Devolve abortion

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It has been interesting to note the various reactions to the ­suggestion that abortion laws could be devolved to Holyrood (your report and Letters, 1 December). Care for Scotland whole-heartedly supports the clearly expressed desire of the Smith Commission participants to ­devolve abortion laws to 
Scotland.

We aim to uphold the sanctity of life from beginning to its natural end and so we would welcome the opportunity for a new debate on abortion.

We firmly believe the Scottish Parliament is the best possible place for this new debate. The present inconsistency, where MSPs can vote on an end-of-life issue, such as assisted suicide, but not a start-of-life issue, such as abortion, makes no sense.

For some time now Northern Ireland has had its own abortion regulations, so for the sake of greater consistency it is surely time to empower the Scottish Parliament so that MSPs can vote according to their conscience on abortion-related issues, such as time limits.

The Smith Commission ­heralds the transfer of significant powers to Scotland and it is our hope that power to ­legislate over abortion be included in that package.

Gordon Macdonald

Care for Scotland

Martin Conroy sets up a ­pro-abortionist man of straw and then knocks him down (Letters, 1 December). He argues that the unborn are human – but this was never in doubt. Anything that grows in the body and is made of human cells is human, be it embryo or cancer.

He calls the foetus a human being, as if having human DNA were enough.

A human being has a mental life. If someone is brain dead, we switch the machines off. But it is hard to say when consciousness starts, so an easier definition is that a separate being is one that can live outside the womb.

An embryo of a few hundred cells has no mental life and is not independent. It is not yet a human being, but becomes one by stages.

At some point we give it rights, which we must balance against those of the mother-to-be. This is what abortion law does, with a safety margin 
built in.

George Byron

Comely Bank Avenue

Edinburgh

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