Our readers have their say on Referendum

May 18th, 2018 9:03 PM

By Southern Star Team

at the launch of the Cork Fine Gael Vote Yes for repealing the 8th amendment are, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune, Senator Jerry Buttimer and Minister of State Jim Daly, TD, and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Share this article


SIR – I am voting yes in the upcoming referendum because I believe, as a nation of caring, compassionate people, we can and must do better for our pregnant citizens. As Dr Peter Boylan stated, ‘That a woman should not die in pregnancy is the absolute lowest bar to aim for in a modern country.’

We cannot continue to send vulnerable pregnant people abroad (often alone) so that we can continue to bury our heads in the sand. In the tragic cases of FFA, when the merciful decision is made, women are being forced to go through such a traumatic ordeal without family and their own doctor there to comfort and support.

I appeal to the citizens of this country ... repeal the 8th amendment.

It is the only humane thing to do.

Sarah Slattery,





SIR – I am writing to comment on recent claims made by the ‘save the eighth campaign’ that the legislation proposed to follow the repeal of the 8th amendment allows ‘for abortions of healthy babies up to six months.’ This is simply not true. The legislation only allows to abortion up to viability when two medical practitioners have certified that ‘there is a risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman.’ After viability, pregnancies will simply be induced early if necessary to save the mother’s life or prevent serious harm to her health. The number of terminations that will be carried out to save the health of the mother will be minimal, only in necessary cases.

As someone who is chronically ill, a vote for repeal and this legislation could save my life and certainly could save my health if something went wrong in my future pregnancies. I hope Ireland will vote for care and compassion for all women in Ireland who like me have a serious illness that complicates pregnancy.

With kind regards. 

Muireann O’Sullivan





SIR – It’s been suggested that the referendum to remove the 8th amendment is being rushed in. That is hardly the case. It has come about through painstaking research and analysis, through hours and hours of deliberations and evidence presented first to the Citizens Assembly and, subsequently, the Joint Oireachtas Committee and at this stage it is long overdue.

On the other hand, the 8th amendment itself was rushed in in 1983 during a period of political instability. It was a reactionary measure by a conservative elite in an attempt to counter developments seen in other Western countries. And we’ve being paying for it for 35 years. 

The 8th has had its say and it has failed us. We need change.

 Margaret McCarthy,

Abbey View,





SIR – I have spoken to several men, and some women who are not of childbearing age, saying that they do not plan to vote in the Referendum on May 25th because they do not believe it affects them. This concerns me for two reasons.

Firstly, just because somebody cannot get pregnant does not mean that the 8th amendment will never affect them. The 8th amendment can have a very real and devastating impact on the partners and family of women with crisis pregnancies who are left with limited options because of the constitutional ban on abortion in Ireland. 

Secondly, these people generally have very pro-choice views. They say things like ‘that’s up to women to decide’ and ‘it does not affect me so I don’t think I should have a say.’ 

Basically, they believe that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about issues regarding their lives and bodies. 

However, without the support of these people on May 25th, it may continue to be impossible for Irish women to make these decisions at home.

Therefore, I would implore everyone, even those who do not think that they should have a say, to get out and vote Yes on May 25th, so women can make these private and personal decisions for themselves in the future. 


Rachel Brady,






SIR – Mickey Harte is a community man and a family man, but most notably a religious man who requires mass attendance from his players. That in itself is questionable enough in a secular society, but his desire to unite church and state in this most sensitive and personal of matters is absolutely unacceptable. 

Religious belief cannot dictate the law of the land in any civilised democracy: a fact evident nowhere more clearly than in his own state. His personal beliefs are likely heartfelt and well meaning. 

I encourage him to follow his conscience, should he ever gave the opportunity to cast such a ballot. I will certainly be following my conscience to a Yes vote, which will allow all others to choose their own paths too. 

Yours sincerely,

Elbha O’Sullivan.

3 Abbotswood Avenue,

Monastery Road,






SIR – Repeated international studies have shown that. in countries where abortion is legalised, there tends to be lower abortion rates than in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted. An example in practice is Switzerland who has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, followed closely by Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium. All these countries allow for abortion unrestricted up to 12 weeks.

