The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – Jon O’Brien argues that a decision about abortion is a personal matter for women, and they should be free to choose what is “ethical and right for themselves” (“Catholics have evolved in their thinking about abortion”, Opinion & Analysis, January 16th).

Leaving aside that this position implies a denial of any claim to objective morality, which is odd for a theist, or indeed all the difficulties of subjectivism and relativism that such a position must meet, this argument does not deal with the immediate practical difficulty of potentially conflicting rights that is at the centre of the debate.

For example, it might be accepted that an abortion is right for a woman in a given circumstance, or that it is not our business to say, but once we acknowledge the possibility that it may not be right for the foetus, we are still left with an ethical dilemma.

The question of whether or not the foetus has any right to bodily autonomy, or healthcare, or life, is key, and where it is accepted that they do, the rights of more than one individual must be considered.

Implicit in the proposed 12-week limit is the view that it is not appropriate to apply such rights in the early stages of pregnancy.

Someone who objects to this because they are pro-life does not need to be convinced about women’s rights; they need to be convinced that some of these rights should not also be given to the unborn. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.