Go for it, Nell McCafferty: do the women and babies of Ireland a favour

Open Letter to Nell McCafferty:

Letters to Editor
Letters to Editor

Dear Nell,

I was deeply struck by your recent reflections on the upcoming Referendum on the proposal to repeal the Eighth Amendment. I am a Northern woman of strong views like yourself, but with no vote, just a voice on this important issue for our entire country, North and South.

You call abortion “cruel, crass and stupid.” I agree with you that abortion is no solution to a crisis pregnancy. Women definitely deserve better from government; family and medical professionals.

The baby, as a human being, also deserves better than instant death. I agree too, that economic priority has not been given to young people wishing to start off in life and that the homelessness crisis is a national scandal.

You put it well in describing how “there was no room at the inn” for many of these women who seek abortion. I too wonder why this referendum was given precedence over tackling the homelessness crisis and the perennial defects in the health service?

All of us should be putting our efforts into remedying these first, before spending time and money removing the only legal protection left to unborn Irish babies (alive, but not yet born -‘beo gan bhreith’).

Some might cynically suggest that there is method in the Government’s priorities, since through legislating for abortion, the government ultimately reduces the population.

What if the estimated 100 000 lives saved by the 8th amendment since 1983, had been aborted instead? I was particularly touched by the conversation you had in 1983 with your mother which changed your language on abortion.

Her straightforward remark about your miscarried sibling: “Don’t tell me it isn’t a baby!” could well be repeated this week, to remind voters what they are voting on.

Will the Irish people do away with rights currently provided under the Constitution to the voiceless unborn or will they choose to dispense with these rights altogether? Will you? You are only a few steps away.

There is still time to re-assess that Yes vote, and vote No. In voting No you would be generously considering the rights of all, not just one privileged group.

No-one needs to be “put through the wringer” if they have a diagnosis or rather prognosis, of a life limiting condition. Instead, the love of perinatal hospice care here in Ireland is a kinder solution for the parents and children in these heart-rending situations.

This is a service which the government could offer cheaply, without disrupting the two patient model of pregnancy, which is so in keeping with that phrase you love: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb…”

So go for it, Nell, do the women and babies of Ireland a favour, in this gravest of moments and take the next logical step to what your heart is telling you.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these thoughts as we stand on the threshold of the most important referendum in decades for our entire land.

Mary Lewis, Iona Institute NI, Belfast BT8