Wednesday, 4 July 1979
Seanad Eireann Debate
Professor Murphy: It struck me some time last night that perhaps I had jumped the gun in the order of speakers, because I came in directly after Senator Connaughton of Fine Gael. If I prevented any Fianna Fáil speaker from eagerly making his or her contribution, I do apologise.
I was reviewing the debate so far, one intriguing aspect of which I found to be that a number of speakers either liked  the Bill, but proposed to vote against it, or did not like the Bill, but proposed to vote for it. I was referring to my predecessor in the debate, Senator Connaughton, whose remarks brought up the question of whether the couples who will have access to contraceptives under this Bill will be married or unmarried. I pointed out simply for the record that there is no reference whatsoever in the Bill to married couples.
I praise Senator Alexis FitzGerald and Senator Mary Robinson for their contributions and I particularly approved of Senator FitzGerald's observation that the Bill discriminates in favour of a particular ethos. I listened with interest to Senator Honan's contribution. It appears that she looked into her own heart and, without any benefit of celestial communication, divined that the Chief would have approved of this Bill. I somehow think that he himself would have favoured external association as the more preferable method.
Senator Yeats observed that family planning is not a matter for the State, but yet he proposes to vote for a Bill which says otherwise. He pointed out that no Bill is acceptable to everyone and the Minister has to find some middle ground. This raises one of the most fundamental points about the process the Minister followed in arriving at the present form of the Bill. Is it not a fact that government is a delegation of authority from the people, and that a government once elected have a mandate to govern? After the European election debacle, the Fianna Fáil people were quick to remind us that this did not make a difference to their mandate to govern. Should not a mandate to govern involve governmental and ministerial decision involving courage and vision and foresight, and to hell with the consequences? If the Minister for Health wanted to bring in a Bill in which he believed, why did he not do that, either resign from the Government, or opt out of the whole situation? It seems to me that the wrong way to handle either the economy or a matter like this is to abdicate this kind of fundamental responsibility of a government to govern. Senator Yeats also made the very acceptable point that one should not play party politics, or that it  is a pity that this issue has become one of party politics. I would suggest—perhaps it is a very comfortable position for an independent to be in —that this is the fault of all parties. They have all played politics with family planning and presented us from time to time with such pathetic spectacles as a Taoiseach voting against a Bill introduced by his own Minister for Justice and, at present, a Government Minister, in effect, challenging and defying the party Whip and getting away with it. Of course, there should have long since been an all-party approach to this matter. It seems to me that, instead of going out into the highways and by-ways, and consulting every Tom, Dick, and Harry, the Government should have consulted Parliament itself, and that there should have been an all-party consultative committee on this matter.
Senator Lambert, in a very thoughtful contribution, reminded us of another essential point, that availability of contraceptives is not compulsion. There is no compulsory contraception. He had some praise for the family planning clinics, which I heartily endorse and, yet, though the tenor of his speech was against the Bill, he finished up by telling us that he will vote for it. That is his personal decision and I respect it.
Senator Harte elicited from the Minister a comment about the role of the doctor in which the Minister assured us that doctors would act reasonably in these matters. I take that to mean that a doctor will automatically endorse a married couple's application for access to contraceptives, but there is nothing in the Bill which says that the doctor shall so automatically endorse that application. It will be entirely at his discretion, and we all know there are doctors throughout the countryside who are very conservative people indeed, who may be activists in Catholic lay organisations, and there is no guarantee whatsoever that doctors will act reasonably in this matter.
Senator Whitaker reminded us that we live in a pluralist society, a fact which the Bill ignores, and Senator Whitaker also finds the idea of a doctor's intrusion  in a private area distasteful. Senator Molony raised the question of the role of the legislator in these matters. Are we there to reflect existing attitudes, or are we there, or are the Government there, to direct and positively encourage people towards more constructive attitudes? My own view is that if government means anything it means leadership, and if people have views which are restrictive, if they are conditioned to have these restrictive views, then it is the business of government to counter that conditioning.
Senator Molony also made a very interesting remark when he said that, if the family clinics had not been attended with so much publicity, they might have done better, that if they had conducted their business in an unobtrusive fashion, perhaps there would not be all this trouble.
This brings us to another very important question. Why should the family planning clinics conduct their business in an unobtrusive fashion? This is rather like the Minister's own statement introducing the Bill in the other House, when he said that the possibility of manufacturing contraceptives arose but he did not think it likely or desirable that there would be an Irish industry, so to speak, in this area. I am quoting from memory.
Again, underlying Senator Molony's comment about unobtrusiveness and underlying the Minister's comment about the undesirability of an Irish manufacturing contraceptive industry, there is the old sneaky suggestion that all this is a dirty business, we do not talk about it, and you put it away in a corner. I entirely reject that view. There is no reason why we should not have a manufacturing industry in contraceptives. Guaranteed Irish, of course.
It was Senator Martin's contribution which I found of the greatest interest, and with which I disagreed most. I say of the greatest interest because, perhaps, he is a direct academic colleague, but more than that he and I are products of the same country culture and the same Catholic culture. We seem to have very different views on it. He referred to the Bill and the whole business of debating contraception as ignoble, dreary and embarrassing.  I disagree strongly with that point of view. Does it indicate the scars of his Catholic boyhood that he finds these matters distasteful? It may well be that the subject is boring by now. A number of young and youngish married couples have said to me that they find the whole thing extremely boring at this stage. They regard this Bill as an irrelevance to what they have been doing and what they propose to continue to do. It may be that they are in for a very rude awakening indeed.
Senator Martin attributed to me the phrase and the concept of “middle Ireland”, which is the idea that, out there there is a vast silent majority whose views are not the liberal ones which are to be heard in more rarefied circles and that account has to be taken of this “middle Ireland” point of view. We are at a very crucial point here. I take Senator Martin's point to be that “middle Ireland” has a firm conservative view on this whole matter, and that view is that not only would they not use artificial contraceptives themselves but they are totally against their availability to others. If that is the view of “middle Ireland” then it is a view which is inconsistent with the principles of civil and religious liberty and it should be countered by the Government.
It is a selective conditioning. “Middle Ireland” has not been conditioned to have tender consciences about all kinds of other issues, about social injustice, land speculation, sleazy mergers, the alienation of our natural resources, the glamourising in TV interviews of financial spivs. Why has “middle Ireland” not been conditioned to have a conscience about these matters? The fact is—and this raises the question of the free vote and conscientious objection—that through a particular quirk in our history “middle Ireland” has been brought up through several generations in a ferociously puritanical attitude to sex, and to all these matters we are talking about. I am absolutely in favour of everybody making his own choices in these matters, but it is every Government's duty to point out to “middle Ireland” the simple axiomatic democratic principle that they can exercise their own options but they have no  right to restrict the choice of options of their fellow citizens.
