Abortion and the law

Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 01:07

Sir, – Could Fintan O’Toole (“160,000 reasons to take action on abortion”, Opinion, August 19th) not ask about the thousands of young men and women, boys, girls and infants, who would today be enjoying what this wonderful world has to give if his 160,000 women had not gone (abroad) for abortion? Why is it so easy to focus on one of the two people involved and shut one’s eyes tight to the existence of the other (as if he/she were merely some sort of threatening growth)? Vituperation is not an answer. – Yours, etc,

TOM GILLEN,

Weston Park,

Dundrum, Dublin 14.

Sir, – The subheading on Fintan O Toole’s piece reads “Constitutional provisions on abortion are just the detritus of the ecstatic picnic of theocracy’s final fling”.What a way with words Fintan surely has! However it is worth noting that the word theocracy originates from a Greek word meaning “the rule of God”. It was first coined by Josephus Flavius, a first-century scholar and historian.He used it to describe the form of government favoured by the Jewish population, as opposed to the other forms predominant at the time – monarchy, aristocracy and anarchy. A question for people to ponder is not so much do we still believe in “the rule of God”, but rather do we still believe in “God”. Only then can we start to make sense of the moral questions of our times. – Yours, etc,

DON CAHALANE,

Linden Avenue,

Beaumont, Cork.

Sir, – I agree with Ruth Cullen (August 19th) – this situation has resulted in a tiny, premature baby fighting for its life in an incubator. This baby has been denied the physical contact so desperately needed in the crucial early weeks of its life, will never be breastfed, will never know who its parents are (other than that their father was a rapist and their mother tried to kill herself), and will probably struggle with a variety of physical and mental difficulties for the rest of its life.

Is this preferable to an eight-week-old foetus being aborted before its nervous system has developed? Because this is what it comes down to. If you belief life, any life, is always better than none, then you should be thankful that the child exists at all (it would also be nice if someone would step up and adopt the poor little mite). So before we start pointing fingers at other people’s “choices”, let us remember that the mother’s actual preferred choice was either termination or suicide. In neither of these cases would the child have survived (although it probably would have suffered less).

So be thankful for this outcome. It’s what you wanted when you voted against allowing women in difficult circumstances any choices at all. Unless, of course, you’d prefer to get out the straitjackets and feeding tubes? – Yours, etc,

CIARA MADDEN,

Taborstrasse,

Vienna.

Sir, – All this hand-wringing about abortion and other social issues is so typically Irish and makes one fear that despite everything over the last six years, nothing has changed. I think we all know that there won’t be any meaningful reform or change as long as Enda Kenny’s generation of the grey old men from the 1970s is still in control.

The 1937 Constitution is clearly not fit for purpose and was written for an Ireland in a period of time that has no connection to the reality of how Irish people live today. It utterly lacks the classical simplicity of the US or French constitutions which have both stood the test of time and been able to adapt to societal changes. A constitution is not the place to enter sections concerning social issues like marriage, abortion, gay rights or the role of women or men in society. These are issues that should be removed and dealt with by legislation that reflects the popular will of the people at any given point in time and can be changed accordingly.

If you are against gay marriage then don’t marry a gay person and their right to marry won’t affect your life in any way. Similarly if you object to abortion for personal or religious reasons then you won’t have an abortion no matter what the circumstances of your crisis pregnancy. But that doesn’t give you the right to deny another women to make her own decision if she finds herself with a crisis pregnancy.

Of course if the guilt and responsibility for causing a crisis pregnancy in the first place were equally shared with the man who didn’t use contraception, I’m sure the law would be changed far quicker.

These are actually simple issues and yes or no are perfectly reasonable stances to take. It’s about time Irish people stopped looking for the cute hoor solution that solves nothing and faced these issues like grown adults. – Yours, etc,

DESMOND FitzGERALD,

Canary Wharf,

London.

Sir, – While Fintan O’Toole expresses eloquently the moral indignation any sentient person might feel in relation to the fate of the young woman at the centre of the current abortion debate, I believe he is seriously wrong in attributing the blame for this state of affairs on the Constitution, and on what he refers to as “a long-discarded ideology.”

It is a convenient shorthand for some to blame the Catholic Church for everything from educational trauma to sexual deviance. However, looking at history in the long term, these problems and others, which form part of what we might categorise generally as human suffering, predate the Catholic Church. Indeed the brutality of non-Christian times reaches unimaginable extremes, for example, killing infants by exposure, as the Romans did. The activities of the Islamic State forces in present times should give Mr O’Toole pause for thought.

The facts support the view that the influence of Christianity brought a degree of civilisation that tempered justice with mercy. I believe Mr O’Toole is sadly deluded in thinking that tinkering with the Constitution and getting rid of Christianity would solve any problems. In the real world, suffering is part and parcel of everyone’s life and Christianity is the only “ideology” which makes sense of it. – Yours, etc,

DONAL DEASY,

Granville Avenue,

Richmond,

Canada.