Updated: 08/05/18 : 12:25:35
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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor

Irish voters will go to the polls on Friday May the 25th when they will decide whether to remove or keep the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution.

A number of doctors and health professionals have become involved in the YES campaign.

Doctors have already played an important role in the holding of this referendum.

The medical evidence provided at last year's Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution by professionals such as Dr Maeve Eogan, Consultant Obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Rotunda Hospital Dublin; Dr Peter Boylan, Chair of the Institute of  Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; and Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street was regarded by many as having a significant impact on the thinking of the Committee members.

So the views of doctors and health professionals in the referendum are playing and have already played a huge role in getting this far.

Personally I feel that the medical profession is one of the most important in the whole campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment second only to the voices of the women themselves. I think this because health professionals have seen the impact of the Eighth Amendment has had on the health care they can offer women, the limitations it places. You can see the number of Obstetricians in the last few  weeks are really detailing that. One of the reasons I think Doctors and medical professionals have become so involved is that they have actually seen the patients, those who access the internet as well as the women who travel to England and all the issues that come with that.

This time I feel that the medical profession appreciate that the medical voice was largely silent in the 1983 referendum and feel a responsibility to be heard and counted on behalf of their patients.

On the central issue of the patient, through the progress of time women have always wanted to manage their own reproductive health and Irish women are no different. We have been exporting that problem. We really need to face that reality and give Irish women the health care they are entitled to at home so they can make their own choice.

The Eighth Amendment was designed to prevent abortion in Ireland but it has not stopped Irish women from having abortions.

It has made unsafe abortions in Ireland an everyday reality, with 1,500 women taking unsafe abortion pills, unsupervised, through unaccountable online providers.

Many women cannot afford to travel to the UK and it is not right that women are left alone to access a health care service when they need it the most. The legacy of the Savita Hallappanavar case, and the evidence given by medical institutions has had an influence on the debate to repeal the Eighth Amendment and the harm and distress it has caused women in Ireland as well as the health professionals who's hands are tied.

According to the Irish Family Planning Association between January 1980 and December 2016 at least 170,216 women and girls travelled from the Republic Of Ireland to access abortion services in another country. In 2016, 3,265 women and girls gave Irish addresses at UK abortion services, according to the Irish Family Planning Association. As you can see the Eighth Amendment has had a horrendous effect on the way women in Ireland are treated thus far by the enslavement of the health profession. I ask you as a man to give women the time and space to make their own choice and vote YES.

Gary Smylie
Sligo

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Dear Editor,

I am writing to express my disgust at a bank serving the people of Sligo. Ulster Bank who in their wisdom closed the Manorhamilton branch and told everyone to go to the Sligo branch.

They then closed the Pearse Rd branch, and ATM, and also directed customers to the Stephen St branch. Then they closed the Ballymote branch and guess what, they told all to got to the Sligo branch. The result was chaos at the Sligo branch where they reduced the teller windows from six to TWO!

They advise that online banking is the best. This from a bank who cannot manage its own online presence as witnessed by several recent serious 'glitches'.

The ATM at Tesco Arcade is constantly 'Out of Service' as is the Ballymote ATM which has not been in operation for the entire May Bank Holiday weekend.

What a shower of wasters.

Peter Feeney
Sligo

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Dear Editor

At the heart of the debate over the 8th Amendment is the notion of freedom. The human being is made for freedom. Phrases like ‘choice’ and ‘my body’ are rooted in the attractive concept of freedom which at first glance appeals to everyone. However, it is important that we probe deeper into these statements.

The notion of freedom central to the pro-choice movement for repeal of the 8th Amendment is rooted in individualism and autonomy. It means an idea of being human that only considers my own self, my wishes, my choice and my body. And this is precisely why abortion, as the deliberate killing of the pre-born baby, is always wrong.

To be human is to be relational. Many personalist philosophers such as Gabriel Marcel and Emmanuel Levinas remind us of this fact. This is also central to a Christian understanding of the human being.

The Christian concept of freedom is deeper than merely freedom from constraint. It differs fundamentally from the type of individualism exalted by some pro-choice statements where an individual aims at maximum autonomy. A Christian vision of “freedom for” offers life, hope and true freedom.

Since human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, they are called to resemble God who at heart is a Trinity: that is, a communion of persons in self-giving relationality.  After this pattern, essentially, being human means to be in communion with others and with God. This is at the heart of what it means to be “pro-life.

Pope Saint John Paul II considered the clash between some exaggerated conceptions of autonomy and the right of the unborn to life and of the mother to support from others in his Encyclical on The Gospel of Life:

“The roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of 'the strong' against the weak who have no choice but to submit”. (The Gospel of Life, n. 19).

Our freedom is not simply freedom to whatever we desire. It is the freedom to do and to pursue the good in a manner which serves both our neighbours and ourselves. The unborn child is a neighbour.  He or she is always, just like his or her mother, one to whom we owe our love, one of whom Jesus says, ‘You did it to Me’ (Matthew 25).

From the Team at Speaking Up for the Silent