The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – One thing I’ve noticed in the course of the campaign is that the overwhelming majority of people are on board with allowing terminations for “hard cases” and have huge compassion for these women, but have concerns around the proposed legislation and allowing 12 weeks without restriction. This is understandable.

It’s the rape cases in particular that I find most upsetting, and which motivated me to get involved with the campaign. This 12-week period is specifically intended to address these.

Several people have put it to me that we should simply amend the Constitution or introduce legislation that would allow for terminations in the case of rape and other “hard cases”. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Rape would have to be proven in court, and given the timeframes (cases take years to go to trial), it wouldn’t be workable. There is also the concern that if a woman had a termination based on a doctor’s judgement that she had been raped, that it would prejudice the trial and allow a rapist to walk free. It is also an unfortunate fact that for various reasons rape is very under-reported, so requiring the woman to report it in order to have a termination puts the onus on the victim and puts her in an appalling position, when she may wish to make a decision privately with her GP and then try to move past the trauma.

So for those reasons a reasonable timeframe is required to allow the woman the space to discuss her options with her GP, and then decide to continue with the pregnancy or (after a mandatory 72-hour period of reflection) not.

There is no workable alternative that isn’t being considered; this is what the Oireachtas committee came up with having heard all the legal and medical arguments.

You’ll notice the No side has not proposed anything for these cases – its advice for a rape survivor who falls pregnant has been a mixture of platitudes and various versions of “put up with it”.

I find it particularly egregious that there are men campaigning for a No vote in the knowledge that they will never experience the violation of being impregnated by force.

Could you tell your mother, wife, sister, daughter, or niece that they must carry to term a rapist’s child? I couldn’t.

That’s why I’m voting Yes on May 25th. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I am struck by the No’s side constant appeal to the Yes side to stop talking about the “hard cases”.

This confuses me as surely the repeal of the Eighth Amendment is precisely to enable us as a nation to deal with and help the “hard cases”. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Midwife Paula Barry has called for women pregnant as a result of rape to be “made” to keep their baby. Can we imagine for a moment what that might look like? A young girl raped by a family member being “made” to carry her pregnancy to term, then her young body enduring the traumas of childbirth. It is quite simply inhumane to force a woman to stay pregnant and give birth against her wishes. Motherhood is not a cure for rape. It is an often complicated and challenging journey for those of us who have entered it by choice, and it can never be forced upon those who do not seek it. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.

Sir, – In Ireland today it would appear that it is more socially acceptable to have an abortion than to place a baby in a loving home by adoption. By taking the latter option, a woman not only gives the gift of life and love but immense joy to extended adoptive families. Adoption is becoming a rarity in Ireland today. It’s time for a re-evaluation. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I am a mother of four, one of whom has a severe disability. I know the value of a baby. I am so struck by the lack of any acknowledgment by the No campaign of the suffering of so many Irish women, or even of the presence of the woman in the whole scenario. I wish they would just come right out and say that they want victims of rape and abuse, families with a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis, and basically anyone who has the nerve to become pregnant unexpectedly, to be forced to remain pregnant. Because that is their bottom line, dressed up as it may be by talk of unborn babies, by tears glistening in the large eyes of those so called pro-lifers when they remember their own perfect experience of planned and wanted pregnancy.

The women in my life deserve to be so much more than collateral damage on this crusade for the control of women.

Each story is a different one and deserves to be worked through individually and privately, and the only way to establish a framework for that is to repeal the Eighth Amendment. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 12.

A chara, – Prof Louise Kenny says a patient of hers “might be still alive” were it not for the Eighth Amendment (News, May 14th). The “might” is telling. The simple truth is that no one can say with certainty that the Eighth has caused a single death. However, it can be said with complete confidence that it has saved many thousands of lives that otherwise would have been lost to abortion. And we can be equally sure that it will save thousands more if it is retained. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – It is clear that the Eighth Amendment does not allow for compassion or exceptions. I find it shocking that even child victims of rape cannot access abortion services. It is beyond time for change. – Yours, etc,