The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – In his opinion piece (February 27th), to support the idea that “the actual precedes the potential”, in relation to foetal development, Fr John Joyce cites Heraclitus, Parmenides and Aristotle.

He forgot Plato, who thought that the individual human person existed as a soul before the conception of the body they would eventually inhabit.

This idea finds expression in the Book of Wisdom (8: 19-20), where Solomon says, “I was a boy of happy disposition: I had received a good soul as my lot, or rather, being good, I had entered an undefiled body”.

This line of thinking led to Pope Sixtus V’s 1588 bull Effraenatam, which imposed excommunication, revocable only by the pope himself, on all users of contraception. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

Sir, – I read with alarm that “Overseas influence in abortion referendum ‘will be hard to stop’” (News, February 26th).

There is already excessive overseas influence on Irish abortion, with 10 Irish residents a day accessing abortions in England and Wales, and unknown numbers accessing abortions in Scotland, the Netherlands and further afield.

I patriotically propose that we establish safe and legal services for women who need abortions on Irish soil, regulated by Irish laws, based on the deliberations of an Irish forum, such as the Citizens’ Assembly, and implemented by Irish lawmakers in the Oireachtas. – Yours, etc,


Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

Sir, – Thomas Ryan (February 23rd) showed comprehensively that the statement by Senator Catherine Noone that “there was no single GP who offered, or any way indicated, that they wanted the status quo to remain” (News, February 20th) was incorrect. He told us that Irish Doctors for Life gave a presentation to the Citizens’ Assembly, which then appeared in the very report that the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment was set up to consider. Despite all this Mary Henry MD (February 27th) is back telling us that “the committee could not find a single medical expert in Ireland to argue the case for the status quo”. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – If you doubt that abortion legislation would become increasingly less restrictive in the years following a repeal of the Eighth Amendment, just consider the parties with the most liberal policies on abortion, such as Labour, Sinn Féin, the Greens and the smaller left-wing parties.Then ask yourself, how likely is it that some combination of these parties will be in Government in the very foreseeable future?

And then imagine what abortion policy might look like in those programmes for government. It isn’t hard to do – no matter how much pro-repeal campaigners will seek to dissuade us from so imagining. – Yours, etc,