The Eighth Amendment

 

Sir, – Senator Catherine Noone commented on her visit to Knock. She thought it intrusive that a priest made three mentions of abortion in his sermon. He is a Catholic expressing his beliefs in his own church. If Ms Noone disagrees with these views I would suggest that Knock basilica is not the best place to visit. However, it is probably the best place if you want to get your name in a headline. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN DERMODY,

Blessington,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Are priests and bishops entitled to speak to their congregation about what the Catholic Church teaches on abortion and other issues, or are they only allowed speak on issues that suit the Government’s agenda? – Yours, etc,

THERESA JOHNSTON,

Crozon,

Sligo.

A chara, – Diarmaid Ferriter’s criticism that the anti-abortion movement only trusts politicians when it suits them contains a grain of truth but not the full truth (Opinion & Analysis, March 31st). Politicians have proved that on the most important matters they can’t be trusted. Bertie Ahern promised Ireland “a world-class health service”. Brian Cowen, instead of managing our economy, bankrupted the country. Promises were made to reform and regulate the Garda Síochána by Alan Shatter, Frances Fitzgerald, Charles Flanagan, Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar. We had promises to reduce homelessness, now at new record levels, from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, and Enda Kenny and Leo Varadkar. Some matters including the rights of the unborn deserve constitutional protection from politicians’ promises. – Yours, etc,

JOHN F CRONIN,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – The recent claim from the pro-life movement Save the 8th that “women who are the victim of rape and incest should carry the baby to full term” is proof that the “middle ground” of the abortion debate lies within the pro-choice narrative. Even if the claim from the Save the 8th movement that “the vast majority of women who are raped or experience sexual assault, those women choose to continue with that pregnancy” is true, no woman should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy, particularly if that pregnancy is a result of a brutal violation such as rape or incest.

Forcing a victim of rape or incest to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is quite frankly barbaric, and it is no wonder that Ireland’s archaic restriction on abortion has been criticized by both Amnesty International and a UN committee for its inhumanity.

Irish people are already accessing abortions overseas, and the continued denial of compassionate healthcare and abortion access to Irish citizens is unwarranted and shameful. Ryanair is simply not a viable healthcare alternative, and forcing victims of rape and incest to travel overseas to access the healthcare they require adds unnecessary trauma and distress to an already devastating situation, as well as adding an often unfeasible financial burden. It’s time to trust women and grant us the compassionate healthcare we deserve at home. Repeal the Eighth Amendment. – Yours, etc,

ROSALEEN KEEHAN,

Dromahair,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – I am writing in relation to the comments by Dr Peter Boylan of Together for Yes that those who say you should not trust politicians are being “very anti-democratic.” I believe in democracy. However, having heard numerous political promises broken, from “health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped” to “burning the bondholders”, I would be naive to put my trust in politicians, especially in relation to the right to life of mothers and babies. That is one of the reasons why I will vote No on May 25th. – Yours, etc,

PHILIP PRENDEVILLE,

Askeaton,

Co Limerick.

Sir, – Seamus O’Callaghan (April 2nd) selectively quotes from an NHS RAPID project guide for patients and healthcare professionals on the non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. He misunderstands the difference between screening and diagnostic tests and draws the incorrect conclusion that Down syndrome can be diagnosed at 10 weeks of pregnancy from the NIPT. As the guide makes clear a couple of paragraphs later, NIPT is a screening test which can only predict a risk. Diagnosis requires a further invasive test. When an NIPT screening test is done at 10 weeks of pregnancy, the couple are provided with information about the process and have to consider the implications as with all tests. The samples are sent to the UK or US for analysis and results are usually returned 10 to 14 days later. If the test shows an increased risk for Down syndrome at this stage, and if the parents want to confirm a diagnosis, a further invasive test – either an amniocentesis or a CVS (chorion villus sample) – must be done. It takes at least three working days for the results of the laboratory testing to be available.

Thus, any concern that Down syndrome is diagnosed before 12 weeks reflects a misunderstanding of the actual process of diagnosis.

The 83 abortions for Down syndrome to which Mr O’Callaghan refers took place outside the State. If the Eighth Amendment is repealed and legislation as outlined is enacted, disability, eg Down syndrome, will be specifically excluded as a ground for termination of pregnancy here.

Further information for the public on issues related to the Eighth Amendment is available on the website of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. – Yours, etc,

Dr PETER BOYLAN,

MAO, FRCOG, FRCPI,

Chairman,

Dr CLIONA MURPHY,

FRCSI, MRCOG, FRCPI,

Chairwoman-elect,

(September 2018),

Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,

Frederick House,

Dublin 2.