To compare Ireland or our Constitution to the Taliban is grossly misleading. Olivia O’Leary should, and I’m fairly sure does, know better. Could she really believe that the Shia women of Mazar-e-Sharif, whose husbands were executed and had their throats slit before their eyes and those of their children, would agree that Ireland is a terrible, oppressive place to live? Many of those same women saw their children stuffed into containers and sent to unknown destinations, left to suffocate in a slow and painful death. Would those women, I wonder, condemn the Irish legal system which strives to protect the lives of all children?
I have been accused repeatedly of being some sort of a fanatic or fundamentalist. Anyone who knows me – my friends, my family, my colleagues – knows that is simply nonsense. For the record, I do not come to this debate with any religious or idealogical ‘hang-up’. Like 85% of the population I have been brought up as, and describe myself as a Catholic. I am not a particularly devout one and I am not diligent in attending religious ceremonies. So I suppose I am like most Irish Catholics in that respect.
My support for human life is not based on any blinkered ideology. When I was a student, I would have regarded myself as liberal on the issue, being in favour of abortion. I suppose I simply bought into the accepted notion that a foetus is simply an extension of a woman and not a person.
However, I have come to believe that I was wrong. And I don’t change my view lightly. My opinion is, I suppose, shaped by a number of factors, personal experience with family members and friends, a more objective analysis of the arguments on both sides and of course the facts, which are all important. The clear view of those practicing psychiatrists is most convincing. I cannot ignore either, the very compelling experience of having dealt with so many parents going through adoption procedures, who have been through IVF and are doing everything they can to support human life. Life is precious. We cannot change that.