Monday, March 31, 2008

Women Warned Over Buying Abortion Pill Online

Women warned over buying abortion pill online
Niamh Horan The Sunday Independent.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has reiterated its warning to women buying the abortion pill online.

The warning comes after the Irish centre for post abortion counselling reported a number of women coming to them who are accessing the drug over the internet without medical supervision.

Rachel's Vineyard, a group which offers weekend retreats for healing after abortion, has reported counselling several Irish women who have taken the so-called "abortion drug" before aborting at home.

Bernadette Goulding, director of Rachel's Vineyard Ireland UK, has said the group has dealt with a number of Irish women who have taken the pill unsupervised.

"I've had young women coming to me who would have taken that drug. The women would have taken the tablets themselves and aborted at home. It's being used very frequently here.

"I remember one young woman coming to me who had taken this drug and she actually aborted at home. Another young woman who had taken this drug aborted when she was out shopping. She went in to the toilet in the shopping mall. But, unfortunately, these are stories you don't hear about."

Mifepristone (RU486), or the "abortion pill", is widely available in the UK under strict medical supervision but is not authorised for use in Ireland.

However, in recent months, the IMB has discovered that it can be purchased directly from internet websites, meaning Irish women technically no longer have to travel to Britain to terminate a pregnancy.

Late last year, the board attempted to stop a website from providing Irish women with the drug, arguing that the drug is illegal here and that there were serious health risks for women who used it without medical supervision.

The board contacted a number of websites and drew their attention to the Irish regulations, which prohibit mail-order internet sales of such products.

It is illegal for people to obtain medicines via mail order and the IMB, in conjunction with customs officials, have been monitoring packages coming into Ireland on a continuous basis for potential breaches of the law.

Speaking about the latest reports, a spokesperson for the IMB said the authority would be "very concerned" to hear a number of women were accessing the drug online.

"The IMB would be very concerned to hear that women are accessing Mifepristone over the internet.

"In addition to the possible criminal offences involved, the IMB strongly advises consumers not purchase any medicinal products through unauthorised sources, such as the internet, as there can be no guarantees on the quality, safety, or effectiveness of products purchased in this manner.

"The IMB would advise women not to use the internet as a means to procure medicines -- it strongly recommends that professional medical advice is sought before taking this or any other medicine," the spokesperson said.

New Legal Challenge to Abortion Laws looms

New legal challenge to abortion laws looms
Susan Mitchell The Sunday Business Post

The HSE’s decision to call a halt to the practice of funding abortions abroad for Irish women, when the foetus has a severe abnormality, may give rise to legal action.

The issue may have conveniently disappeared from Ireland’s political agenda, but the state’s complex laws on the right to life of the unborn look set to come under renewed scrutiny.

About 120,000 Irish women have had abortions in the last 30 years. Yet, in a country obsessed with legal debates about abortion - five referendums have been held on the subject in 20 years - the state has failed to provide clear legislative guidelines.

Now, the possibility of yet another legal challenge looms large, with the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) confirming it has sought legal advice with a view to instigating proceedings over recent decisions made by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The most recent complaint concerns the HSE’s sudden refusal to cover the costs incurred by women whose foetuses have severe abnormalities, when terminating their pregnancy abroad.

The IFPA said the state had previously, albeit quietly, allowed women in such circumstances to use the E112 form - which provides refunds for some hospital treatments abroad which are not available in Ireland - to procure an abortion abroad. The state later refunded the costs, which can reach €8,000, according to the IFPA.

As far back as 2002, the Irish Medical Times reported the use of this form to access abortion. Dr Juliet Bressan of Doctors for Choice, who was the source of the story, urged women to apply through the scheme, arguing everyone deserved equity of healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.

Since then a number of women have successfully applied, according to the chief executive of the IFPA. It has been reported that women whose foetuses had serious congenital abnormalities that were incompatible with life outside the womb had their abortions abroad, using the E112 form.

‘‘We don’t understand what has changed,” said Niall Behan, chief executive of IFPA.

