This chapter analyses the way in which the Supreme Court has handled a range of controversial issues affecting personal and family life. It explains the centrality of the family unit within the Irish Constitution and shows how the Court was for many years extremely conservative in its handling of cases involving adoption and illegitimacy. Its more flexible approach to ‘the family’ in the immigration context is then considered. The leading case on contraception (McGee) is closely examined before detailed treatment is given to the Court’s handling of legal questions relating to abortion (especially the X case in 1992). Its position on matrimonial property law and on the vexed issue of the right to assisted suicide are also suveyed. Throughout the chapter attention is focused on how the Supreme Court has been constrained by its perception of the views of the majority of Irish people.
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