Senator Martin used the phrase “common ground in the middle”. Something similar was said by Senator Whitaker—“middle of the road”—and the Minister used a similar phrase in his introductory statement. All seem to suggest that this Bill is a middle-of-the-road Bill. I would support a middle-of-the road Bill but this Bill is well to the right of the middle of the road. I have some sympathy with the Minister in all this. It is a measure of my interest that I have gone frequently into the other House at different stages of the Bill. I have sympathy with him at the human level for having to stick out this kind of constant and scathing criticism from what opposition there was in the Dáil and the criticism I am sure he had to sustain before he brought it into the Dáil, at least from one hostile colleague in Government. My sympathy is far outweighed by my disagreement. I am astonished by his general attitude, which could be paraphrased thus: “Here is the best we can do. We have consulted all possible interests. This is a fait accompli presented to you gentlemen in Parliament. Why are you so unreasonable as to make it difficult for me to get it through?” That is not an unfair example of the Minister's attitude.
I regret that he, above all politicians in the Fianna Fáil Party, has sponsored a Bill which is arguably unconstitutional in terms of restrictions on human rights, probably unworkable in many respects, pusillanimous in approach and, most deplorable of all, denominational in inspiration. To take the point about consultation first, I really do not think the long process of consultation has really achieved anything in the end. I am sorry to say that, because the Minister has worked hard. If you set out to appease all possible interests, if you travel a piece of the road with everyone, you wind up nowhere. This again brings me back to my obvious point that it is the duty of governments to govern.
The Minister might say to me: how would you have approached the matter? What Bill would you have introduced? I enjoy the luxury of not having to do that. One option open to the Government  was unrestricted availability, a simple repeal of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. One has to accept that the climate of opinion is against this and it is not a realistic option. The young and the immature have to be protected from commercial exploitation, although I suspect there is a good deal of hypocrisy about our attitude on that as well. When we say, “You could not flood a country with contraceptives”, what we really mean is we do not want to see them everywhere. Just keep them away. We do not want to see them when we go into the gentlemen's toilet. It is not proper. We often confuse a sense of primness, prudity, propriety with real moral values.
Accepting that there had to be some restrictions—although in parenthesis I may say I can envisage, even under the present Bill, lots of ways in which young people can get their hands on contraceptives—what were the other options? I would like to have seen the Minister turning his eyes northwards, to Northern Ireland, an area which we are so anxious to grapple to our bosom, not with hoops of steel, but with bands of love. Why could not Northern Ireland have been accepted as a model in its approach to this whole question? There you have a mixed community; you have a strong sense of family values. One thing we share with Northern Protestants is a sense of family tradition, residual parental discipline perhaps.
The position there, as far as I know, is that there is a combination of health boards, family planning clinics, free pharmaceutical outlets, and so on. There is no reason to believe that has affected the quality of life in terms of sexual morality in that area, or that the problems of protecting moral fibre in, let us say, Enniskillen, are any greater than they are in Monaghan town. There you find reasonable access and availability, and acceptance of contraceptives as a readily available option, and yet no one in his right mind could describe Northern Ireland as a sexually permissive society, or one that offends personal susceptibilities. In any case, it is doubtful if the availability of contraceptives in  itself, the availability of mechanisms, actually creates a permissive and degenerate society. Yet that is the dubious assumption throughout this Bill.
Perhaps the Minister could have made use here in the Republic of various combinations of health boards, existing family planning clinics, the pharmacists, to ensure reasonable access and a maximum of supply outlets. Of course, there would be, and there will be, conscientious objectors in the health boards and in the pharmaceutical profession, but a combination of all of them, and the existing health clinics, I suggest, would have gone a long way towards overcoming the problem of conscientious objection. In short, this subject could have been approached by the Minister with courage and determination, and a refusal to be influenced by every possible lobby in the country. These qualities of courage and determination, as Senator FitzGerald pointed out, are sadly lacking in the Bill.
The Bill is probably unconstitutional, if in no other respect, in that it does not sufficiently observe the Supreme Court ruling that a married couple have the right to decide for themselves the ways and means to plan their family. I could also envisage a situation where a couple, perhaps in a remote area of the west or south west of Ireland, remote from centres of access to methods of family planning, might well plead that their geographical position was a matter of discrimination in itself. The Bill is unjust in terms of simple social justice, because there is no guarantee that medical card holders will have a fair crack of the whip in this matter. Doubtless if they have recourse to the usual hyprocrisy of pleading medical purposes they may be accommodated, but there is no guarantee that medical card holders will not continue to be at a disadvantage as against the well off, well educated and the well placed who will continue to have no family planning problems.
The Bill is arguably unworkable because, for one thing, the section on importation—the one that deals with control at customs—is absolutely hilarious, and that hilarity has been sufficiently exposed in the Dáil debates. There is another area which, I think, has not been  mentioned so far in which the Bill promises to be unworkable, that is, the participation of the pharmacists. There has been much speculation about the extent to which the medical profession may or may not participate. We are overlooking the vital role which is assigned to the pharmacists in this Bill. We are overlooking the extent to which the co-operation of pharmacists may not be forthcoming.
The Irish Pharmaceutical Union conducted a poll among its own members at a stage when the draft Bill was known. The poll was conducted in very simple terms: “Are you willing to work this Bill from your point of view on the basis of the present draft Bill?” This questionnaire was circulated to 1,100 pharmacists which is, I understand, the number of retail pharmacists in the State. There were 400 positive replies—400 pharmacists said: “Yes, we will work this Bill on its present conditions and the way it is in draft”. That represents 38 per cent. Only 28 per cent would have been willing to tolerate a free-for-all situation without legislation, but 38 per cent—or 400 out of 1,100 —is not a majority by any means and, in itself, suggests that there will be a great deal of unworkability in this area.
The questionnaire did not disclose where the 400 came from. There was not any geographical or regional breakdown, but I would say that it is a reasonable inference, in the nature of things, that the 400 out of the 1,100 pharmacists who were willing to cooperate would probably be in the big towns, and would do so through commercial incentives, through a more liberal frame of mind, and so on. If my hypothesis is correct it would mean that the other 700, who either did not reply or replied very strongly negatively, would probably coincide roughly with rural ireland, which would aggravate the problems I would anticipate in this area.
The picture has changed, however, as a result of the amendment introduced by the Minister into section 4, that is, the extension of section 4 (1) which provides for the presence at a family planning clinic of a pharmacist. It is my information that the attitude of the majority of the members of the Irish Pharmaceutical  Union, whose co-operation to work this Bill was grudging in the first place, has now been put very much at risk by the extension of this clause. Pharmacists have objected all along—I am giving this as a matter of detached observation, and not taking up any attitude on this point—to the activities of family planning clinics. They claim that they are breaking the law on more than one ground and, of course, they are depriving pharmacists of revenue. The pharmacists envisage that, if this amendment stands, any clinics that may be licensed by the Minister will divert a profitable retail line which pharmacists consider should be their own business.
They further fear that if the Minister licenses such clinics and they have a resident pharmacist there that these clinics will then imperceptibly extend their activities from family planning into, let us say, wider gynaecological areas and, perhaps, who knows into still further areas beyond that. Pharmacists fear this extension of section 4 (1) (b) (i) and, at the time of going to press, that amendment may well put at risk the already halfhearted co-operation which is evident from the poll I quoted. The Irish Pharmaceutical Union chiefs managed to get a substantial minority to agree to work the Bill but it is doubtful if this any longer holds good in view of their objections to the new amendment.
