Sir, – In his recent column, Michael McDowell sneeringly refers to "the Texas Taliban" which is "intent on criminalising women who seek an abortion", presumably a reference to the new law in Texas which bans all abortions after six weeks of gestation ("Trump, like the Taliban, may be on way back in", Opinion & Analysis, September 8th).
First, the Texas legislation does no such thing. As in virtually all countries, women may not be prosecuted under the law, and only those who participate or assist in an illegal abortion may be pursued and punished with a fine of up to $10,000. In Ireland, the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 – vocally supported by Mr McDowell – applies a vastly more serious penalty, with participants in illegal abortions facing up to 14 years in prison.
The Taliban are a violent theocratic organisation who impose their will through force. Texas is a democratic US state with a bicameral legislature which voted for the new abortion law, with the support of its popular governor. Polling this year showed that just 38 per cent of Texan voters supported the previous unrestricted abortion regime, with a clear majority supporting additional restrictions.
The fact that you don’t agree with a democratic decision doesn’t mean that you live in a dictatorship.
One would have thought that after almost 40 years in public life, in both government and opposition, Mr McDowell would have some appreciation of that fact, and have a little more respect for the people of Texas. – Yours, etc,