The abortion question
Sir, – Fionola Meredith (Opinion Analysis, December 21st) takes issue with my comparison of the moral value of born children, such as those gunned down in Connecticut recently, and unborn children, such as those targeted by abortion. She described my response to my Seanad colleagues as “repugnant” and blatantly disrespectful towards the grieving families of the Connecticut massacre, as well as evincing a “culpably inhumane” viewpoint.
Ironically, she also lamented the “accusatory language” of those who describe themselves as pro-life.
Tellingly, Ms Meredith did not offer any reason against my comparison between born and unborn children. In fact, a consistent human rights philosophy supports the fundamental equality of all human beings, regardless of age, ability or any other accidental characteristic. As some of the world’s most prominent bioethicists have noted, every criteria used to exclude unborn children from legal protection applies also to young children and those who are severely mentally disabled. Prominent philosophers like Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and Julian Savulescu do not make these points to argue against abortion – which they all support – but to argue in favour of infanticide and euthanasia.
I make no apologies for holding a consistent human rights view of the inalienable rights and inherent dignity of all human beings. Such a view provides the very content of the term “humane”.
Contrary to what Ms Meredith suggests, those who are pro-life support all necessary medical treatment for women in pregnancy, including when that may foreseeably compromise the child’s life, provided a genuine duty of care towards the child is shown.
However, Government plans to legislate for abortion on suicide grounds are deeply disturbing and deserve a robust critique. Sacrificing an innocent life in response to the threat of another’s self-destruction fails any reasonable test of justice and is not a therapy for suicidal ideation. To provide legislative support for such a proposal is to base law on a psychiatric myth. There is nothing ethical or humane about that.
Sir, – Cardinal Seán Brady and his fellow bishops have a duty to state clearly the teaching of the Irish Catholic Church on abortion, but they are not entitled to act as the surrogate conscience of democratically elected legislators. – Yours, etc,