The abortion debate
Sir, – Both Government and Sinn Féin members of the Oireachtas would do well to pay attention to your poll finding (Home News, June 13th),namely that 48 per cent of those polled on the proposed abortion legislation disagreed or were undecided regarding the substantive “suicide” clause.
Are we to believe the above-mentioned Oireachtas members are fundamentally different in their opinions to their Fianna Fáil colleagues (half of whom if not more are expected to vote against the legislation under their party’s belated “free vote” policy)? Is your paper in any way concerned at this democratic deficit in the pursuance of Government’s policy?
Far from the company of the “Liberator” Daniel O’Connell, as suggested by Stephen Collins (Opinion, June 15th), Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s strategy of cowing party opposition to the legislation rings of a bleak modus operandi more suited to the Catholic hierarchy he famously and justly condemned two short years ago.
The Taoiseach cannot be left unchallenged, save by a few brave voices in his own and other parties. He should practise what he preaches and allow a free vote on this flawed legislation, which if enacted will I believe lessen the spirit of our society. – Yours, etc,
Dr PASCAL O’DEA,
Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
Sir, – When Prof Sabaratnam Arulkumaran (chairman of the review team regarding the death of Savita Halappanavar, Home News, June 14th) was asked whether “. . .the law should permit termination of pregnancy where there was a threat to the health and not just to the life of the mother”, his answer was a very simple and clear “Yes”. Crucially, he said later in the article, that “there were situations where a mother’s health only was threatened but which could escalate rapidly into a situation where her health would be permanently damaged”.
In the same edition, Joe Humphreys outlined the main points of the abortion Bill. Having read his summary carefully I could find no reference to the distinction pointed out by Prof Arulkumaran about making legal provision for the health of the mother. I have looked at other sources, but the current abortion Bill does not seem to address this issue.
It seems to me that by side-stepping this issue now and not including a provision to secure the health of a pregnant woman, the current legislators are leaving the country wide open to further problems down the line. We could easily find ourselves back in the European courts and facing another divisive debate and another referendum.
Clearly common sense should tell us to make sure this does not happen. If we do find ourselves “here” again, it will be on the back of a great deal of suffering and misery endured by yet more women in Ireland. Personally, I think we have had enough and I would urge all those in a position to make a difference to please stand up now and say the abortion Bill needs more work. It will not be ready until women’s health is protected as well. – Yours, etc,
Rathmines, Dublin 6.