Referendum on the Eighth Amendment


Sir, – Originally I was impressed with the Taoiseach’s waiting to see which way the wind was blowing before deciding on how he would vote in the upcoming referendum but I was foolish to ignore the sure genius of Simon Coveney’s position. Being both for and against will surely equal the greatest electoral success. The Taoiseach’s PR team must be seething. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – I want to express my deep joy and gratitude to everyone who has worked so hard and for so long to bring about the decision to hold a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment from our Constitution. This harmful and unworkable amendment has caused decades of suffering and pain, and it is past time for us to move forward from the dark times that brought it into being. I’m looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with the majority of the Irish people to bring about a more compassionate Ireland for us all. – Yours, etc,


Shanakiel, Cork.

Sir, – In addition to amending the Constitution to enable the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion, we could consider inserting into the Constitution a provision that any Act adopted by the Oireachtas in this area will only be signed into law by the President after the people have given their approval for the Act in a referendum. This would mean that any future law would have the strongest possible democratic legitimacy in that both the parliament and the people would have explicitly approved it.

I feel that if we go for such an option, the forthcoming referendum process could be less divisive. It would mean that nobody could argue that the repeal of Article 40.3.3 would give carte blanche to politicians for the future. It would therefore, I believe, facilitate the repeal of Article 40.3.3. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Dr Alberto Giubilini states that when he was invited to a debate with Oxford Students for Life he tried to be as extreme and provocative as possible in arguing for abortion (“Five rules for an open and civil debate on the abortion referendum”, Opinion & Analysis, January 30th).

It is a pity therefore that Dr Giubilini did not tell your readers just how extreme and provocative he can be on this topic.

In an article entitled “After-birth abortion. Why should the baby live?” (co-written with Dr Francesca Minerva and published six years ago in the Journal of Medical Ethics), Dr Giubilini in effect argued the case for infanticide. The authors preferred the term “after-birth abortion” but acknowledged that the killing of newborn children, which they argued to be morally permissible, was what most people would term infanticide. They asserted that there is no moral distinction between unborn and newborn children and that neither group deserves to be regarded as possessing the status of persons; they also contended that after-birth abortion should be available both for disabled children and for those without handicaps.

One wonders why Dr Giubilini was so silent on the subject of this controversial article in his piece on the need for civilised standards in the debate on abortion.

Dr Giubilini and Dr Minerva merely take the logic of the pro-abortion case to an extreme point.

Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advice Service has argued for unlimited abortion up to the point of birth.

Such views may appear to be outlandish, and even advocates of readily available abortion during the first and second trimesters may reject such views . But it should be recalled that the very idea of abortion at any stage was once generally rejected. 

Proponents of repeal should think about the long-term consequences of what they support. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – The Taoiseach and our Minister for Health have both said they would like any new abortion regime to be a GP led service. Surely before getting the opinion of the people of Ireland on repealing the Eighth Amendment, they should get the opinion of GPs on whether we are in a position to provide such a service. – Is mise,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – I read the text of Leo Varadkar’s eloquent and moving referendum speech in my Birmingham kitchen this morning. I thought of the Irish women I had first seen in the early 1980s in my inner city GP consulting room. They were some of the thousands of women who had made the journey overseas, seeking termination of an unwanted pregnancy.

None of these women , nor the many from other cultures that I saw in my 35 years as a GP, took their decision lightly. All were distressed and sad and had given a great deal of thought to their decision. Some of them, after receiving non-judgmental, sensitive and skilled counselling, changed their minds. Those that decided to terminate their pregnancies received care in a medically safe system with robust governance of clinical and support staff. They received contraceptive advice and care where appropriate.

The “statistics” on the number of Irish women having abortions tell thousands of stories. For those who travelled to the UK, each story will have been listened to and witnessed. It is time for Ireland, a country that trumpets its cultural and economic successes, to collectively listen, witness and take responsibility for these stories. Doing so and voting to repeal the Eighth Amendment in no way affects the rights and sensitivities of those who disagree with abortion for their own reasons. They will continue to have the right to avoid this course of action forever. – Yours , etc,



West Midlands, England.