The abortion debate


Sir, – June Twomey (September 14th) neglects to mention some pertinent facts: the ESRI Perinatal Statistics Report 2010 ranks Ireland’s perinatal mortality rate at 15th out of 22 countries, which ranks us as less safe than countries such as Estonia, Greece, Lithuania and Poland.

Furthermore, the report states that the perinatal mortality rate in Northern Ireland is significantly higher than that in the rest of the UK, to which Ms Twomey refers as the place “where BPAS is happy to oversee the provision of abortion on demand”. The allusion to a connection between abortion availability and perinatal mortality is, therefore, totally unfounded.

It should be well known by now that the contravention of the rights of C in the A, B, C v Ireland case was a similar situation to that mention by Dr Lohr. C became pregnant while in remission from cancer, and when the cancer returned she was forced to travel to England for an abortion so that her cancer could be treated. The European Court of Human Rights found that “the authorities failed to comply with their positive obligation to secure to [C] effective respect for her private life by reason of the absence of any implementing legislative or regulatory regime providing an accessible and effective procedure by which [C] could have established whether she qualified for a lawful abortion in Ireland in accordance with Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution”.

If Ms Twomey is concerned for the health of women, I suggest that she consider the 12 women a day who are forced to travel abroad for abortions, including women with serious medical concerns and women in need of life-saving abortions.

The European Court of Human Rights found “a striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland and the reality of its practical implementation”. What exactly are we waiting for? – Is mise,


John and Pat Hume Doctoral


School of English,

National University of Ireland,

Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Sir, – Liz McManus appears to have a selective memory when it comes to the hearings on abortion held by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.

As previously noted, the then chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Prof John Bonnar, gave evidence before that Oireachtas Committee. His statement that: “It would never cross an obstetrician’s mind that intervening in a case of pre-eclampsia, cancer of the cervix or ectopic pregnancy is abortion. They are not abortion as far as the professional is concerned, these are medical treatments that are essential to save the life of the mother,” must have escaped the attention of Ms McManus.

However, the record of the hearings show that, in fact, while Ms McManus attempted to question Prof Bonnar’s evidence, he assured the committee that: “A ban on abortion does not involve treatment of ectopic pregnancies; you would have to be a misguided doctor to think it did”.

Perhaps the contribution of the former Labour deputy is better understood in the light of her recent trip to Washington DC where, according to The Irish Times, she joined abortion campaigners in appealing to US politicians to use their influence on the Irish Government to have abortion legalised. – Yours, etc,


The Life Institute,

Capel Street,

Dublin 1.