When contacted by The Sunday Business Post, a staff member at the HSE office that deals with E112 forms, said the form ‘‘did not apply to procedures that are illegal in Ireland’’. The HSE press office refused to respond to repeated questions from this newspaper.

Ireland has already witnessed a number of cases taken against women’s clinics and students; a series of referendums; and litigation before the Irish and European courts (see below).

Jennifer Schweppe, of the University of Limerick School of Law, said that ‘‘whether you are pro-life or pro-choice’’, the state is failing to fulfil its constitutional duty in relation to abortion laws.

Schweppe, who organised a recent conference on the subject, said: ‘‘It is simply inexcusable that, 25 years after the constitutional amendment, 16 years after the X case and 11 years since the C case, there is still no legislation in place and we rely on an act from 1861 to govern the law on the termination of pregnancies in this state.

‘‘This problem was highlighted in the recent Miss D case. Without clear legislative guidelines, doctors, lawyers and healthcare workers simply do not know what to do when assessing the sometimes competing rights of the mother and the unborn child.”

The legal action being considered by the IFPA echoes a separate case taken in 2006 by an Irish woman known only as ‘D’. D, already a mother of two children, became pregnant with twins at the end of 2001, shortly before the most recent referendum on abortion, which was narrowly rejected following intense public debate.

In the 14thweekof her pregnancy she had an amniocentesis test, which showed that one foetus had stopped developing at eight weeks and the other suffered from a severe and lethal genetic condition with an average life expectancy of six days. She decided she did not want to carry a dead and a dying twin to term and had an abortion in Britain.

D took a case to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated, specifically her right to respect for her private and family life and her right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. It ruled that D had not exhausted every legal avenue in Ireland and was therefore not eligible to go to a full hearing before the European Court.

Although it received little attention at the time, the court based its ruling in large part on the state’s own argument before it - that D had a good prospect of succeeding had she brought an application to the Irish courts for a legal abortion in Ireland.

Should the IFPA - or indeed any of the women affected by recent HSE decisions - proceed with legal action, it will reopen the highly charged debate on abortion in Ireland. Before the 2002 referendum, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern called for a measured debate on the subject, but the colourful Dail debates that preceded the March referendum suggested that was highly optimistic.

The Ceann Comhairle was forced to suspend the house after deputies swapped insults and catcalls. Fianna Fail TD Dick Roche was accused of labelling Labour’s Liz McManus ‘‘pro-abortion’’. Fine Gael’s Nora Owen, a former justice minister, responded that Roche was ‘‘just a thug’’, while Labour’s Pat Rabbitte added that Roche was a ‘‘slithering political lizard’’.

The divisions in the Dail reflect the political, religious and social divide throughout the country. The depth of the differences have been manifest, but if a recent opinion poll - conducted by TNS/mrbi and published by the campaign group Safe and Legal in Ireland - is anything to go by, the electorate may well be softening in its stance.

When asked in which circumstances abortion should be legally available in Ireland, the vast majority of those questioned (82 per cent) agreed that it should be available when the pregnancy seriously endangered the woman’s life.

Three-quarters agreed it should be legal when the foetus cannot survive outside the womb (as in Miss D’s case); and 69 per cent thought it should be permissible where pregnancy results from rape, or where the pregnant woman’s life is at risk due to a threat of suicide.

A history of major abortion-related legal actions in Ireland

The X Case
In February 1992, the High Court granted an injunction preventing a pregnant 14-year-old rape victim from leaving Ireland to have an abortion in England. Amid a massive public outcry, the Supreme Court overturned that decision two weeks later.

The girl had been raped by a neighbour and became pregnant. She told her mother of suicidal thoughts because of the unwanted pregnancy. The matter came to the attention of the then Attorney General, Harry Whelehan, when the Gardai were consulted about getting DNA samples in anticipation of criminal charges. Whelehan sought an injunction under Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland preventing her from travelling abroad for an abortion. The High Court granted that injunction, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision.

The Supreme Court ruled that ‘‘if it is established . . . that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, such termination is permissible’’.

