The woman who is almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping abortion out of Northern Ireland was arrested this morning… Outside of an abortion referral center… After she was assaulted… By a man who tried to destroy her pro-life materials. Precious Life reports:
The Director of Precious Life, Bernie Smyth, has been arrested and charged with assault because she tried to stop a member of the public from destroying her leaflets and posters outside an abortion referral agency in Belfast. Precious Life work to protect unborn babies and their mothers from abortion by maintaining a daily vigil outside the office of the Family Planning Association (FPA) where our volunteers offer help and advice to women in crisis pregnancies. This morning (Tue 8th Aug), Bernie was distributing information outside the FPA Abortion Referral Agency, when a man started shouting abuse at her. He pushed her as he tried to tear up her leaflets and posters. Bernie dialled 999 and reported to police that she had been assaulted by a member of the public. When police arrived, the man claimed that he had been assaulted. The police spent an hour inside the office of the FPA studying their CCTV [closed-circuit television] footage. Afterwards, the police came out and told Bernie she was being arrested. Despite her protests of innocence, and that she was actually the victim of assault, Bernie was bundled in the back of the police van and taken to the station where she was charged with common assault.
I had the privilege of meeting Bernie at the most recent March for Life (she and my boss, Joe Scheidler, are longtime friends). Exuding kindness and charity, she is a woman of boundless energy, and is unflappable in the face of setbacks. Although she speaks with a lilting brogue, she has an all too uncommon awareness of the soberly serious nature of the spiritual battle over abortion. In short, she is an activist’s activist. Bernie surely won’t be fazed by these bogus charges. Once she’s out of the clink, she’ll be back on the streets of Belfast, talking to women about the dangers of abortion.