Pros and cons of repealing the Eighth Amendment


Sir, – As I prepare to travel back to Ireland for Christmas, I think about the idea of going home. Is home a place where your human rights are denied? Is home a place where your life is not fully valued? Is home a place where you will not be helped when you are at your most vulnerable?

As I pack, I think of the 11 women who each day prepare to make a very different journey, forced to leave their country to obtain an abortion.

Next year, we will be asked a question in relation to repealing the Eighth Amendment. I hope the outcome will be a positive one for the women of Ireland.

I think of the trip that I will take next Christmas, I hope to find myself at a destination that I long for – home. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – In seeking support for the legalisation of abortion in Ireland, Ciara Greene in her letter this week, asks us to consider that 11 people per day or 77 people per week (her figures) travel to the UK to access abortion, as that is the right decision for them.

Some time she might spare a thought for the other 77, the unseen 77, who also make the journey, unaware of what awaits them. They will meet their end in a land where over the next few weeks, a relatively small number of abandoned animals will receive more airtime and column inches than the 190,000 unborn children who were aborted in England and Wales over the last year.

Why would a civilised country like Ireland want to follow an appalling example like that? – Yours, etc,


St Johnston,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – I applaud Rónán Mullen, Mattie Mc Grath and Peter Fitzgerald for having the courage of their convictions, to resist the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and not put their names to the final report.

At stake are the vulnerable lives of countless potential babies. I know it sounds less callous to describe them as foetuses to be aborted, but the fact remains that they are potential babies about to be destroyed,  as in the time of Christ when Herod slaughtered the Holy Innocents. Will those calling for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, be able to face their God with a clear conscience at the time of their deaths? There is still opportunity for a change of heart, but time is running out. Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – Is it not ironic that the minority report (Home News, December 21st) recommends a citizens’ assembly? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Your Editorial (December 21st) states, “The decisive recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has brought clarity to the kind of proposition the people will be asked to vote on next year.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The committee’s conduct and report reveal a process that was conducted with no interest in hearing medical evidence that did not support the leadership’s predetermination that the Eighth Amendment would be repealed.

On October 26th I was invited to the committee on the Eighth amendment as a neonatologist publishing on outcomes of infants with life-limiting disorders and the association of surgical abortion with preterm birth. The committee had not yet heard from one physician describing counselling in which parents are told that with continued care their anencephalic child would likely be born alive, have a meaningful if short life, and the child’s birth would reduce later maternal mental health challenges. No doctor testified that labelling infants with trisomy 18 as “lethal” is inaccurate and steeped in disability bias. No expert discussed evidence that surgical abortion increases risk for preterm birth. In preparing testimony, however, I learned that a vote had already been taken to repeal the Eighth. My invitation was a post-hoc effort by leaders to offer an impression of balance.

Abortion has had tragic impact in the US. We have aborted 58,000,000 babies since 1973. In the US, 75 per cent of abortion patients are low income. The black abortion rate is three times the white rate. The black preterm birth rate is three times the white rate. Abortion is a key contributor to the preterm birth epidemic in the US. We abort infants with trisomy 13, 18 and 21 at rates of 75-90 per cent.

The Oireachtas has recommended abortion be approved for, “Foetal abnormality that is likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.” Witnesses reported the Rotunda sends 50 per cent of mothers with trisomy 18 and 21 for abortions. What will those numbers be if Oireachtas recommendations are adopted and obstetricians are judges of what is “likely to result in death”?

Ireland has low rates of maternal mortality, preterm birth and, not coincidentally, an extremely low abortion rate. Expanding abortion services and the impact on public health begged a wide-ranging discussion. This was the duty of the Oireachtas Committee.

It is unfortunate that the committee failed to fulfil its obligation to invite medical witnesses who would testify to the benefits of the Eighth for unborn infants, their mothers and the greater welfare of the Republic.


USN (Ret)

Professor of Pediatrics,

Division of Neonatal

Perinatal Medicine

Department of Pediatrics

UNC School of Medicine

North Carolina,


Sir, – According to Dr Tom O’Rourke (December 21st), the relationship that exists between mother and foetus is parasitic. I imagine the vast majority of mothers-to-be view it as symbiotic. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.