Abortion law change proposals

Sir, – Abortion-free Ireland is a lie.

On average, 11 women a day have to travel abroad to access an abortion in Ireland. There are many reasons for this: an unwanted pregnancy, fatal foetal abnormalities, medical reasons, socio-economic reasons, etc. These are all relevant reasons for a woman to choose to end a pregnancy. Abortion-free Ireland does not exist; Ireland has similar levels of abortion to other developed nations. It’s time we acknowledge this reality.

I think to fully comprehend the scale of this problem; a visual aid is useful. The next time you are with a group of people, count out 11 people, now imagine they are all travelling to the UK today to access this medical procedure, an abortion, that is the right decision for them. Now count another 11 people – those 11 will be travelling tomorrow. To see how many travel in a week, you will need to count 77 people. If you wanted to see how many people travel a year, you’d have to count 4,000 people.

Pro-choice is the middle ground, where a woman can make the choice herself based on accurate medical advice and her individual situation.


Forced pregnancy or forced abortions are the extreme.

It is time that we recognise the scale and severity of this issue.

Let’s ensure in 2018 that the residents of Ireland that decide that an abortion is the best choice for them, can access the medical care they need at home. – Yours, etc,



London, England.

Sir, – Surely it could not be true that neither the Citizens’ Assembly nor the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment would have sought or considered scientific input to their deliberations?

But from their conclusions and recommendations it sadly appears that it is so – neither sought such input.

May I suggest that in order to come to a balanced decision on the best way to regulate issues around pregnancy, it is essential to respect the two basic biological facts relating to the unborn child and the pregnant mother.

First, it is a biological fact that the life of each individual human organism starts at fertilisation, when the DNA from both parents comes together in one cell; after that, nothing is added but time. The natural process of development, culminating in a newborn and eventually an adult, begins then. If you terminate the life of an embryo or a foetus in the womb, you are terminating the life of a unique human individual.

This is scientific fact, nothing to do with religion.

There is no scientific evidence for an afterlife, so from a scientific point of view, terminating a pregnancy wipes out, for all time, any potential which that individual may have had. Denying that the unborn child is a human individual is like denying gravity or climate change – you can deny it all you like, it is still a fact.

The second biological fact is that during pregnancy there is a unique relationship of dependency of the unborn child on the mother, representing a very significant impact on the mother’s life for the period of the pregnancy. Nothing else quite like this relationship exists in the rest of humans’ lives, and the pregnant mother’s needs and rights therefore require special consideration

In deciding where the balance of rights lies, these two biological facts are potentially in conflict; it is essential to acknowledge both in finding solutions for the difficult challenges involved.

There is no evidence from their outputs that either the Citizens’ Assembly or the Oireachtas committee have taken into account all of the relevant biological facts in coming to their conclusions.

Selectively ignoring one of the important facts, as both appear to have done, is likely to yield flawed recommendations. Flawed recommendations do not form a good basis for constitutional or legislative change. –Yours, etc,


Professor Emeritus of


National Institute for

Cellular Biotechnology,

Dublin City University,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – Breda O’Brien refers to “boys and girls in the womb” (Opinion, December 16th). What about transgender foetuses? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – You quote Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan ( December 16th), as believing the matter of the Eighth Amendment to be primarily a women’s health issue.

The matter of abortion, however, concerns two people – the mother and the child: modern science makes it clear that the unborn child is a human being, stage one, and not merely a “foetus” or some such. (The almost helpless period of infancy is stage two.)

It is characteristic of pro-choice people, with the head firmly in the sand, to dodge the issue and speak of it as if it were purely and solely a women’s health matter and not at all a matter of ending a human life.

Micheál Martin TD is quoted in the same edition as saying that “there is the other side of the equation as well. There is a baby in the womb. Some people would call it a foetus right up to the birth. I couldn’t do that.”

As a long time Fine Gael voter, I know how I will vote next time; it won’t be Fine Gael. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – Oliver Duffy tells us that as the youngest of seven children, he is grateful to God that there was no pro-choice lobby in 1940.

Perhaps, after the deliberations of the Citizens’ Assembly and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment, his God has changed his mind? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.