Abortion and the law


Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (“Why Ireland never faced up to the issue of abortion”, Opinion & Analysis, August 26th) mentioned me and others involved in Plac (Pro Life Amendment Campaign) in unflattering terms.

If Catholic you are “sectarian” and if holding views on other issues, intolerant, in Fintan’s book. On a minor point, the Knights of St Columbanus played no part in Plac. Contrary to Fintan’s assertions, Plac was launched, not by the “head” of the Knights but by the late Cornelius O’Leary, professor of politics at Queen’s University, Belfast.

In the list of Plac supporters, Fintan omits its 12 patrons, six professors of obstetrics and gynaecology and six other obstetricians, including masters of maternity hospitals. In 1983, well over 1,000 GPs signed up support for the amendment. Indeed, it is beyond argument that the medical profession itself was the mainspring of the Plac campaign and also in defeating the amendment on the “substantive issue” in 1992.

The founding groups, whether Catholic or not, had national memberships which facilitated constituency organisation. It was estimated that over 17,000 dedicated people were engaged in leafleting and lobbying for the amendment in the last weeks of the campaign.

Despite Fintan’s assertions, I was never the éminence grise of the Plac campaign. To undermine the credibility of those involved, Fintan brought in other issues many of them peripheral and inaccurately described. The Dalkey School Project, the Rape Crisis Centre, etc, etc.

The case against the Irish Family Planning Association 40 years ago was taken by the State. Afterwards I was attacked in your pages by an Irish Times journalist, now deceased, who was also a founder director of the IFPA. I strongly defended my action in your paper at that time.

The Supreme Court misread the clear words of the Constitution in 1992. It allowed abortion for threatened suicide although no psychiatrist can predict suicide. There are also many studies showing that abortion itself can be a cause of suicide. The Finnish studies show that women having abortions are six or seven times more likely to commit suicide than women who give birth! – Yours, etc,


C/O The Second

Look Project,

Merrion Square,

Dublin 2.