When Portugal legalised abortion in 2007, legal abortions matched illegal abortion rates initially and then declined over time until finally stabilising. Similar trends occurred in France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Denmark when legislation was changed. 

Some countries where abortion had been previously illegal saw rates increase initially, however this spike tends to account for abortions which hadn’t previously been included in the data. 

This is because accurate abortion rates are impossible to collate and measure in countries where abortion is illegal. 

There have been some suggestions from the No side that Ireland bucks the international trend and that our current abortion rates can be considered low by European standards. 

The No side attributes these low abortion rates to the presence of the 8th. However, if we examine the research we know that the measurement of accurate data on abortion rates in countries where abortion is illegal is very limited.

Currently, Irish abortion rates can only be based on indicators such as data from other countries, pill seizures, surveys, data from benevolent illegal providers and the figures are widely accepted as being underestimated. 

Irish women could be having 10,000 abortions a year and we would have no idea. 7,000 women gave Irish addresses abroad in 2001, so this is not unthinkable, especially since the advent of abortion pills. 

What we do know is that if Ireland repeals the 8th and abortion is legalised up to 12 weeks then it is with almost absolute certainty that abortion rates, and most importantly unsafe abortion rates, in this country will decline. 

Respectfully yours,

 Niamh Casey,






SIR – I see lots of women doing the work, writing letters about the abortion referendum, because it directly affects them. But a lot of men are standing by and doing nothing because they feel this is a women’s issue.

To my fellow men out there, for one moment, put away your smartphone and think. How would you feel if you had something in your body, something that you didn’t feel was yours, or were not ready to keep? Something that was maybe the result of being raped or humiliated, or simply the result of a mistake, or maybe an accident. Something that was irrevocably going to change your life.

Your dreams are shattered, your plans are gone. You won’t be able to buy that car you wanted so badly, and will be unable to go to the pub with the lads that often anymore. Not to mention the effect on your job or your education. Not a great prospect, eh?

That law that someone else voted on is going to affect you for the rest of your life. The State tells you that it is illegal to have control over your body. Think about it. Right now, you and I can do whatever we want with our bodies — legally — and the State cannot interfere. We’re lucky, aren’t we?

Why should a woman not have the same rights? Who are we, to decide what is best for a woman? Shouldn’t she be able to decide, to have a choice?

Sure, we’re different, I get that. But don’t we all, men and women, have the same rights? Or are you saying that men are better, wiser, smarter?

That’s not what you think, is it?

Men, vote Yes on May 25th.

Kind regards,

Rick Emmet, 

Cork City.




SIR – Bishop Buckley has stated that he believes mothers to be the most loved and respected in every culture, in every continent, in every country down through the ages. To even operate with a hierarchy of human value is odd. To at the same time do everything in your power to ensure those you value so highly should never experience reproductive freedom is beyond belief.

Yours, etc.

Ingrid Seim,






SIR – As my Catholicism lapses, indeed collapses under the weight of Tuam babies, mother and baby homes, child abuse, homophobia and sexism, I am finding it very difficult to extricate myself from its clutches.

It seems not going to mass is not enough to avoid Bishop Buckley’s letter, as here I find it in my local paper, almost a full page.

As a mother of four, I do not need motherhood to be defined for me by a hierarchy of celibate men.  I do not wish to be put on a pedestal, to be ‘loved’ or ‘cherished’ (I’m not sure how or by whom this happens – it’s very vague). I certainly don’t feel ‘respected’ when my healthcare is up for public debate.

Perhaps when I see a mother in the upper echelons of this organisation I may listen. That will be the day.

Yours, etc.

Sue de Burca,

Cork City.




SIR – The following is my personal view from the point of a nurse.

I am a nurse and I started my training in 1999. In the training, one of the first things we learnt was that you should treat every patient as if they were your mother, father, sister, etc. 

What makes looking after maternity patients so hard is that it could be me in the bed. The 8th amendment affects every woman in Ireland.

I have watched partners and parents bringing a small baby home while planning a funeral for the mother. Worse still, I have seen them leave with neither. 

I have seen women becoming so septic because the 8th amendment prevents doctors from removing the already dead foetus. I have seen how women’s bodies have been butchered in the name of getting the baby out. This had led to extending intensive care and hospital stays leading to emotional, psychological and physical issues.