Miss X had a miscarriage shortly after the judgment, and before an abortion could be carried out. The case resulted in three proposed constitutional amendments on the issue of abortion. Referendums on the subject were held in November 1992, on the same day as a general election.

The Miss C Case
In 1997, the then Eastern Health Board sought permission from the District Court to facilitate a suicidal 13-year-old girl, who was pregnant as a result of a brutal rape, to have an abortion in Britain. She was in the care of the Eastern Health Board at the time.

The original proceedings related not to the abortion itself but to her leaving the jurisdiction while subject to a care order. The District Court gave the young girl the go-ahead, but the matter became more complex when her parents, originally supportive of her decision, made an application to the High Court appealing that decision.

The matter was settled in the High Court, where the judge ruled that, as Miss C was likely to take her own life if forced to continue with the pregnancy, she was entitled to travel to Britain for an abortion, by virtue of the Supreme Court judgment in the X Case of 1992.

The Miss D Case
In May 2007, the High Court ruled that there was nothing to prevent a 17-year-old girl in the care of the Health Service Executive from travelling abroad for an abortion.

The girl, known as Miss D, was four months pregnant with a child who could not survive after birth.

The judge said that he firmly and unequivocally held the view that there was no statutory or constitutional impediment to Miss D travelling for the purposes of terminating her pregnancy, if that was what she wanted. He said the case was not about abortion, but about the right to travel.

Miss D said she made the decision to terminate the pregnancy after she discovered the foetus she was carrying was suffering from anencephaly, a condition that caused its brain not to develop properly. Newborn babies with that condition have a maximum of three days to live.

When Miss D revealed her plans to a social worker, the HSE asked the Gardai to prevent her from travelling, prompting Miss D to take the case.

The judge said it was likely that the HSE had tried to shoehorn her case into the grounds set out in the X Case – that abortion is only legal if the mother’s life is at risk or if she is suicidal. He said it was likely the HSE had done this to avoid having to make any public or controversial decision.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Irish Examiner National Opinion Poll on Attitudes to Catholic Church

MARCH 20TH 2008

Do you agree with the Church's stance on:

Abortion 44% Agree 41% Disagree 15% No Opinion
Same Sex Unions 31% Agree 50% Disagree 19% No Opinion
Divorce 30% Agree 57% Disagree 13% No Opinion
Contraception 23% Agree 66% Disagree 11% No Opinion

The Catholic Church is out of sync with the views of the majority of people on key issues around sex and marriage- apart from the subject of abortion.

Asked how they felt about the Catholic stance on contraception, divorce and same sex unions, more people said they disagreed than agreed with the Church's teachings. But slightly more people sided with the Church's anti-abortion stance than opposed it.

However, the survey shows a significant amount of uncertainty on these contentious issues. While half (50%)disagreed with the Church's stand against same-sex unions, almost one in five (19%) could not or would not offer an opinion.

Over half (57%) said they opposed the Church's anti-divorce teachings but one in eight (13%) did not give an opinion for or against.Even where the Church was most at odds with those surveyed- on the issue of contraception where 66% opposed the Church's stance- one in 10 (11%) still felt unable to give an opinion.

Abortion is the most divisive issue with 44% in agreement with the Church's anti-abortion stance and 41% holding against the church, but one in seven (15%) could not or would not give an opinion.

Social class and region of residence had no significant bearing on the views expressed but there was some variance among different age groups surveyed. The over 55s were most likely to agree with the Church but even amongst this group, abortion is the only issue where more than half backed the Church's line.

The youngest age group, the 18-34s, were the least likely to agree with the church on abortion, same sex unions and divorce but they were slightly more likely to agree with the Church on the contraception issue
than the 35-54 age group.

The only significant difference between the views expressed by men and women emerged on the question of same sex unions. More men (36%) than women (26%) agreed with the Church's stance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Council Of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Recommends the Decriminalisation of Abortion in All Council of Europe Member States

A PACE committee recommends the decriminalisation of abortion in all Council of Europe member states

Strasbourg, 18.03.2008 - In a report published today, the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) calls on member states which have not already done so to decriminalise abortion.

