The abortion debate

Sir, – I write as a citizen of Ireland who happens also to be the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Independent of the role of politicians and of judges, the Constitution of Ireland belongs in the primary place to all the citizens of Ireland, whose right to express their views should not just be respected but encouraged.

My concern in this letter is limited to one aspect of the Heads of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013, namely the protection of perfectly healthy unborn children at a stage of their development where there is the clear presumption that they are viable outside the womb. There seems to be an inference that in cases where the pregnant woman’s life might be in danger that such a child would lose its constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

My anxiety is that it would be permissible under Head 4 for medical specialists to certify that the “medical procedure” necessary to avert the risk to the mother’s life consists of the “termination of her pregnancy”, in such a manner that will bring an end to the life of the unborn before delivery at a stage when, if a different method of terminating the pregnancy were used, the child would be delivered alive.

It would seem to me that in such a case the only medical treatment which would be in line with the constitutional protection of the life of such an unborn child would be one in which the child be safely delivered and that reliance on a destructive abortion in such a situation would be in patent contrast with the evident meaning of the words of article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.


There is a growing impression that the judgment of the X case “is the constitution”. I believe that it is an interpretation given in a specific case which does not supersede or relativise the clear constitutional right to equal protection for unborn life in the circumstances which I have outlined. Indeed under Head 4 it would give the life of such an unborn child less protection than is guaranteed in liberal abortion laws in other countries. – Yours, etc,


Archbishop of Dublin,

Archbishop’s House,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

Sir, – Once again we have a very senior member of the Irish Roman Catholic Church taking to print (Opinion, May 14th) in the person of Eamon Martin, a Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, to advance the line that the proposed abortion legislation is intrinsically evil and under no circumstances should it be permitted to be enacted in this country. Among the theological verbiage he even bizarrely advances the Christian commandment “Thou shalt not kill” as an argument that the Roman Catholic Church has pro -life credentials.

As often as this ludicrous stuff is trotted out it is essential that it is rebutted as forcefully as possible.

Consider the following: Has the Roman Catholic Church participated in, encouraged and facilitated war, indiscriminate massacre, murder, torture, repression and oppression to advance its religious aims and beliefs? Yes it has.

Has the Roman Catholic Church given its “blessing” to the waging of war by many and varied totalitarian dictators for political and ideological reasons? Yes it has.

In an Irish context, has the Roman Catholic Church loved and cherished the “unborn” whose parents were not married? No, it hasn’t.

Has the Roman Catholic Church loved and cherished the “unmarried” mothers of these children? No, it hasn’t.

Has the Roman Catholic Church loved and cherished all those physically and sexually abused by clerics, both within and without the numerous institutions controlled by them? No, it hasn’t.

By all means let consenting adults follow the teachings of the church, but children and non-Catholic citizens of this republic need to be free to lead normal rational lives without the insidious and pernicious influence of the Roman Catholic Church seeking to dictate how we live and are governed. – Yours, etc,


Newtown Road,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.