I have gone into some detail on that point but I think it is an interesting detail. It illustrates how unworkable the Bill may be even in this respect. It is, however, the general philosophy of the Bill that I find repellent. There is nothing so tragi-comic as the spectacle of the State interfering in the area of private morality. Not only does it not work but it is farcical. It only succeeds in fostering a climate of contempt for law and developing a mentality of evasion. The classic case, of course, was prohibition in the United States. Without wanting to be facetious, there is much to be said for the view that the State should legislate against activity in this area, only that activity which, as they say in America, frightens the horses. Why, in any case, should the State introduce family planning legislation that discriminates in  favour of a particular ethos, a point which was raised by Senator FitzGerald?
This Bill discriminates in favour of a code of sexual morality which is taught by the Church leaders of the prevailing denomination. The theory is that 95 per cent of the citizens give allegiance to that denomination and its ruling on sexual morality. If this is true, if there is a loyal 95 per cent Catholic community in the State, then an unrestricted slot machine contraceptive culture would present no dangers to that monolithic denominational community. Why are they worried about it? If the three million Catholics are all good Catholics what possible difference can legislation make to them? If they are disciplined, unshaken and mature in their adherence to the sexual code of the Church to which they profess to belong they really do not have to worry about it one way or the other. The truth is, of course, that there is nothing like this monolithic unity among the 95 per cent. There is a wide variety of attitudes on family planning among that 95 per cent. That being so, the State should have recognised a plurality of views even among the nominal 95 per cent and should have legislated accordingly. Of course, it cannot be repeated too often that no one will be compelled to use contraceptives. To borrow, perhaps, an inappropriate phrase from the days of the debate about compulsory Irish, nobody is going to have contraceptives forced down his throat.
The definitions or interpretations in section I do not, interestingly enough, include a definition of family planning itself. The Bill assumes a qualitative or moral difference between natural and artificial family planning. We all grew up in a climate where the only barely mentionable method was natural family planning. I am, I suppose, a product of natural family planning and so are my five children. From the days when I began to think for myself I could see very little sense in the moral distinction between natural and artificial family planning. This is crucial to the Bill because the Bill rests on a division of the natural family planners and the artificial family planners. Before I develop this  crucial point let me remind the House that contrary to the received view the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church—this is more relevant to the Bill—to family planning is far from being unchangeable.
A different Pope might well have issued a different encyclical in 1968 and, as Senator Lambert suggested yesterday, it is not inconceivable that a future Synod of Bishops or a future Church Council might call, in view of the widespread dissent in many countries, for an agonising reappraisal of the whole position on family planning. However, that is in the future and is speculation but what is very much fact is the remarkable shift of emphasis in Roman Catholic teaching on family planning over, say, the last 20 years.
Many Senators will recall the old time Mission Week and the sex and brimstone sermons on Wednesday night or Thursday night. They will recall the way in which the term family planning, meaning the spacing of births, was thundered against from the pulpits. God will provide, we were told. That was the constant assurance and threat which they made in response to those people who would attempt to limit family size. The use of the safe period—that crude and unreliable precursor of much more sophisticated so-called natural methods today—was permitted only for grave medical or economic reasons. That was the constantly reiterated teaching of Pius XII, it was to be found in the kind of marriage manuals one bought in those days in Burns, Oates and Washbourne—they probably were not available in Dublin and Cork—and, certainly, it was the frequently enjoined counsel of one's confessor: one can use the safe period only for grave medical or economic reasons. Even then it carried the stigma of the less than perfect approach to the problem of Catholic couples faced with the phenomenon of human fertility. The perfect approach, the counsel of perfection, was absolute abstention or a joyful willingness to take the consequences of unremitting copulation.
That was the position when I got married. Now, the remarkable change has taken place in that Roman Catholic  married couples who use the Billings method—a much more, whatever its defects, reliable method than the safe period, a refinement of the safe period—far from being stigmatised by their confessors and their Bishops as frail human vessels are hailed as absolute models of heroic sanctity. We forget all this but that represents a remarkable shift in Church attitudes towards family planning. One reason we forget it is that our Church leaders, particularly in Ireland, are marvels at the exercise of collective amnesia. It is a highly significant change. The reason I bring it up here is that in the context of people being troubled by conscience it is very important for those who have these consciences on this matter to remember that they are not dealing with a cardinal principle of immutable moral law.
I should like to return to the distinction the Bill makes, in accordance with Roman Catholic teaching, between natural and artificial family planning. It is in my view, a false distinction, a distinction that confuses the means with the end. The Bill does not define family planning as such so I may attempt my own definition which is, in fact, a euphenism. We all know that family planning is euphemism. It simply means the avoidance of pregnancy. All family planning is, in the last analysis, contraception and unnatural. Nature intends pregnancy; human beings circumvent it. The means they employ to do so, whether by thermometer, the calendar, mucus inspection, mechanical devices, spermicidal creams or an ovulant pill, seem to be immaterial. How can one describe as natural a strategem like the Billings method which depends for its efficacy on, and would not have come to light at all except for modern, sophisticated, knowledge of human biology? How can that be natural? How can it be natural to investigate the potentialities of fertility by using fertility drugs which can result in abnormalities? This is not condemned by Church authorities but it seems to me that it is interfering with nature in as obvious a way as any other.
If the Bill envisages further research into so-called natural family planning—here again the Bill faithfully  reflects the desires of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy—will not the consequence of further refined research into the Billings method be in time a more accurate pin-pointing of fertile periods and so a much greater and more certain evasion and frustration of nature's reproductive intentions? Even if I have not convinced the Minister on this score, even if he still maintains that there is a vital moral distinction, that surely is a matter for the individual conscience, influenced or not by the moral teaching of particular Churches. Certainly, the distinction is none of the State's business, as Senator Yeats rightly said. Yet, everywhere throughout this Bill, the State insists on making this moral distinction which is none of its business. Every encouragement is to be given to those who believe only in natural family planning.
Anyone can teach the Billings method, even though there is widespread agreement that the efficacious use of the Billings method relies heavily on skill, motivation and sophistication in its practice. Yet anyone can be an instructor in this method. Section 9 states:
The Minister may, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, make a grant to a person to finance, or assist in the financing of, research into methods of family planning that do not relate to the use of contraceptives.
That section not alone reinforces the State's declared discrimination in favour of this form of contraception, it virtually guarantees the spending of taxpayers' money on promoting research into this area. Surely, if the State is to get involved at all in research in these matters it is important that it should not fall behind in other areas also.
 Since the matter has been raised elsewhere, I think it well to make clear that the absence, in the section, of a reference to research into any other forms of contraceptives does not preclude assistance for this. The Minister for Health already has powers which would make it possible to assist, through the Medical Research Council or the Medico Social Research Board, research into other methods of contraception.
