The abortion debate

 

Sir, – Ivana Bacik (February 16th) states, “The clear precedent set in the 1992 X case is that where a woman faces a real and substantial risk to her life, including a risk of suicide, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, then that termination is lawful.”.

It should be obvious to everyone that a risk of suicide can be avoided or mitigated by measures such as placing a person in care and on 24-hour suicide watch.

In this scenario the risk of suicide would no longer be a real and substantial risk to the woman’s life and terminations in such circumstances would be unlawful.

The correct course of action for the doctor or psychiatrist to a woman seeing an abortion in such circumstance would be to place her in care.

Surely our lawmakers, in response to the X case, can learn the lessons of the C case and realise that care rather than termination is the way to deal with the risk of suicide? – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS O’CALLAGHAN,

Bullock Park,

Carlow.

Sir, – John Bruton (Opinion, February 15th) believes the plain words of the Constitution, requiring the state to “defend and vindicate” the unborn child’s “equal” right to be allowed to live means that the intention to commit suicide should not be ground for abortion. He takes no note of the “as far as practicable” proviso.

If a woman threatens suicide she may, of course, change her mind, but who, whether medically trained or not, can be certain of her actions? If she is in a suicidal state, will she be capable of arranging, financing and travelling abroad for an abortion? If she decides on suicide, the potential child will die with her.

Would it not be more practicable to save her life than to insist on an equal right not to life but to death? – Yours, etc,

IRENE ALLEN,

Florence Road,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – People who do not agree with abortion are in fact looking to preserve the life of the mother and the child. They are not looking to hurt women in any way; they are looking to help prevent suicidal women from being hurt more than they already are. Abortion has been shown to kill one life (the baby) and in many cases destroy the life of the mother, who has to live with having killed her unborn child.

Even for those who do not believe that the baby inside the womb was a baby, there is something in their self-conscious that tells them they have done wrong, and some find it very hard to live with this.

At present, doctors follow best practice guidelines, which are continually changing and helping them do what is best for both mother and child. These guidelines do everything medically necessary to care for the mother and this may sadly lead to the death of the baby. This is not an abortion. Ireland is one of the best countires in the world for maternity care. Let’s keep it that way. – Yours, etc,

MARIANNE JOHNSON,

MA, BAI,

Stillorgan Park,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – John Bruton seeks to revisit and re-interpret Article 40.3.3. The then Attorney General, Peter Sutherland in 1983, warned that the wording of Article 40.3.3 could open the door to abortion. Yet the pro-life movement in Ireland lobbied intensively to introduce this article.

Mr Bruton seeks also to re-argue and reinterpret the X case. The Supreme Court in X directed the government to legislate as it could not be charged with interpreting Art. 40.3.3 on a case by case basis.

Our current government is mandated to legislate on behalf of the electorate. It has engaged in a democratic consultative process whereby interested parties were enabled to make submissions to the Dáil. This was the forum which Mr Bruton should have used.

Legislation enacted by the legislature has the presumption of constitutionality. The attorney general acts as the government’s legal adviser. The democratic process has been rigorously followed. Mr Bruton enters the arena after the consultative stage and seeks to impose his will on the government, on the Supreme Court and on the Constitution.

When the government does introduce legislation, it will follow the democratic route through the Oireachtas. The President may refer under Article 26 to the Supreme Court if there is a question of constitutionality. In the absence of such a referral, the Act may subsequently be challenged as to its constitutionality in the High Court.

Mr Bruton, while entitled to an opinion, as a member of the electorate, should not attempt to usurp the role of the legislature nor that of the Supreme Court. – Yours, etc,

EITHNE REID O’DOHERTY, BL

Chair, Violence Against Women, European Women Lawyers Association,

Barrister-at-Law,

Law Library, Dublin 7.

Sir, – I would like to congratulate former taoiseach, John Bruton, on his clear explicit analysis of the Supreme Court’s 1992 flawed decision on abortion. It is like a blast of fresh air in face of the Government’s obsession with legislating on it and the confused arguments Fine Gael apologists are cranking out.

Words in the Constitution should mean what they say. An equal right to life should mean just that. I take off my hat to Mr Bruton and earnestly hope Fine Gael deputies will heed their elder statesman. – Yours, etc,

EOIN O RAGHALLAIGH,

Stoneview Place,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.