Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Live Action, Youth Defence, and the Return to the Magdalene Laundries

"... back in the olden days of yore, when there was a standard – and when if you got caught having sex before marriage, you would get your butt beat and get sent off to Ye Olde Forbidding Nunnery & School For Wayward Girls – there were a lot fewer teenagers having sex." -Kristen Walker Hatten,
I greeted news that Youth Defence is now open about their US-based financing with mixed delight. True, the myth that they are the voice of the silent Irish majority can only be damaged by this approach. But I worry that their true colours may show more clearly when they drop the pretense of being strangers to the worst excesses of anti abortion activism in the USA.

Take the opening quote. It hankers back to a simpler time, where Magdalene laundries prevented abortions by incarcerating those women who dared be raped, judged lascivious by village elders, or - horror of horrors - choose their sex partners without church approval.

I do not quote out of context. There is no effort to recognise the horrors inflicted by these penal institutions of church and state, no attempt to ameliorate or acknowledge the damage done. Yet despite this, the majority of followers of Youth Defence (50.3%) also follow Live Action News.

Niamh Ui Briain, director of the Life Institute / Youth Defence, is described by the site's communications director as "a dear friend" in an article describing a joint effort between Youth Defence and Live Action News. They call Ireland as "one of the pro-life movement's most precious jewels". Their site includes hastily reworded copies of Ui Briain's work - see hers and theirs.

Ui Briain has been most generous with her time on the to my knowledge unrelated, her articles there numbering in double digits. Unsurprisingly we see that 50.4% of Youth Defence's followers are also fans of this site. An integral part of their opposition to abortion seems to involve relentless obsession with the LGBTQ community, not, traditionally, a significant user of abortion services. They've supported the wild ramblings of Bill Whatcott's "Education on Abortion and Sodomy" campaign. The man fantasises about hidden organisations with a "goal of normalizing sexual perversion and promoting gender confusion". Elsewhere they glorify those who seek to restrain gay rights and the feminist movement in Brazil, lauding a group that says they "...will not cease to fight against the gay agenda, the abortionist agenda, the feminist agenda". They vigorously support the farcical and damaging idea that one's sexual orientation can be changed.

What of their views on contraception? Picture the consequences through their eyes:

"...birthrates fall; nations collapse; young people follow their parents in the abuse of sex; increasing numbers live together without the benefit of marriage; adoption agencies dry up because some 90 percent of pregnant teenagers who do not abort keep their babies and thus start single-parent families; the prostitution of the medical and legal professions follows; venereal disease escalates; infertility increases; and, if you can kill before birth, why can’t you kill after birth? So euthanasia is inevitable."

This is but a brief summary of the lunacy provided by Ui Briain's fellow authors. I pride myself on a rather strong stomach for this material, but even I had limits. Feel free to delve further if you dare.

The weak facade raised between the real Youth Defence and the public will crumble as they lose the urge to maintain a pretense of distinctness from their these brethren. Their funds are increasing, and the sponsors will likely be disappointed in anything short of more vigorous harassment. I worry we may yet yearn for the days when they kept their associations silent.


Unknown said...

It's worth pointing out, in the vein of Live Action trying to shame and control women, how they are promoting a TV show which deliberately sets out to shame women who have had abortions.
You can see it here (, but you can get the gist of it from this quote. "Post-abortive women do need to talk about their choice. However, they don’t need to be and shouldn’t pretend to be proud of it."

droid said...

Nasty stuff indeed. Combined with their links to European fascist groups via Justin Barett it all makes for a pretty loathsome package.

Unknown said...

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