Readers Blog: The Eighth protected mothers and saved lives

Michael Clifford’s opinion piece about the George Hook sacking (Irish Examiner, September 16) includes throwaway comments about the 1983 “right to life” referendum campaign.

Readers Blog: The Eighth protected mothers and saved lives

He rightly recalls that, amongst the most regrettable outbursts of intemperate language, some politicians who vehemently opposed its inclusion were called murderers. However,

to leave the matter at that is highly selective.

The then minister for health, Barry Desmond, said on national radio that mothers would die if it were passed, and the taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, backed him. It was consistently put forward, at public meetings, that mothers would be denied critical medical treatment. The implication was that those voting for the Eighth Amendment would be knowingly voting to kill mothers. With 35 years of experience to inform us, we can now say that nothing could have been further from the facts.

Ireland, and other countries without abortion, have consistently had the best maternity outcomes in the world. Those with abortion, even richer countries like the UK and USA, have had worse maternal death outcomes for mothers. There, health professionals have lost the experience of dealing with the more difficult pregnancy-related problems, and, regrettably, pressurised mothers to abort their babies.

Far from killing women, this amendment has save the lives of 100,000 people. That includes 50,000 girls. Can any of us point to a more pro-woman provision in our Constitution?

Ironically, many of those who express outrage at not having had the opportunity to vote on it are alive today precisely because of it. We were also told that the Eighth was unnecessary, as the Dáil and the courts would never introduce abortion.

Sadly, they were wrong, as the Dáil went as far as it could in legislating for the destruction of human life during pregnancy. Acting on the 1992 Supreme Court decision, the HSE has spirited teenagers in its care to the UK to have their unborn children killed, as we saw in the C case; an act profoundly regretted by that teenage mother.

Unfortunately, the National Union of Journalists never accepted the will of the people, politicians ignored it and failed to legislate in support of it, while international vested interest groups, who profit from the sordid abortion business, have continued to invest heavily in undermining that amendment.

Those who advocated the “right to life” provision wished to have life, in all its continuity, from the moment of our conception, maintained as a universal right, one which would not be dependent upon anything, other than the fact that we are human.

Gearóid Duffy
Lee Road

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