The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – If you are a woman who needs an abortion, I am not sure that Mickey Harte’s opinion about whether you should or shouldn’t have one is likely to have been part of your decision-making process. Yet here we are! – Yours, etc,




A chara, – The Referendum Commission has said the forthcoming referendum is not a vote on any legislation that may follow if we repeal the Eighth Amendment (News, April 24th). It is quite right. We live in a country where our politicians have merrily told in the past that election promises are made to be broken – and have, in fact, broken their electoral promises around this issue in the past. Therefore we need to look past the proposed legislation and consider what we know will happen with certainty if we vote for repeal. The first is that, as the Supreme Court has recently assured us, the unborn will have absolutely no constitutional right to life. The second is that we will have given the Oireachtas absolute power to do as it pleases in relation to abortion. We are being promised the limit will be 12 weeks; but we would, in fact, be placing no restrictions upon the limits that might actually be set.

To put it even more bluntly, the referendum is about denying the right to life of unborn children and instead giving politicians the right to set the parameters under which they may legally have their lives taken from them. That is what we would be voting for if we repeal the Eighth Amendment. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – I have seen children at pro-life marches terrified out of their wits by screaming pro-choice protesters, but not one letter ever in your columns protesting about it. But a letter (April 24th) complaining about a silly remark by a pro-life supporter to a four-year-old child does get published, in order to undermine the pro-life campaign. Typical. – Yours, etc,


Lismore, Co Waterford.

Sir, – Supporters of the Eighth Amendment warn that its repeal will deliver us to the gates of hell, echoing past warnings about legalising divorce and contraception.

In reality, repeal will end the export of Irish abortion, thus enabling our mothers, daughters, grand-daughters, sisters and nieces to follow their consciences while availing of the necessary medical services in this, their home country.

The banishment to Britain of women seeking terminations of pregnancy is a disgrace. It is time for safe, medically supervised abortion to be made available in Ireland to all who need it. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – As we approach the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment, I continuously hear people refer to the two extreme sides in this debate — pro-choice and anti-choice. When did we decide, as a society, that giving people a choice is extreme? When did we decide that allowing women control of their own bodies is extreme? When did we decide allowing doctors, not the judiciary, to decide healthcare is extreme? When did we decide that trusting women is the extremist point of view? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – The key issue for me is not the desirability or otherwise of abortion in particular circumstances, but who gets to carry the ultimate burden and responsibility of the decision.

Should that decision be made by the expectant mother, in consultation with her family, friends, and medical advisers, or should it be made by the State or a particular church or pressure group on her behalf?

It seems to me that the decision must rest ultimately with the person who carries the responsibility (and risks) of bringing the pregnancy to term and caring for the child afterwards. The thought that we might try to criminalise and punish people faced with that awesome decision in often terrible circumstances horrifies me.

Best to be as supportive of the mother as we can in whatever decision she might make and interfere in her decision as little as possible.

We do not need the State or private bodies getting involved in what is often an intensely traumatic and personal matter. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.