Anyone who has ever told peace activist and human rights crusader Patrick J. Mahoney to "take a hike" should be happy. The Presbyterian minister from Fredericksburg, Virginia, will be in Ireland May 11-18, leading a 100-mile prayer walk from Belfast to Dublin to "keep Ireland abortion-free."
"Ireland is an inspiration to the world, especially here in America, in the pro-life community," Mahoney told a gathering of about two-dozen people in a living room in Bedford, New Hampshire. "Ireland is an example for us."
The director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., Mahoney has been active in establishing medical clinics, soup kitchens, and food pantries for the poor, and he once slept in a dumpster to call attention to the plight of the homeless. His 61 arrests include apprehension by Chinese authorities in Tiananmen Square. He is pleased to say he has been "banned from China forever," though he plans to return anyway, bringing with him a rosary made by women who have fled from China's forced abortions. Dublin, Ireland, and Bedford, New Hampshire are but two of the many stops he's made in 30 years of combining evangelizing with social activism.
The cleric's visit to the Granite State is part of his public awareness campaign about efforts to legalize abortion in Ireland, one of the only three European nations — along with Vatican City and Malta — where abortion is still illegal. The right to life of an unborn child is affirmed in Ireland's Constitution, Mahoney noted. But the nation's Supreme Court ruled in the famous "X Case" in 1992 that a suicidal tendency arising from a pregnancy may be grounds for abortion, since that mental state poses "a real and substantial risk" to the life of the mother. The death last November of a woman from blood poisoning after she was denied an abortion has sparked a movement in the Irish Parliament, led by Prime Minister Enda Kenny, to pass legislation that would codify the language of the "X case" ruling.
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