The Eighth Amendment

A chara, – I am compelled to write to you in reaction to the Dáil debate on the Oireachtas committee report on the Eighth Amendment. The overwhelming support for repeal of the draconian amendment filled me with a sense of pride. I would like to sincerely thank all those who support repeal and extend a further gratitude to those who took a pro-choice stance. This is the only position that is inclusive of the beliefs of all Irish people. Pro-choice encompasses and allows for support of those who wish to obtain abortions, and those who wish to continue with their pregnancies. I would now urge all TDs to act swiftly to draw up a referendum for an unconditional repeal to avoid any confusion or ambiguity. Every day we wait people in Ireland are suffering because of the Eighth Amendment. Having suffered a termination for medical reasons in 2016, I understand at first hand the torture the Eighth inflicts on people and their families. A prompt response is a humane one. – Yours, etc,


Ardrahan, Co Galway.

Sir, – I spent over 30 years as an obstetrician in Ireland. During this time I was always aware that I had two patients, more in the case of multiple pregnancies. This approach did not prevent me from the happy outcome of not having a single direct maternal death during that time. In 1983 I publicly opposed the introduction of the Eighth Amendment as I did not think that it was appropriate to enforce morals through such a document. Apart from anything else the Constitution deals with black-and-white rules whereas medicine often throws up problems where the answers are not clear cut.


I have recently been reading the detailed report of some of the proceedings of the Joint Committee of the Oireachtas on the Eighth Amendment. It is very striking that apart from a small number of members who are obviously committed to complete opposition to any form of abortion, no other speaker seems willing to even mention the possibility of the unborn baby having any rights at all. It is right that in this day and age the mother’s rights should be emphasised but this is not an excuse for completely ignoring the presence and rights of the other patient or patients. These rights should not be superseded without grave reason. – Yours, etc,


Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

Sir, – It is shocking but believable that, according to Ruth Coppinger, a significant number of TDs have yet to read, four weeks after its publication, the 36-page report of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment (News, January 17th). As the Solidarity TD told the Dáil with memorable wit, "You'd think they were asked to read War and Peace rather than a short report".

Simon Coveney admonished Ms Coppinger by saying, “I don’t think we should be drawing conclusions before the debate even starts”. However, the Irish people have every right to expect that certain basic standards be demanded from their elected representatives, especially on a question of such huge importance as abortion.

Ruth Coppinger was doing the public a valuable service by pointing out that some TDs were potentially about to join a crucial debate on the Oireachtas report from an unnecessary but depressingly predictable position of ignorance. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – I was very intrigued by the piece written by Catholics for Choice's president Jon O'Brien ("Catholics have evolved in their thinking about abortion", Rite & Reason, January 16th). People often think being pro-choice and being a Catholic are at odds, but really they are not. I was born and raised Catholic. I have worked abroad with Catholic missionaries and my St Anthony statue still resides by my bed. Yet my whole life I have been pro-choice.

When I was about 14, we were asked in class to write an essay on abortion. I remember reflecting deeply on both sides of the argument. I did not believe in abortion and I did not like the thought of it, but I could not settle myself with a woman being forced to give birth against her will. It felt cruel to deny a woman the right to make her own choices about a decision that would impact the rest of her life. I decided that I personally would not have an abortion, but that I would never stop or judge another woman for taking that path if she decided it was the right decision for her given her circumstances or beliefs. I believe that God gave us all an inner moral compass to use – and what is right for me is not always right for you. We need to be careful and kind in how we talk about this topic going forward; we all know and love someone who has crossed the water. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – As the debate continues on abortion Roman Catholics lapsed, lukewarm or practicing assiduously deserve to have the Catholic Church's teaching enunciated. It is stated clearly by Pope John Paul II in his papal encyclical of 1995, The Gospel of Life: "I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and Universal Magisterium. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church (Evangelium Vitae, n 62.) A person who with knowledge of the penalty attached, actually procures an abortion, incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication (Canon 1398).The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime and thus includes accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed (Canon 1329)."

Clear enough? – Yours, etc,


Terenure, Dublin 6W.