The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – The issue of abortion in cases of non-fatal foetal abnormalities is a relevant issue in the debate about the proposed repeal of Article 40.3.3. The Government’s intention appears to be to propose the deletion of the existing text of that provision and to provide the Oireachtas with a free hand to legislate as it wishes in the area. In effect, the public will be providing the politicians with a blank cheque.

If the Oireachtas has a free hand, this necessarily means that it can legislate for abortion on any grounds, not limited to those recommended by the Oireachtas Committee.

Therefore, the Oireachtas could in the future legislate for late-term abortion on any ground (or on no specific ground at all). This can obviously include grounds of disability or abnormality.

This shows why it is essential that the issues put to the public allow them to decide the grounds on which abortion should be permitted.

If pro-choice politicians are adamant that abortion will not be allowed on grounds of non-fatal abnormalities, let them prove it by the use of wording that makes that clear. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – A letter-writer bemoans the fact that “repeal of the Eighth Amendment would have consequences in that abortion decisions would be taken from the electorate and given to the Oireachtas (January 23rd).

Perhaps your correspondent does not realise that the Dáil receives its mandate from the electorate at regular intervals. It’s called parliamentary democracy, the cornerstone of all civilised societies.

Referendums are for demagogues and dictators. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – With respect to the forthcoming referendum, I am very much against the insertion of another clause into the Constitution, directing or permitting to direct how the Oireachtas should act following deletion of Article 40.3.3, if that is achieved.

Matters post-referendum must be left to take their own course, and if there is an issue arising, or an impediment to effective legislation, then deal with it as it is presented.

Let us not anticipate what might or might not arise, and let the Oireachtas legislate as it sees fit.

The Constitution is a framework of principles; it should not overtly dictate how the Oireachtas should conduct its affairs, otherwise the boundaries of power start becoming blurred, as we see in some single-party presidential states. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

Sir, – “Repeal the Eighth”. What does that mean? What are our political leaders proposing to replace it with? The people should be told before they are asked to take out the constitutional Tipp-Ex.

Can we, the sovereign people of this Republic, have better and more specific information, please? – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – It’s been a wonderful week for women but it’s also been a tiring week.

With each positive piece of proactive progression, there comes the onslaught of regressive replies.

Our bodies should never be governed by opinions but sadly in order for Irish women to have the chance of being released from this suffocating hold, I beg you to have one and make it count when the time comes.

People not having opinions because they’re not political. People not having opinions because they’re too political. Silly excuses. Ask questions. Get the facts. Demand answers. Choose.

And in making your choice, consider the inherent privilege of having just that, a choice. – Yours, etc,