Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Letters in the Irish Examiner - Monday January 28th

Irish Examiner Letters Page Monday January 28th

‘Abortion is murder’ – an absurd theory Seferin James

RORY O’DONOVAN (Letters, January 8) is mistaken to think Louise Caffrey (Letters, December 29) has failed to recognise the ideological grounds for opposition to the pro-choice position.

I assure Mr O’Donovan that everyone is well aware of the inescapably misogynist nature of the religious institutions that put the “firm belief” into his anti-choice position.

The ideological grounds in question are the grounds of the Catholic school he attended, the grounds of the church which he frequents, the grounds of Golgotha from which he derives the principle of noble suffering which he has effectively prescribed to women in crisis pregnancy. His insistence on using the term “murder” to describe abortion is a disingenuous but all too common equivocation between the two terms.

It is not only politically incorrect, a point to which Mr O’Donovan himself admits — it is also logically incorrect, a point to which “firm belief” is oblivious.

This equivocation reduces the former to absurdity and grossly mischaracterises the latter. Human life does not begin at conception — cell division begins at conception. That which is only potentially a person cannot itself be a person in actuality.

One cannot say that abortion is murder without reducing to absurdity what it means to be a human — the insubstantial notion that humanity just pops into existence when the soul supposedly enters into the foetus at the moment of conception. From where, we might well ask?

I argue that the meaning of moral values are ultimately derived from our ability to empathise with others.

In the case of abortion we are only capable of meaningfully empathising with the woman who finds herself pregnant without her reproductive consent.

To suggest otherwise is a theological fiction.

Seferin James
14 Cedar Square
Co Dublin

Dutch figures are not understated Anne- Marie rey

I WISH to respond to the letter from Eilís Grealy headlined ‘Dutch abortion figures understated’ (January 21).

This is one of those endlessly ruminated anti-abortion myths. In fact, Dutch abortion figures are not understated, but among the most accurate worldwide.

Every abortion is notified, including the so-called overtime treatments (very early abortions up to 44 days from last menstrual period).

One simple reason for the accuracy of the figures is that doctors only get paid by social insurance for those abortions they notify. You can be sure that Dutch doctors do not like very much to do unpaid work — no more than doctors in other countries.

The Dutch abortion rate per 1,000 women aged 15-44 (which is a more telling measure for the occurrence of abortions than the abortion ratio per 100 births) has remained stable since 2001, after a short period of rising slightly in the 1990s. It was 8.6/1,000 in 2006.

Switzerland has followed the Dutch model and after a very liberal abortion practice for many years, it legalised abortion on request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in 2002.

In 2006 — the forth year under the new law — the abortion rate continued to fall and reached an all-time low, with 6/1,000 women, a rate even lower than the Dutch one.

These rates are among the lowest worldwide (note that there are no more illegal abortions in these two countries).

The reasons are good sex education and ready availability of contraception — the morning-after pill, for example, is available over the counter.

Anne-Marie Rey
Grabenstr. 21
3052 Zollikofen

IN his letter on abortion (January 8), Rory O’Donovan seeks to draw a distinction between pro-choice campaigners and care for the life of the unborn.

It is a gross injustice to women to suggest the decision to terminate a pregnancy signals a lack of care for the unborn.

Since Mr O’Donovan has never carried a child, one cannot expect him to understand the experience, but to suggest that a woman is not acutely aware of the potential life inside her, of the future prospects of that life and of the world of experience it will be born into — that is just preposterous.

Mr O’Donovan’s suggestion that people who seek a legal choice in the matter have “more in common with those who show concern over the carbon emissions resulting from a trip abroad than the implications for the life of an unborn child” is, I suspect, made in a somewhat sarcastic spirit — but it is in fact very relevant.

Concern over global warming is all to do with the future and those who come after us. While anti-choice campaigners have a deep concern for the life of the unborn child, the reality is that beyond attempting to secure the child’s future, they are powerless over the circumstances into which he or she will be born — and they show little concern about that.

The fact is that women already have the “veto over the lives of their unborn children”, which Mr O’Donovan is so against.

It is a responsibility conferred by virtue of their physical make-up and by modern medical science, and a number of Irish women each day choose to exercise that responsibility by ending their pregnancy, often with no guidance whatsoever.

If the anti-choice lobby was less concerned with salving its own conscience and more with the lives of the mother and and her unborn child, surely it would advocate legislation that includes mandatory counselling for women in crisis situations so they can be sure the decision they make takes into account all the ethics?

Nicki ffrench Davis Georges Quay Cork

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