The abortion debate
Sir, – It is said that a drowning man will clutch at a straw. So also with the so-called Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, the Government is clutching at the two straws of “protection” and “clarity” in an effort to give it the appearance of respectability even though bishops, lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists and many others are telling them that it is unnecessary and dangerous, both for child and mother. In other words, it is a fiction.
The “clarity” emerging already is that it will give very little “protection” to the unborn so that sooner or later abortion will be easily available. Accordingly, it should be named for what it really is “The Introduction of Abortion Bill”, or better “The Irish Holocaust Bill”.
But the fiction, the game of words, goes on and a most fundamental moral principle is thereby being undermined viz: that no one may ever directly and intentionally kill any innocent person from the moment of conception (not just implantation) to the moment of natural death, for any reason, because of the equal sacredness of every human life coming as it does from God. Even if the Bill were to result in only one direct abortion per year, it would still mean that this principle was undermined and with it the most fundamental of rights, the right to life, upon which all other rights are founded. If then the organs of the state concur in making it law it means that, far from serving justice and the common good, they are doing the very opposite so that our democracy is degenerating into a tyranny.
Accordingly, so that our very civilisation will not drown, I would call on those promoting this Bill to let go of the straws of a pretence that is so blatant to all and return instead to the solid plank of sound morals, and scrap the Bill entirely. I make this call in the name of those who have no voice but only the “silent scream”, the children about to be aborted. – Yours, etc,
RICHARD O CONNOR (Fr),
Prof of Theology,
Sir, – It’s all too easy for us to judge what a woman should or should not do when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Which of us has walked in her shoes? I wouldn’t have thought that a termination alone would come anywhere close to helping where there was a suicide risk, but perhaps in some cases it needs to be the first step. Who knows? A woman in crisis needs to be listened to and supported and not be shamed into travelling abroad, which ironically could still be happening while the debate continues. – Yours, etc,
Lower Point Road,
Dundalk, Co Louth.
Sir, – In Ireland and elsewhere, many opposing access to abortion do so claiming the “sanctity of life”; I write this, you read this, and we all understand that this refers to the “life” of the foetus.
Where are the lives of Savita Halappanavar, the X case young woman and the countless women who face unplanned and problem pregnancies in this picture, this conversation, this legislation and political game? They are invisible – not to themselves, their families or the international audience, but to the “pro-life” lobbyists, the Catholic Church and Irish law which effectively erases women and girls.
We Australians and Irish have similar foundations in 19th-century British common law. A key difference now? Australian health law has radically progressed in response to advances in women’s social, political and legal standing, and to medical innovations of our era. In the most progressive of our states, abortion is legal without needing a doctor’s “approval”. In the most backward Australian scenario, abortion is legal when two doctors deem continuation of the pregnancy endangers a woman’s health – not just life. While this is poor for choice, Australian reproductive health care unequivocally trumps Ireland.
Ireland’s existing 1861 legislation simply does not value the lives of Irish women. The continuation of this law risks your mothers, daughters, sisters and friends not being with us tomorrow or the next day because Irish law does not do enough to protect their health and, ultimately, their existence.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill claims to justly balance the pregnant woman’s life and a foetus. While it makes vital steps towards recognising and protecting the inherent worth of women’s health and lives, it is desperately lacking. Requirements of excessive medical hoop-jumping, arbitrary distinctions between mental and physical risks to life and astonishing jail terms disrespects choice, the right to health and life, and women’s liberty – fundamental democratic principles of which the Bill is devoid.
I urge the Irish people to support this Bill, to prevent the death of any more pregnant women, but to demand the law further support access and choice as per Australia.
I urge Irish parliamentarians to positively amend and then pass the Bill, thus welcome the beginning of the end of the invisibility of women’s health. – Yours, etc,
St Kilda South,
Sir, – Life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Most people of any faiths or none hold this view. There is no life-threatening medical or surgical disorder that might arise during a pregnancy that cannot or should not be treated. There is no religious or legal difficulty with this view. Termination of a pregnancy, eg abortion, is not a treatment for any medical or surgical disorder. – Yours, etc,
JAMES DUNDON MD,
Bushy Park Road, Terenure,