We accept that vulnerable humans including babies need protection. So too do unborn babies

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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It was lovely to see Bernie Linnane (‘We are all equal — except women who do not have bodily autonomy,’ Oct 19) expressing an opinion on abortion rights.

With rural depopulation a problem in some parts of the west of Ireland, it is interesting to note that an Abortion Rights Campaign group exists in Leitrim.

Are those John McGahern type tales of celibate bachelor farmers or spinsters receding into our collective unconscious? The four pillars of medical ethics are autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. Respecting choice, doing good, avoiding harm and acting justly are all important.

An ethical system resting on one pole alone is unsound. People rarely speak of a one legged traditional milking stool, or a one wheeled Massey Ferguson tractor. Pro-choice campaigners who overplay ‘choice’ light a large log fire on cracking ice.

Even if we were to forgive them this folly, and play along with their game, their ethical problems are as large as ever.

Our legal system takes account of those unable to exercise choice for themselves.

We speak of acting in someone’s ‘best interest’ where mental infirmity, being underage, or some other vulnerability, means that the person needs legally protected. A baby who is one day old requires legal and parental protection.

Why would a baby one minute, one hour, one day or one month before being born not deserve protection too?

The human birth canal, and the average time taken to traverse it during delivery, are both relatively short. Does honestly exercising ‘bodily autonomy’ demand a knowledge of basic scientific and legal principles?

Basic mathematics is important too, if two conjoined or physically connected bodies are being considered.

Dr J T Hardy, Belfast BT5