Saturday, May 26, 2018

Quote for Day: How American Religious Right Tried to Sway Ireland's Abortion Vote

The Guardian, "Irish Abortion Referendum: Official Results Show Big Lead for Yes"

For the Christian right, in America and abroad, Ireland's abortion vote is therefore significant: It will either bolster or damage a legal regime that enforces one of its most closely held religious positions. The fight to restrict abortion is a global one. The American Christian right, in particular, has taken a keen interest in the referendum, and there's concrete evidence that some factions have tried to influence the vote, both by purchasing Facebook ads and sending activists to Ireland to campaign on behalf of the Eighth Amendment…. 
Since campaigning for the Irish referendum began, American anti-choice activists have travelled to Ireland to proselytize at length in defense of the Eighth Amendment. As CNN reported on Wednesday, members of the Colorado-based anti-choice group Let Them Live travelled to Ireland to canvass on behalf of the amendment for a solid month before the vote. At one demonstration documented by The New York Times in March, most protesters were American. A review of GoFundMe revealed fundraising campaigns set up by American anti-abortion activists seeking money to travel to Ireland; several identify themselves as students at Christendom College, a conservative Catholic school in Fort Royal, Virginia. 
Some U.S.-based activists are waging an online influence campaign. Although Ireland does regulate overseas donations to domestic campaigns, a loophole allows anyone to purchase Facebook ads urging Irish citizens to vote in a particular way. reported in April that a review completed by the Transparent Referendum Initiative found that "145 groups and individuals have bought more than 350 Facebook ads about the referendum." Some are Irish, but many are American, and while some of these would-be influencers are pro-choice, others include U.S.-based anti-abortion organizations like the Radiance Foundation and Live Action. 
This isn’t the first time Americans have tried to sway an Irish vote. Christian right groups similarly tried to influence the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage. And some Irish groups welcome the assistance, as they work closely with American groups to restrict abortion and LGBT rights at home and abroad. "In general, the U.S. Christian right works on several different planes: grassroots, policy/government level, and litigation," explained Gillian Kane, a senior policy and advocacy adviser for Ipas, a global reproductive rights non-profit. "In a Catholic country like Ireland, grassroots organizing is facilitated through U.S. Catholic NGOs like the Virginia-based Human Life International, which has a dedicated office in Mayo, Ireland." 
Human Life International Ireland also has links to the U.S.-based World Congress of Families (WCF), which organizes a series of right-wing conferences under the umbrella of the International Organization for the Family (IOF). IOF’s president is Brian Brown, the former head of the National Organization for Marriage. The group also lists Allan Carlson as its "John Howard Senior Fellow and Editor of The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy." In 2005, Carlson and his colleague Paul Mero published a "manifesto" that identifies "human depopulation" as "the true demographic danger facing the earth," calls for bans on abortion and no-fault divorce, and urges employers to pay a "family wage" to "heads of households" (i.e. men) to reinforce "the natural bonds of family."

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