A local artist’s spontaneous counter-protest to an abortion rights gathering has been shared online more than 1,000 times.
Eilidh Morris, 28, started a solo pro-choice protest after spotting pro-life campaigners holding a demonstration in City Square as she headed home from work.
The campaigners had gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. It also coincided with the decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland last week, bringing it in line with the rest of the UK.
In a move she describes as unlike herself, the artist hastily scribbled a sign of her own and stood in front of the protesters.
Much to her surprise, friends and strangers alike joined in, scribbling their own makeshift placards to put across their own views.
A post she wrote following the gathering has been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook and has more than 2,200 “reactions”.
Ok so I've never done something like that before wher e I just stop and do my own wee counter protest, but I passed by…
“What got me was a sign that said: ‘women need love, not abortions’ – it felt like a horrific over-simplification of what women go through if they get an abortion,” Eilidh said.
“I just thought to myself, no, I have to do something.
“I’m not a confrontational person so I thought I would do what they were doing and stand with my own sign.
“I was there for about 15-20 minutes and two teenagers came along and I gave them some paper to make their own signs.
“People were coming up to us and asking if we wanted McDonalds or hot drinks – it was surreal.”
The pro-life campaigners wielded signs reading “Women do regret abortion” and “Abortion kills – choose life”.
Eilidh and her fellow counter-protesters held signs reading “Women do not regret” and “Abortions are fine, you’re not a bad person for getting one”.
The local artist, who works for mental health charity Feeling Strong, does not believe pro-life campaigners consider the wider circumstances of a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
“What really struck me was that the protest was mostly older women and even men – we were all young women that will be affected by this the most,” she added.
“Protests like this come across as moralistic shaming – like a punishment for people who have made that decision.
“So I decided, if they can put their view across, so can I.”
Hundreds of people have commented on Eilidh’s Facebook post, ranging from support to condemnation. However, she hasn’t been put off from doing it again.
She said: “I might just start carrying bits of paper in my bag in case another one comes along.”