Not all rights are shared equally, ex­cept right to life

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - OPINION -

SIR, Claims and sug­ges­tions that un­born chil­dren and their moth­ers have equal rights un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion are mis­lead­ing and are lead­ing to in­ac­cu­rate and in­flated per­cep­tions of what rights the un­born ac­tu­ally en­joy, along with po­ten­tially un­der­min­ing their right to life.

One prom­i­nent ex­am­ple of this would be the re­cent in­ter­view of the Taoiseach by the New York Times, where Mr. Varad­kar re­port­edly said that as a doc­tor, he “doesn’t ac­cept the view that the un­born child, the foe­tus, should have equal rights to an adult woman, to the mother.”

And such is the case, they don’t and never had, any more than newly born or ado­les­cent chil­dren en­joy rights equal to those of their mother or father. Rights to var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties, goods and ser­vices may even vary within the chil­dren de­pend­ing on age, but the one com­mon and equal right en­joyed by all, in­clud­ing the mother and her un­born child, is the right to life. This amounts to no-one hav­ing a right to de­lib­er­ately end the life of an­other, ir­re­spec­tive of the na­ture of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween them.

The Eighth Amend­ment gave con­sti­tu­tional recog­ni­tion to the right to life of the un­born. This right is tem­pered by the ob­vi­ous equal right to life of the mother, and also by the recog­ni­tion that a preg­nancy may oc­ca­sion­ally have to be ended in or­der to pre­serve her life, but with­out in­ten­tion­ally set­ting out to harm the child. How­ever, the pri­mary pur­pose of the amend­ment was and re­mains, to en­sure that no law can be passed which al­lows a woman to pro­cure an abor­tion sim­ply be­cause she doesn’t want to be preg­nant. This is the log­i­cal con­se­quence of any re­peal or in­ter­fer­ence with the Eighth Amend­ment, and it is the rea­son why the re­peal cam­paign must not pre­vail.


Mary Kenny, Pal­laskenry, Co. Limerick.

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