Abortion and the law


Sir, – Any women who has the right to travel and sufficient funds will be able to go to England to have an abortion, if she decides to do so. Any women whose right to travel is restricted or who does not have access to that money will, however, be subject to the new legislation, having to face a panel that decides on her fate. The issue of being suicidal is not really of any consequence here.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and the new legislation only ever affect an already disadvantaged and marginalised minority. Everybody else deals with a termination the way they decide for themselves and does not have to worry about these things too much, as there is always the option of a trip to England.

At the inevitable next abortion referendum, most Irish voters will therefore again be in a position to contemplate the sanctity of life and the right of the unborn in the safe knowledge that the issue is really only an academic one for them.

And they might even feel pleased with themselves for having taken a “moral stand”. – Yours, etc,




Co Roscommon.

Sir, – When will the conversation turn from women’s reproductive rights (which are many, let’s be frank, from myriad forms of contraception to the morning-after pill to the freedom, albeit fiscally defined at present, to decide to abort a pregnancy) to men’s reproductive rights, which are basically nil? When are we going to discuss a father’s rights? – Yours, etc,


Ballinlough Road,


Sir, – I would like to thank Ruth Cullen for her considered and intelligent column on abortion (“Advocates of abortion ignoring a little truth”, Opinion, August 21st). It is by far the most level-headed and caring piece I have read on the subject.

I need to add that I am not a practising member of any religion and my thoughts on the subject centre on the care we should give young women and their babies in a crisis pregnancy. – Yours, etc,


Seafield Court,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – In her trenchant defence of the pro-life campaign’s position on Article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, Dr Ruth Cullen writes: “Thanks in significant part to our constitutional protection of the unborn child the Irish abortion rate is far lower than Britain’s”. If the Eighth Amendment were to be repealed, it’s fair to assume there would be a marked decrease in Britain’s abortion rate. – Yours, etc,


Beacon Hill,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – We are people in or from Ireland. We are under the age of 50. We could not vote in the 1983 abortion referendum which profoundly limited women’s autonomy. No subsequent referendum has provided an opportunity to undo that damage. Many of us have lived our whole lives under an abortion regime in which we have had no say. As a generation we have grown up knowing that the State would compel us to travel if we wished to exercise substantive control over our reproductive lives. We never allowed ourselves to think, at least since Miss X, that we lived under a regime willing in principle to marshal its power against a distressed young woman to compel her to carry her pregnancy to viability.

We have never been given the democratic opportunity to expand the circumstances in which an abortion can be sought in Ireland. We have repeatedly asked for this chance, but the State failed to listen. The law punishes women in our name, but never bore our mark. We are disappointed and concerned by the latest news, but we know that disappointment and concern are not enough. It is time that this generation had its referendum. That referendum must transform the law on access to abortion care.

Women in and from Ireland are entitled to autonomy, to bodily integrity, to be free from unjustified detention, to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment. Women in and from Ireland should not have to expose or prove vulnerabilities and private matters in order to access medical treatment.

As long as the Constitution confers equal rights on the mother and the foetus, doctors and nurses will be unable to treat women ethically. As long as the Constitution remains as it is, those privileged enough to afford to travel will make those difficult journeys without the support they need.

As long as the Constitution remains as it is, we consign the most vulnerable women and girls in our society to a system which will not listen to them, which will not give them any say over their own bodies, which will prioritise birth over any long-term trauma caused to them.

The people should be given the opportunity to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and to enact a law that places women’s capacity to make decisions regarding their bodies and their futures at the heart of their medical treatment. The Government claims it has no mandate to act on the Eight Amendment. This group of over 100 academics, comprising women and the men who support us, adds its voice to the demands that the Government finally listens, finally acknowledges that this mandate exists and finally gives us our referendum. – Yours, etc,

