‘Medical myths about Eighth Amendment’

 

Sir, – I refer to the piece by Prof Eamon McGuinness in which he states that the right to life of the unborn under the Eighth Amendment “does not restrict doctors from acting to save the life of a woman where a serious complication arises” (“Medical myths about Eighth Amendment must be challenged”, Opinion & Analysis, April 6th).

I also refer to the testimony of Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, the author of the independent report into the death of Savita Halapannavar, to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment: “It was very clear the thing holding the hands of physicians was the legal issue. Anybody, any junior doctor, would have said this is a sepsis condition, we must terminate. She did have sepsis. However, if she had a termination in the first days as requested, she would not have had sepsis. We would never have heard of her and she would be alive today,” he said.

Never again. It is time to repeal the Eighth Amendment. – Yours, etc,

BERNIE LINNANE,

Dromahair,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – Dr Eamon McGuinness asserts that Ireland’s low maternal death rate is justification for retention of the Eighth Amendment, as it supports the contention that doctors are not restrained from carrying out life-saving interventions under the amendment. Not dying in pregnancy is cold comfort to women with serious health problems worsened by pregnancy; to women with fatal foetal abnormalities; to women who have suffered incest or rape. Not dying in pregnancy is the lowest bar we should be aiming for in modern medicine. – Yours, etc,

Dr BRENDAN

McDONNELL,

(Specialist Registrar

in Obstetrics),

Dublin 8.

Sir, – What a relief it was this morning to read the article by Prof Eamon McGuinness, former chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which authoritatively dealt with the facts regarding the Eighth Amendment, and the lies and distortions being put about by some on the pro-choice side. At last, we are hearing the truth. Let us hope we will be allowed to hear more from him over the next two months. Like Prof McGuinness, I will be voting to retain the Eighth Amendment. – Yours, etc,

GERALD LEAHY,

Mallow, Co Cork.

Sir, – Prof Fiona de Londras (April 6th) is a little more optimistic than I am over the prospect of conscientious protection for medical staff who will not take part in abortions. Possibly she is unaware of the case of the Swedish midwife Ellinor Grimmark, who was forced to begin commuting to Norway to practice her profession after a Swedish labour court upheld the right of hospitals to require midwives to carry out abortions, regardless of their religious beliefs. Ms Grimmark is currently in the process of appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, but considering the mentality of judicial activism currently infecting the legal profession, Christians should not hold their breath. – Yours, etc,

DAVID SMITH,

Artane, Dublin 5.

Sir, – The Government’s proposed draft legislation requiring practitioners who, in conscience, are opposed to abortion,to refer a woman to another practitioner who will provide an abortion service is unacceptable. If, like conscientious objectors in war you are morally opposed to the taking of human life, you should not have to find someone who will do what you know and believe to be wrong and against medical ethics to do no harm. Pacifists and conscientious objectors in war have never been required to find replacement soldiers who will kill to order. – Yours, etc,

ANN KEHOE,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – In the past week alone, representatives from three seperate groups canvassing for support of the Eighth Amendment have called to my door to ask me to consider the precious value of the unborn. A strong argument indeed.

Is it not strange, then, that no-one in the past 25 years has asked me to support the repeal of the 13th Amendment? –Yours, etc,

RAY MULKEARNS,

Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Sir, – Have those opposed to abortion considered that allowing women to talk to their doctors, friends and family openly and honestly, without fear of a criminal sentence, could actually lead to a “pro-life” outcome?

We’ve tried threatening women with criminal sentences; we should try honesty. – Yours, etc,

DAVID GORMAN,

Finglas, Dublin 11.

Sir, – Whatever the result of the referendum, it is high time that Ireland put in place measures that can take the “crisis” out of “crisis pregnancy”. If a woman cannot face her pregnancy because of financial, accommodation or social pressures, these should be addressed appropriately with caring support rather than pointing her in the direction of an abortion clinic. – Yours, etc,

KATHARINE DAVEY,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – It is with sadness that I cannot vote in the upcoming referendum as I have been out of the country over 18 months. I would, however, like to voice my support for a Yes vote.

Regardless of what anti-choice groups say, abortion happens in Ireland. Women who need an abortion will get one. Women will either travel, order pills online (which may not be as labelled), or search out more drastic means. Surely, we would want our women to be provided with the appropriate medical care, after-care and essential services on home soil? Anything else is simply exporting an issue, rather than solving it. – Yours, etc,

GEMMA WHITE,

London.