Abortion referendum and fake news


Sir, – Without so much as a blush, Fintan O’Toole employs the tools of the fake-news peddler as he attempts to smear those organising the “Save the 8th” campaign (“Abortion fake-news firestorm heading our way”, Opinion, March 27th).

The campaigners are associated with Trump and Brexiteers in the very clear suggestion that those opposed to abortion on demand are of the “hard right”

Like many others, O’Toole is utterly wrong. Abortion on demand continued to be freely available under Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US, although they were two of the most far right politicians of the last 100 years. This fact, of itself, surely casts serious doubt on the assertion that providing abortion choice is a “left” issue.

Many on the right, regardless of what they may claim, are comfortable with a liberal abortion regime – after all, facts show that the vast majority of abortions are performed on women who live at or below the poverty line. Rich people, those of the political right, rarely have abortions.

O’Toole might learn from Nell McCafferty on the subject (Magazine, March 24th). Abortion should always be the last resort and never the first. What O’Toole and those of the “left” should be doing, in the first instance, is campaigning for real justice and choice for all women and ensuring that poverty plays no part in the decision to access abortion. In short, real choice, free of coercion. – Yours, etc,


Rathedmond, Sligo.

Sir, – We now have it on the authority of the Attorney General that the Government has made a “complete dog’s dinner” of its Judicial Appointments Commission Bill (Ross’s judicial Bill now a ‘dog’s dinner’, says AG, March 24th).

This legislative incompetence is a product of the present voting arithmetic in Leinster House or the “new politics” as they prefer to call it.

Against this rather chaotic background the Government is bringing forward a referendum asking the people to give them authority over the lives of the most vulnerable human beings in the country.

How on earth can we have confidence or trust in them to come up with abortion legislation that is not another example of canine culinary disaster?

I shall be voting to keep the power with the people; in the Constitution where it belongs. – Yours, etc,


Killiney, Co Dublin.

Sir, – You report Simon Coveney has suggested that there be a two-thirds majority for any further changes in abortion legislation (Home News, March 27th). When looking back, this could be considered a pivotal time when those supporting change lost and those who want to keep the Eighth Amendment in place won.

We have seen in the UK and the US similar attempts to appease political opponents through reassurance and the adoption of their concerns. The message that Mr Coveney sends out is not that what the Government is proposing is worthwhile of support, but in fact the opposite.

It follows the pro-life narrative that whatever is decided now will be followed swiftly by changes to further liberalise the law, emboldening those who fear repeal. In this, the strategy mirrors those in the UK who supported remaining in the EU but began every sentence by saying “of course the EU is not perfect”. What the electorate took away from this was that the EU was, indeed, not perfect. They voted accordingly. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The European Institute for Gender Equality’s recently published report shows once again that the burden of unpaid care work and responsibility continues to fall primarily on women.

There are many reasons for this, but an element is that women and girls are programmed to see themselves as carers and that the wellbeing of others is their responsibility. Ireland especially has a long history of shaming and vilifying women who do not live up to the impossible and often contradictory standards we set for them.

An Irish woman, therefore, who makes the decision to terminate a pregnancy, does not take that decision lightly. She does not only calculate using the circumstances of the present, she projects a life-time ahead, weighing, researching and considering. A decision to terminate a pregnancy takes into account social expectations, personal circumstances, financial stability, support networks, ability to support and care for the baby, impact on older parents, impact on other children, impact on the baby itself of coming into difficult circumstances and a million other variables individual to each person faced with this decision.

This country puts almost the entire weight of care work on the shoulders of Irish women and the Irish State relies heavily on this unpaid, unsupported source of labour.

It is therefore a source of the gravest injustice and most profound and disgraceful hypocrisy that a State that needs women to continue to perform these care duties would force them to make key care choices in fear for their health and safety, and under threat of criminal prosecution. – Yours, etc,