Outrage at L&H abortion debate posters

An image on posters advertising the abortion debate organised by the Literary and Historical Society (L&H), have been met with an online petition to have them removed. The posters for the debate, titled ‘This house would legalise abortion? You decide!’ show an edited version of the ‘Please Don’t Litter’ sign, with the litter being replaced by a stick-figure baby, being thrown into the bin.

An event demanding the posters be taken down was started on Facebook on Friday by UCDSU Engineering Convenor, Cian Dowling, titled ‘Remove L&H Abortion Posters,’ which at the time of going to print, had almost 400 people attending.

“They are very distasteful,” says Dowling about the posters. “It’s a reaction I’ve got off a lot of people. Obviously [abortion] is a controversial issue, and you’re never going to get people to agree on it, and people are always going to throw their opinions around, but I just didn’t agree with it. Instead of attracting people towards the issue, it has a cheap, attention seeking role.”

“The stance is fine; the debate is a debate that has to happen,” says Dowling. “It’s a stigma in Ireland, and people need to address it. It’s the actual poster that’s the problem. I just want the image censored or the posters taken down. It’s not something people should have to look at.”

Auditor of the L&H, Daisy Onubogu was surprised by the campaign against the posters: “It came as a surprise in the sense that you expect something to happen, but you don’t expect that [an event being set up] to happen. The L&H always strives to be particularly controversial with this debate. Last year, the wording of it was ‘Kill the unborn.’ We had quiet mutterings, but we didn’t have the one person who stood up and shouted loud enough that he galvanised everyone, and we did have that person this year.”

The reasoning behind the controversial posters, according to Onubogu, is to get people to face up to the reality that abortion should be talked about, something that the L&H has done on numerous occasions to advertise their debate: “I’ve read the archives and seen some pretty horrific posters. The majority of our society, both in UCD and the wider society, just won’t talk about abortion because we don’t like talking about uncomfortable things. We squirm away from them and unless we’re put in a position where we can’t squirm away, we’ll just keep running. Even if you argue that this poster is on the extreme end of it, the benefit you get from that is that everyone is talking about it.”

The L&H welcomes the fact that the posters have people talking about the issue of abortion, maintaining that the poster was made for a starting point of debate, and not for publicity.