If that is so, why is a special position given in section 9 to research into natural family planning methods only? Why have not the Minister's powers in this matter been incorporated into this section? I suggest that section 9 should be amended simply by the deletion of the last five or six words and should read:
Those citizens who do not adhere to an exclusive belief in natural family planning are discriminated against in this Bill. Such law-abiding taxpaying citizens who, for one reason or another, do not exclusively adhere to natural family planning methods are to be supervised and monitored by the doctors and pharmacists. They must pay prescriptive and dispensing fees for non-medical contraceptives, may be subjected to harassment by customs officials. And they are stigmatized in the Bill as rather seedy dissidents whose activities may be barely tolerated under extremely restrictive conditions. I object to this outrageous discrimination by the State against citizens who are entitled to the utmost privacy and non-interference in what or what not they propose to do about their own sexual affairs.
The involvement of medical practitioners in the matter of access to non-medical contraceptives is a blatant interference with the constitutional rights of citizens to make their own mature decisions. We should think about that concept of maturity. One of our great defects as a people, again for historical  reasons not entirely due to clerical paternalism but for other reasons, has been immaturity. People should make their own mature decisions on these matters without rushing off to the family doctor.
Why should doctors take on the role of moral arbiters? What are they doing in this area? There is this characteristically Irish deference also to the family physician as if he, by virtue of his calling, had some superior reservoir of wisdom about all matters. Again, that is a form of immaturity. What are the doctors doing in this non-medical area? Even when it comes to medical areas how many of them are trained in family planning, still less in moral theology? Is it not a ludicrous and pathetic picture if we take, for example, a married couple in their late thirties deciding that two, three or four or more children are enough, being compelled to put their entirely non-medical decision for approval before a young GP barely out of medical school? Is it envisaged that medical practitioners in their role as citizens seeking advice, will have to go to some Solomon among their colleagues? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
In recent years Irish Catholics have thankfully begun to move away from the paternalism so often associated with priest-people relations in the past. Is that clerical paternalism now to be replaced by GP paternalism? Is the young doctor to old presbyter writ new? Bernard Shaw, in the preface to John Bull's other Island, described the Irishman of his day as a child before his Church. Are the Irishman and Irishwoman now to transfer this moral childhood to the doctor-patient relationship?
I am not going to deal on Second Stage with the various nonsenses in section 4 (1) (b) (ii) though I have spent much time in speculation about what bona fide could possibly mean and wondering what is its implied opposite malo fide. The Minister intervened last night when Senator Harte was speaking to point out that the doctor may be expected to behave reasonably on this matter but I would say again the Bill permits him to say “no”. If his consent is automatic then why should people have to have recourse to him at all?
The Minister proposes to give this  supervisory role to the doctor and it seems to me that this runs counter to the Minister's whole philosophy since he became Minister for Health. His occupation of office has been admirably characterised by a very successful propaganda campaign in which people have been exhorted to be responsible for themselves and for their own health in matters like smoking, alcohol and so on. People have been told, in effect, to act maturely, not to clog up the hospitals because of their own selfish inability to direct and be responsible for their own health, not to clog up the doctors' waiting rooms and to be mature in their approach. In this Bill we have the same Minister in effect providing that couples will clog up the doctors' waiting rooms entirely unnecessarily because in this matter they are not only unhealthy but are bursting with health and vigour and have no business there at all. The Minister's period of office is being characterised by this admirable insistence on the individual's responsibility for his own health and welfare but, suddenly in this Bill in the most intimate area of the person's life, he is told he cannot be trusted to deal with this himself, he is not mature enough and must have recourse to the doctor. That seems to be a flagrant contradiction.
I am not going to say much about the phrase in the Bill which provides for conscientious objection except that it seems to me that the whole thing hangs together. I am talking about a Taoiseach voting against his own Government Bill, a Minister defying the party Whip and getting away with it in the present instance, a conscientious objection clause permitting people to opt out of the Bill and the talk about a free vote. Where do we have this attitude in other areas of legislation? I suggest that this is not so much conscience as a selective conditioning of attitudes on one particular area in Irish Catholic life which it is the duty of progressive legislators to counter in every way they possibly can.
I now move to my most deep-rooted objection to this Bill. The Minister has described it in an already celebrated phrase as “an Irish solution to an Irish problem.” I could not agree more that this is a very good description of this  Bill. It carries all the hallmarks of that kind of Irishness which is the most unprepossessing of our natural characteristics which I do not propose to endorse in this present instance. I am talking about the tendency to say one thing and mean another, to pretend to be doing something while dodging the issue, the ostensible fulfilment of a promise to deal with a situation while, in fact, not facing up to the situation at all. It may well be threatening penalties which may never be enforced, turning the blind eye: “Sure we all know they do not mean it. We know where we can get them but mind you I said nothing”. In this case “Irishness” means bringing in a pathetic legislative measure which will make no difference to the fortunate citizens who know where to go and who have never had any family problems because they can always get the service they want. The Bill does nothing for those who are in genuine and desperate need. It is, indeed, an Irish solution to an Irish problem.
That phrase has levels of meaning which doubtless the Minister did not intend because at another level the phrase, “an Irish solution to an Irish problem”, can be fairly faithfully translated as, “an Irish Catholic solution to an Irish Catholic problem”. The Roman Catholic Church is the only denomination in Ireland whose leaders totally and without reservation reject artificial contraceptives. Since this Bill reflects their views is it not a fair inference to describe the Bill as frankly denominational or confessional in its approach?
Interviewed on RTE radio on 14 May 1978, a leading member of the Irish Roman Catholic Hierarchy declared that “should legislation of the kind we are discussing now on family planning proceed in a particular direction the bishops would find it totally unacceptable”. It is evident by now that the bishops find this Bill quite acceptable despite the diversionary noises off stage from conservative Catholic lay organisations. It is a tragedy that in 1979 at this juncture of modern Irish history we should be offered a denominational Bill from a Minister who is particularly well aware that a secular State is an integral part of Irish republicanism.
 In recent times I have been trying to make the vital distinction between the tribe and the nation. The majority of Irish people belong to a particular tribe. I do not mean the word to be in any sense offensive but it is an accurate cultural and anthropological description. That is a part of what we are, a part of our heritage and not to be rejected. Let us cherish our particular allegiances and traditions. The nub of our tragedy in this island is that in the past we have persisted, and we still persist, in confusing the tribe with the nation, in confusing Irish with Catholic. The State's role in this part of Ireland, properly perceived, should be to help us transcend our tribal attitudes, disentangle that confusion between tribes and nation and help us create that nation which, despite lip service, does not yet exist.
Various appeals have been made by the Minister and some Senators to support this Bill on the ground it is the best we can do and to be reasonable about it. I am going to make an appeal across the floor through the Chair to the Fianna Fáil Senators: if they have not been totally lost to true republicanism—after all only a few weeks ago they were officially represented at the graveside of the father of that republicanism—if by republicanism they mean something wider and something more comprehensive than simply Catholic nationalism, then they should vote against this Bill. I could not in my conscience as an Irish man, go on record as voting for a measure which so blatantly legislates for the tribe and disregards the nation.
Lady Goulding: Before I make a few points on this Bill, I would like to say that I am old fashioned enough to feel the greatest of distaste at some of the debate that has been taking place in the last few months. What is being discussed are the feelings of the most intimate nature between two people. Certain members of the Opposition have dragged out this Bill more to catch the headlines than to express their genuine feelings. When sex is mentioned the media immediately come in and, therefore, your name gets into the papers. It is hypocritical to drag this Bill  out in order to get mentioned in the media.
