The abortion debate
Sir, – We know now that Savita Halappanavar died because of clinical failure in hospital. The Dáil is now debating legislation which will ensure that a tiny cohort of women in Ireland will be given the right to terminate a pregnancy which threatens her life. We, the undersigned founder members of the Irishwomen’s Liberation Movement , who helped organise the contraceptive train to Belfast in 1971, expect the Dáil to do its duty by these women. Political failure is not an option when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk. – Yours, etc,
MAIRIN de BURCA,
MARIE Mac MAHON &
NELL Mc CAFFERTY,
C/o Rugby Road,
Sir, – David Costello (June 20th) takes Stephen Collins (Opinion, June 15th) to task for erroneously attributing the quote “I am an Irishman second,I am a Catholic first, and I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the hierarchy and the church to which I belong” to former taoiseach John A Costello.Your letter-writer correctly states the words in question were uttered in a 1953 Dáil debate on Nato by a Labour TD, Brendan Corish (Mr Corish subsequently became Labour Party leader and tánaiste). However, near the conclusion of his lengthy statement to the Dáil (April 12th, 1951) on the resignation of the then Minister for Health, Dr Noël Browne, the then taoiseach John A Costello did say this: “I, as a Catholic,obey my Church authorities and will continue to do so, in spite of The Irish Times or anything else . . .” – Yours, etc,
Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Dr Maeve Kilrane (June 18th) queries the stance of those pro-lifers who send death threats to those who propose the termination of the most vulnerable and helpless in our society. No doubt, it has crossed her mind that those who undertook to uphold the Hippocratic Oath and do exactly the opposite are equally contradictory? Methinks that said oath might more aptly be renamed the Hypocritical Oath! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – While Enda Kenny’s statement “I am a Catholic who is Taoiseach, not a Catholic Taoiseach” may well be construed to declare Ireland a democracy as opposed to a theocracy (JL Byrne, June17th), I consider it an untenable distinction in describing a man of faith.
A taoiseach who is truly Catholic cannot draw a line in the sand between a “Catholic taoiseach” and a “Catholic who is taoiseach” as Enda Kenny did. Such a distinction can never be valid because Christian faith is synonymous with a “way of life”. Such a “way of life”, by definition, always has a community dimension, it upholds the common good, and it is never a private matter practised by an isolated individual only in certain situations in his/her life. Faith cannot be separated from any aspect of the Christian experience; it is an integral part of all that one is, and it informs all that one does.