The abortion debate
Sir, – I fully appreciate that our Government is grappling with the abortion issue in the best interest of all citizens but unfortunately none of us is infallible, as is borne out by the Californian experience.
In 1969 the state passed the Therapeutic Abortion Act which permitted abortion if there was “a substantial risk that continuance of the pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother”. Impairment of mental heath was defined as “mental illness to the extent that the woman is dangerous to herself or to the person or property of others or is in need of supervision or restraint” (ie grounds for admission to a mental health institution).
It was necessary that two licensed doctors (or three where the pregnancy was after the 13th week) agreed unanimously that abortion was necessary because of the substantial risk involved.
So what happened? One year later 63,872 abortions had been sanctioned and 61,572 performed, 98.2 per cent under the mental health provision.
Reflecting on the flood of abortions purporting to be the result of the mental health provision, the Californian Supreme Court observed “Serious doubt must exist that such a considerable number of pregnant women could have been committed to a mental institution”. Clearly the court was concerned that the majority of these abortions had not been carried out because of mental health but for social reasons.
All of which poses a serious challenge to those who wish to have suicide ideation included in any proposed legislation.
If we must have legislation based on the X case which, in the light of experience I consider not to be necessary, it must not include suicide ideation.
What is wrong with the Medical Council Guidelines? Have they not served us well to date ?
Finally, I commend the Californian experience to our legislators and urge them to take it on board if, and when, they are preparing legislation on the X case. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Vincent Holmes accused the Taoiseach of not listening to the people (January 22nd). Does he really believe all the people want the same thing?
He reminded us that 22,000 anti-abortionists on the streets told him what they want. If 22,000 pro-abortionists were to turn up with an opposing message, where stands the Taoiseach?
I believe it’s incumbent on the Taoiseach and Government to enact legislation to comply with the Constitution and European Court of Human Rights and ignore the mob, pro or anti. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Can I suggest that the rules for the debate on abortion include two prerequisites, first, the use of logic and second, a moral stance.