Death of Savita Halappanavar
The Ireland of 1983 is a very different country, and while I was too young to vote, I was old enough to remember the tactics of the “pro-life” groups and the church. The fact remains that we have never been asked to legalise abortion, and a sizeable portion of our population have never been asked if they agree with the 1983 vote. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Andrew McElwee (November 16th) presumes to speak for (the Irish) Diaspora,and states that its thoughts are with you. Whatever mandate Mr McElwee enjoys, he does not speak for me. On the other hand, I would applaud David Carroll for his honest and informed letter (also November 16th). – Yours, etc,
Sir, – There were two tragic deaths in University Hospital Galway. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – In the wake of the tragic and avoidable death of Savita Halappanavar, the term “medieval” has been repeatedly used to describe Ireland’s abortion legislation and medical practices. That label, appropriate though it may seem, is somewhat unfair to medieval Ireland.
The following tale from the life of St Ciaran of Saighir sheds light on medieval Irish attitudes to the termination of pregnancy. Ciaran’s mother had a fosterling named Bruitnech, a daughter of the king of Munster. When Daimene, another king, heard of her beauty, “he came and carried her off, and she lived with him some days”. Ciaran demanded the return of the maiden, but the king refused to let her go “till he should be wakened by the voice of the cuckoo”. The next day, miraculously, the voice of the cuckoo was heard in the middle of winter so the king returned the girl. “And when Ciaran saw his fosterling coming to him, and her womb great with her pregnancy, he made the sign of the Sacred Cross over her, and her womb was decreased, and there was no appearance of pregnancy therein; and he took her back to the same place. And the name of God and of Ciaran was magnified thereby”. (From Plummer’s Lives of Irish Saints). – Yours, etc,