As a health professional, it goes against our code to watch a patient die. I for one can’t do it anymore.


Debbie Twomey,





SIR – Mary O’Rourke has explained how she once helped two women in need of abortion to make their way across to England. ‘Who wouldn’t try to help a woman in their hour of need?’ she says. 

Yet she proposes to be undecided on how to vote in the upcoming referendum. Isn’t it terrible how we live in a country where most people wouldn’t hesitate twice to show compassion yet cannot find it within themselves to do the one thing that would actually make it legal to do so?

 Bláthnaid O’Loughlin,

Kilmona Cross,






SIR – Every Irish citizen has equal ownership over our State’s Constitution, Bunreacht na hÉireann. 

Since the Eighth Amendment was enacted in 1983, the Constitution has through Article 40.3.3. had the final say in every decision that could be made about every pregnancy in the State.

That means that I, as an Irish citizen, have a share in each of those decisions.

I didn’t want a say in these personal and private matters. I never sought out a stake in them. I don’t know many people who did.

On May 25th, I will ask the State to remove my share in these decisions. I will declare that I should not have any part in any decision about a pregnancy that is not my own.

I will vote Yes.


Luke Field,

7 Homeville Place,

Western Road,

Cork City.




SIR – Is HSE ready, if repeal the 8th is passed?

I may vote yes to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn baby on May 25th, but it has not been thought through by the government and supporters of repeal as to what will happen next if it is passed. There could be more problems from lack of preparation.

70% of Ireland’s GPs in a recent survey are said to be morally against repealing the 8th and do not want to be in a position to give an abortion pill or refer a pregnant girl or woman for an abortion.

Our hospitals are under pressure with patient appointments and operations. The maternity hospitals are very busy. Where can the abortion procedure be done in the first 12 weeks as the government proposes to bring in legislation for – if repeal of the 8th is passed?  

Will private firms from the UK or in the EU set up discreetly located abortion clinics in our cities? It is a solution. These practical issues from a possible passing of the 8th have not been mentioned.

Women and girls are going to England to access an abortion. It is done quickly and discreetly. It is, I know, an Irish solution to an Irish problem. But there are those who can’t afford to go overseas for the procedure.

I support women and girls to have choices in a crisis pregnancy. It is whether they can access abortion here if repeal of the 8th is carried. GPs are under a lot of pressure. There are reports of the decreasing number of GPs.The government can barely find solutions for the homeless crisis affecting large numbers of working people and families because of high rents.

I fear the government or Department of Health or HSE is not prepared enough for what will happen if the 8th is passed. Are they ready? One thing they could do is to make contraception, i.e. the pill, freely available, regardless of income, through GPs or other community health clinics or services like university or college student health clinics. The morning after pill is available, but a few pharmacies don’t want to give it. 

Sometimes, they say no. Not helpful to someone in need of it.

(Name and address with Editor)




SIR – Removing the Eight Amendment is far from Pro-Choice. It is Pro No-Choice.

No choice for the unborn.

No choice for the father.

No choice for the Life Affirming Nurse working in a maternity unit of our State Hospitals.

No choice to vote again on this issue.

No choice to live in a ‘clinic’-free area.

No choice to opt out of paying the bill.

No choice to work as a conscientious believer in the State medical field.

Vote ‘No’ to ‘No Choice’.

Con McCarthy,





SIR – I find it highly depressing that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has expressed its support for the repeal of the 8th amendment. What happened to the the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take that says in part ‘I will keep them from harm and injustice.’ 

Killing innocent, vulnerable, voiceless and powerless babies is not protection or justice. One type of abortion is suction where a tube with a knife edged tip is inserted into the uterus. The child is torn apart by the suction from the tube and the head is crushed. 

I’m sure no doctor dreamed about giving this ‘care’ when they were studying medicine. The 8th saves lives approximately 100,000 to this day. Surely the true purpose of doctors is to save lives? 

