Not all rights are shared equally, except right to life
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.