Abortion is part of women's healthcare
Sir - Cattle farmers have crisis pregnancies in their herds from time to time. If they decide that they do not want the pregnancy to continue, they call the vet. The vet might administer a drug such as Estrumate to abort the pregnancy.
Crisis over. The farmer breathes a sigh of relief.
Irish women and girls also have unintended pregnancies. If they do not want the pregnancy to continue, they almost never call their GP. If they order abortion drugs online, they face a criminal conviction and a 14-year custodial sentence. So, they do this in secret; alone, with no medical professional caring for them.
Why is it that farmers can have their decision met without question, but women and girls have to beg for the right to decide when and how they reproduce?
I'm done with asking for compassion and understanding for women's reproductive rights, because we shouldn't have to ask.
Abortion is healthcare. It should be safe, free and legal. The Eighth Amendment stands in the way of proper maternity healthcare for women.
The Claddagh, Galway
Why deny others the gift of life?
Sir - As Myra Hayes pointed out (Sunday Independent, March 11), abortion is not an exclusively Catholic issue when even Christopher Hitchens agrees with its stance, nor, as she states is it pro-woman. I agree with Eilis O'Hanlon in her criticism of those like Simon Harris, Billy Kelleher and Mick Wallace ''who want to emote rather than argue''. However, I disagree with her criticism of Kevin O'Keefe pointing out that if abortion is legalised there would be fewer young people. After all, abortion is designed to ensure that babies are not born and doesn't that imply that this will result in fewer births? Then Donal Lynch referred to future generations when, if the amendment is repealed, there will certainly be fewer of them.
May I point out to Mr Lynch that those of us in pro-life do not ''want to force women into later stage terminations by making them travel abroad''. We do not want to see any woman undergo an abortion with its after-effects for the women and, incidentally, it does not really matter at what stage an abortion is carried out as it still involves the deliberate killing of the baby in the womb.
It seems to me that making a distinction regarding at what stage it is carried out is simply a cover-up, which was roundly criticised when it involved cover-up of child abuse.
Mr Lynch's contention that the baby at 12 weeks ''is human but not quite a person'' is certainly contradictory. The most basic human right is the right to life and I fail to see the distinction between being human and being a person. Of course, this is simply to make abortion more acceptable but I cannot see how it can ever be acceptable to deliberately kill a helpless baby in the womb. Is that the only solution we can come up with for a crisis pregnancy in this so-called compassionate age? Indeed, it is medieval and not the progressive action it is claimed by those promoting abortion.
I find it very hard to come to terms with the fact that people can blithely support abortion when we have all been given the gift of life ourselves. What right do we have to deny it to others? Where is the mention of the privilege it is to give life and where is the compassion for the very many couples who cannot have a baby and would welcome one with open arms through adoption?
Ardeskin, Donegal Town
Respect the right to personal choice
Sir - Many of us across country celebrated Mother's Day on Sunday. We celebrated (or remembered) the women who birthed us, reared us, ''mammied'' us (and often continue to ''mammy'' us). Motherhood, as many of us know it, is not easy. While we cherish the sweet and wonderful moments and milestones in our children's lives, we also have to balance and contend with the organising, the juggling, the taxiing, the feeding, the negotiating, the educating, the energy-giving. Despite the happy images we are so familiar with on social media, many of us know that in real life motherhood is not a walk in the park. It involves huge emotional, mental and physical labour.
With the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment, I would encourage people to reflect on the reality of what it means to be a mother and respect that every woman and pregnant person in Ireland should have the right to choose motherhood. Motherhood is not for everyone; sometimes the timing is wrong, sometimes the finances are not there, the support is not there or the coping skills are not there. The reasons, ultimately, don't matter because I trust that women and pregnant people know what is best for themselves.
I chose to continue my pregnancy. While my maternal instincts were strong, I fully respect that this might not be someone else's experience. I cannot be in someone else's head or know how another might feel about an unexpected pregnancy. I can, however, empathise and I am calling on all of your readers to do the same - to reach into their hearts and show compassion for the feelings of women and pregnant people who choose not to be a mother. Choosing to end a pregnancy is a personal choice and a vote for repeal simply means empathising with others and respecting the choices they make, even if we would not (or, in my case, did not) make them for ourselves.
The ending of life is never a solution
Sir - As a pro-life advocate, I would like to respond to some of the points made by Donal Lynch (Sunday Independent, March 11).
I do not wish to "force women into later-stage terminations by making them travel abroad". This is a ludicrous accusation to level against someone like me. I do not believe abortion is a solution to a crisis pregnancy. The ending of a life can never address this problem.
Regarding the fact that abortion happens and we should address this problem, would Mr Lynch advocate the legalisation of illegal drugs, for instance, simply because they are currently readily available?
Regarding asking a woman to bear a child she does not want, would he advocate infanticide simply because a woman does not want one of her currently born children?
As a proud pro-lifer, I am also proud of the fact that I was actively involved in advocating for a 'Yes' vote in the marriage equality referendum. Maybe Mr Lynch should educate himself on the rainbow of people who are pro-life, including atheists, before he decides to lecture the rest of us.
Teenagers need lessons in voting
Sir - I am a 17-year-old currently in fifth year and I've been reading headline after headline for the last several months about the upcoming referendum in May.
In school, this topic is almost ''hushed'' up by teachers to avoid offending comments or complaints from parents. Recently, I've researched about the Eighth Amendment online since it's rarely discussed in school and I have noticed there are few factual websites to portray the consequences of voting 'Yes' or 'No'. Besides this, I have found it difficult to learn how to vote in this referendum for the first time. I will be turning 18 prior to the referendum and my peers and I are unaware how to vote. I feel this is a major fault in our education system. Simple unbiased campaigns, lessons and discussions can solve many of these detrimental effects on our young adults of today.
