The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – It is often said, by advocates of abortion as a solution to human problems, that no woman undergoes an abortion lightly. That they come to their decisions reluctantly and often after a lot of deliberation.

But are extended deliberations any guarantee as to the quality of subsequent decisions?

I may habitually drink and drive because it may be the only solution I can come up with to address my sense of isolation and loneliness. I may have thought long and hard about this, but one day my decision may prove to be catastrophic for somebody else, for myself or possibly both.

My actions may be understandable but my deliberations won’t have changed the awfulness of the resulting catastrophe.

In the case of abortion, there is always a catastrophic and irreversible outcome for at least one of the individuals involved. Some decisions, no matter how understandable or deliberated upon, are simply bad decisions. And just as with the very real problems of isolation and loneliness, the alternatives to abortion will ask for more compassion, kindness and action from the rest of us both personally and politically, not less. – Yours, etc,


St Johnston,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – As a GP trainee, I’m concerned about the upcoming proposed changes to abortion laws in Ireland. It seems that if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, general practitioners are to be expected to deliver an ethically dubious, risky, under-resourced service to vulnerable women under the simplistic guise of “prescribing a pill”. It strikes me as a convenient means for the Department of Health not to increase spending to improve holistic healthcare provision. I’ll be voting No to protect mothers, unborn babies and healthcare professionals alike. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Decades ago when I was a medical student in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, Prof Alan Browne was Master. He taught us that “pregnant women get sick and sick women get pregnant”. Both these groups of women seem to be getting forgotten in the debate on repealing the Eighth Amendment, despite the fact that several obstetricians spoke about them before the Oireachtas committee and the Citizens’ Assembly. Some women with chronic diseases long for a child and plan a pregnancy, with neither they nor their doctor knowing how risky it will be. And pregnant women are prone to getting illnesses like any other woman. The protection of the health of such women must be assured and they cannot be without repeal of the Eighth Amendment. Their doctors with them must be allowed to assess the risks of continuing with a much-wanted pregnancy or terminating it without the threat of litigation, as could happen at present.

Maternal health risks must be considered. The chairwoman of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has revealed that “the committee could not find a single medical expert in Ireland to argue the case for the status quo”. As far as one can see, not even those who promoted it all those years ago have come forward. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.