Letter to Examiner on recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly

Dr. Rory Maguire ended his letter to the Editor published on 5 May – “It is true that many women face pregnancy in extremely difficult circumstances. However, there is always a better solution than abortion.”

Of course there is a small proviso that he forgot to add which is vitally important – “… in my opinion.”

And this is the real issue. What to do for any women who disagrees with Dr. Maguire’s (or anyone else’s) personal views on abortion? The number of dissenting voices which has been literally thousands of Irish women every year for many decades.

So those, like Dr. Maguire, who want to deny women the right to control their own reproductivity would be left with a few options for these rebellious women who do not agree.

A) Forcing pregnant women to carry the pregnancy to full term – perhaps by locking them up in special institutions we could call “Mother and Baby Homes”?
B) Bringing the full weight of the law to bear with suitably harsh penalties after any abortion had been carried out in Ireland. I wonder if the current penalties of “a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both” for anyone involved in the carrying out of an abortion in Ireland meets with Dr. Maguire’s approval or whether he and his ilk feels they are an insufficient punishment for these godless women and any men who actively help them.
C) Place travel restrictions on all pregnant women being able to travel overseas just in case that might be for an abortion? Presumably this would also involve mandatory testing of all women of child-bearing age to catch those not showing yet.
D) Or, if able to perform the moral gymnastics involved, continue to turn a blind eye to the thousands of women who are able to travel to have abortions overseas every year while maintaining a draconian prison state for those not able to take this option.

None of these “solutions” should have any place in a society that values women and trusts the choices they make about their own bodies. Unfortunately Ireland does not have a great historical record in this regard – will we take this opportunity to start to put that right?

The recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly are merely a reflection of the views of the majority of the population living in Ireland. We urgently need a referendum that will repeal the 8th Amendment and then legislation which will put the decisions about pregnancy where it belongs – in the hands of the pregnant woman herself.

Alan Gibson


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