Weighing up the abortion referendum


Sir, – There is no doubt that in relation to addressing the Oireachtas Committee’s recommendations, our politicians face an unenviable task. Being overtly pro-choice or pro- life seems to be a recipe for electoral damage and taking a middle position, irrespective of one’s own views, may be a safer political option.

As a society surely we should demonstrate tolerance, maturity and respect to all those willing to put their heads above the parapet, especially when we believe that they are being genuine in their views.

Being ethically opposed to abortion because one believes all lives must be protected or being pro-choice because a woman must always have the right to choose, are clear and logical positions.

But for many who are still undecided and struggling with the issue, it may be helpful to follow our own informed conscience, but most importantly respect the conscience of others with whom we may ultimately disagree with. – Yours etc,


Templeogue, Dublin 16.

Sir, – We write as women who are former TDs and Senators from a range of different political parties and perspectives. We wish to express our strong support for the recommendations in the report published this week by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

From our political experience, we believe the Constitution is not the place to deal with the issue of abortion. We believe in the need to offer the people a clear opportunity to repeal the Eighth Amendment, to enable the Oireachtas to legislate to provide women with access to reproductive healthcare in Ireland. – Yours, etc,


Laoghaire, Co Dublin;







Waterford & GERALDINE

FEENEY, Sligo.

Sir, – The logic of Dr Tom O’Rourke’ s letter (December 21st) is that at any stage of our lives where we are in a dependent state, and because we are nothing more than “parasites”, we are fair game for extermination. Thus not just the child in the womb, but the temporarily ill adult and the elderly person in the nursing home, are apparently not to be accorded any human dignity. – Yours, etc,


Navan, Co Meath.

Sir, – I refer to the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, which called for the repeal of article 40.3.3. of the Constitution, for abortion on demand to be permitted in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to birth, on “compassionate” grounds, where unborn babies have life limiting conditions.

I would like to point out that there is nothing compassionate about abortion, the direct, intentional taking of an innocent human life. These are horrific proposals, which call on the Irish people to deny recognition of the most basic human right, the right to life, of unborn children in the Constitution, and also call for abortion to be legalised on widespread grounds in Ireland. They must be rejected in their entirety by the Oireachtas. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – In proposing that no referendum on the Eighth Amendment be held, in spite of the recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee, and the Citizens’ Assembly, the dissenting politicians from the Oireachtas Committee are trying to impose their minority view on the people of Ireland in totally undemocratic way.

They are placing their own opinions above the will of the Irish people without offering the people an opportunity to express their opinion. As such their proposal is not deserving of any further attention. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Underlying next year’s referendum will be a particular choice that will most probably need to be made by all of us: the choice between whether one believes that most unwanted foetuses do or do not have a basic right to be born.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment seems to me to have largely dismissed in one fell swoop the intrinsic and moral right of the foetus to be born, recommending that we in this country should accept what would be tantamount to abortion on demand.

The committee has suggested that it has looked at most of the evidence while many of its critics have pointed out that it has been rather selective in what it has allowed and accepted as “evidence”.

However, there are very many in this country who believe that most unwanted pregnancies should be allowed and assisted, as much as is realistically possible, to go to full-term; that the foetus should have the opportunity to experience a life in this world, just like the rest of us; and that the right to be born should generally take precedence over a mother’s right to have a termination, especially when the latter is solely for socio-economic reasons.

In the end I suppose it largely boils down to a question of differences in personal values rather than being based on not based on scientific “evidence” as such.

To me it seems it is a truly mind-boggling shattering achievement that one sperm cell is able to beat around an estimated 50 million or more other sperm cells in the race to reach and penetrate one ovum.

Such a feat is one that should not merely be fully respected, but also something that does not deserve to be easily cast aside, except, that is, when there are extremely exceptional circumstances – for example, when pregnancy seriously threatens the physical or mental health of the mother, or in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.

Thus, rather than having general abortion on demand for women faced with unwanted pregnancies, I support the view it would be much fairer to all concerned to have available a comprehensive system of “supports on demand”. – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s assertion (Opinion, December 19th) that the Irish abortion regime is cruel, deserves to be challenged. The sanctions which were maintained in recent Irish abortion legislation are intended as a deterrent and to the best of my knowledge, they have never been applied.

In 1967 such sanctions against abortion were removed from UK legislation. As a direct result, the lives of approximately nine million of their potential citizens were abruptly terminated. Readers can judge for themselves which regime is the most cruel! – Yours, etc.



Sir, – Brian O Reilly (December 19th) says the Pope’s visit will be used by some to influence the vote on the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment. He need not worry as Leo Varadkar is pushing to get the referendum over and done with well before the Pope’s visit to Ireland.  The pro amendment have all the angles covered, no doubt! – Yours, etc,



Sir, – I read your Letters section today (December 21st) with interest: six individual letters on the subject of the impending referendum on the Eighth Amendment with a wide range of voices present. There was a conspicuous lack, however, of any letter penned by a woman.

While the referendum will entitle every eligible (and registered) citizen of the country to vote, and it is important to hear as wide a range of voices as possible in the inevitable debate, I hope the lack of female voices from your readership in what is, essentially, a female issue will not be a recurring trend. Fair and balanced moderation is required in this deeply divisive issue. – Yours, etc,


Skerries, Co Dublin.