‘Abortion, voters and nuance’


Sir, – In your editorial “Abortion, voters and nuance” (May 27th) you draw upon nuances and divergences of opinions as expressed by the Citizens’ Assembly and the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. I would suggest that there is an inherent flaw in drawing definitive conclusions from either.

In particular, the findings of the Ipsos poll may be misleading (as may the findings of the Citizens’ Assembly) on the basis of asking the wrong questions of the wrong people. We know that people do not always behave in a similar fashion to what might be expedient or feasible.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the case of abortion in Ireland.

There will be a huge difference, for instance, between the opinion of somebody who will never have to deal directly with abortion and, say, the parent of a 16-year-old girl, who must make a moral and practical decision as to what is in the best interests of the child. Abortion directly affects only a limited number of citizens.

The real issue may very well be getting drowned out by a lack of focus on what it is and for whom precisely are decisions being made. If you really need to know what proposed changes to the Constitution are appropriate, why not ask those who may be vulnerable, after the moral dilemmas of those of us who are not directly affected have been heard.

The success or otherwise of any proposed changes to the Constitution will be measured by how a young vulnerable girl in an unwanted pregnancy situation (for whatever reason) will be treated in Ireland, and not by the yardstick of whether the pro- or anti-lobby are seen to have the high ground. If the flight bookings to the abortion clinics continue unabated post any referendum, then all will be in vain, apart from one side or another that will claim victory, until the next debate. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Further to “Opinion poll: Clear majority against abortion on request”, May 27th), what was the purpose of the recent Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll on abortion? This poll seemed only to focus on the mother and deciding whether or not she “deserves” to be given a choice. Apparently, rape victims have suffered enough and can be given access to abortion but a homeless mother will just have to figure out how to care for a baby somehow (68 per cent against abortion due to financial difficulties).

Allowing abortion based on the circumstances of the mother is both highly judgmental and difficult to implement. Do we believe that rapists will admit to their crime promptly so that the victim can book an abortion appointment?

Perhaps research regarding abortion could focus more on the baby and when we as a society believe life begins (conception, birth, somewhere in between?). Most moderates would find information regarding term limits genuinely useful in forming an opinion.

This “judgment” approach to the debate actually offers no real compassion to either mothers or babies. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Given the Citizens’ Assembly was broadly representative of the socio-economic and geographic make-up of Irish adults, the disparity between its recommendation on liberalisation of abortion law compared to that in your Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll can only be explained by the fact that the assembly reached its views after considerable discussion and witness testimony, while the wider population has not yet contemplated the issue. A full, frank, respectful and impartial debate in the media and Irish institutions could therefore be expected to swing views to the more pro-choice wing. I shall not hold my breath. – Is mise,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – We are always quick to condemn the ending of innocent human life all over the world, and rightly so.

It strikes me as strange then that we are currently having a debate in this country about how to remove the right to life of the most innocent and defenceless members of our society – unborn children in the womb.

Instead of removing the laws that protect lives, we should surely be looking for new ways to protect these vulnerable lives and provide better support to their families. – Yours, etc,


Tralee, Co Kerry.