Full name and address with editor
This is no answer to migrants' plight
Sir - I refer to Louise Roseingrave's piece about the re-location of more than 100 migrants to Lisdoonvarna (Sunday Independent, March 11). It is hard to see how planting these migrants will do any good either for the local people OR the migrants. In Europe, more and more countries are being turned into foreign lands for the people who have traditionally lived there. We could spare ourselves a lot of trouble and money by leaving well enough alone. Stop bombing their countries and take care of the people in our own country. But it seems that is too simple for us so we are asked to spend more than €100bn to make life miserable for both them and us. It's no wonder the Fine Gael government needs to resort to public relations as there is no way the Irish people would buy into this agenda if there were simply told about it.
Los Angeles, California
The educating of single parents
Sir - I simply wish to say thank you to Liz Waters for her article 'Educating mums to degree level will benefit kids' (Sunday Independent, March 11). While my own children have yet to fully realise or appreciate the lengths I went to educate myself as a single parent, our whole lives were transformed as a result. Education is power, education is freedom! I freed us from a lifetime of poverty through education. Their life chances have been dramatically improved. I know this would not have been possible had I stayed within the poverty trap of our social welfare system.
The last line in Liz's article where she states "there is no amount we can write on a cheque to repay them, our debt, society's debt to them is far more than a number" is so right, there is no numerical figure that would suffice but this simple acknowledgement is priceless.
It absolutely made my day, the fact that it was Mother's Day made it all the better. I felt I could indulge in a little self-praise if even for a moment.
Thanks again to Liz, thanks for the immeasurable work done for and with single parents in An Cosan. Keep it up!
Swords, Co Dublin
Celebrating a great nation
Sir - I enjoyed reading Brendan O'Neill's article on Irish-Britishness (Sunday Independent, March 11).
Although it was essentially about the famous so-called Plastic Paddies it gave such an accurate description of what it is like to be in that No Man's Land of identity that so many of us would relate to whole-heartedly.
I was born in England to Irish parents and was lucky to go to a school named St Patrick's where March 17 was always a holiday.
The pupils would put on a soiree in the local town hall - an evening full of storytelling, music, song and dance which was well supported by the townsfolk.
I now live here with a surname that could be from either country but my accent gives away the place of my birth instantly.
Strangely enough, the only place I ever felt accepted as truly Irish was when living in France. There, a married woman has to use her maiden name (in my case McGowan) for all official documents and when asked to produce a passport, which was quite frequently, at the sight of the Harp the official would suddenly become bi-lingual and abandon their beloved French for a chat about how their nation as a whole loves the "Irlandais" and how they enjoy "Vacances en Irlande".
This weekend millions of us, plastic or otherwise, all over the world will celebrate the fact that our roots lie in this great little country that is Ireland.
Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary
Winter's end reveals all the joys of spring
Sir - The Spring Equinox has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth and fertility in the northern hemisphere. It marks the sun crossing the equator from south to north. During the equinox the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal - 12 hours of light, 12 hours of darkness. In the northern hemisphere, the Spring Equinox marks the first day of astronomical spring, usually around March 21. On the other hand, meteorologists, who base their findings on climatology rather than astronomy, maintain that spring begins on March 1.
Whether the seasons have their origins in the movement of planets or in weather conditions, the more seasonable weather of recent weeks has certainly put a spring in our steps. Summer time begins next Sunday, March 25, so the days will be noticeably longer. The trees are sweetly blooming while warmth, growth and greenery are returning. Birds are singing and building nests while animals are mating and producing offspring. How wonderful it is to listen to the bleating of lambs in the fields and to marvel at "A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze".
The Spring Equinox renews our energy levels after the cold and darkness of winter. It makes us appreciate how good it is to be alive and living in a beautiful country. It whets the appetite for exercise, sport and outdoor life. While Alfred, Lord Tennyson maintains that in the spring a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love, mine turns to sea swimming in Fenit, walking in Banna Strand, days at the races and the mouth-watering anticipation of a successful season for the Austin Stacks and Kerry football teams.
Tralee, Co Kerry
Chemical crimes to be condemned
Sir - Like most people, I was appalled and shocked by the chemical attack in Salisbury.
The ability to injure and indeed try to kill people who are going about their daily business, with such ease and cold bloodedness, is truly frightening.
The response from the British government has been swift and decisive. However those same MPs' response to the chemical attacks on the civilian population of Syria by President Assad and assisted by President Putin was, in comparison, very weak.
Our vehement condemnation of such heinous war crimes needs to be consistent and forthright.
Pat Burke Walsh,
Beware the danger of EU interference
Sir - Reading Brian Hayes's piece (Sunday Independent, March 11), it seems he is forever giving us the thin end of the wedge as regards the EU's interference in our democracy and our Constitution.
Only recently we were told about PESCO and the Government's decision to join this organisation without asking the people of Ireland if we agreed.
Now he is proposing to join a defence agreement - of course, he is saying at this point we will not be involved in forming a European army, but next year he will tell us that Ireland will join one to protect us from a Russian invasion. I do not believe Russia is a threat to us. Germany is a much bigger threat if and when it gets control of a European army. Germany has had its eyes on Russian resources for many a year.
The people should refuse to allow any further interference in our Constitution by this or any future government. It has served us well over the years, so do not let governments threaten us again. Governments do not work in the interests of the people, instead they work for the elite and now for their European masters. Britain decided it had enough of Europe and is getting out before it falls apart. Ireland be aware, be very aware. So Brian, think on and get rid of some of these dangerous ideas before it is too late.