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DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a move drawing suspicion from some pro-lifers, Facebook is trying to block foreign entities from influencing Ireland's upcoming abortion referendum.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the social media company said, "Today, as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence, we will begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland."
On May 25, Irish voters will have the chance to vote in a referendum about the Eighth Amendment — the amendment to the Irish Constitution that affirms the human dignity of the unborn baby. A "No" vote is a vote to keep the Eighth Amendment, while a "Yes" vote is a vote to repeal it, thus facilitating legalized abortion. Currently, Ireland has some of the strongest pro-life laws in the world.
To enforce its new policy, Facebook says it will be working with the Transparent Referendum Initiative, which some critics claim has a pro-abortion slant.
One Irish citizen brought up these complaints in the comments section of Facebook's announcement on Tuesday. She wrote, "So [you're] colluding with the 'Yes' campaigners masquerading as the Transparent Referendum Initiative — so, not neutral or unbiased at all."
Other pro-lifers have a more positive view of Facebook's policy, sensing it could be a bit of a stumbling-block for their opponents in the international pro-abortion lobby.
Anthony Murphy of Catholic Voice Ireland holds the latter opinion. He told Church Militant, "I would give the news a cautious welcome but much more urgent action is required to stop globalist organizations funding the push for abortion in Ireland. For example, last year, pro-abortion Irish branch of Amnesty International was given a donation of 137,000 Euros [about $160,000 U.S.] from Soros's Open Foundations Society."
While Facebook's new policy blocks foreign advertisers, the new rules for Ireland's abortion referendum would have no impact on Ireland-based advertisers who rely on foreign funding.
Facebook's official statement on Tuesday said, "This change will apply to ads we determine to be coming from foreign entities which are attempting to influence the outcome of the vote on May 25. We do not intend to block campaigns and advocacy organizations in Ireland from using service providers outside of Ireland."
The company also argued, "We feel the spirit of this approach is also consistent with Irish electoral law that prohibits campaigns from accepting foreign donations."
Secular U.K. news source Spectator recently ran an article about the May 25 referendum that noted the Catholic Church's near-silence on the issue. The headline read, "The Catholic Church is absent in Ireland's abortion referendum," and was subtitled, "Abortion in Ireland is like gay marriage, emblematic of moving on from a religious past."
But not all clergy in Ireland have been wholly silent on the issue. Irish Bp. William Crean of the diocese of Cloyne wrote in a letter to all the parishes in the diocese, "The destruction of unborn lives has not just become legal but also taken for granted and routine."
Bishop Crean continued, "Do we wish to create a society whereby we are desensitized to the destruction of the unborn?"
Lay faithful from the Emerald Isle are organizing some efforts to save the rights of unborn babies. For instance, the Irish Society for Christian Civilisation is organizing Rosary rallies May 11–13 to pray for the upcoming abortion referendum. An organizer of the Rosary rallies said in a press release, "We must pray that Ireland does not bow to the international pro-abortion agenda."