A Eagarthóir, All the great thinkers throughout the ages have proclaimed that humans are distinguished from animals by our cognitive faculties, the abilities to comprehend, internalise and rationalise. The process in many instances is (semi) automatic due to long years of practice or habit. On certain occasions however we are confronted by fundamental questions that demand deep consideration and logical thought.
It was with reference to such occasions that the Bard said 'Conscience makes cowards of us all'. His use of the term 'coward' does not imply trembling fear but rather the great challenge of whether or not to pursue and adhere to the absolute principles inherent in life's important decisions.
Each one of us has in such moments wrestled with our conscience and sought ways of finding a way around fundamental truth. It is at such times that we are untrue to ourselves and do wrong. We forget the admonition by Polonius to his son Laertes: 'This above all else, to thine own self be true. And it must follow as does the night the day thou cannot then be false to anyone' (including, I presume, the unborn).
The Dáil debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill has been riddled with illogical and misleading talk. No argument is valid unless it is based on both a major and minor premise. If the major premise is: All human life is sacred, and the minor one is: A foetus is human life, the conclusion must be: The life of a foetus is sacred. There can't be if or buts. There can't be potentially human or partially human. The 'object' in the womb is either human or it is not. It can't be just a little bit human.
Loyalty to the truth as each of us perceives it, having informed our intellect/ conscience as fully as possible both medically and ethically, is objectively to be our sole signpost. This is true for parents, for politicians and for all members of the medical profession. I have known many who have worked in the psychiatric profession as both doctors and nurses. They were and are devoted to saving life, particularly life that is threatened by suicide or extreme distress. Their success as caring people is best judged by the many that they have cured and in minimising the number who have taken their own lives. Nobody from that noble profession would or should deem that part of her/his mission was to facilitate the taking of a life, even if it is to 'save another life.' The challenge to the genuine professional is always to seek to cure the illness.
How sad it is to hear politicians state that loyalty to party must take precedence over respect for human life. Surely even in the most difficult of situations the primary focus of human endeavour must always be to ensure that all, and especially the vulnerable, survive to live lives that are rich and meaningful.
I and a great many more feel a deep sadness and sense of betrayal that Fine Gael has sought to mislead the people of Ireland with waffle words that explicitly seek to imply that the legislation is actually pro-life. In my view they have stolen life and betrayed truth.
Le Gach Dea Ghuí,
Michael Gleeson (Cllr),