Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times Wednesday May 9th 2007.
Madam, - The use of the term "disabled" in the headline to Breda O'Brien's article on the D case
(May 5th), and the manner in which the subject has been addressed by several of your correspondents, need to be challenged.
It is, of course, understandable, that those who support the current draconian legal situation with regard to abortion would prefer to avoid discussion of the specific circumstances D finds herself in. This does not, however, require everyone else to ignore the facts and debate the issue entirely on their terms.
This case is not about making a judgment about the "quality of life" of a disabled child. It is not about those mothers to whom Breda O'Brien refers who do not regret carrying an anencephalic child to term (unlike D, one assumes, they would have had the benefit of a choice in the matter). Anencephaly is not a "disability" as the term is commonly understood. It is a severe abnormality which offers no chance of survival. Let us be quite clear on this: if a born human being suffered from a comparable condition, there would be no question over the right of the next of kin to withdraw life support, if that was their wish.
Those who oppose D's right to terminate her pregnancy are, in effect, condemning her to remain, against her wishes, a human life-support machine for the next five months - an entirely fruitless and cruel exercise, given the circumstances. The tone of smug moral sanctimony running through many of the letters printed on this are a little hard to take, coming, as they do, from people with no compunction about ignoring D's choice in the matter and treating her as a means, rather than an end.
- Yours, etc,
FRANCIS COLGAN, Sutton, Dublin 13.