Referendum on the Eighth Amendment

 

Sir, – Anybody who thinks that pregnancy does not cause mental or physical trauma to women suffers from a lack of imagination.

Perhaps they have little knowledge or experience with the process and have never had to consider how they would deal with a crisis pregnancy. Perhaps people who have a very sanitary and idealised notion of pregnancy and childbirth can pretend this is how women’s bodies function – that women love every moment of pregnancy and when mothers come out from the hospital they are in possession of a lovely, shiny baby, almost magically.

Unfortunately women live in the real world, and not everybody wants or envisions their lives enduring pregnancy or parenthood. Some women may embrace the state but for me, it has always held nothing but horror. The metamorphosis, shifting of organs, change in hormones, days in agony, the tearing or cutting of flesh, sleepless nights, ensuing poverty and lack of freedom are all factors that horrify me. I think every woman who endures the process should have a bridge or street named in her honour, marking her heroism.

I have done many things in my life but I would rather spend nine months jumping continuously from a moving aircraft or train than spend nine months pregnant. I certainly never had an intention to raise a child. Other people have different thresholds and preferences. The fact that I was born with a reproductive system does not necessarily mean using it wouldn’t be a trauma.

In centuries past, women were force to endure pregnancy, without birth control or recourse, silently agreeing with the societal notion that every pregnancy was welcomed. Perhaps men have had similar reactions but were always able to “do a runner” or claim they never met that woman.

Thankfully options are available to women now, albeit at a distance. Saying No to this amendment won’t stop women like me procuring abortions. However, many women without the resources to travel abroad will and do take dangerous paths.

Saying No will inflict a punishment on women who chose to live their life without offspring, and perhaps that brings satisfaction to a certain group, but it won’t change the basic fact that pregnancy, for me, would be a living nightmare. – Yours, etc,

SE LYDON,

Cork.

Sir, – I was struck by the photograph of Minister for Health Simon Harris, Senator Lynn Ruane and Colm O’Gorman, director of Amnesty Ireland, at the launch of Amnesty’s “It’s Time To Talk” campaign. It is entirely inappropriate for the Minister for Health, or indeed any Minister, to launch an event involving Amnesty Ireland, given its blatant flouting of Standards in Public Office Commission rules. Any organisation taking foreign funding to influence our politics should be beyond the pale for any elected representative. – Yours, etc,

PAUL WILLIAMS,

Kilkee,

Co Clare.

Sir, – I am delighted to see how quickly the Yes campaign achieved their fundraising goals through their online campaign (“Together for Yes campaign says it is on course to raise €500,000”, News, April 9th). Over €300,000 was raised in about 24 hours through small individual donations. However, this response is not surprising at all when you consider how far-reaching the Eighth Amendment is. It has forced over 170,000 women to travel abroad for healthcare. It has also negatively impacted on so many wanted pregnancies, by interfering with doctors’ medical decision-making.

I am confident that a majority of people will listen to the women and doctors who have been impacted by the Eighth Amendment and vote Yes to remove it this May. – Yours, etc,

CIARA BROWNE,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.

A chara, – Contrary to the claims in Fintan O’Toole’s article “Eighth Amendment has failed even conservatives” (Opinion & Analysis, April 10th), back in 1983 it was far from certain that the pro-life referendum would be carried. All the main media outlets, and particularly your newspaper, were vehemently opposed to it.

Your columnist claims that pro-choice politicians back in 1983 were cowed into silence, yet he doesn’t see the irony in this happening today to pro-life politicians.

His assertion that “the amendment was a disaster for those genuinely opposed to abortion” is obviously at odds with the facts, but he is entitled to his opinion. More objectionable, however, is his assertion that the pro-life side maintains is it “better for a mother to die than for her to have an abortion”. That is a myth and amounts to propaganda. – Is mise,

CIARÁN MAC GUILL,

Clichy,

France.

Sir, – With regard to the letter by legal professionals published on April 9th, all the legal argument in the world does not get away from the fact that abortion is the direct intentional killing of human life, and therefore is not acceptable. – Yours, etc,

MOIRA MORRISSEY,

Thurles,

Co Tipperary.

Sir, – Does our Government have a plan of action should the referendum be defeated and the Eighth Amendment be retained?

There would be plenty of scope for action, such as supporting adoption agencies and funding organisations that give practical help to women in crisis. – Yours, etc,

JUDITH LEONARD,

Raheny,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – Nora Ward (April 11th) asserts that “This is not the referendum most people want”. Surely the result of the referendum will show what most people want.

Personally I will be voting for repeal of this egregious amendment. – Yours, etc,

GERALDINE BIRD,

Doolin,

Co Clare.