Anti-abortion witness declines to go to ‘kangaroo court’ committee

US professor is second ‘pro-life’ witness to decide not to give evidence on Eighth Amendment

Committee chairwoman Catherine Noone has asked anti-abortion members to submit names of witnesses on numerous occasions. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Committee chairwoman Catherine Noone has asked anti-abortion members to submit names of witnesses on numerous occasions. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

 

Another anti-abortion witness has declined to appear before the Oireachtas committee examining the Eighth Amendment claiming it is a charade with a pre-determined outcome.

Marty McCaffrey, professor of paediatrics at University of Carolina, wrote to the committee members this week confirming he will not give evidence to what he described as a “kangaroo court”.

He is the second anti-abortion witness to decline to give evidence. Professor Patricia Casey also confirmed she would not participate in a scheduled appearance.

On reviewing the testimony to date, Mr McCaffrey said it was clear the proceedings were “deeply biased in favour of repeal”.

The professor was asked to appear before the committee following a request from Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin, who is not a member of the committee. The invitation was issued in late October.

However in a letter to members, Mr McCaffrey said he was disappointed a decision had already been taken not to retain the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution in full.

“I’m not sure many can imagine my reaction. It became clear that the invitation for my testimony, offered only after the vote on repeal had already taken place, was a retrospective effort to attempt to offer some illusion of balance to the Oireachtas hearings.

“It is with great regret that I must respectfully decline the invitation to offer testimony to the Committee.”

In his statement, the Professor from North Carolina said his testimony to the committee might be interpreted by some as the work of an objective committee.

“In reviewing the proceedings, testimony and transcripts from records on the Committee website one can only conclude that the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth is a ‘kangaroo court’.

A separate anti-abortion lobby group has also written to the committee declining to present its research.

Both Lives Matter, a group campaigning to change abortion laws in the United Kingston, had veen asked to present before the committee.

However it has now written to members outlining its opposition to participate in what described as “deeply flawed process”.

The committee has faced accusations of bias from two of its members, Independent TD Mattie McGrath and Independent Senator Ronan Mullen.

Mr Mullen and Mr McGrath have alleged the witness list has been skewed towards those with pro-choice views.

However chair of the committee Catherine Noone has asked the two members to submit witnesses on numerous occasions but they have both declined.