In contrast to this, the LoveBoth campaign launched their ‘New vision for Ireland.’ Their spokesperson for LoveBoth, Sinéad Slattery, said that ‘the government had a Working Group on abortion for the last six years, two sets of Oireachtas hearings, legislation in 2013, five Private Members’ bills in the Dáll, a Citizens’ Assembly in 2017 and another round of Oireachtas Committee hearings also in 2017 – all without exception focussed on abortion and broadening the grounds for it.’ 

Ms Slattery outlined the seriousness of homelessness among pregnant women and said that their suffering could be alleviated if the government focuses on women instead of ‘trying to obliterate all legal protection from unborn babies.’ This referendum is costing millions. That money would be better off spent within the other problems our countries has, e.g. the homeless crisis, more support for women in crisis pregnancy; or here’s an idea – on our crashing health system. The LoveBoth document is calling on the government to make more provision for women in pregnancy in three key areas – provision of more financial support to mothers, positive pregnancy counselling and investment in perinatal palliative care services instead of killing babies on demand. This document is true progress. 

True progress inspires us to be better, to do better and it includes everyone and every child. Ultimately in the end don’t we all want love to win? 

Vote no on May 25th and keep us on the road of this progress that says every human should have equal rights and be loved equally.


Frances Kelleher,





SIR – As a midwife working in Ireland, it is with considerable trepidation that I follow the current referendum debate and consider the possible seismic changes that repeal of the 8th amendment could cause to my profession. 

Simply put, the consequences of repealing the 8th would be far-reaching and deep. It would profoundly alter the duty of care which at present is clearly defined. At present, the duty of care extends to both the pregnant woman and her fetus / baby, and mandates the highest possible regard for both lives. 

As midwives, we do our utmost to protect both lives and, where this is beyond our skills and possibilities, we do everything possible to save the only life we can, which is usually the mother’s life, while treating the baby with care and respect. We never intentionally seek to harm, let alone destroy, either life.

A midwife, the carer of a woman who is ‘with child,’ cares for both at the most intimate and vulnerable time at life’s beginning. The more vulnerable the patient the more they need our care, protection and support.  

The intrinsic value of both lives is inscribed in our constitution which is where a nation expresses its deepest values. The changes proposed would find the midwifery profession turned inside out, where instead of a duty of care for both, we would be expected to assist in the destruction of one life; this runs entirely contrary to our basic instinct as carers to protect and to never intentionally do harm to our patients. 

Yours sincerely,  

Sean Dowling,


Medical Alliance for 

the 8th.




SIR – This is the text of an open letter I have written to Tanaiste Simon Coveney, re the Referendum: I write this open letter to you regarding the forthcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment, because I believe you have a pivotal role to play regarding its outcome, since both as an individual and as a politician you are held in high esteem as a man of high principles.

Never in our history, I suggest, has it been so necessary for courageous value-based decisions to be made at high level in society, to signpost a way forward for the common good of our citizens, and where all are treated equally and with respect for their innate (natural) rights. As of now, our country legislators (and indeed many others) don’t seem to stand for anything, but rather flow with the tide of popularity where anything goes, whether it is right or wrong, and where religion of any kind does not seem to matter anymore!

Regarding abortion, any discerning person who has taken the trouble to consider all the relevant aspects thereof, can hardly avoid being struck by the fact that there are always two victims involved, where one is killed and the other (mother) badly wounded (in fact sometimes she also dies), despite whatever short-term advantages may be expected to accrue initially. And such wounds, as it is well known, may manifest themselves in various negative ways in the subsequent life of the (potential) mother. There are no winners in abortion. And among many of the false arguments we hear of the need to have abortion available in our country, is the need to show compassion for those women who now feel compelled to travel abroad  to abort their babies. But this in reality is showing false compassion, because it does not face up to the many negative implications which abortions have on the future lives of these (potential) mothers, when compared to the outcomes for equally distressed pregnant mothers who choose to carry their babies to birth. 

What is needed in these difficult cases is proper and honest counselling and compassionate pregnancy care. And, if the babies who survive are not really wanted by their parents, well then let the ‘powers that be’ establish proper adoption facilities so that the many couples in our society who are in dire need for children, may have their wishes fulfilled.

And, may I refer to a total untruth we often hear put forward in favour of abortion, which is that the 8th amendment as it stands, leads to pregnant mothers dying, because their illnesses cannot be treated. This is simply not so, and it is time that our legislators stood up for the truth.

