Referendum on the Eighth Amendment

 

Sir, – In his comments while announcing the go-ahead for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, the Taoiseach stated that under a new regime, abortion would be “safe and rare”, both laudable objectives.

Studies show that over 70 per cent of women, when asked why they sought an abortion, cited monetary concerns. Poverty is a key driver of the abortion rate with the majority of terminations carried out on women with below average incomes.

Mr Varadkar is in a position to pay more than lip service to the issue by ensuring that government policy removes money concerns from the equation. The introduction of more distributive justice would be a great first step. If he does that, the facts show that abortion would indeed be rare.

By far, the most compassionate thing people in power can do. – Yours, etc,

JIM O’SULLIVAN,

Rathedmond,

Sligo.

Sir, – I would like to congratulate Leo Varadkar on his extremely well delivered and well crafted speech yesterday.

I am so very sad that not once did he mention the rights of the unborn child. – Yours, etc,

ANNIE NOLAN,

Corcullen,

Galway.

Sir, – Would someone tell our Taoiseach, who regards himself as a liberal and who keeps on saying that he wants to liberalise our abortion laws, that we don’t have any abortion law in Ireland?

What we have is a very liberal article in our Constitution which guarantees the equal right to life of the mother and baby.

The Taoiseach is trying to restrict that right to life to the mother only and take it away from the little baby. Some liberal. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK GEARY,

Newcastle West,

Co Limerick.

A chara, – The mantra used to be “safe, legal and free”. I wonder which spinmeister had the bright idea of changing that to “safe, legal and rare” and what salary he or she receives for such wishful thinking?

If the current constitutional protection afforded to unborn babies is removed, there is only one direction the abortion statistics can realistically go over time. – Is mise,

MURT Ó SÉAGHDHA,

Dundalk,

Co Louth.

Sir, – What an air of inevitability the public debate on repealing the Eighth Amendment seems to have recently taken.

Now that we know when we can expect to vote on it, the clouds of obfuscation that our political leaders were hiding behind for so long have really departed and we are now being asked to dispose of the Eighth Amendment and give our politicians the authority to legislate on abortion.

So far, the debate has been markedly one sided in favour of those who favour liberalised abortion laws, with the other side made to look like a posse of twee, Bible-thumping, ultramontane Mass-goers.

This is also reflected in the language used, you are either “pro-life” or “pro-choice”. I am an atheist who is also “anti-abortion”, and I would not label those who want to introduce abortion in this country as “anti-life”.

I truly hope that the demographic in this country that opposes abortion finds itself a truly eloquent voice who is not just seen as a mouthpiece for old religious Ireland.

There is a very significant group of people out there who do not see this as just a feminist and civil liberty versus Catholic and conservative question.

It is about the absolute sanctity of human life – all human life. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN DOWLING,

Kildare.

Sir, – I try to take a balanced view while listening to arguments from both sides when it comes to this kind of debate.

I find that young people today are generally very well informed and take a compassionate view on all kinds of social issues; for example you will hear lots of opposition to blood sports, animal cruelty , the use of animals for medical testing, and so on.

This attitude does not appear to extend to the abortion debate. We now live in a society where there is virtually unrestricted access to all types of contraception and unlimited information on the use and availability of such methods. Mass communication through social media means that there is no reason for anybody being in the dark about such matters.

It is surprising then to see a large number of these well informed younger people actively calling for a medieval solution to unwanted pregnancy instead of calling for improved availability of and education about contraception. We are regularly informed, in all walks of life, that prevention is better than cure, why does this adage appear to be missing from this debate? – Yours, etc,

JOHN EGAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – I am writing to you after just watching the post-Cabinet press conference.

I welcome the provisional referendum date for the end of May.

I am so filled with emotion and pride at how far we have come, and how far I feel certain we will go. We must take this opportunity to affect real change and allow the Oireachtas to legislate.

I was very impressed with Minister for Health Simon Harris’s words on the uncertainty that women currently face, and the Taoiseach’s stark reminder that children who become pregnant by rape in this country are expected to give birth under the Eighth Amendment.

What kind of cruel state do we live in if we cannot offer proper medical care to women in dire need?

The Ministers and Taoiseach’s calls for a respectful and factual debate should be noted; women have to go through enough in this country already, so let’s make getting their rights acknowledged as easy a process as possible. – Yours, etc,

LUCY BOLAND,

Cork.