The abortion debate


Sir, – On Wednesday morning I received a letter signed by John O’Reilly, secretary of the Pro Life Campaign, drawing my attention to a forthcoming church-organised event at Knock, and also misinforming me that abortion legislation would in some way “pervert our respect for human life”. The letter, however, was correct in one respect, namely in addressing me thus: “Dear Pro Life Supporter”. However, did they know that, as a supporter of abortion under certain limited circumstances, I am indeed pro-life? Which rational human being is not? A pregnant woman whose life may be threatened should have the ability to choose abortion if she so wishes. What right has the State to dictate to any pregnant woman that she must put her life at risk? – Yours, etc,


Hermitage Close,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

A chara, – Presuming that Dr Graham Fry (May 1st) means human life when he asks for a definition of life, and further that he is seeking to know when human life begins, I am happy to essay an answer. Human life begins at conception. That is an indisputable scientific fact, as we know beyond all doubt that it is at that moment a completely unique genetic identity comes into being. Perhaps Dr Fry also wonders when we should begin caring for a human life? To my mind the answer to that is in the question: if they are alive and human than we must care and do our utmost to ensure their survival. – Is mise,



Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – The man who cuts off his own arm in order to save himself when he is stuck in a canyon is lauded a hero. The woman in Ireland who attempts to terminate her own pregnancy (and risks her own life in the process) is a criminal with a possible 14-year prison sentence. Plus ça change . – Yours, etc,


Crosthwaite Park East,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – The Irish Institute of Psychiatrists announced recently that its members are not willing to be the country’s “social policemen”. Now that the Catholic Church no longer has the power to play that role in Ireland, it and its well-financed US backers are changing tack and seeking to force others to fulfil it. I commend the institute for refusing to be put in this position.

The Catholic Church didn’t want divorce, contraception or homosexuality to be legal in this country, and fought against each of them. Thankfully, it was defeated on these matters, and now adults can take responsible decisions about their own lives.

Now I’m not anti-religion, and I fully believe people should have freedom of conscience. But no-one has the right to impose their view on others. So, if Catholics disagree with abortion, they should be and are fully entitled not to have them.

Ireland has changed – this is no longer a Catholic country, but a country of people of all religions and none, where we need to move on from the past, and where women need to be treated as responsible adults by Government. Legislation on the X case has to be truly accessible, and women should have the right to decide for themselves. – Is mise,


Landscape Terrace,

Sunday’s Well, Cork.

Sir, – Suicide and abortion: pro-life version. Patient to Doctor – I am feeling suicidal. Doctor to Patient – That’s a pity, any chance you are pregnant? Patient to Doctor – Why, as it happens I am. Doctor to Patient – In that case I am prescribing an abortion, you will feel much better.

Suicide and abortion: pro-choice version. Patient to Doctor – I’m 14, I’ve been raped, I am pregnant, I can’t handle this, please make it go away. If you make me go through with this I will kill myself. Doctor to Patient – In that case I am prescribing an abortion, you will feel much better. – Yours, etc,


Foster Place North,

Ballybough, Dublin 3.

A chara, – In Britain, an abortion is permitted following an assertion by a pregnant woman about her mental health to which two doctors must assent. In these circumstances, refusals are rare and abortion is de facto available “on demand”.

The Irish Government’s proposals simply require one more pro-choice doctor to rubber-stamp the decision. The suggestion that this makes it “very restrictive” (Home News, May 1st) is delusional and absurd. – Is mise,


Travers Hill, Boyle,

Co Roscommon.

Sir, – In response to Fr Eamonn McCarthy (April 30th) I must ask, is it now the case that farmers are giving birth to their livestock? If – and only if – such an event ever takes place, will I consider his argument. Until then, what an insulting analogy to make. – Yours, etc,


Glendown Drive,


Dublin 6W.

Sir, –   What year is it? Judging by some of the contributions to your letters page it could be 1983,or maybe even 1883 come to that. They haven’t gone away you know (unlike the 5,000 women each year who still have to).  – Yours, etc,


Inis Cluain,


Co Limerick.

Sir, –    I have been campaigning on the rights of mental health patients for a number of years and wish to comment on recent correspondence regarding legislating for the X case. 

There is absolutely no need for more than two doctors to determine whether a pregnant woman is suicidal or not. A mentally ill person can be sectioned by two doctors, in a psychiatric unit if it is felt they are in crisis and a danger to themselves, including suicide, or a danger to some one else.  

The lack of willingness on behalf of successive governments since 1993, to legislate in line with the X case, which obviously, due to the risk of suicide has a significant mental health aspect to it, is of no surprise. It took 20 years for the Mental Health Act 2001 to be passed, though it took another five years for it to become operational. This Act aims to protect in law the rights of mental health patients. A common feature in both cases was that conservative elements within the professional psychiatric establishment were to the fore in attempting to block progressive human rights legislation.

Finally, even if this legislation on the X case is passed, it still means Ireland will have one of the most restrictive abortion regimes in the developed world. Before long it will once again be hoped that the over 5,000 women who travel abroad for abortions each year can be forgotten about. Out of sight, out of mind. – Yours, etc,




Co Kerry. 


A chara, – There is a current radio advert advising dog owners to vaccinate their dogs. The words run something like “he can’t look after himself. It’s up to you”. Yes, it’s for dogs, not the unborn.

Now we have a government proposing legislation for abortion and there is a reported built-in appeal mechanism – for the mother only. Where is the legislation protecting the unborn, its father, its paternal and maternal would-be grandparents? Where is the unborn’s appeal mechanism?

What we are heading towards now is a shared decision including a societal denial of wrong-doing protected by law that protects all and sundry (except the unborn) and the removal of the mother’s exclusive decision to terminate a pregnancy. Will society be relieved that it will now be “okay” to collectively terminate and to share that responsibility, again, collectively? I doubt it. This proposed legislation, is in my view, another shambles and next time round for elections voters ought to remember it.

One online dictionary defines murder as “the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law”. It also defines suicide as “the intentional taking of one’s own life”. Can something be legally done for the unborn here? It is not my intention to be inflammatory or provocative, I consider this to be a separate legal issue that warrants consideration. – Is mise,


Seacrest, Cnoc na Cathrach,


Sir, – If potential suicide is considered adequate reason for termination of pregnancy should it be considered adequate reason for termination of debt? – Yours, etc,



Co Sligo.