SIR – In the USA, a jury in the case of a crime carrying the death penalty know that, if they decide on a guilty verdict, the accused is likely to have his human right to life set aside as he is sentenced to death. If there is a referendum on the 8th Amendment following the Citizens' Assembly recommendations, voters will be collectively responsible, like American juries, to make decisions with long-lasting life and death implications.
These decisions affect not just one or a few, but very many innocent fellow human beings, whose humanity is not suddenly somehow acquired at birth but is there throughout the stages of pregnancy. It's been calculated that probably over 100,000 Irish people are alive in Ireland because of the 8th Amendment, so a possible upcoming referendum vote could impact on tens of thousands of people who are yet to be born – or who will instead be sentenced to death before birth.
A national vote to remove the current text of the 8th Amendment in the Constitution, which protects each unborn child's human right to life throughout pregnancy, would open the way for doctors to set aside this basic human right and legally end a child's life for having a disability, being the child of a criminal, or simply not being wanted.
The needs of pregnant mothers in sometimes very difficult situations have no easy answers, and it is vital that they have support, compassion, good medical care and practical help available, but yet ultimately respecting the unique worth of each unborn child and his or her right to life.