Precise use of language is key to clarity in debate on repeal of Eighth Amendment
A Eagarthóir, We have seen and read very recently how words can be devastating and unethical. Let’s all hope that the relevant bodies will act appropriately in dealing with those who offended and abused both people and language.
Precision in the use of language is also very important in the debate on the Eighth Amendment. Many of the letters that I have seen in various publications speak solely of the health and well being of the lady who is pregnant. Of course her welfare is of enormous importance but so too should be the welfare of the child that she is carrying. It was good in that context to read that Senator Catherine Noone, Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee and a strong advocate of repeal, admitted that the foetus/ baby is at all stages a person.
In all of the discussion thus far I have rarely seen the exact wording of the Eighth Amendment written or explained. I’m not sure whether that omission is deliberate. However, in order that your readers may have access to what our Constitution says in that regard I hereafter quote in full Article 40.3.3. which states:
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable to defend and vindicate that right.”
That wording should reassure all expectant mothers and all medical practitioners in that the words “as far as practicable” ensures that common sense should and does prevail when difficulties present. It has always been accepted that all necessary medical procedures can be undertaken to save the life of the pregnant woman even if that is to result in the death of the unborn child. That is not only reassuring but it is also legal and ethical.
The language used in Article 40.3.3 is a fair and reasonable effort to safeguard the precious lives of both mother and baby.
Le Gach Dea- Ghuí, Michael Gleeson (Cllr), Clasheen, Killarney.