All of us who work with people in all spheres of life know that many, married or not, already have access to contraceptives. The Minister is tidying up a point of the legislation that so badly needed to be tidied up. At present we are looked on by the rest of the world either as a laughing stock, outdated or hypocritical. Since 1973 the Supreme Court removed the prohibition on the import of contraceptives for the purpose of family planning. The Minister has a dual obligation, to ensure that contraceptives are reasonably available to couples for family planning and to put right the existing unsatisfactory points regarding importation of contraceptives. This he has done in the most practical and acceptable manner.
There were a number of approaches the Minister could have adopted when dealing with the question of availability of contraceptives. He could have made the purchase of contraceptives by unmarried persons or persons under a certain age illegal. I doubt that that would have been practical. Similarly, I am doubtful as to the acceptability or the practicality of the suggestion that contraceptives should be made available through a nationwide system of family planning clinics. The Minister has wisely decided against legislating for either of these possibilities. Instead, he proposes to make contraceptives available for family planning purposes on a doctor's prescription or authorisation at the local pharmacy, to me, the logical, obvious and natural channel. He is to restrict, for the most part, the importation to licensed importers.
The doctor is the person who is able to know what would be the best contraceptive for the patient. As we all know, the pill does not agree with many women and, in fact, in some cases has disastrous results. It is surely the family practitioner who knows to which patient this pill will do harm. To say that the Bill really provides for the reasonable availability of contraceptives and restricts importation does not do justice to the Bill. Under its provisions, the Minister also takes upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that informaning—her  tion and advice in relation to all aspects of family planning will be available to couples who have decided to plan their families. In this context, the involvement of the family doctor again is the decision that is the most appropriate. This is provided for in the Bill and it is one of its most commendable facts.
Expertise in the area of family planning may, at present, be somewhat limited. I was very glad to read of the Minister's undertaking in the Dáil to make provisions for the training of personnel involved in family planning services. It is vital that couples should be well informed and have up-to-date advice available to them for the reasons I have mentioned before. Research and development, improvement and new methods in family planning are a very important factor in an effective family planning service, particularly in the area of training and education. It would be necessary to make provision for the availability of funds for this purpose. The Minister's power to make funds available for research into all methods of family planning, including natural family planning methods, has already been explained in the Dáil. Why should this method be left out, as some Senators have said? Surely if all methods are to be researched the natural family planning method should also be researched.
It goes without saying that, during the last two decades, great changes have occurred in Irish family life, including a new emphasis on the importance of planning the number and the appropriate time to have one's children. There is an obligation on the legislature to make provision for the services necessary to assist couples in this task. It is a task which many people now consider to be an integral part of responsible parenthood. The provisions in the Bill are practical and acceptable and, when implemented, will result in the availability, for the first time, of a satisfactory family planning service. For this reason, I have no hesitation in recommending that the House pass the Bill now before it.
I believe this is a sensible, middle-of-the-road type of solution to a serious and complex situation. Having regard to the different elements of the situation I have outlined, no Deputy has put forward any viable alternative to the solutions in this legislation which I believe will stand up constitutionally. If they do not, so be it. We will have the satisfaction that we tried to legislate.
That last sentence is surely a Pontius Pilate act. It is a hypocritical approach to a difficult problem. It is symptomatic of the Government's approach to a wide cross-section of the legislation, through apathy, indolence or intransigence on the part of the Government in not being open to entertain another point of view. The powers of the Oireachtas have been virtually ceded to the courts, because other legislation is being successfully challenged in the courts. This could be avoided if legislation was thoroughly and honestly examined and amended where appropriate.
I cannot recall any legislation in recent years that has evoked so much controversy and, I suppose, misunderstanding. The Government have used this legislation to distract the public's attention from the pressing economic problems of the day. There is something wrong with our order of priorities, when the Oireachtas in the midst of so much unease and turmoil in the public sector, with marathon strikes, disruption of the public services, rising prices and a new credit squeeze, can devote unlimited time to contraception and contraceptive issues.
Our young people are benefiting from new and improved methods of teaching Christian doctrine in our schools. This must surely mean that our people can be relied upon to follow the dictates of their better informed conscience. We must distinguish between the morality of contraception and legalising access to it. These are distinct questions, but it is naïve to think that because they are distinct questions they are unrelated. I want to stress that I am not the keeper of my neighbour's conscience. I do not set  myself up as a judge of any of my neighbour's actions. I have but my own soul to save and my trust is in the God of compassion and love. Married people today live in a tense, pressurised and changing world. They live in a sexually seductive world in which the expression and experience of mutual love relieves the loneliness and the longing that characterise modern living. By their loving sexuality, religion enters their shared life. Love is the essence of Christianity.
If the Bill can be interpreted as liberalising the law it should be remembered that the dignity of the individual should be recognised. We should be moving towards a more open, honest and hopefully mature society. My sympathy is with the mothers of young and large families who find themselves with almost annual, unplanned and, regrettably, sometimes unwanted pregnancies. Provision should be made to assist those mothers. Married couples should have the choice of either availing of the means of planning their families or not. Does the Minister's proposal improve or contribute anything to the hard-pressed young housewife who has to queue for a few hours in a dispensary or a clinic for a prescription and pay £3 for the service of prescribing contraceptives? Dispensaries and clinics are crowded enough without imposing this ridiculous task on doctors, especially where there are no medical complications.
As Senator Murphy has so forcibly pointed out, will chemists' shops stock these requisites? If we believe the figures that have been mentioned in the House it appears they will not. Will it be possible to purchase a year's supply, for example, or must the healthy patient pay for the prescription every week or every month or every quarter? Does the Minister propose to lay down any guidelines in this matter? Ordinary prescriptions are now a once-off thing. A new prescription is necessary for most drugs each time one goes to a pharmacy. If this is going to be the case does it not impose an intolerable burden on the general practitioners, especially in rural areas, where it does not matter whether one is a medical card holder or a private patient  one has to queue up for two or three hours or a full afternoon in a doctor's surgery? If people are going in with non-medical problems it is going to crowd out these surgeries and put an intolerable strain on medical practitioners.
In section 3 the Minister proposes to organise family planning services. I find this entire section very difficult to understand. Is it the intention, under the Bill, to have the regional health boards organise family planning services in every dispensary or in every clinic or is it going to be confined completely to the cities or the large towns? This presents us with a problem. Is it only going to be for people in the larger centres of population who create a demand for them or for whom a demand is created. This is an aspect of the Bill that has not been made clear. I should like to ask what is in the Minister's mind. In section 3 the Minister may:
I would like the Minister to clarify the fact that these health boards or other persons will only provide family planning information and advice in relation to methods of family planning that do not involve the use of contraceptives.