"Abortion on request is, in theory, available in all Council of Europe member states, except Andorra, Malta, Ireland and Poland," explains Gisela Wurm (Austria, SOC) in her report, but "even in member states where abortion is legal, conditions are not always such as to guarantee women effective access to this right: the lack of local health care facilities, the lack of doctors willing to carry out abortions, the repeated medical consultations required, the time allowed for changing one’s mind and the waiting time for the abortion all have the potential to make access to abortion more difficult, or even impossible in practice. Women must be allowed freedom of choice and offered the conditions of a free and enlightened choice."

Approved by a large majority of the committee's members, the report invites all member states to guarantee women's effective exercise of their right to abortion and to lift restrictions which hinder access to safe abortion, de jure or de facto, by creating the appropriate conditions for health, medical and psychological care and offering suitable financial cover.

Lastly, the report states that abortion can in no circumstances be regarded as a family planning method and must be avoided as far as possible. It is therefore necessary to ensure access to contraception at a reasonable cost and to introduce compulsory sex education for young people in schools.

This first PACE report on abortion as such is due to be discussed during the plenary session from 14 to 18 April 2008.

You can view a link to the report here:

Council of Europe Calls For Abortion Rights- RTE News

Council of Europe calls for abortion rights
Tuesday, 18 March 2008 17:57
The Council of Europe has called on Ireland to decriminalise abortion.

The Council's Committee on Equal Opportunities says all member states should guarantee women the right to abortion.

The report calls for abortion be decriminalised, saying a ban does not reduce the number of abortions but can lead to more dangerous and clandestine procedures.

The committee says it is concerned about conditions that it says restrict the effective access to safe abortion in member states.

The report recommends that all 47 countries, which make up the Council of Europe, should guarantee women the right to have an abortion and promote cheaper contraception, along with improved sex education, to try to reduce the number of women who seek abortions.

The recommendations will be discussed by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly next month.

The Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association, Niall Behan, says there has been a big shift in opinion on the issue of abortion in Ireland in the last 20 years.

He said it would take time to achieve a consensus on the issue but that today's report was a step in the right direction.

The pro-life campaign was not available to comment on the report.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Face Facts, Cardinal. Our Awful Rate Of Abortion Is Partly Your Responsibility

Face facts, Cardinal. Our awful rate of abortion is partly your responsibility

I agree with His Eminence about the distress caused by the deaths of unborn children - but his policies will only increase the rate

George Monbiot
The Guardian,
Tuesday February 26 2008

Who carries the greatest responsibility for the deaths of unborn children in this country? I accuse the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. I charge that he is partly to blame for our abnormally high abortion rate.

Let me begin with a point of agreement. "Whatever our religious creed or political conviction," Murphy-O'Connor writes, the level of abortion in the UK "can only be a source of distress and profound anguish for us all". Quite so. But why has it climbed so high? Is it the rising tide of liberalism? The absence of abstinence? Strange as it may seem, the evidence suggests the opposite.

Last week the cardinal sacked the board of a hospital in north London. It had permitted a GP's surgery to move on to the site, and the doctors there, horror of horrors, were helping women with family planning. Though it is partly funded by the NHS, St John & St Elizabeth's is a Catholic hospital, which forbids doctors from prescribing contraceptives or referring women for abortions. The cardinal says he wants the hospital to provide medical help that is "truly in the interests of human persons".

Murphy-O'Connor has denounced contraception and abortion many times. That's what he is there for: the primary purpose of most religions is to control women. But while we may disagree with his position, we seldom question either its consistency or its results. It's time we started. The most effective means of preventing the deaths of unborn children is to promote contraception.

In the history of most countries that acquire access to modern medical technology, there is a period in which rates of contraception and abortion rise simultaneously. Christian fundamentalists suggest the trends are related, and attribute them to what the Pope calls "a secularist and relativist mentality". In fact it's a sign of demographic transition. As societies become more prosperous and women acquire better opportunities, they seek smaller families. In the early years of transition, contraceptives are often hard to obtain and poorly understood, so women will also use abortion to limit the number of children. But, as a study published in the journal International Family Planning Perspectives shows, once the birth rate stabilises, contraceptive use continues to increase and the abortion rate falls. In this case one trend causes the other: "Rising contraceptive use results in reduced abortion incidence." The rate of abortion falls once 80% of the population is using effective contraception.

