Pre­cise use of lan­guage is key to clar­ity in de­bate on re­peal of Eighth Amend­ment

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - OPIN­ION -

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.

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