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Few people are anti-life

Madam – The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar has propelled the whole abortion debate back on to the political agenda. Regardless of one's stance on this issue, I do wish we could avoid using the term "pro-life" in reference to a fundamentalist anti-abortion stance, as it clearly implies that those people not sharing this view (for whatever reason) are somehow "anti-life".

There can surely be very few people on the planet who are anti-life, apart maybe from the likes of the ultra-right-wing gunslinger who killed 77 people in Norway, or certain drug dealers and other lowlife elements who peddle death as a matter of routine and make life miserable for many of us.

Abortion is not a straightforward issue, as the fate of this beautiful and talented young woman ought to remind us. Unfortunately shades of grey, anguished decision making, and complex ethical dilemmas may enter into any consideration of when, or in what circumstances, a woman should be allowed not to proceed to full term with a baby/foetus.

Another aspect of the whole decades-long "pro-life" campaign/debate in Ireland that perplexes me is the fact that no group purporting to represent a "pro-life" perspective or ideology turned up outside the gates of so-called industrial schools where children were flogged and raped. . . on an industrial scale. . . or at the entrances to Magdalene laundries. . . de facto concentration camps where women were enslaved and severely punished for conceiving out of wedlock.

Nothing very "pro-life" about the activities of God's (alleged) chosen treating their fellow beings like that.

And will we, I wonder, discover what is so "pro-life" about the fact that a woman's tragic death was seemingly required to make politicians commit to effectively tackling this life and death issue that they have so blatantly shirked since the Supreme Court's decision on the X Case 20 years ago?

Yes, life is precious, and so is compassion for our fellow human beings and common human decency. Unless of course one is among those who would like to see us return to fear of the crosier. . . or still cowering in the shadow of Archbishop McQuaid's magical and all-encompassing purple cloak.

John Fitzgerald,

Callan, Co Kilkenny

Sunday Independent