In section 5 on the importation of contraceptives there is a certain amount of ambiguity. It is too vague. Section 5 (1) states that the person may import into the State as part of his personal luggage. The EEC regulations allow persons to import £120 worth of goods. I should like to ask the Minister to indicate if guidelines are being laid down or is he going to put on quantitative restrictions or how will the individual be treated. While the word “person” is repeated through the Bill, it is not defined in the Bill and it seems to leave the entire matter completely open.
Section 10 has caused a lot of unease amongst large sections of the public. It purports to outlaw all contraceptives that are in reality abortifacients. The Minister has not defined abortifacients. He is almost less than honest in not coming out and clearly indicating what  exactly will be allowed under this section. The Minister should either define clearly this morning to this House what is meant by abortifacients and abortion in the Bill or he should find some other way of allaying the fears and suspicions of all sectors of the population.
Could the Minister explain the position that a general practitioner will find himself in if, on prescribing and possibly fitting an IUD, the patient subsequently becomes pregnant will that patient have a claim or a civil action against that GP? I read recently where such an action was successful in the United States, where I suppose everything goes. I would like to know what the position would be vis-à-vis general practitioners in this country. I would like to know if the Minister has views on it.
The Bill is impractical. It is unfair to expect young people to go and queue up for prescriptions and then find a pharmacist who is willing to supply the contraceptives. It is dealing in a half-hearted way with the problem. By virtue of the fact that it is impratical to work it will cause a lot of embarrassment to a lot of young, hard-pressed mothers. It is a very round-about way of trying to deal with the problem. We would recognise the fact that we are in a more modern world and we should be more outward-looking. We should have greater dependence on the ability of a much better enlightened Irish public to follow the dictates of their own conscience. The Minister is trying, like alanna mo chroí's dog, to go a little bit of the road along with everyone. In this legislation he is hedging all his bets and I do not think it is possibly going to be of benefit to anyone. It is a sham and for that reason I find that I must vote against it. It will place an unnecessary burden on the general medical practitioner services down the country.
In rural areas, most of the GPs have the maximum number of patients that the regulations allow. They are entirely over-pressed and will have an additional sector of people going to them for non-medical reasons and putting them in a new situation where they may or may not want to prescribe for non-medical reasons. It is unhealthy and unwise. It is  the wrong approach. For those reasons I will not support this Bill.
Mr. McDonald: If the Minister was more open in tackling the problem, I would be supporting an honest approach to a modern problem. When the Minister explains in more detail what his thoughts are on section 3 on Committee Stage we might be able to have a different approach.
Mr. Dowling: I would like to add my voice to those of the many other Senators in relation to the matter before the House. I never heard so much hypocrisy, either in this House or in the other House, as on this issue. I have never seen so many Aladdins together as I have on this occasion, everyone with a different solution to the problem. Every speaker has presented a different point of view. In a complex situation like this, the last paragraph of the Minister's speech sums up the situation: he indicated that he had taken all views into consideration and had arrived at a solution that he believes is now the appropriate one.
A multiplicity of views was expressed here today by people on both sides of the House. I have very different views from many who have spoken. Some of the references made here in the course of the debate are an insult to a lot of people. There are many ancient values, whether cultural, moral or other values, that served this nation wisely and well down through the years. If people still believe in those values, why should they be insulted in this House? They have the right to hold the values they consider appropriate to the nation and to themselves, and to think that it is an undesirable thing to hold high values is to insult these people. The quality of life is important to the nation.
This matter should have been cleared up years ago. There was confusion when a Bill came before the House. Why was the situation not rectified at that time? Senator McDonald at that time was a member of a party that brought forward that Bill. Why did he not do all the things  he says we should be doing now? He has become very liberal this year, I notice, and so have members of his party. Far from discussing this situation, we should be endeavouring to discuss the more important situations. This is a hang-over that should have been cleared up after the McGee case. The reason I support it is that I believe that there are loopholes in the law after the McGee case that need to be tightened up and, if the Seanad can rectify matters, then I support the Bill on that basis. We should be discussing the real problems of society, the shortage of jobs and housing, and be building up a sound economy and not having a deal with a situation caused by incompetence.
Some people want to alter the moral attitude of society, and that is not an easy thing to do. I do not know how we are going to move from this, with the type of rejection we have heard here. The total contribution is that free love is the answer to all our problems, with all the mechanical devices that we can provide. We can amend the law but we cannot amend the Ten Commandments, and there are people who still believe in them. There are people who still believe that they have moral obligations. If they do, they have a right to express them and to hold those beliefs.
Ours is the type of society that I would hope we can develop, a society in which we have all the opportunities—educational opportunities, job opportunities, housing opportunities—so that we can move forward. We may have to clear up this situation, and it should be cleared up. There are many problems worrying our people today. The women of this country and the parents are conscious of one thing—that they have problems in agreeing with the use of contraceptives. Irrespective of what legislation goes before the House, I believe we have to live with this problem and must be realistic. I do not think that any legislation will cure it.
We are in a very close-knit situation here with countries that have freedom in relation to the issue of contraceptives. What is really worrying the people is the overspill from availability of contraceptives to the availability of abortion. Is  this free love situation going to affect us in the way it has affected other nations? Senator McDonald said we have an open, honest and mature society. What is an open, honest and mature society? Is it a society where there is free love, with contraceptives for everyone? That seem to be his impression of an open, honest and mature society.
In England at present one out of every ten teenage girls has an abortion; if the present trend continues within 10 years one out of every three teenagers will have a legal abortion. The epidemic of teenage pregnancy in England and the United States is the price which is being paid by the children of the new permissive society. Currently in England over 500 teenagers each week have legal abortions—over 25,000 each year. The steep rise in schoolgirl pregnancies in 15 year olds and under is brought into sharp focus when the figures for 1955 and 1975 onwards are compared.
In 1955, in England there was a total of 200 girls aged under 15 who were pregnant and in 1975, 5,000 girls—this is in a society where there are plenty of contraceptives available. If availability of contraceptives is the solution to every problem, it does not appear to be the solution there.
Take the situation here. Ours is a good society. Perhaps the ignorance we were told we lived in in the past was a desirable situation when we compare our statistics with those of other countries. We were told yesterday by Senator Robinson that Scandinavian countries are an example. Let us have a look at  the situation there. In Denmark sex education is compulsory in schools—and it was on this particular aspect that she was preaching. There is freely available contraception and abortion on demand. The birth rate is the lowest in Europe. The abortion rate is the highest in the EEC. The divorce rate and illegitimacy rate are the highest in the EEC. The VD rate is the highest in the EEC. The suicide rate is the highest. There they have the situation where there is freedom, where there are contraceptives by the score and there is all this sex education that Senator Robinson said is desirable to have here. What is our situation? Abortion is illegal; the sale of contraceptives is not legalised. We have the lowest figures in the EEC for suicide. We have the lowest figures in the EEC for VD. We have no abortions.
Our mothers and fathers are worried. Are we going to have a permissive, free-love society where we have this type of spillover? The students out in Belfield got support and were praised here for their actions. People who installed the contraceptive vending machine broke the law. We hear lawyers vindicating their breaking of the law, and that is a serious situation in itself. I believe that the spillover from the permissiveness that has been spoken of here must lead to more VD and to more abortions. This has been the trend in every country. It is important that we examine the statistics. If the students in Belfield want to get all their qualifications in the one term, if they want to get their BA and VD together, that is fair enough, but we are going to protect ourselves and we are going to ensure that the law is not broken.
