State, church and healthcare


Sir, – Dr Finbar Lennon states (May 3rd) that because Catholic hospitals across the world provide “many aspects” of reproductive healthcare, “It is premature to presume that in due course they will not provide legal healthcare.”

There is no “presumption”. There is evidence that for critically ill women in emergency situations, a hospital that covers only certain “aspects” of healthcare is not enough.

Women in the US – where more than 15 per cent of hospitals follow Catholic health directives – are denied contraceptives and tubal ligations, even when a pregnancy is likely to put their health or life at risk. Women are denied abortions even when a pregnancy jeopardises their health or life, even if the pregnancy is non-viable.

These policies are consistent with Catholic beliefs, and it is perfectly acceptable to hold those beliefs. What is not acceptable is to use public funds to deny women emergency care. – Yours, etc,


River Forest,


Sir, – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin states that “priests , religious congregations and committed Catholics in Ireland resent being unfairly under attack” (News, May 1st).

As chairman of the board of the National Maternity Hospital, he could use his considerable influence to turn this attack into praise by persuading the religious congregation of the Sisters of Charity to freely offer their land at the St Vincent’s campus to the State for the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Can we all look around? Hospitals, hospices, homeless organisations, special schools, and so on, are currently being run and led by religious orders.

Who else really cares about the poor and unfortunate today? Why then is there such a panic about the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital?

We need to be realistic and recognise that without the religious orders, we would be a poorer and less caring society.

If they were all to withdraw from these activities, this State would be in a position of great difficulty to replace their contributions to our lives, and particularly to the lives of the poor and unfortunate. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

A chara, – Stephen Donnelly has asked that the Government arrange “at a minimum a thousand-year lease” for the land and proposed new maternity hospital (News, May 1st). I wonder if the new children’s hospital will be built by then? – Is mise,


Dublin 24.