‘Myths and lies about abortion must be debunked’

 

Sir, – David Robert Grimes contrasts pro-life and pro-choice campaigners by saying that “pro-choice advocates do not seek to impose their morality upon others” (“Myths and lies about abortion must be debunked”, Opinion & Analysis, April 3rd). This is an extraordinary statement, particularly in a pompous article which was intended to wag the finger about the need for factual accuracy.

If this referendum is passed, I and every other taxpayer who opposes abortion will have a legal duty imposed on us to contribute a portion of our taxes every year to fund the carrying out of abortions in our hospitals and GP surgeries.

Under the draft legislation proposed by the Government, doctors and nurses who are opposed to abortion will also have a legal duty imposed on them to be complicit in abortions by referring women to another doctor who will perform the abortion.

One doctor has written to compare this to being handed a gun, refusing to pull the trigger, but then being forced to hand the gun to someone who you know will perform the deed.

Internationally, but particularly in America and Europe, the legalisation of abortion was quickly followed by a concerted campaign by pro-choice groups to strip away the remaining conscience protections enjoyed by doctors. This process is already under way here. Ailbhe Smyth, chairwoman of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, has previously said that doctors who refuse to carry out abortions should be removed from their positions and should not be allowed to be part of the review committees which exist under the current abortion legislation.

Once the so-called “right to choose” is placed on legal footing, it is quickly transformed into the right to force people to pay for abortions and force medical professionals to perform them.

So much for the liberal, tolerant pro-choice campaigners extolled by your columnist! – Yours, etc,

THOMAS RYAN, BL

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – David Robert Grimes concedes that the argument in support of abortion which dismisses the foetus as a clump of cells “isn’t helpful given all humans could be defined similarly”.

Rather than draw out the implications of this, he simply repeats the pro-choice view that the decision to terminate should be left to the individual concerned, as if this were the solution to the problem the point raises for the pro-choice position.

If we were to set out the argument, it might look as follows. The unborn are clumps of cells. It is up to individuals whether clumps of cells can be terminated. However, all humans are clumps of cells. Therefore it is up to individuals whether any human can be terminated.

Clearly this is not a conclusion Dr Grimes, or anyone, would actually support. There must be a problem with one of the premises.

The straightforward pro-life answer would be that it is the second premise, but it should be allowed that most pro-choice advocates have a difficulty with equating the foetus through all stages of its gestation with adult humans, so would not accept the premise which takes the two to be similar. In fact, most pro-choice arguments rely strongly on the view that the born and unborn are so different that the latter cannot be accorded the right to life.

However, in general, similarity between born and unborn is rejected without any reasons being provided. It is taken as an axiom, to be accepted without the need for supporting arguments.

The greatest myth on the pro-choice side is that fair and just laws can be created while avoiding having to make the case in support of the belief that the unborn should not have a right to life on their own account. – Yours, etc,

COLIN WALSH,

Templeogue,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – I fully support David Robert Grimes’s plea “that we not allow odious falsehoods take the place of reasoned discussion” in the Eighth Amendment referendum campaign. This is especially pertinent at a time when others have warned of an impending avalanche of anti-abortion fake news, especially on social media.

It also matters when the role of journalists in the debate is coming under increasingly close scrutiny. For instance, Simon Harris says he is being constantly asked to justify the Government’s 12-week proposal and has called, equally, for the pro-life camp not to be given an easy ride by the media. The Minister for Health wants anti-abortion spokespeople to be asked what their “alternative proposal” is when a woman or “child perhaps” has been raped; he asks, are they “genuinely saying that the child has to carry that baby to full term?”

David Robert Grimes says that “groups advocating for repeal have quite admirably stuck to the facts”. It is crucial that the anti-repeal side is made to do the same, and consistently asked the awkward questions. – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – The opinion piece by David Robert Grimes raises more questions than answers. Dr Grimes states PAS (post-abortion syndrome) is a myth. Why then is PAC (post-abortion counselling) available to every post-abortion woman, even in countries like Ireland where abortion is not legal?

In relation to late-term abortion, he says, “The insinuation that the foetus feels pain is the most inflammatory of all anti-abortion arguments”’. As a scientist, Dr Grimes must have heard of exciting developments in foetal surgery and the need for fetal anaesthetics to be administered from 18 weeks gestation. Why anaesthetise the foetus if it is incapable of feeling pain?

The no-pain myth propagated by pro-abortion campaigners is the weakest of all arguments.

Do we kill off non-sentient adults (comatose patients) because they cannot feel pain?

One of the most extraordinary statements Dr Grimes makes is, “Whether someone views an early foetus as a baby or a cell cluster is likely related to whether they consent to being pregnant or not”. Sorry, a baby in the womb or outside the womb does not suddenly become a “cell cluster” just because someone wants it to be. Science, in particular embryology and foetology, have debunked such puerile opinion.

One of the most ardent abortion-providers in the US, Dr Bernard Nathanson, after participating in foetology research stated in 1975, “Foetology makes it undeniably evident that human life begins at conception and requires all the protections and safeguards that any of us enjoy . . . As a scientist I know, not believe, know that human life begins at conception.”

As a result of foetology research, he became an international champion of the pro-life movement. The rarely-mentioned scientific-based fact about abortion is that it is always the direct intentional killing of human life. This is why so many people oppose abortion. – Yours, etc,

ANN KEHOE,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – A trope being used by many of those who favour repeal of the Eighth Amendment is that we should trust our politicians. This is clearly seen in the comments of Bishop Michael Burrows and in the piece by Diarmaid Ferriter (News, Opinion & Analysis, March 31st). A couple of comments are in order.

First, the democratic process is premised on a mistrust – or at least a very partial trust – of politicians. It allows us periodically to replace individual politicians, and even entire governments, whom we regard as incompetent or unsuitable, or whose values we deem to be contrary to the good of the nation.

Second, with regard to the Eighth Amendment, I have no difficulty in trusting our Government. I trust that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed they will keep their promise and legislate for abortion on request up until 12 weeks. I trust that they will be open to progressive liberalisation, in as many increments as it takes to reach a still more liberal abortion regime.

Given the contrasting ways in which it can be construed, trust of our politicians is something of a red herring. The real issue is whether the right to life of the unborn should be protected by our Constitution. – Yours, etc,

Rev CHRIS HAYDEN,

Carnew,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – A question the anti-abortion movement needs to answer is, if abortion really kills an innocent baby, what kind of prison sentence they believe women who commit these murders should receive.

Should it be treated as manslaughter? Should they get life sentences?

How seriously do they actually take their own position? – Yours, etc,

LIZ O’NEILL,

Dundrum,

Dublin 16.-