Referendum on the Eighth Amendment


Sir, – The Very Rev Robert MacCarthy may be right in stating (February 9th) that the letter issued by his church’s two archbishops is not authoritative on abortion. He seems to regard as carrying greater weight a statement by the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, to the effect that personhood is connected to the formation of the nervous system; he adds as his view that life is a continuum.

It is hard to see how his views or those of Dr Habgood support a more permissive basis for abortion than that held by the two archbishops (and their view is somewhat more permissive than that held by the Catholic Church).

Life is indeed a continuum but it starts at conception; it is hard to see how any Christian can see any grounds for interrupting violently that process of development of life if he also believes (as Christians are supposed to believe) that life is made in God’s image.

In any case, all three archbishops as well as Dr MacCarthy have ignored an older Anglican tradition of absolute opposition to abortion – held, for example, by Jeremy Taylor in the 17th century.

The 1861 legislation against abortion was passed at Westminster by a parliament which was largely Protestant, indeed Anglican. This view of abortion held up until the period after the second World War and began to crumble only when Church of England bishops in the House of Lords failed to stand up to the 1967 abortion legislation. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Mia Dovel (February 12th) states that she did not feel welcome to attend the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s launch of “Everywoman” in Galway on February 6th. She interpreted the invitation as excluding her because it stated that the group sought “to build consensus of what reproductive services, including abortion, we need to enable women to realise their potential in life” as she is opposed to legalised abortion. She asks the question how can a group called “Every Woman” possibly build a consensus among all women if it is specific about which women are invited and welcome at the discussion.

I’m sorry Ms Dovel chose not to take part in the conversation because it included exploring abortion, which is a small part of the conversation that we need to have on the reproductive services for women in Ireland.

These include improving access to contraception, increasing maternity entitlements, advocating for affordable quality childcare and ensuring that we have women-centred maternity services.

A consensus means a generally accepted opinion and not an absolute opinion. The hopes and aims of “Everywoman” is to listen, to inform, to educate and to build a consensus that affords “Everywoman” in Ireland their right to decide what is right for them. – Yours, etc,




National Women’s

Council of Ireland,

North King Street,


Dublin 7.