Mr. Dowling: I will tell you what I am for in a few minutes. We are going to ensure that the law is not broken. It is a poor reflection on this House that Members of this House have indicated that the law-breakers are the savers of society. I hope, as we see the problems that are really worrying fathers and mothers today, the Minister will give  some further indication of action in relation to the abortion pedlars, to the trend for back-street abortions and so forth. We know it is happening elsewhere. We have heard of the new-born child coughing out its life on a draining board in an English hospital in recent times. Do we want that situation to develop? That trend is a result of the freely available contraceptives.
From the contributions of Senator Robinson and others one would think that it was vulgar nowadays to have a large family; that is not so. She wants to regulate the size of a family, but this is a personal matter for the people involved, to regulate the size of their own families. To me family planning means family planning, not the planning of one individual in the family. The whole concept of family planning is on the basis of the couple. In many cases it would be better if people minded their own business rather than trying to decide for others. If they themselves want to use contraceptives, let them use contraceptives. The type of gospel that has been preached here in relation to conscience is that if your conscience does not permit you to use contraceptives then do not use them. If your conscience does not permit you to have a divorce, then do not have a divorce. If we followed this kind of logic, it would mean that if your conscience permits euthanasia, or drugs, or abortions, these things are all right. There are many things that are “all right” in our society; there are many undesirable trends and these trends would want to be corrected. It is up to the Minister to ensure that he will correct them and that he will give the parents of this nation the type of support and the answer they require.
One has only to go to the Stephen's Green Market on a Sunday to see boxes of Durex, creams and so on freely available there. I hope that the law will soon come down on these law-breakers and wipe them out, irrespective of where they are or who they are. People here must abide by the law. If we say that it is all right for people to break the law, then we are encouraging people, not alone in the matter of contraceptives but in many other matters, to break the law. These contraceptive peddlers are well known.  Many issues have been raised here, and I am not going to touch on a lot of them. One would think that Irish women are all very stupid people, that they want someone like Senator Robinson to protect them, that they could not think for themselves. Apparently, she did nothing else but question people about their sex life; she told us about all the people in her constituency who spoke to her about this situation. I am sure that the people in that and other areas, have more to talk about than their sex life to canvassers, or to anyone else.
We have reached the situation where people can think for themselves and have been thinking for themselves. To listen to Senator Robinson one would think that if an Irish housewife got a prescription for a cycle regulator she would go to a bicycle shop instead of to the chemist. She knows all about it for a long time: our society has been moving this way for a long time. People are not as stupid as the Senator tries to make out. I want to draw your attention to some comment in the press in recent times. One is in The Irish Times of 10 July, and is headed:
Once they are happy that their decision to have an abortion is the best in their circumstances we can arrange it for them in England. We refer between 40 and 50 women each month to clinics in Britain. We try to get them to talk about it....
We have people here setting up undesirable situations like that. We have people here in these organisations who are sending people abroad, encouraging abortions. The time has come when we must act strongly against this particular section, when we must ensure that abortion is fully outlawed. If we want abortion, then we will have to put our cards on the table and present ourselves to the  public as abortionists. I do not think many people here would want to see a child squealing its way to eternity on a draining board. That is what is happening. The situation is serious.
I have had reservations about the Bill, like other Members. In any discussion, in a democratic society, one can have many reservations and can express an opposing point of view. I support this Bill because it tightens up the loopholes that are undesirable, the control and sale of contraceptives. I do not think this or any other Bill will really control the sale of contraceptives. We are too close to the North, where there is a free flow; we are too close to Britain, and I believe that there is going to be a substantial black market. I hope that adequate protection will be given, once the Bill becomes an Act. Control and importation are very much tied up with that.
In relation to the conscientious objectors, I have some feelings about this. Over the years doctors have been prescribing contraceptives to many people here. I do not think that you can legislate a conscience into a person who has no conscience. These have been freely available for some time to anyone who wants them, not on medicinal, but on other grounds.
I see a lot of things wrong with every Bill that goes through this House. I hope this Bill will solve the problem to a reasonable degree; if it does, then it has achieved something. I am sure that the Minister will give us an assurance that if it does not meet the situation, then we will have further legislation, to ensure that the situation is met fully. The majority of the responsible people of this State get adequate comfort from the fact that action is being taken by the Minister to regularise the situation and to bring it into focus—a delicate situation on which every Member of this House has a different point of view.
I am sure the Minister will act in a responsible way and will continue, after the Bill is enacted, to give his attention to the problems that are being tackled by this legislation, that he will continue to ensure that the undesirable aspects that are creeping into our society—the pedlars of abortion and others—are dealt with effectively. Perhaps in time to  come we can have the whole matter tidied up when we see the defects and the problems of the future. Legislation is an on-going process. It does not mean that legislation enacted today cannot be amended tomorrow if the situation demands it. The Minister is a man of courage and of understanding and he will bring his attention to bear on this. If this legislation does not fit the bill, he, unlike Senator McDonald, is a man who will stand up to his responsibilities, as he has on all occasions in the past, and put forward legislation to meet the needs and desires of the people.
Mrs. Hussey: There has been an almost overwhelming temptation to be silent on this Bill. Contributions like Senator Dowling's enforce that temptation. I am sorry to say that I have resisted that temptation, and intend to speak quite briefly on the Bill.
I read very carefully through the very long Dáil debate and have listened to the Senators speaking on this Bill. There are very many encouraging aspects of the debate. The majority, though not all, of the Senators and Deputies who spoke on this Bill have done so with honesty and sincerity. It is rather depressing that there is a great deal of confusion as to whether or not sexual practices and overall morality are, in fact, the same thing. We are in this Bill legislating in the area of morality. I think we should have progressed beyond the point of considering that morality and sexual morality are synonymous. It was a very full debate in the Dáil and is a good debate here. Each one of us has a duty to speak honestly on this Bill and to put our views on the record, for whatever they are worth. It is something that people should do, because there has been too much cowardice on this subject in this country.
Before we progress further, it might be a good thing if we remind ourselves that the present sorry state of this country has nothing whatsoever to do with the availability or otherwise of contraceptives. It might be indicative of one of the present underlying causes of our situation that it has taken so much  parliamentary time to discuss a very tame Bill indeed, but a Bill which has to do with that taboo subject in Ireland—sex. I find it extraordinary that, in a country with the economic and social problems that we are facing, one of our more able Cabinet Ministers should have spent two whole years drawing up a Bill the net effect of which is to dole out contraceptives to the medical profession, as if contraceptives had anything to do with medicine. On this point, I would like to say, before one is accused of looking abroad, or looking to other countries, that I really could not care less what other countries think of us.
Mrs. Hussey: Thank you. When the Minister was presenting this Bill at the beginning, he often used the expression in the Dáil that it was an Irish answer to an Irish problem. He may have stopped using that expression now. There is really nothing Irish about the problem at all. It is very much an Irish solution which we are considering at the moment. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Minister. He is faced with a very thorny problem, which was created by very foolish laws made in the thirties which have been found to be unconstitutional in the seventies.
