The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – William Binchy (April 26th) has seriously misrepresented the proposals being put forward for reform of the law on abortion in the event that the Eighth Amendment is repealed on May 25th. In particular, he is wrong to suggest that, under the terms of the draft Bill proposed by the Government, abortion might be legal on grounds of disability. It is very clear, both in the Oireachtas Committee report, and in the text of the draft Bill itself, that abortion would not be lawful on grounds of disability; and it is also clear that late-term abortion would not be permitted.

The draft Bill simply sets out conditions for access to abortion in limited circumstances in line with the law in most other EU countries, and is more restrictive in several respects than the English law under which thousands of Irish women have been accessing abortion for decades.

But we as Irish legislators cannot even begin to debate that draft Bill, or to provide for the real health needs of our citizens, unless the Eighth Amendment is repealed.

Those who, like Prof Binchy, have always opposed reform must be asked what they now propose instead. Do they really want to see women or girls prosecuted for importing abortion pills? Do they really want to force women or girls to continue against their will with pregnancy resulting from rape; or where they have received the awful diagnosis that their baby will not be born alive? That is what a No vote will mean.

Those opposing any reform of the law on abortion must acknowledge that legal and human reality. – Yours, etc,


Seanad Éireann,

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, –Are the readers of this newspaper aware of a database called “repeal shield”? It contains a list of Twitter handles belonging to pro-life Twitter users so that those who support repeal can block opposition voices with ease.

This silences online debate and deems it impossible for the pro-life side to challenge the pro-choice side on a Twitter forum. My own Twitter account is on this list. I have been blocked by many high-profile repeal advocates and am thus unable to view, comment on, or reply to their tweets.

It’s time to talk. It really is. I firmly believe, as a young person campaigning with other young people on the streets and doorsteps, that a sensitive and respectful conversation and exchange of facts and figures, will ensure a No victory in a month’s time. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – Fintan O Toole formed his views on abortion in 1976 aged 18 (“How I discovered what I felt about abortion”, Opinion & Analysis, April 24th). Is it any wonder that his views on abortion, aired regularly in The Irish Times are so ossified?

We need to learn from the experience of our neighbours in England (and from the social, scientific and technological advances of the past 35 years) and not repeat the colossal and tragic mistake they made.

It is becoming clear as this debate intensifies that repealing the Eighth Amendment would be the biggest step backwards for human rights in this country ever and Fintan O’Toole needs to recognise that his views are not progressive but stuck in a narrow-minded, reactionary 1970s political ideology. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – Any website that does not include an “about us” or “contact us” option is suspect. Neither nor have any such option on their websites. I also note that includes the slogan “Join the official campaign”. Official? In what way? How can it be “official” if the “officials” are not contactable?

It also includes an online “petition” to demand the resignation of Dr Peter Boylan. I have no connection whatsoever with Dr Boylan, and I see this “petition”, run by nameless and faceless people, as a reprehensible example of online bullying.

In this referendum, the electorate is faced with a difficult choice between two extremes. Many voters, including myself, are unhappy with both the status quo and the alternative on offer.

Voters need and deserve informed debate, not propaganda. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Séamus White (April 26th) says, “If the voters are unhappy with how their legislators legislate, they can elect new ones”. Well, yes, they can. But there’s a catch.

Picking the least worst candidate – as one must do in the case in many constituencies – is hardly a good test of democracy. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Mary Butler TD criticises those campaigning for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum for not including the word abortion on their posters. Like many parents of young children, I’m grateful that the Yes posters give me the option of deciding when and how to discuss abortion with my children, unlike the No campaign posters, like the outrageous “babies will die” poster my five-year-old has read and asked me about. Once again, we see the unwillingness of the “pro-life” brigade to spare a thought for how their actions affect those living outside of a womb. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I would like to applaud the 100 lawyers who publicly urged a No vote in the coming referendum. Some of the most respected members of the profession are on the list and in pointing out the injustice of the Government proposals, all of them are being true to the primary duty of the advocate: to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. – Yours, etc,


An Charraig Dhubh,

Co Bhaile Átha Cliath.