Abortion Alamo

Abortion law will become the Irish Christian Churches’ Alamo, according to religious commentator, Dr John Coulter, in his latest Fearless Flying Column today.

Remember the Alamo! That was the battle cry of the Texas independence fighters in 1836 after the mission station was overrun by Mexican troops during Texas’ fight for freedom.

That battle cry was immortalised by Hollywood in films in 1960 with John Wayne and in 2004 with Billy Bob Thornton. But almost two centuries later, that example of the Alamo is what faces the Christian Churches in Ireland over the contentious subject of abortion law.

In Southern Ireland, the Churches have lost the battle to stop more liberal abortion laws being introduced. Such liberalism against the unborn child exists in mainland Britain, whilst Northern Ireland remains the last bastion of Christian compassion for the sanctity of the unborn.

Northern Ireland has effectively become the legislative Alamo in terms of abortion law. The pro-choice lobby have one global aim - and they are almost there: take out Roman Catholic Ireland and you can take out any nation in the world in terms of rampant abortion laws.

Bearing this in mind, there is a real need for the Christian Churches in Ireland - especially in the north - to build an effective and efficient pro-life coalition.

But like the evangelists (apart from the occasional EU official!) who warn about ending up in hell, the pro-life lobby will have to start boxing clever if it wants to avoid a legislative Alamo regarding more liberal abortion laws in Northern Ireland. In 1836, all the Texan defenders were massacred by the Mexican forces.

In the South, the battle has been clearly lost - for the time being. In the North, the war is still to be won, or lost. The pro-life lobby have unveiled some interesting statistics to support their cause.

They estimate that abortion laws in England and Wales have seen some nine million babies aborted in what could be viewed as the Silent Holocaust, given that some six million perished in the death camps.

This is not to state that those who are pro-choice are avid followers of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis - I’m merely putting into perspective numerically how many babies have been lost to abortion in England and Wales.

The pro-life lobby needs to rebrand its message. It can no longer copy the street evangelists who hammer out their blunt Biblical message of ‘turn or burn’. When the Faith Mission organisation and tent mission organisations ruled the evangelical roost, such pointed preaching about hell and damnation could get the message across.

But the digital revolution, especially since the turn of the new millennium, has changed how we communicate the messages of Scripture.

I have only been physically sick on two occasions in 41 years of being a journalist. The first occasion was when I visited the Auschwitz death camp in Poland to do a feature for International Holocaust Memorial Day. As I walked through the gates of that ‘hell on earth’ camp, I had to turn and run into the toilets of the visitors centre to vomit.

The second occasion was when I went to a Christian church to report on a presentation by a pro-life group. The welcome was truly hospitable; a delicious and fulsome supper was first provided by the hosts in the church hall.

Then it was into the main church for the presentation - which began with a video on a large screen of a termination taking place. That scrumptious supper was wasted as after a matter of seconds of watching the video, I had to rush out of the main church, into the gents toilet - yes, you’ve got it, to hurl up!

For the remainder of the event, once I returned to the church, I felt queasy as the pro-life group unveiled in equally gory details their message against abortion.

However, given what I’d witnessed and how ill I felt, in spite of my pro-life stance as a religious commentator, I started to feel considerable sympathy for the pro-choice cause. Perhaps people are being put off the pro-life message by the way that message is being communicated?

Is the blunt anti-abortion propaganda by the more militant factions within the pro-life lobby actually driving people - and ultimately voters - into the pro-choice camp. In practical terms, will Northern Ireland see devastatingly more liberal abortion legislation introduced by default?

It is not a case that the pro-choice lobby has an overwhelming argument, but that the pro-life lobby is too blunt in the way it communicates its cause.

Rather than talking about how many babies have been aborted, would it not be wiser to emphasise how many people are alive in Northern Ireland today because of our pro-life laws?

According to the pro-life Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland, around 100,000 people are alive today - about 5 per cent of the population - because of the pro-life situation which exists. In blunt terms, the Christian Churches in Northern Ireland must ensure they hold the line and hold out against more liberal abortion laws being inflicted on the Province.

The challenge facing the Churches could potentially be a daunting one. Evangelical activists estimate around 200,000 people attend Protestant places of worship on a Sunday while another 200,000 also attend Catholic Mass on the Sabbath. That’s probably more than attend Irish League football matches across Northern Ireland in an entire season!

If all those worshippers could be mobilised behind a vibrant pro-life coalition, it will be any potential abortion legislation which will witness an Alamo-style massacre.

And if a situation arises whereby more liberal abortion laws - such as those which exist in England, Wales and Southern Ireland - are inflicted on the Northern population, the Churches in Northern Ireland have only themselves to blame.

Ironically, Brexit could provide the pro-life lobby with a legislative lifeline. As Brexit Day approaches on 29 March, many people in Northern Ireland are concerned; no one knows how Brexit will pan out.

It seems the nearer we get to 29 March, the political sabre rattling on both sides of the border and on both sides of the debate is increasing in intensity. A voice of social calm is needed.

The Churches need to step into this void and become that voice of calmness and reassurance for the people. Clerics have a moral obligation to mobilise their worshipping flocks behind the pro-life cause.

If this coalition can be achieved, abortion as it exists in England and Wales will never come to Northern Ireland. And, in theory, if Brexit works out in favour of the United Kingdom economically, Southern Ireland may also be persuaded to abandon the European Union - and in that political scenario, the possibility exists, too, that the abortion referendum could also be overturned with a new pro-life law. We live in hope as do the lives of the unborn.

Follow religious commentator Dr John Coulter on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter

Listen to religious commentator Dr John Coulter’s slot, Call Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, as part of the ‘At The Table’ show. Listen online at

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

1 comment to ''Abortion Alamo "

  1. John

    any truth in the rumour that you've been seen hanging out with Peadar Tóibín?


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