A study published in the Lancet shows that between 1995 and 2003, the global rate of induced abortions fell from 35 per 1,000 women each year to 29. This period coincides with the rise of the "globalised secular culture" the Pope laments. When the figures are broken down, it becomes clear that, apart from the former Soviet Union, abortion is highest in conservative and religious societies. In largely secular western Europe, the average rate is 12 abortions per 1,000 women. In the more religious southern European countries, the average rate is 18. In the US, where church attendance is still higher, there are 23 abortions for every 1,000 women, the highest level in the rich world. In central and South America, where the Catholic church holds greatest sway, the rates are 25 and 33 respectively. In the very conservative societies of east Africa, it's 39. One abnormal outlier is the UK: our rate is six points higher than that of our western European neighbours.

I am not suggesting a sole causal relationship: the figures also reflect changing demographies. But it's clear that religious conviction does little to reduce abortion and plenty to increase it. The highest rates of all - 44 per 1,000 - occur in the former Soviet Union: under communism, contraceptives were almost impossible to obtain. But, thanks to better access to contraception, this is also where the decline is fastest: in 1995 the rate was twice as high. There has been a small rise in abortion in western Europe, attributed by the Guttmacher Institute in the US to "immigration of people with low levels of contraceptive awareness". The explanation, in other words, is consistent: more contraception means less abortion.

There is also a clear relationship between sex education and falling rates of unintended pregnancy. A report by the United Nations agency Unicef notes that in the Netherlands, which has the world's lowest abortion rate, a sharp reduction in unwanted teenage pregnancies was caused by "the combination of a relatively inclusive society with more open attitudes towards sex and sex education, including contraception". By contrast, in the US and UK, which have the developed world's highest teenage pregnancy rates, "contraceptive advice and services may be formally available, but in a 'closed' atmosphere of embarrassment and secrecy".

A paper published by the British Medical Journal assessed four programmes seeking to persuade teenagers in the UK to abstain from sex. It found that they "were associated with an increase in the number of pregnancies among partners of young male participants". This shouldn't be surprising. Teenagers will have sex whatever grown-ups say, and the least familiar with contraception are the most likely to become pregnant. The more effectively religious leaders and conservative papers anathemise contraception, sex education and premarital sex, the higher abortion rates will go. The cardinal helps sustain our appalling level of unwanted pregnancies.

But the suffering his church causes in the rich nations doesn't compare to the misery inflicted on the poor. Chillingly, as the Lancet paper shows, there is no relationship between the legality and the incidence of abortion. Women with no access to contraceptives will try to terminate unwanted pregnancies. A World Health Organisation report shows that almost half the world's abortions are unauthorised and unsafe. In East Africa and Latin America, where religious conservatives ensure that terminations remain illegal, they account for almost all abortions. Methods include drinking turpentine or bleach, shoving sticks or coathangers into the uterus, and pummelling the abdomen, which often causes the uterus to burst, killing the patient. The WHO estimates that between 65,000 and 70,000 women die as a result of illegal abortions every year, while 5 million suffer severe complications. These effects, the organisation says, "are the visible consequences of restrictive legal codes". I hope David Cameron, who wants restrictions on legal terminations in the UK, knows what the alternatives look like.

When the Pope tells bishops in Kenya - the global centre of this crisis - that they should defend traditional family values "at all costs" against agencies offering safe abortions, or when he travels to Brazil to denounce its contraceptive programme, he condemns women to death. When George Bush blocks aid for family planning charities that promote safe abortions, he ensures, paradoxically, that contraceptives are replaced with backstreet foeticide. These people spread misery, disease and death. And they call themselves pro-life.

Recent Correspondence On The Topic of Abortion in the Irish Times

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,
Hermitage Close,
Dublin 16.

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.