The Eighth Amendment

 

Sir, – Over the last few weeks, I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors throughout Cork city and county. I’ve talked to women from all social backgrounds, on the doorsteps of the grandest and the most humble houses. I’ve met young mothers and grandmothers. I’ve listened to stories of miscarriages, of fatal foetal abnormalities, of rearing a family of seven, of desperately trying to conceive.

While discussing the referendum, every single woman has the same look in her eyes, the same understanding of the gravity of a decision as serious as ending a pregnancy. Every woman spoke of how this choice could not and should not be made lightly.

Thanks to the discussions with the women of Cork, my friends, and family I have no doubt that a choice like this can and will never be made lightly. Women are the greatest critics of themselves. Women are their own safety checks.

I trust women. I trust that a Yes vote will provide care and compassion for caring and compassionate women. – Yours, etc,

MELANIE CORR,

Blackrock,

Cork.

Sir, – Are the images of aborted foetuses that are being displayed by those advocating a No vote, and which are deplored by those wanting a Yes vote, false? Do the images show accurately and truthfully what an aborted foetus looks like? If the images are not electronically manipulated or doctored in any way, then the images convey the sober truth of what an abortion is. – Yours, etc,

EILEEN McGOUGH,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.

Sir, – The upcoming referendum on May 25th is a vote on whether the Irish people are happy or not with the status quo as it stands now.

Currently the status quo means that women cannot access the health services they desperately need in times of crisis. It means that women who receive the heart-wrenching fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis cannot receive the care they need at home. It means that women do not have the right to consent to medical procedures when pregnant. It means the most vulnerable groups of women are left without care: women living with disabilities who may not be able to travel; women from migrant backgrounds who may not have the documentation to travel; victims of rape and domestic abuse; and children. Are the Irish people okay with this continuing?

Without the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, there is no possibility to change any of the above. – Yours, etc,

JENNIFER FITZSIMONS,

Brussels.

Sir, – We, in Ireland, are fortunate to have a Constitution enabling the people to have a say on laws of fundamental importance. The Eighth Amendment is of fundamental importance. The outcome of the referendum on May 25th is crucial and could effect our nation for generations to come.

We, the people, cannot allow the repeal of the Eighth Amendment giving politicians the power to legislate, in whatever way they wish, for the lives of our unborn children and giving away our right to choose for ever.

As women we need to stand for our rights and dignity. With every right comes a responsibility, so we must also stand for the rights and dignity of others including our unborn children. For now our voice is theirs and we must not abandon them. A healthy, caring society can only emerge when the tiniest and most vulnerable are protected and given their rights too.

Compassion, if it is true compassion, has to take account of all. – Yours, etc,

CATHERINE RYAN,

Stillorgan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – When I was in college, a friend invited me to a pro-life meeting. Prior to that, I had no strong feelings on the matter, one way or the other. However at that meeting, I saw the reality of the life of the unborn baby. I realised that at conception, each of our lives began, and from that moment, we have our own unique DNA and a mere three weeks afterwards, our hearts start beating. So it seems to me that our right to life begins when our life begins, in the womb, and that it is entirely appropriate that this right to life be given constitutional protection. So for that reason, I will be voting No to repealing the Eighth Amendment on May 25th. – Is mise,

SIOBHAN NIC CATHAIL,

Athlone,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Many female survivors of sexual violence talk to us about how difficult all matter to do with their fertility, sexual and reproductive health are for them because of their experience of rape. This can be a lifelong struggle for women following the trauma of sexual violence. Making this bearable for survivors starts by ensuring that everything that happens to their bodies is with their informed and full consent.

In Rape Crisis we believe everyone has a role in supporting survivors to restore their sense that they matter and that their yes matters. But the Eighth Amendment says the opposite. It says that a woman’s consent about what happens to her body is conditional.

The hard cases of the approximately 5 per cent of fertile aged girls and women who are pregnant after rape are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact of the Eighth on survivors and all women and girls.

The truth is that the Eighth Amendment, whether a survivor of rape is pregnant or not, whether they choose to terminate or continue with the pregnancy, codifies a culture of disregarding women’s consent over their bodies. Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) is calling for a Yes vote, not only to ensure those pregnant after rape can be supported at home and without stigma, but also so that our Constitution unambiguously upholds the dignity and rights of women, many of whom will be survivors of sexual violence. – Yours, etc,

Dr CLÍONA SAIDLÉAR,

Rape Crisis Network

Ireland,

Carmichael Centre,

North Brunswick Street,

Dublin 7.