DCU Philosophy Club hold discussion on the 8th Amendment

Roisin Maguire

DCU’s Philosophy Club discussed the 8th Amendment from a philosophical perspective at their biggest event to date on Wednesday, led by four guest speakers.

John Baker, Professor in Ethics and Politics in UCD argued in favour of repeal. His general constructions were about how our moral beliefs change over time, therefore so do our opinions on controversial topics.

“200 years ago people believed that slavery was okay. This has changed. The same thing applied to contraception and divorce,” said Baker.

He mentioned that when Ireland legalised same sex marriage, not everyone had to give up their belief that it was wrong and the same can be done with abortion.

The second guest speaker, Dr Mette Lebech of Maynooth University’s Department of Philosophy is pro-life. She focused on how “we all have varying degrees of human dignity” that were given to us from before we were born.

“Admitting to degrees of human dignity amounts to abolishing the idea that human beings are equal,” said Lebech.  The unborn, said Lebechs, is still a human being and deserves the same respect as a person.

Dr Mary McAuliffe of UCD who specialises in Irish women’s gender and history spoke on her reasons for being pro-choice. She mentioned how the state acknowledges the life of the unborn before the mother which “clearly subordinates the life of the woman.”

She mentioned the poor treatment of women in history and how we are in a similar situation today. “We lock them in mother and baby homes, we buried them in mass graves… Women of rape and incest.”

The final guest speaker, Gerard Casey of UCD’s School of Philosophy spoke of the phrasing used to describe the unborn.

He said that posters around the world used to stop women smoking during pregnancy call the unborn a ‘baby’ or ‘child’ therefore abortion can be described as ‘killing’ or ‘homicide’.

He concluded his speech by saying, “And by the way, since I have started speaking, around 1200 babies have been aborted”.

The four guest speakers were given 15 minutes to argue for or against repealing the 8th Amendment with Q&A to end.

Roisin Maguire

Image credit: DCU Philosophy Club