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Pictured leaving Leinster House today Hon. Judge Catherine McGuinness
Pictured leaving Leinster House today Hon. Judge Catherine McGuinness
Image: Wanderley Massafelli/Photocall Ireland

Lawmakers urged to look to 'middle ground' on abortion issue

A retired judge pleaded with politicians to look at the more subtle side of society.
Jan 9th 2013, 5:42 PM 5,058 43

RETIRED JUDGE CATHERINE McGuinness has asked legislators to look to the “middle ground” in Ireland when making decisions about proposed abortion law reform.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children today, the 78-year-old said she believes her own views reflect those held by many women and men across Ireland. She described it as “holding the middle ground”.

On the issue of abortion reform, she said lawmakers should not look to the people who make robot calls or write letters to their local TDs. But instead to the people “who are more subtle, the people who might think about what happens if it is their daughter”.

“Look to the middle people of Ireland who aren’t after you all the time,” she told the committee members, who have been asked by government to collect information which will be helpful in drafting legislation and regulation to satisfy the European Court of Human Rights’ recommendations following the ABC versus Ireland case.

During the same session in Leinster House today, Trinity College Dublin professor William Binchy argued that legislation for the Supreme Court’s decision on the X Case was not a requirement of those European Court recommendations. He said such a change in law would follow with a change in culture.

“What we need here is clarity in the law, rather than legislation,” he told the Seanad chamber. “Don’t change the law to bring in an abortion regime.”

Earlier, McGuinness said Ireland already has abortion, it just happens elsewhere, highlighting the notion that “we want an escape route from the absolute”.

She pleaded with the committee not to be too affected by the “almost bullying approach” of the two ‘extreme’ sides of the debate – either ‘the (as they describe themselves) pro-life side’ who want the law narrowed or the ultra-liberals who would like abortion on demand.

“Think about the middle ground, the majority of the constituents,” she added.

McGuinness said if lawmakers are worried about the “0pening the floodgates”, then they are afraid of Irish people, Irish society.

“We ought to have more trust in Irish people and Irish doctors,” she said. “To say that is to say everyone will be galloping to do something we don’t do already.”

Earlier today: Oireachtas told: ‘Ireland already allows abortion of unviable pregnancies’

As it happened: Legal experts address Oireachtas on proposed new abortion laws

Yesterday: 10 interesting moments from the Oireachtas hearings on abortion

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Sinead O'Carroll

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