The abortion question


Sir, – Seeing as the Irish media believes religious organisations’ opinions on abortion are newsworthy (Front page, December 19th), I can only assume we will be reading news of the opinions of the leaders of the Islamic church, the Jewish faith, Protestant churches, Jehovah’s Witness, etc, over the next few days? – Yours, etc,


St Declan’s Road,

Marino, Dublin 3.

Sir, – As a church-going Irish Catholic, I am filled with “awe and wonder”. Not the “awe and wonder” that is usually associated with this time of year, but the awe and wonder of hearing bishops, croziers flaying, laying down the moral law of protecting the life of the unborn child. The silence has been broken, no, not with Silent Night, Holy Night. No more mental reservations; the bishops are back on terra firma, proclaiming the “good news” that they have found something they can be the vanguards of again. And are they making their voices heard? The troops are been riled and rallied . . . and I shudder as a child of God and as a woman. – Yours, etc,


Achill island,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – At this time of debate on the issue of abortion and the implied suggestion that the bishops are dictating to politicians and voters how they should vote, it is important to understand that the bishops in their statements on this matter are not dictating to anyone.

The bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task “to preach the Gospel of God to all men” in keeping with the Lord’s command.(Catechism of the Catholic. par 888). It is part of the church’s mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it (Catechism of the Catholic Church: par 2246). – Yours, etc,


Ashgrove Drive,

Naas, Co Kildare.

A chara, – The expert group on abortion refers to the “chilling” effect of the 1861 Act that prohibits abortion. Surely it is necessary for any law against taking innocent life to have such a chilling effect. Otherwise, the law would not be a robust deterrent.

Fine Gael gave a solemn pre-election promise not to allow abortion and now plans to repeal the same 1861 Act. This move has dismayed much of the electorate and particularly Fine Gael voters. Democracy and the right to life of the innocent unborn have both been dealt a serious blow. The prospects for both are chilling. – Is mise,


Wyattville Park,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Sir, – I found my jaw dropping upon reading the letters section (December 20th). Among the (overwhelmingly male) voices was that of a priest based in the Philippines, who presumed to lecture us on Ireland’s maternal mortality rate.

I find this the height of irony given the recent defeat of attempts by the Catholic Church in the Philippines to block the provision of birth control to women in poverty. Not abortion, just birth control and just to women in poverty. All this despite a maternal mortality rate of 11 deaths a day. – Yours, etc,


Maryborough Hill,

Douglas, Cork.

Sir, – I find it deplorable that the overdue announcement of legislation, as mandated by the Irish people, for the X case has been hijacked by the moral minority of the shamed Catholic Church.

That they attempt to pervert Irish society even further by urging democratically elected TDs to ignore the wishes of the Irish people, as set out in two referendums, and vote against the Bill should be treated with nothing but the contempt it deserves. – Yours, etc,


Sitric Road,

Stoneybatter, Dublin.

Sir, – Claims by Fr Patrick McCafferty (December 20th) that our Taoiseach is trying to impose a “moral dictatorship” ring hollow when one examines the collective actions of the Catholic church and various “pro-life” organisations.

This week the Catholic archbishops called for a free vote on any legislation (at present, unseen) that may be put before the Dáil. Then Kildare Street gets covered in “pro-life” posters urging our Taoiseach not to introduce abortion into Ireland. Both of these acts of intimidation are, at least, being conducted in the public eye, as opposed to the 56,000 calls made by the “Life Institute” (“Inquiry into Life Institute campaign”, Home News, December 18th). It is clear several unelected, subversive organisations wish to intimidate democratically elected deputies, picking them off, one by one. To do this, they require a free vote.

There are stark parallels to the conduct and tactics at play here with those by the gun lobby in the US which have blighted democracy there. In both cases the actions show an utter contempt for democracy and the state.

And we have only seen the opening shots. – Yours, etc,


Highland Avenue,

Cabinteely, Dublin 18.

Sir, – Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O’Reilly is concerned that legislation on abortion would be a first step on the road to “a culture of death” (Home News, December 19th). But the church hierarchy, with the connivance of Rome, has already taken that step. Behold the lives of abused children, condemned to a hell on earth. – Yours, etc,


The Demesne,

Killester, Dublin 5.

Sir, – Pat Rabbitte’s representation of church opposition to the proposed abortion laws as “the clergy dictating to legislators” – while less than honest – is nevertheless interesting.

Like Enda Kenny’s invective against the Vatican and the closure of the embassy, it shows that the Government no longer views a faith community as in any way an important support constituency. I have no doubt that this same faith community will, in due course, prove the Government correct in that view. – Yours, etc,


Balkill Park,


Dublin 13.

Sir, – One of the issues the Catholic archbishops raised (Front page, December 19th) was that of the free vote on the forthcoming proposed legislation in regards to abortion. The Government parties appear to be heading to impose the whip on their TDs. Therefore TDs will not be free to vote according to conscience but must do as they are told.

I note the hypocrisy as Pat Rabbitte’s insists that he did not want to see bishops dictating to legislators, while he sees no problem in party leaders dictating to the consciences of TDs. Am I missing something? – Yours, etc,


Wheaton Hall,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

Sir, – I am amazed at Pat Rabbitt being “taken aback” at the vigour of the Catholic archbishops’ statement on abortion. What sort of a country does our esteemed minister think we are living in?

Freedom of speech must surely still be a central value of a democracy. Perhaps the minister thinks anybody can speak except those who are in religious leadership? I would have thought that in a democracy all contributions are welcome.

I have sufficient confidence in citizens of this country to be able to take in all public statements and make up their own minds without our politicians deciding who should and should not speak.

Whether we agree with the bishops or not, their contribution is welcome. It is important passionate views be made public before legislation is framed. Human life (born and unborn) is one of the most important issues that this country will ever have to consider.

I welcome informed, clear and passionate statements. If more of us could be passionate about the core values of our life then Ireland would be a better place. Politicians are elected representatives of the people who live in this republic. They are not dictators.

I would ask Mr Rabbitte to please show a little more respect to the people he is elected to represent. This includes individuals and special interest groups and their leaders. – Yours, etc,


Evangelical Alliance,


Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Considering the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s dismal failure over decades to protect vulnerable children, their onslaught on politicians who are trying to institute mechanisms to protect women in vulnerable situations has a terrible irony.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte was nobly restrained in his response. The archbishops should be told firmly that the people of this State are not prepared to go back to the dark days of the Mother and Child debacle. - Yours, etc,


Avondale Road,

Killiney, Co Dublin.

Sir, – May I suggest there is a principle to which everyone can subscribe: that we shall always save as many human lives as can possibly be saved, whether they be those of the born or the unborn. – Yours, etc,


Moanbane Park,

Kilcullen, Co Kildare.