Fornication the 'cause of unwanted pregnancies'
FORNICATION WAS the single greatest cause of unwanted pregnancies in Ireland, Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin said.
During the resumed Dáil debate, she said she was against abortion in any form. “The grace of God is so liberating and provides so many options to get the best out of life despite our fallen nature, and we all have that.
“Having said that, it is an ideal to aim for. In an ideal world there would be no unwanted pregnancies and no unwanted babies, but we are far from living in an ideal world. An honest and a scriptural view is that things are getting harder for people, so what then for the weak in our society?
Ms Mulherin continued: “Abortion as murder, therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful, from a scriptural point of view, than all other sins we don’t legislate against, like greed, hate and fornication. The latter, being fornication, I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”
Independent Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan rounded on Ms Mulherin for her remarks. He claimed that, in the past, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had a problem with extramarital sex.
“And now we hear a member of this Government has a problem with fornication,” Mr Flanagan added. “Where are we going?”
He said Ireland, which had been run by the two parties, had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the modern world.
“Heels were dragged on symphysiotomy and redress for more women, on women having to leave work on marriage, on contraception, divorce,” he added.
Addressing Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs, he said it was quite clear that “Archbishop McQuaid’s crozier is firmly still around your necks”. He said there was some hope, given that Labour had been more positive.
The Government defeated the Private Members’ Bill, seeking to create a legal framework for abortion in Ireland where a woman’s life was at risk, by 111 votes to 20.
The Bill was introduced by Socialist Party TD Clare Daly, along with People Before Profit TD Joan Collins and Independent TD Mick Wallace.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly rejected it on the grounds that the House should await an expert group report on the matter.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said they should await the findings.
“At that point, we can have a fair and rational debate on all the issues involved and, I hope, arrive at a solution that will address the abortion issue which, as I noted, has been divisive, emotive and destructive at times during the years.”
Supporting the Bill, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party believed it should be allowed to proceed to committee stage when it could be amended. “What is certain is that it is time for legislation to be finally enacted to protect the rights of women, as decided by the Supreme Court in 1992,” she said.
Carlow-Kilkenny Labour TD Ann Phelan commended Ms Daly for introducing the Bill.
“Yesterday in Leinster House, with a number of other deputies and Senators, I met some Irish women who had to go in the past to the UK for a termination,” she said. “We heard their harrowing stories and what they had to go through. In the near future, I hope there will be an end to those harrowing stories and that we will not have to hear them again.”
Sligo-North Leitrim FG TD Tony McLoughlin said he believed the Bill was flawed.
“The life of the mother already takes precedence in medicine, as, of course, it should,” he added. “In Ireland, thankfully, we have one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.”