The Irish abortion referendum is reaching a fever pitch ahead of the country going to the polls on Friday 25 May.

Voters will be asked if they want to repeal the eight amendment of the country's constitution, which effectively bans abortions by recognising the equal right to life of both mother and unborn child. If the amendment is repealed, it will allow for the Irish government to legislate on abortion, most likely up to 12 weeks.

Typifying what many see as an increasingly toxic debate in the run-up to the vote, an advert run in the Irish Daily Star newspaper is facing backlash after it was shared on social media by journalist Amy O'Connor.

 

The text in the advert reads:

Men protect lives. Children expect to be protected. Vote No to abortion on demand.

Others have pointed out factual inconsistencies with the ad's declaration that "men save lives", written in a way that prompts only one logical follow-up question: what do women do, then? End lives, the advert appears to conclude.

Yet, as any glance at the news will tell you, it is men who endanger children's (and, on that note, women's) lives most of all. Nine in ten murders are committed by men, a 2016 study found, and a Women's Aid report in the same year found that a woman in Ireland is more likely to be killed in her own home and by a current or former boyfriend, partner or husband.

The Irish Defence Forces have also hit out at the advert, calling on the Save the 8thcampaign to respect them as an "apoligical organisation", the Irish Independentreported.

The campaign told the publication that the advert did not in fact depict an Irish soldier, despite using a stock image labelled "soldier in military uniform":

It was intended to depict a man in a protective role, which is in a military force.

It was not ever intended to imply an endorsement from the Defence Forces, and we would never do that, we respect the independence of the Defence Forces.

Siobhan O'Donoghue, Director at Irish social justice campaigning organisation Uplift, told indy100:

This ad is designed to cause controversy, in particular it tries to divide men and women on the this deeply emotive issue. Abortion is a reality in Ireland and the eighth amendment has not stopped it from happening. A majority of men and women in Ireland understand that the ban is preventing women from accessing health care they need and they will see through toxic advertising like this."

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