Why I am voting NO
"We refuse to remain silent"
Disability Voices for Life and other disability activists had a Press Conference today urging people to VOTE NO on the 25th May
Disability Voices for Life
We will not be silent. We will speak up for our children. VOTE NO on the 25th May
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Disability Voices for Life Statement by Anne Trainer
My name is Anne Trainer and I am mother to an amazing little boy called Kevin who has Down Syndrome.
I came here today because I wanted to say I have been appalled that media commentators and abortion campaigners sought to dictate terms to families of children with disabilities in regard to what we could and could not say, and whether photographs of our children should be seen. I have found this upsetting, judgemental and intimidating.
I love my son more than life itself and it breaks my heart to see that abortion is eliminating his community. Parents like me have an absolute right to include our children and our families in this debate, since they are central to the discussion and often wish to make their own voices heard. We refuse to hide them away. We want to remind the Irish people that people with disabilities have a right to life, and we will not go back to the time when people with disabilities were put out of sight and ignored.
We have every right to express our deep concern at the proposal to introduce abortion into the country. In reality, babies with a disability are aborted in disproportionate numbers, with 90% being aborted in Britain and 100% being aborted in Iceland. This reality is absolutely heart-breaking and the reality is that abortion discriminates against babies diagnosed with a disability. This is the real disrespect to both children and adults with Down syndrome and their families. This is what has caused real sorrow and stress to parents.
Let us be clear: women who abort their pregnancies after a diagnosis of disability are not bad people. But with legal abortion comes a pressure to have abortions in some circumstances. A society that doesn’t welcome people with disabilities becomes a society that judges women who do not abort their disabled unborn babies. I never want a woman in Ireland to be asked, as women in the UK are, with horrifying regularity, “did you know before he was born”?
To hear campaigners from the Yes side acknowledge the fact that unborn babies in Ireland can be tested and diagnosed with Down syndrome in Ireland at 9 weeks in the womb and then in the same breath go on to say that abortion on demand up to 12 weeks will not discriminate against these babies is shocking and offensive. It's also untrue. The statistics in other countries show the opposite to be the case, abortion discriminates.
I want Ireland to keep a culture of loving and protecting children like my son. I won’t be silenced in this debate and I refuse to listen to people who are trying to stop us from speaking out to defend the right to life of our children and people with Down Syndrome.
Vote No on May 25thto keep Ireland a country which values children and individuals of all ability.
Vote No on May 25th to keep Ireland a country which is bucking the trend and is a world leader in celebrating and including individuals with Down syndrome into our lives and society.
Vote No on May 25th because abortion discriminates against people with disability.
Vote No on May 25th because children like my son Kevin are safe with the 8th Amendment in Ireland.
Vote No on May 25th to protect children like my son Kevin.
Disability Voices for Life Michael O’Dowd
There is a phrase in disability activism: "Nothing about us, without us." However, once we as people with disability, or as family members of those with a disability, raised our voices it appears that we cannot speak about abortion.
The days of putting people with Special needs in the back room, out of sight, out of mind are over.
This campaign by Disability Voices for Life is about celebrating diversity, it’s about celebrating life.
We would not have felt obliged to speak out were it not for the relentless campaign from some quarters telling us to stay silent. Throughout this campaign, it has felt like our existence is inconvenient for some supporters of the abortion referendum, and that they would rather we went away and were quiet.
We will not. It is a cold, hard, undeniable fact that when abortion is introduced, those children diagnosed with some form of disability suffer a disproportionate impact. If people think that will not happen here, they are wilfully kidding themselves. It has happened everywhere else.
The campaign against us has been quite disturbing. During the debate on the Citizens assembly when they recommended abortion on grounds of non-fatal foetal anomalies i.e. disability, I heard no voices challenging that recommendation or talking about how upset they were then.
The Oireachteas Committee happily spoke about disability without inviting any representative organization in to counter the negative stereotypes that were being portrayed.
Yet now when we as parents dare to challenge the real probability regarding termination of lives of people with disabilities we hear objections. Incredibly those objections are to our right to put forward our views. We are upsetting people, and my god "They might hear what we have to say." It’s a real throwback to the bad old days of "O God love them, sure aren’t they great".
I wish I didn’t have to stand here but frankly as I look across Europe I have no choice. In every single country where abortion has been introduced the rate of terminations of people with Down syndrome has increased. The continent is sleepwalking into a situation where people with Down syndrome will scarcely exist. The battle line needs to be drawn. Today we are drawing that line here and now in Ireland. Ireland can do better. This is why I will be voting No on May 25th.