The Eighth Amendment
Sir, – Is the Oireachtas committee’s giving of serious consideration to the report of the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion, and the fact that several government departments are simultaneously preparing legislation in anticipation of a majority Yes vote for whatever is proposed in a referendum next year, a joint exercise in unrealism?
From a scientific point of view, the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly are practically worthless as a picture of the views of the Irish people as a whole. The work of the Citizens’ Assembly was flawed on three counts: there was too small a sample; stratifying such a small sample to represent sub-categories of persons by age, gender location, etc; allowing the assembly to select its own questions.
It is also more than likely that any randomness of the sample selection was further corrupted due to the non-response of persons on the original sample. This would have been probable due to the onerous nature of the work of the assembly, extending over quite a number of months, if not years.
This is an essential statistic to further judge the randomness of the sample, yet, astonishingly, this information was not recorded.
If non-response is at a high rate, then in effect, the sample is self-chosen and will inevitably include persons with a vested interest in the outcome. This may account for the extreme nature of the recommendations of the assembly in favour of an ultra-liberal abortion regime.
Why waste valuable parliamentary time seriously debating the recommendations of the Assembly, which have little objective value to represent the genuine citizens’ assembly – the electorate? Or is the whole exercise just an empty gesture, given the expectations expressed by several Ministers in favour of a more liberal abortion regime, and impatient to anticipate the deliberations of the Oireachtas and appearing contemptuous of the pre-eminent right of the electorate to decide the issue in a referendum? – Yours, etc,