The abortion debate

 

Sir, – With public sector workers facing significant reductions in their pay and conditions, can I ask why representatives of Ictu, Siptu and Unite are writing to your newspaper not to protest at these cuts, but instead calling for legislation on abortion (March 1st).

It is little wonder that the Government got such a good deal when trade unions seem to be spending their time worrying about political issues which have nothing to do with them. – Yours, etc,

THOMAS RYAN BL,

Mount Tallant Avenue,

Harold’s Cross,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – In their letter calling for the introduction of what they call “X legislation”, the representatives of several trade unions and pro-choice groups say that any such legislation “must include....provision for abortion if a foetus has a fatal abnormality and cannot survive”.

In fact, any such law would be outside the judgment in the X case and would require a referendum. I find it difficult to believe that the signatories are not aware of this fact.

Their letter is a good example of the attempts by many of these groups to skew the debate by presenting proposals which would represent a radical liberalisation of the law on abortion as innocuous proposals which represent the middle-ground.

Our legislators need to be wary of this rhetorical sleight of hand. – Yours, etc,

BARRY WALSH,

Brooklawn,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – I wish to thank Dr Mary Favier (Opinion, February 25th) for highlighting Canada’s successful experience with no abortion law, and recommending that Ireland follow Canada’s example by decriminalising abortion. Women in Ireland and all of Irish society are being harmed by the many proven negative effects of criminalised abortion.

Forcing women to leave the country to undergo necessary surgery, far from home and with few supports, and sometimes in precarious health, is a serious violation of rights that also imposes cruel and dangerous burdens on women and their families.

Canada has been reaping the social and health benefits of 25 years with no legal restrictions on abortion at all. Abortion rates are fairly low and have steadily declined since 1997, almost all abortions occur early in pregnancy, and maternal deaths and complications from abortion are very low.

Abortion care is fully funded and integrated into the healthcare system, which improves accessibility and safety, and doctors and women handle abortion care responsibly.

Canada is the first country in the world to prove that abortion care can be ethically and effectively managed as part of standard healthcare practice, without being controlled by any civil or criminal law.

We hope that Canada’s success can be a role model to Ireland and the rest of the world. The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Anand Grover, has praised Canada’s 1988 decriminalisation of abortion as “ushering in an era of equality, dignity and freedom for women in Canada”.

He has urged states to remove economic, physical and legal barriers to abortion, because “Criminalisation is an impediment to the successful realization of the right to health of women and exposes them to the risks associated with unsafe and illegal abortions.” – Yours, etc,

JOYCE ARTHUR,

Executive Director,

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada,

Station Main,

Vancouver,

Canada.