The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – Your headline “Church of Ireland opposes abortion proposals” (February 6th) is incorrect. Only the standing committee of the general synod is entitled to commit the church to any view. The two archbishops are speaking only for themselves.

May I quote another archbishop? In one of his books, John Hapgood, the former Archbishop of York, has written “the moral weight of personhood rests on inward attributes which enable us to be aware of ourselves, and to relate to others, attributes which cannot even have the semblance of a beginning until there is at least a rudimentary nervous system and until some actual relationship is in process of formation”.

In other words, it makes both common and theological sense to assert that life is a continuum and that the emergence of the individual occurs gradually. – Yours, etc,


(Formerly Dean

of St Patrick’s),


Co Tipperary.

A chara, – Under their proposed legislation, the Government has confirmed that GPs, obstetricians and gynaecologists would be allowed to conscientiously object to providing terminations, should the Eighth Amendment be repealed (Home News, February 6th).

However, given that the cornerstone of the proposals are for medical, as opposed to surgical, abortions – requiring use of mifepristone and misoprostol (the “abortion pill”) – it is likely that at some point in the supply chain, pharmacists will need to become involved in the process.

It would be ethically unconscionable for me in any way to facilitate the supply, sale, delivery or dispensing of any medication that I know is being used to end a human life, either directly to a patient or indirectly to any clinic involved in such procedures.

It is something I will not do and I doubt that I am the only pharmacist who feels this way.

If Minister for Health Simon Harris is to fulfil his vision of a widespread rollout of abortion services in this country, he needs to rethink his approach to dealing with the broad range of healthcare professionals that he is expecting to simply fall into line. – Is mise,


Dublin 2.

Sir, – GPs, obstetricians and gynaecologists should be allowed to conscientiously object to assisting in abortions. However, if abortion is to be legal in the first 12 weeks, the Government needs to ensure that it is also accessible.

Women should not have to attend numerous GP surgeries (and pay for each visit) in order to find a doctor who does not conscientiously object.

Is there to be a list online so women can find their nearest practitioner?

If so, wouldn’t this open the door to protesters outside practices, people screaming at GPs that they are murderers as they walk in to work every day?

The difficult decision of whether or not to have an abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor, but the doctors haven’t even been consulted on the practicalities. If the referendum is to pass and women are to have that choice, then we need the National Association of General Practitioners to support the proposals and not fear what uncertainty it will mean for them. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 15.

Sir, – What plans are being mooted to allow hospital staff (nurses, cleaners, receptionists) opt out of facilitating the carrying out of abortions? Are they not entitled to be conscientious objectors also? – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – As a GP trainee, many of my colleagues and I are more than ready and willing to “conscientiously commit” to providing adequate crisis pregnancy services in the Republic of Ireland.

It strikes me as a doctor-centric attitude to resist any suggestions of new care models that we may have the option to provide in the future.

Intelligence is adaptability, and it is my opinion that every doctor is and should be aware that the remit of practice will evolve considerably throughout their career. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Over the next few months we will hear the word “compassion” used liberally. This will more likely be used by pro-choice people using examples such as the need to show compassion towards the thousands of women who travel to England for terminations. Another phrase that will be liberally used in this context is “lonely journey”. At the same time supporters of the Eighth Amendment will be referred to as being anti-choicers or no-choicers. These people will be portrayed by pro-choice people as lacking in compassion.

It appears that unless you agree with repeal you are a backward and cold individual who lacks empathy and understanding of their fellow human beings. This portrayal of pro-life people is a caricature and has no basis in reality. We are all human with basically the same feelings. Pro-choice people do not have a monopoly on compassion. In fact I argue it is precisely because pro-life people have this trait in abundance that they are unable to ignore the vulnerable defenceless state of the unborn baby. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – If a woman faced with a crisis pregnancy has a group of people on her right saying she should have no choice but to continue it, and a group of people on her left saying this is a decision she should be allowed make for herself, are we even really talking about two sides unless we’re talking about pregnant women and their families against those who wish to make their decisions for them? – Yours, etc,