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The Eighth Amendment

Sir, – The Supreme Court has unanimously held that the only constitutional protection for the unborn is contained in the Eighth Amendment. It follows, as many have already noted, that if the Eighth Amendment is removed in the upcoming referendum, there will be no constitutional protection for the unborn. And this will the position from the moment of conception right up until the moment the unborn “quits the mother’s womb”.

If the people vote Yes, the Government has said that it will legislate to address this vacuum. The legislative proposals it supports show little or no respect for the unborn. The Eighth Amendment strikes a balance between the unborn and the mother which, if the Eighth Amendment is removed, will be legislatively recalibrated very much against the existing right to life of the unborn. The unborn will have no legal right to life for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and thereafter, in practice, will have very little protection in law. Further, according to many of those who advocate a Yes vote, this is only the beginning of a journey to an even more liberal abortion regime in future. One Minister has said that if the majority of the electorate vote No, there will be another referendum.

The electorate is asked to trust its politicians in this regard.

On April 26th, you had two editorials: one relates to Irish Water’s project to supply water from the Shannon to the greater Dublin area; the second relates to judicial appointments. Your opening paragraph in the latter read as follows: “If the farce that is the Government’s handling of judicial appointments reform is in any way representative of how the current administration operates, we should worry.” The opening sentence in relation to Irish Water’s project states: “Irish politicians and officials have a very poor record in forward planning and joined-up thinking.”

Clearly you too harbour serious doubt in the ability of our politicians to get things right.

An unplanned pregnancy is a traumatic event for all concerned: the mother, the father, their families; and the unborn. Of course, we should show compassion to the mother. But compassion should not be confined to the mother. Compassion is not a quality that is in limited supply. True compassion should be extended to all who are affected by the situation and should be inclusive in its embrace.

In the circumstances, I will be voting No in the upcoming referendum. – Yours, etc,

BRYAN McMAHON

LLM, PhD, LLD (hon);

(Retired Judge of

the High Court),

Kells,

Co Meath.

Sir, – As a layman I cannot understand how any media union, as distinct from individual outlets, which we can avoid or not according to choice, can have an official policy on anything, other than to present and interpret the news in as honest and impartial manner as possible. That in no way precludes hard and penetrating interviews where necessary. An official policy of pushing a particular agenda means we are unable to trust any journalist on any topic to be giving us their best effort at truth and accuracy.

Mistakes and misunderstanding will of course happen in the high pressure of a newsroom but that is different from having a policy to turn news into propaganda.

Hence my concern at the official policy of the National Union of Journalists to support the introduction of abortion, which undermines all that the union should stand for. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK DAVEY,

Shankill, Dublin 18.

Sir, – Those arguing for a No vote based on the tiny minority of late-term abortions in the UK or the inclusion of mental health in the provisions should reflect on their positions. These are relativistic moralities which implicitly allow for terminations in some cases. If you believe that abortions are sometimes necessary, no matter how undesirable, then you are morally obliged to vote Yes in the forthcoming referendum to remove the current severe restrictions which govern our healthcare in this area. – Yours, etc,

Dr RICHARD SCRIVEN,

Ballinlough,

Cork.

Sir, – On May 25th I will be voting with my head, and my heart, and I will be voting Yes. I plead with people to put aside their own personal views on what they might do, or what they feel others should do in the situation of a crisis pregnancy. Give women the opportunity to choose what is best for themselves, and for their families. Vote Yes. – Yours, etc,

CLAIRE GALLAGHER,

Marino,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – I was dismayed to discover that our “Pray at 8 for the 8th” banner had been removed from our church railings and stolen. While our Presbyterian denomination has concluded that maintaining the Eighth Amendment is the only moral option in light of the legislation intimated, the banner itself did not explicitly state No. We are very aware of the personal crises faced by women and the daunting implications for our health service, so we’re encouraging people to bring every dimension of the issue to God in prayer. Whatever position one holds on the current referendum, we should all be concerned when voices are being shut down. These are small steps that undermine the freedom of speech and democracy that we all cherish. History warns us that small acts to silence people can pave the way to darker forms. – Yours, etc,

Rev ALAN BOAL,

(Abbey

Presbyterian Church),

Dublin 1.

Sir, – There is a momentum and power behind the Yes side in the upcoming referendum that I don’t think we’ve seen before in this country. Women and girls the length and breadth of our little island are standing up to say they won’t be shamed and punished for their biology any longer. – Yours, etc,

LYDIA WALSH,

Cork.