Abortion law change proposals


Sir, – I see that Regina Doherty has changed her mind on abortion, following Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris and Ned O’Sullivan who have done the same.

Given that the reason for objection to abortion is that is involves killing a baby, I cannot see how anyone could change their mind on such an issue. One thing, however, has become clear, ie, the importance of having the right to life of unborn babies protected by the Constitution. It cannot be left in the hands of politicians who are prepared to change their minds on such a fundamental issue and make decisions on the basis of political expediency. – Yours, etc,


Strandhill Road,


Sir, – I write to commend the work of the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee, and to express my support for their key recommendations as voted upon this week. The evidence presented before the committee’s extensive hearings made clear the immense difficulties that the Eighth Amendment causes for women and doctors. It is to be hoped that we can move swiftly to implement the committee’s recommendations, and provide the people with an opportunity at last to repeal the amendment. After 34 years, it is long past time for this referendum. – Yours, etc,


Seanad Éireann,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Recent studies in the US show that women with incomes below the federal poverty level (FPL) have an abortion rate of 52 per 1,000 reproductive-age women, compared with a rate of just 9 per 1,000 among that group with an income twice the FPL, thus indicating that poverty is a significant driver of the abortion rate.

So can we expect another Dáil committee, chaired again by Fine Gael, to study the imposition of a minimum income for women once they become pregnant in order to ensure that they have real choice? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Noel Whelan suggests that we need to ditch “Punch and Judy format debates” in regard to referendums (Opinion, December 15th). Quite so, but he doesn’t develop his argument to its logical conclusion – which is that the electorate should not necessarily be presented with a binary option in referendums.

Thus, for the referendum on the abortion issue, I see no reason why we should not be given three options on the Eighth Amendment: repeal, replace or retain. If none of these options attracted 50 per cent of the votes in the first round, then the decision would be made by distributing the second preferences of those who had chosen the least popular option as their first preference. In other words, we would decide between the three options by means of the single transferable vote.

That is the way we decide elections – including elections where, like in a referendum, there can be only one winner (eg by-elections and presidential elections). The public knows well how the system works, and has a track record of using it astutely. It seems to me an eminently suitable method for determining the forthcoming referendum. It would leave us free to make a decision on this complex issue with due regard to, but not limited by, any replacement wording which may be favoured by the Oireachtas. – Yours, etc,


Cabinteely, Dublin 18.

Sir, – As the youngest of seven children in my family, I am grateful to God that there was no pro-choice lobby around in 1940. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – After listening to the rantings coming from certain members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment. I am convinced that, to obtain a reasonable level of measured debate, any vote on the subject should be confined to women only. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I find Fr Kevin E O’Reilly’s recommendation that those in favour of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment would do better to attempt “to engage in reasoned dialogue,” as opposed to their allegedly “uncivilised” behaviour that is edging Irish democracy towards “totalitarianism” troublingly absurd (Opinion, December 15th).

In the same paragraph, he suggests, “It is impossible to find reasoned arguments in support of the moral legitimacy of wilfully destroying innocent human life.”

While his language appears to appeal to moderation, reason and civilised debate, he claims that there are no reasoned arguments available to those with whom he disagrees. Presumably then, the only way to engage in reasoned debate is for those who oppose O’Reilly’s view to agree with him. In this regard, he exhibits little of the tolerance of dissenting views the absence of which among his opponents he so vehemently decries.

O’Reilly appears to misunderstand the concept of debate so profoundly, that he regards agreement with him as a prerequisite for its occurrence. – Yours, etc,



Castleknock, Dublin 15.

Sir, – Patsy McGarry reports that the Catholic Bishops have stated that the removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution “can have no effect other than to expose unborn children to greater risk”. (Home News, December 15th).

They omitted to draw attention to another vital effect of the removal of this amendment, viz – it will greatly lessen the exposure of pregnant women to possibly life-threatening risks to their health and lives. – Yours, etc,


Malahide, Co Dublin.