The Eighth Amendment
Sir, – Brendan O’Regan’s letter (October 5th) makes clear the distinction between those who support his standpoint and those who would allow for abortion under certain circumstances.
Mr O’Regan’s position is that of the Christian philosophical tradition, which holds that the immortal soul, and therefore life, comes into being at the moment of conception. Many other decent, compassionate people regard the criteria for life to be the desirability of the pregnancy sustaining it until such time as viability and/or sentience are present. No baby, no unborn child, exists until then.
The intervening period provides an opportunity for modern scientific medical systems to ascertain that the resulting child will have a quality of life after birth. Otherwise an abortion should be allowed. This is the case in other civilised jurisdictions.
As with all matters involving the dogmatic certitude of religion, these positions are absolutely irreconcilable.
The only possible solution here is that religious adherents should be free to follow their beliefs themselves, but should not have the ability to force others, through the application of the law, to be bound by principles to which they do not themselves subscribe. – Yours, etc,