LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR ABORTION Irish Times February 25th 2008
· Madam, - A report in your edition of February 20th outlines the results of the Millward Brown IMS poll published by the Pro-Life Campaign - and heralded as evidence that most Irish people oppose the introduction of abortion in this country. It found that 67 per cent support a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion but allowing the current practice of intervention to save a mother's life in accordance with Irish medical ethics. It is clear, however, that the two-part question is put to respondents is confusing and contradictory and can only yield inconclusive results. The lack of clarity is reflected in the 19 per cent who felt unable to form an opinion on the question.
In fact, when clear and direct questions are used - something rarely done by pro-life surveys - it appears that the majority of Irish people favour the introduction of abortion at least in particular circumstances. For example, the June 2007 TNS/mrbi poll conducted by the Safe and Legal campaign found that 43 per cent of respondents favoured the introduction of abortion in Ireland if a woman feels it is in her best interest, with this figure increasing to 82 per cent when the woman's life is in danger.
I think, however, that quoting statistics does not really tell us about the reality of abortion in Ireland. In order to make real decisions on abortion legislation we must focus on the 10 to 15 very real woman who leave Ireland every day to procure a medical service to which the UNHCR in 2000 determined that woman had a right. We must focus on the 6,000 women a year who procure terminations abroad often without proper counselling because of the stigma attached to abortion in this country and the lack of support services. We must consider the thousands of Irish people who took to the streets to support the right of the girl at the centre of the X case to travel for a termination. We must consider that, with increasing numbers of poor and migrant women in Ireland who cannot procure a termination in England, Irish women may add further to the 70,000 women who die each year due to illegal abortion.
Opinion polls can no longer serve as a basis to deny women, often in desperate circumstances, their right to control their fertility. - Yours, etc,
ABORTION AND FERTILITY Irish Times February 26th 2008
· Madam, - Sinead Ahern (February 25th), supporting the introduction of abortion in Ireland, says opinion polls should no longer be used to deny women "the right to control their fertility".
If women controlled their fertility, presumably we would have no need for abortion.
- Yours, etc,
KIERON WOOD, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR ABORTION Irish Times February 27th 2008
· Madam, - Sinead Ahern (February 25th) takes issue with the recent Millward Brown/IMS survey published by the Pro-Life Campaign.
The findings revealed that 67 per cent support a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion but allowing the current practice of intervention to save a mother's life in accordance with Irish medical ethics.
Ms Ahern asserts the question is "confusing and contradictory and can only yield inconclusive results".
She continues: "The lack of clarity is reflected in the 19 per cent who felt unable to form an opinion on the question". In fact, the findings have remained remarkably consistent over the past four years and the 19 per cent recorded as "don't know" or "no opinion" is very much in keeping with most surveys on abortion, regardless of source.
In contrast, the Safe and Legal campaign poll findings cited by Ms Ahern make no distinction between necessary medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion, where the life of the unborn child is directly targeted. Yet this distinction is crucial to any understanding of what actually takes place.
The most recent UN Report on maternal mortality found that Ireland is the safest country in the world in which to be pregnant, safer than countries such as Britain and Holland, which allow abortion on demand.
The amazing advances in 4D ultrasound technology illuminate the reality that the unborn child is a unique, irreplaceable human being and not merely a "clump of cells". Likewise, the emergence of groups such as Silent No More, organised by women who regret their abortions, points to the failure of abortion to meet the needs of women.
The pro-choice argument that legal abortion "confronts the reality" of crisis pregnancy leaves far too much out of the equation. - Yours, etc,
MARIE McLEANE, Pro-Life Campaign, Gardiner Street Upper, Dublin 1.
LEVEL OF SUPPORT FOR ABORTION Irish Times February 28th 2008
· Madam, - While I cannot subscribe to the provocative and somewhat unhelpful view expressed by Kieron Wood (February 26th) in his response to Sinéad Ahern (February 25th), I feel he has highlighted the equally unhelpful and crass sentiments anchoring her argument on abortion. Ms Ahern has trivialised this highly sensitive and divisive issue by indulging in aggressive, self-righteous feminist sloganeering, with her equation of abortion with some type of birth control.
Abortion is not, and should never be viewed as, a method of birth control, for accepting this position only leads us down a road where human life becomes cheapened on the whim of someone with such a "right to control their fertility". Such hijacking of the issue serves only the selfish agendas of those who espouse such misguided views and do not help in addressing the real and agonising dilemma at the core of the abortion debate. - Yours, etc,
CONOR MAGUIRE, Pembroke Road, Dublin 4.
Madam, - It would seem that we have suddenly travelled back in time on the question of female fertility - that is, in the world according to Kieron Wood.
I was under the distinct impression that nowadays the woman isn't held to be solely responsible for any pregnancy that may occur. I believe it is generally understood to be a joint responsibility. Condoms, anyone? - Yours, etc,
CHRISTINE MILLS, Lower Churchtown Road, Dublin 14.