibit ovulation or fertilisation

The LifeZone is registered as prolifeinfo.ie with iedr.ie and is described as Life Institute and owner as Clodagh Murphy. The Life Institute shares the 60A Capel Street address in the Life House that also houses Youth Defence, Cóir and other pro-life names).

The portion of their website this appeared in addressed rape under the banner ‘Pregnancy from rape is rare’. The Irish Examiner reported on this section of the site on the 22nd August 2012 and that day the LifeZone changed the page to remove that paragraph.

The following day 23rd August 2012, Niamh Ui Bhriain, wrote this article on the Life Institute’s main website. She attacks Irish media in general but particularly Irish Examiner and the US-based Irish Central for ‘falsely claiming’ that LifeZone was coming out in favour of American Senator Todd Akin’s claims that women could shut down pregnancy following rape. She goes on to say:

  • Life Zone has ten pages which deals sexual assault and pregnancy, including advice for victims on getting support and dealing with the trauma of rape. One section discussed a study which found that pregnancy from rape may be uncommon. It made no reference whatsoever to Mr Akin either. That section is now under review in case it needs to be updated for new evidence.

The LifeZone website was changed again on 11th October 2012 to remove all reference to pregnancy from rape being rare or natural defence mechanisms preventing pregnancy.

Later last night the Irish Times editor Conor Goodman took to twitter to make it clear that the opening line came from a pro-life teacher not one of the groups mentioned. Youth Defence (also based in 60A Capel Street) replied with a straw man argument as is their wont.


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Below are screenshots supporting our report. The question must be asked about these pro-life groups going to schools and why they are being accommodated. Senator Rónán Mullen recently warned that another group ‘LifeWorks’ will be educating your children in the kind of independent fair-minded manner you’d expect from a group who’s directors include Cora Sherlock and the Pro Life Campaign ‘Education Officer’ Dr. Ruth Cullen. Cora Sherlock declined to answer our questions last night regarding how many schools her group has visited.




  1. Reading this makes me more determined than ever to get off my ass and get qualified as a teacher…this is so disgusting and ridiculous, and it makes me crazy to think modern Ireland is as backward as it ever was. Plus ca change…

  2. They should be charged with incitement to hatred. It is a criminal offence. They are doing children intentional harm.

  3. what a waste of valuable school time, how are these people even gaining access to schools?

  4. there is an absolute need of more free investigating journalism and people who stand up in ireland

  5. That screenshot is disturbing in the extreme. Wow, don’t you just breathe a sigh of relief when you find out someone who was raped is too young for it to have resulted in pregnancy, because you know the biggest moral concern in that situation would be that they consider/seek an abortion. Such heartening concern for the victims if rape

  6. We were taught this kind of stuff in religion class, no less! We were told stories of ‘silent screams’ and other such nonsense. The whole class was anti-choice and homophobic propoganda from start to finish!

  7. @Sarah Griffin it’ll make precious little difference when schools are legally allowed to discriminate while hiring based on their schools ethos. I’m a qualified teacher and was advised by a neighbour who is a principal not to bother applying to Catholic schools any more, as they would likely google me, discover my work with the Abortion Rights Campaign and bin my application right away.

  8. Don’t even know what to say to this. If anyone had tried teaching me this in school I’d have left. Disgusted.

  9. I went to catholic primary & secondary school still attend mass at times and have never heard such tripe in any of my teaching. So stop tarring all with the same brush ffs there are idiots in every group of society and paper doesn’t refuse ink.

  10. This is disgusting. How are the Dept of Education not accountable for these groups being given access to our young people? Surely a statement like ‘pregnancy through rape is rare’ would contravene what they are being taught in sex ed or just simple biology anyway!

  11. I dont think Fallopian tubes have the ability to “spasm” in reaction to a rape! This is disgusting!! Can’t believe schools would give this stuff out.

  12. Emma my comment is aimed at the the comments above not at the disgusting messages being spread

  13. Regardless of your views on this it is excellent research by Rabble and summaries the key players and relationships, I like it!

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  15. Pingback: David Quinn’s short memory : rabble

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