The Eighth Amendment
Sir, – Last month I joined an estimated 40,000 people at the March for Choice in Dublin. It was an exhilarating day, and one that I hope marks a turning point in the fight for reproductive justice in Ireland.
Since having become actively involved in pro-choice activism a year ago, I have been struck that while many men hold pro-choice views, they are often more reluctant to speak out and campaign for abortion rights in Ireland.
This is in stark contrast to their female counterparts who have braved derision and stigma to put this issue at the top of the political agenda where it belongs.
With a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment due to take place in the coming year, this is something that has to change. To paraphrase a speaker at last month’s march, this is about standing with women, not fighting for them. Local pro-choice groups exist across Ireland so there is ample opportunity for men to join in the campaign to ensure women in Ireland have the right to choose whether to go through with a pregnancy or not. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Since its inception over 30 years ago, supporters of the Eighth Amendment have been listening to criticism from those who claim that abortion should be available to women, in what is now a far more pluralistic society. Yet hardly had the Oireachtas committee taken its premature vote to seek deletion of part of Article 40.3.3., than we were informed with indecent haste by Minister for Health Simon Harris that there will be no opt-out for those hospitals whose religious ethos is opposed to the deliberate taking of unborn life. So where’s the pluralism here?
The HSE’s Dr Peter McKenna is reported also as saying that “we are here purely to implement, as an arm of the State, what the State decides to be legal”. While this on the one hand sounds very law-abiding, neither does it sound too far removed from the notion that orders must be blindly followed since that is how our society is ordered.
Will there not be a recognition of a right to conscientiously object on the part of institutions or individuals?
I don’t know the answers, but given the pronouncements of the two men mentioned following so rapidly on a recommendation, I dread to think what it will be like should the committee’s hopes be realised. – Yours, etc,