Dáil vote on abortion referendum

 

Sir, – As a Donegal woman living in Brussels, I was mortified to hear the name of one of our county’s elected representatives listed among the 32 TDs who chose to vote against the holding of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Pat the Cope Gallagher’s views on access to abortion are not news to me. But I now realise that he appears to be anti-choice in every circumstance. Not only is he opposed to people exercising choice over when they’d like to start a family, he and the other 31 TDs who voted No are also opposed to the electorate having a choice in a referendum, full stop.

In fact, the only choice that these TDs seem to be in favour of is the one that the electorate gets to make during a general election. When their jobs are on the line, choice is great! When people’s health and lives are on the line? Not so much.

The Eighth Amendment needs to go if we want to make Ireland a safe and supportive place for people who are pregnant. I heartily support the Home to Vote initiative – if you are entitled to cast a ballot and can afford to travel home to make your voice heard, please do. I’d also encourage the voters to remember how the vote on March 21st went, and how much choice some of our TDs really want us to have! – Yours, etc,

EMMA CASSIDY,

Brussels.

Sir, – I find it horrific that the Dáil has passed the Bill on the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, as its repeal will lead to the legalisation of abortion in widespread circumstances in Ireland.

The fact that the Dáil passed the bill on World Down Syndrome Day added irony to the horror. – Yours, etc,

NICOLA DAVERON,

Galway.

A chara, – Some 32 democratically elected TDs voted against electors democratically voting on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. That’s a selective interpretation of democracy. – Is mise,

DOIREANN MARKHAM,

Ballinlough,

Co Roscommon.

Sir, – Proponents of the Eighth Amendment frequently claim to “love both” mother and foetus, and that keeping the Amendment in our Constitution will “save lives”.

What about Sheila Hodgers? She died in agony two days after giving birth in 1983, having been denied cancer treatment during pregnancy as it could damage her unborn child, and was subsequently denied her requests for an abortion, early delivery or a Caesarean section. As both herself and her daughter died, should one argue that both of their rights had been equally upheld, or equally oppressed? While Sheila Hodgers’s tragic death occurred before the Eighth Amendment was signed into law, her case illustrates the dangers that arise when State hospitals are governed by the teachings of the Catholic Church, and why we need to remove the Eighth Amendment from our Constitution. Everyone has the right to healthcare based on compassion, to medics who act in the best interests of their patient, and to hospitals which are not bound by religious ethos. We simply cannot continue to hold gravely ill women hostage to such outdated, barbaric laws. – Yours, etc,

LIZZY MacKENZIE,

Tralee,

Co Kerry.

A chara, – Further to Billy Kelleher’s article (“Why I was persuaded abortion up to 12 weeks should be allowed”, Opinion & Analysis, March 21st), legislating for abortion in cases of rape or incest is neither “difficult” nor “impossible”, as he states. This we know, as Mr Kelleher then goes on to cite a number of examples of countries that have, in fact, come up with exactly such laws. Despite asserting it would be “well nigh impossible to have a termination after being raped”, he himself mentions Germany as a state where it is not only an option but actually possible without the undesirable burden of requiring legal proof to be obtained.

For the record, 48 parliaments have managed to legislate for abortion in cases of rape (United Nations World Abortion Policies 2013). The suggestion that it can’t be done is a blatant red herring.

I suspect that the real middle ground in this debate lies with people who sympathise with the “hard cases” of fatal foetal abnormalities, victims of rape or incest, and where the mother’s life or health is at serious risk. If the Government were to propose a constitutional amendment and/or legislation covering just these circumstances, I imagine that the referendum would easily pass.

Instead, seeing an opportunity to introduce a far-ranging regime of abortion without restriction right up until the end of the first trimester, under the guise of sympathetically providing for victims of rape, the pro-choice side may well have overplayed its hand. Time will tell. – Is mise,

DAVID CARROLL,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – I was pleased to see the Taoiseach committing to respecting the outcome of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, whatever the outcome may be.

The position asserted by his gaffe-prone Minister for Social Protection was somewhat bizarre. Regina Doherty seemed to be asserting that if the referendum result was not the result that she and other repeal voters desired, then we’d all have to go back to the polls for a second time and vote in the correct manner.

Ms Doherty’s comments were ill-judged and were somewhat disturbing coming from a Cabinet member who should display a far better understanding of constitutional politics.

Punch-drunk from the success of the marriage referendum, the repeal proposals which are being put forward by this Government have gone too far – in fact so far that no party has the decency to officially endorse them. Cake is being had and eaten in vast quantities. – Yours, etc,

FEARGAL QUINN,

Dublin 2.