1. Prof Jack Anderson, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

2. Dr Elizabeth Aston, Edinburgh Napier University

3. Ivana Bacik, Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Law School, Trinity College Dublin

4. Dr Helen Basini, Dept. of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick

5. Prof Christine Bell, University of Edinburgh

6. Claire Bracken, Associate Professor, Union College, Schenectady, NY

7. Claire Bruton, BL

8. Dr Audrey Bryan, Lecturer in Sociology, Dublin City University

9. Dr Michelle Butler, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast

10. Dr Susan Cahill, School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University, Montreal

11. Dr Nicola Carr, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast

12. Mr Donal Casey, Kent Law School

13. Professor Danielle Clarke, University College Dublin

14. Professor Claire Connolly, University College Cork

15. Dr Vicky Conway, Kent Law School

16. Dr Íde Corley, Lecturer in English, NUI Maynooth

17. Dr Louise Crowley, Dept of Law, University College Cork

18. Dr Pauline Cullen, NUI Maynooth

19. Dr Aoife Daly, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

20. Dr John Danaher, Lecturer in Law, NUI Galway

21. Hilary Darcy, PhD researcher, Department of Sociology, NUI Maynooth

22. Dr Fergal Davis, University of New South Wales

23. Mr Alan Desmond, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation

24. Dr Darren Dinsmore, Kent Law School

25. Sonya Donnelly, B.L.

26. Dr Fiona Donson, University College Cork

27. Dr Deirdre Duffy, Edge Hill University

28. Dr Fiona Dukelow, University College, Cork

29. Professor Fiona De Londras, Durham Law School

30. Ms Mairead Enright, Kent Law School

31. Dr Michelle Farrell, Lecturer in Law, University of Liverpool

32. Dr Helen Finch, University of Leeds

33. Dr Clara Fischer, Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science

34. Dr Ruth Fletcher, School of Law, Queen Mary University London

35. Ms Christine Gaffney, Dept of Applied Social Studies, UCC

36. Dr Daragh Grant, University of Chicago

37. Dr Diarmuid Griffin, NUI Galway

38. Dr Claire Hamilton, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast

39. Niamh Hayes, Ph.D. candidate, Irish Centre for Human Rights

40. Professor Patrick Hanafin, School of Law, Birkbeck

41. Dr Maebh Harding, Assistant Professor, University of Warwick

42. Dr Sarah Hayden, School of English, University College Cork

43. Dr Edel Hughes, School of Business and Law, University of East London

44. Dr Jonathan Illan, University of Kent

45. Dr Declan Kavanagh, University of Kent

46. Jennifer Kavanagh, Law Lecturer, Waterford IT

47. Dr Michael Kearney, University of Sussex

48. Fiona Kearney, Director, Lewis Glucksman Gallery

49. Dr Cliona Kelly, Cardiff Law School

50. Dr Louise Kennefick, School of Law, Maynooth University

51. Elizabeth Kiely, School of Applied Social Studies, UCC

52. Stefanie Lehner, Queen’s University Belfast

53. Dr Maebh Long, University of the South Pacific

54. Dr Madeleine Lyes, University College Dublin

55. Dr Orla Lynskey, Assistant Professor of Law, London School of Economics

56. Dr Louise Mallinder, School of Law, University of Ulster

57. Dr Paula Mayock, Trinity College Dublin

58. Adam McAuley, School of Law and Government, DCU

59. Dr Julie McCandless, Law Department, London School of Economics

60. Fiona McCann, Senior Lecturer, Université de Lille 3, France

61. Ms Claire McGing, NUI Maynooth

62. Dr Joe McGrath, Dept of Law, NUI Galway

63. Sheelagh McGuinness, University of Birmingham

64. Ms Aisling McMahon, Newcastle Law School

65. Dr Siobhán McPhee, University of British Columbia, Canada

66. Caroline Meenan, BL

67. Dr Lucy Michael, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Hull

68. Dr Marie Moran, College Lecturer, UCD School of Social Justice

69. Jane Mulcahy, Independent Legal and Social Policy Researcher

70. Nicola Murphy, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway.

71. Dr Claire Murray, Dept of Law, University College Cork

72. Mr Colin Murray, Newcastle Law School

73. Ms Anne Neylon, PhD Candidate, Dept of Law, University College Cork

74. Professor Aoife Nolan, School of Law, University of Nottingham

75. Briege Nugent, University of Edinburgh

76. Ms Bríd Ní Ghráinne, School of Law, University of Sheffield

77. Dr Aoife O’Donoghue, Durham Law School

78. Connor O’Donoghue, School of Education, Trinity College Dublin

79. Dr Katherine O’Donnell, UCD Women’s Studies Centre

80. Dr Clíona Ó Gallchoir, School of English, University College Cork

81. Dr Linda O’Keeffe, Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art

82. Dr Margaret O’Neill, School of Culture and Communication, University of Limerick

83. Dr Catherine O’Rourke, School of Law, University of Ulster

84. Dr Catherine O’Sullivan, Dept of Law, University College Cork

85. Dr Emer O’Toole, School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University

86. Dr Tina O’Toole, School of Culture & Communication, University of Limerick

87. Dr Sinead Pembroke, Research Fellow, Trinity College Dublin

88. Prof Clionadh Raleigh, University of Sussex

89. Dr Sinead Ring, Kent Law School

90. Ms Jane Rooney, Durham Law School

91. Dr Edel Semple, School of English, University College Cork

92. Dr Olivia Smith, Dublin City University

93. Dr Joseph Spooner, Assistant Professor, LSE Department of Law

94. Dr Ciara Staunton, Department of Medicine, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

95. Dr Gavin Titley, NUI Maynooth

96. Dr Sharon Thompson, Keele University

97. Dr Liam Thornton, University College Dublin

98. Ms Anwen Tormey, University of Chicago

99. Dr Sorcha Uí Chonnachtaigh, School of Law & Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University

100. Dr Illan Rua Wall, Associate Professor, University of Warwick

101. Dr Judy Walsh, Equality Studies, University College Dublin

102. Ms Malgorzata Wronska, NUI Galway