Yes, we are at an ‘epiphany’ moment in Irish society, where once again we can become a beacon of light to the world. Yes, Tanaiste, I place my trust in you to make the right decision to support the retention of the 8th amendment, and thereby save the ‘soul of Ireland’ and not least save the lives of many innocent babies, which none of us have the right to kill, or even, I suggest, to vote for a regime that can kill such innocent human life. As an author of many books on various topics, I feel I am entitled to write this open letter on such an important topic. 

Thank you Tanaiste, and thank you members of the public who take the trouble to read this letter.

 Yours sincerely,                                                                                                                                                 Dermot Layden, 





SIR – The Rally for Life was an astonishing success. It attracted 100,000 people, and gave a very clear message to the legislators. Niamh Uí Bhriain, her supporters, and, if they had a voice and a vote, the unborn, should have been very proud of this affirmation.

With this staggering turnout behind her, Niamh should have been given much more than the paltry interview she was given on the RTÉ News. If RTÉ were seeking out a weak spot, as is their job, they would have given lengthy interviews to her, and the several other, many high-profile, speakers. One can only conclude that they did not expect to find a weak spot. And so the great cover-up continues.

Due to the existence of a Constitution of the people, this is the only country afforded a chance to vote on this vital issue. It may be the reason why the Government is being nice to us.

The Constitution gives the people, and the people alone, the final say in how the country is to be run. This stands above government and the lawyers.

Politicians and the mainstream media (MSM) who control them are averse to the Constitution. Surprised?

Well don’t be. Just look at what we are asked to say ‘yes’ to in the coming referendum: ‘Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.’

‘By law,’ here, means ‘us’ (the legislators), and not ‘you’ (the voters). More importantly, this also means that the votes of 2.5 million Irish people are to be handed over to some 80, perhaps even one, politician(s) of a dysfunctional Dáil. Effectively, in perpetuity. What are future generations going to think of this?

Oh, but we have the legislation! Well, no, we don’t. We’re not asked to vote on the legislation at all (whatever that might turn out to be); we’re voting on handing over power, or enabling the Dail, in this referendum. From a politician’s point of view, this is what matters; abortion is only a side issue. There is only one answer: No.

Yours sincerely,

Donal O’Driscoll,


Co Dublin.




SIR – If you take the deception that the baby in the womb is not a living human being, add the delusion that we can best help women who experience crisis in their pregnancies by providing abortion as an option, and then subtract from the debate any assessment of the depth or scale of the human impact as evidenced worldwide, and finally zero out the reality of the actual procedures involved, then you have a formula that adds up to legalising the deepest injustice in the most vulnerable, the unborn.

It’s a question life or death, and our government and lobby groups have put us in the position where we must choose. We are leaving the path open to future rainbow coalitions of every hue and none to legislate for private abortion clinics to turn it in to a business in the service of the culture of death.

Not voting is avoiding the question and choosing death by default. Choosing death for the unborn by stripping them of the fundamental right to life just does not add up.

Yours faithfully,

Kirsten McCarthy,


Co Tipperary.


SIR – I am writing in relation to the comments by Dr Peter Boylan of Together for Yes that those who say you should not trust politicians are being ‘very anti-democratic.’ 

I believe in democracy. However, having heard numerous political promises broken, from ‘health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped’ to ‘burning the bondholders,’ I would be naive to put my trust in politicians, especially in relation to the right to life of mothers and babies. That is one of the reasons why I will vote No on May 25th.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Prendeville,


Co Limerick.



SIR – To listen to some campaigners for repeal of the 8th amendment you would get the impression that those of us who want to protect it believe the nonsensical notion that abortion would somehow become compulsory for pregnant women.

A surely unintended conequence of that line of argument, however, is that it may focus minds on the fact that once a woman has chosen the path of abortion, it does in fact become, for the baby, a compulsory, unappealable, death sentence.


Anna Walsh, 

Dunmore East,

Co Waterford.


* Have your say in our online poll. Click on


Share this article

Related content


to our mailing list for the latest news and sport:

Thank You!

You have successfully been subscribed to SouthernStar newsletter!

Form submitting... Thank you for waiting.