The abortion debate
Sir, – The Hippocratic Oath was written in the pre-Christian era, more than 400 years before Christ’s time on earth. Hippocrates stated, “I will show the utmost respect for every human life from fertilisation to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life”.
As medical practitioners, on qualifying we all subscribed to the beliefs contained in the oath. The Catholic Church for over 2,000 years has upheld the Hippocratic Principles. I commend it for doing so. – Yours, etc,
JAMES M SHEEHAN,
Director Blackrock and
A chara, – James Reilly just introduced the controversial Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill to the Dáil. The consequences of passing any legislation are ultimately determined by what is, or is not, actually in the legislation, not by what is said or done during the debate around it. How it will be interpreted and practised is also crucial.
With this in mind I would like to highlight some of what is, and is not, in the proposed abortion Bill. It makes abortion legal as a treatment for suicide risk, in spite of expert evidence that this is not medically or legally necessary. Shockingly, the Bill explicitly makes it legal to “intentionally destroy unborn human life” (Section 22) in some situations. How can this ever protect a mother better than terminating her pregnancy while making every effort to protect the child’s life, which is already standard medical practice in Ireland?
The Bill’s requirements on keeping records and making reports are ludicrously weak, and very unlikely to deter doctors who wish to certify abortion based on choice rather than clinical judgment. It is clear that doctors do this on a large scale in other countries where the law allows abortion on subjective mental health grounds, and there are no credible reasons to expect Ireland to be different.
Finally, the Bill includes no time limits to specifically protect unborn children who may be viable outside the womb, from either intentional destruction or very early delivery with risks of serious disability or death. A number of TDs and senators have looked at what is in this unjust and dangerous Bill and called for it to be stopped. It’s not too late for others to follow their courageous, responsible and compassionate lead. – Is mise,
Dr RUTH FOLEY,
St John’s Wood West,
Sir, – When President Kennedy arrived in Ireland (June 27th, 1963) he said: “I am deeply honoured to be your guest in the free parliament of a free Ireland”.
Sadly, that legacy, for the cause of which the Irish nation struggled and suffered, is being undermined. The Taoiseach of our nation – and others in government – stubbornly refuse to allow members of Dáil Éireann to vote according to their consciences on the crucial issue of abortion.
The dogged insistence by Enda Kenny that “there will be no free vote on this issue” is obscene. The threat of applying “the party whip” to TDs who will not toe the Government’s abortionist line, grotesque as it is, must nevertheless be faced by TDs concerned for the protection of human life in the womb.
There is no alternative for such TDs but to defy Mr Kenny and other party leaders and to vote against the falsely titled “Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill” – a misnomer if ever there was one.
Coadjutor Archbishop Eamon Martin and the bishops of Ireland have highlighted the railroading of this Bill as “a defining moment” in Irish history. The abortion industry has been sharpening its knives for Ireland for a very long time. Massive public protest is being systematically ignored, or played down, by this coalition Government and powerful forces in the media.
Disobedience by TDs, of dictatorial tactics literally hell-bent on promulgating an iniquitous law, remains an effective means of thwarting this orchestrated and concentrated attack upon Ireland’s pro-life heritage.
Enda Kenny shows contempt for those who believe in the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, who believed his pre-election promises and who voted for his party. His current behaviour insults democracy. Moreover, it endangers the lives of countless as yet unborn Irish citizens. – Yours, etc,
Glen Road, Belfast.
Sir, – The claims of the “pro-life” lobby grow more hysterical by the day. A couple of weeks ago Dr William Binchy accused the government of prescribing abortion to suicidal women, now we have a group of doctors (Dr Eileen Reilly, et al, June 21st) who claim that any government TD who breaks the party whip is “threatened with the denial of their right to exercise their profession”. Really? TDs who break party whips may be expelled from the party, but they remain in the Dáil, as TDs. If the “pro-life” lobby is the silent majority it claims to be, any TD who is expelled from Fine Gael or Labour, for their stand on the abortion bill, must be guaranteed re-election in the next election.
The current “pro-life” obsession with a free vote on this bill is purely tactical. If this were a private member’s bill, which the government opposed, there would be no call for a “conscience” vote, nor any sympathy for TDs who defied the government whip, any more than there was a call from the same people for conscience votes on cutting child support, childcare grant, home helps, respite grants, etc.
In the same letter, the doctors say that medical evidence says abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation in pregnancy. If this is the case, then no doctor will prescribe it. So what exactly, is all the fuss about?
In my view, there will be a case or two a year, at most, of suicidal pregnant women using the provisions of this Bill. It will be still much easier and more discrete to slip over to England and have an abortion there, than to subject yourself to the inquisitorial processes this Bill prescribes for women wishing to avail of its provisions. – Yours, etc,