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‘Unwanted pregnancies caused by fornication’

By Juno McEnroe, Political Reporter

Irish Examiner, Friday, April 20, 2012

A Government TD has blamed "fornication" as the single biggest cause of unwanted pregnancies and questioned what damage the sale of condoms has done to society.

Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin’s comments came as she and coalition colleagues voted down a private members bill to allow abortion in Ireland to save the life of the expectant mother.

The constituency colleague of Enda Kenny shocked observers as she claimed women did not own their own sexuality in the same manner that men did. She raised questions about whether the legalising of homosexuality had been damaging to society.

Ms Mulherin stood over her comments last night and said she had received massive response, both positive and negative.

The proposed bill brought by Independent TDs to offer abortion in limited cases to avert risk to pregnant women’s lives was defeated by 111 to 20 votes.

Ms Mulherin said the legislation could not just be passed because of "sad stories" about women who had procedures. She welcomed the chance to speak on "a very sensitive issue, particularly for women because women do not own their own personal physical integrity and sexuality in the same manner that men do".

She said she was against abortion in any form.

Ms Mulherin went further and questioned what changes to society had arisen from the legalising of the sale of condoms and their sale from vending machines.

"Moreover, how destructive was that change, if at all, given these were foundations of our religious beliefs in the past? Homosexuality is yet another example of this," she said.

"Abortion as murder, and therefore sin, which is the religious argument, is no more sinful from a scriptural point of view than all other sins we do not legislate against, such as greed, hate, and fornication; the latter — fornication — being probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country."

When contacted last night, the first-time TD stood over her remarks: "I was basically asking has that been destructive or has it not. How has society brought us to this point?"

She said her speech was about opening debate about abortion and sexuality.

"I don’t have a problem about the legalising of homosexuality. I’m putting the questions out there."

Socialist Party TD Clare Daly had launched the bill this week, saying the State had failed to legislate for the X court case in 1992, where judges ruled abortion was legal where a pregnancy posed a real and substantial risk to a woman’s life.

It was a "ludicrous suggestion" that passing the bill would "open the floodgates" and lead to abortion on demand, Ms Daly claimed.

Coalition partners Labour and Fine Gael voted it down, saying ministers would await the outcome of an expert group. Fianna Fáil also opposed the bill while a number of Independents refrained from voting. Rebel Labour party member and TD Patrick Nulty voted in favour of the bill.

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