At this point, I must say that I am surprised that no other Senator has mentioned  one enormous omission in the preparation of this Bill. I had asked the Minister, in letters to the press, which the Senators may have seen, and other people have made representations, that to find out the true feelings of the people of Ireland about the kind of legislation they should have, there should be a proper scientific survey carried out among our young adult women of childbearing age as to their clearly expressed views on this question. I would be absolutely delighted if the Minister could tell us that his Department had carried out such a survey, with the facilities available to them. There are, after all, three groups in society which are relevant to any discussion on contraception. The first group in order of importance, are the children, born and unborn. The second group are the men who father those children and the third group are the women who conceive, carry, bear and rear those children. It goes without saying that children have a right to as much love and care of a viable family unit as can be given them, and the viable family unit can be one-parent or two-parent.
It is also quite obvious that it is the men of this country who make all the laws and decisions which affect women and children. I do not think it can be said that men were unrepresented in the long list of people who saw the Minister when he was preparing his legislation. I am aware that the Minister had a meeting with a group representing various women's organisations. I do not think that that meeting fulfils the need to consult the great number of young women in this country who are not in organisations but whose views on this question are the most important ones. I would be delighted if the Minister could assure me that he had done that. If it has not been done, any legislation in the family planning area which comes before us without such an inquiry is inadequate and unrepresentative. If we are being told that the Bill was prepared only after consultation with various interested groups, then it must be publicly stated that this major interest group has been left out. It is a very bad situation to have celibate, elderly Catholic bishops  beating a path to the Minister's door to discuss this issue, and to ignore the people who have most to do with it is grotesque.
The people who know most about families, about conception and the consequences of conception are, of course, young women whose whole way of life, 24 hours a day for several years—for a lifetime in fact—can be drastically altered by pregnancy. That pregnancy may be planned, or it may be unplanned. Who know more than the young women of this country about keeping, on one hand, a husband happy and contented and able to do his job, and, on the other hand, running a home, feeding the children, clothing them, getting them to school and perhaps trying to have some kind of life of her own while she is doing this.
For some women an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy can be fairly lightly coped with, if other circumstances are favourable—circumstances which are a combination of financial, emotional and economic; they may be all favourable. To many women an unwanted pregnancy can be a very bitter blow to health and happiness. It can be a great burden to be borne for a lifetime and every child, in my view, should be a welcome child and a wanted child. No woman should have to live in fear of pregnancy because of either an unreliable husband or an unco-operative doctor. It is the woman's decision whether or not to have a child, whether or not to begin a life within her body. She may, or may not, be in a position to discuss and agree it with her husband. It is certainly not right that any doctor should make that decision for her. A doctor may advise her, inform her, explain to her; that is part of a doctor's job. It is no part of a doctor's job to decide for her.
I believe that if the Minister had asked the young women of this country “Do you want your doctor—not you or your husband, but your doctor—to decide whether or not you will have a child and, if not, how you are going to avoid it?”, he would have got a resounding “No”. If he had asked them to give the doctor down the road or down in the clinic an absolute right over their consciences,  they would have been astonished at his arrogance and they certainly would have been astonished at the arrogance of the doctors who would take that power on themselves.
There have been surveys mentioned in the course of this debate which were carried out, but particularly the one in Ballinteer. I recall surveys some time ago, long before 1973 when we had the Supreme Court judgment, which showed that women in the younger age group were overwhelmingly in favour of full, free, comprehensive family planning advice. That does not mean having lectures on the Billings method if you have asked for some other form of contraception. It is my belief, and I state it here quite clearly, that adult people should have access to contraception of all kinds, whether they are married or not. I must point out that I am not talking about what has been referred to as the slot machine society. There are ways of controlling access to contraceptives which would protect people who are young, immature and vulnerable. Licensed clinics and pharmaceutical chemist shops should be able to sell non-medical contraceptives to any adult.
I would have liked this Bill simply to repeal the 1935 Act and, instead of making things criminal and keeping them criminal, to have concentrated on educating young people, as has been mentioned already. We could have relied on the other laws of the land to stop abuses or excesses which might arise. In the past we have always neglected to equip young people to face the pressures of modern society. We seem to go on hoping that fear of pregnancy will tide us over the influences that are coming to us from other countries, and we do not talk to young people or teach them about relationships, about love and responsibility, or even a minimum enlightenment about their own body. Last year when a firm, Johnston & Johnston, brought out an admirable book for young girls on the workings of their own body, the word “contraception” was not mentioned. It just explained to them the workings of their own body. It was immediately attacked in the public press by self-appointed moralists who said: “Next, they will be telling them how to  use contraception.” It is extraordinary that, having regard to reports like the one we had from the four gynaecologists who found that young girls in Dublin secondary schools knew nothing whatsoever about their own bodies and found themselves pregnant through that abysmal ignorance, we still refuse to take any steps to really educate young people about sex. I do not think it is good enough to imagine that, if we ignore the world outside Ireland, it will somehow leave our society untouched. We should have a wide programme of education. We should have people like sociologists, medical people and marriage counsellors helping young people to make their way into the adult world.
What we have in this Bill is the Minister telling us that he will encourage people financially to instruct couples about the so-called natural methods. I am all in favour of people knowing about the Billings method. However, I would join with Senator Murphy in saying that the distinction between natural and unnatural means of contraception has always struck me as being very strange. I see very little that is natural in the Billings method, if we consider that condoms and diaphragms are unnatural. What does the Minister offer to the woman whose husband does not want to know about Dr. Billings? If she herself is unable to take the pill, as most women over 35 are advised not to do, will she have to hunt around for the doctor who will give her whatever is necessary to protect her from pregnancy? It has been mentioned before that her difficulties will be compounded if she lives ten miles from a town with a doctor or a chemist and then finds they have conscientious objections and she has to travel 50 miles. How will she explain the doctor's bill, the travelling expenses and the prescription charges to her husband? Very often these women have no money of their own.
I am very alarmed by this Bill because it slides around the question of sexual responsibility in Ireland. It lays it all right at the door of the doctor. People should make their own decision as adults about their sex lives. We, the politicians, should not be afraid to allow people who are adults like ourselves their freedom to  accept or reject the range of possibilities open to them. It is extremely alarming that we are saying adults are unable to make up their own minds and that the only people who can up their minds on this moral issue are doctors. Why do we not all leave here and invite the doctors in to run the country for us? It seems we are saying we are irresponsible, incapable people.
The using of non-medical contraceptives does not belong in the area of medical ethics, and the Minister is well aware of that. I am very disappointed that the doctors have not come out absolutely clearly and said they will have no hand, act or part in this Bill. I represent in the Seanad a great many NUI graduates in medicine, and I urge them to come out strongly and clearly and say they will not accept this Bill and that they will not work it.
Mrs. Hussey: I would very much like to hear from our medical person in the Seanad. I am sorry we have not heard from him in this debate because doctors need to stand up and be counted on this matter. It would be better to have no legislation at all than to have this dishonest Bill going on the Statute Book.
There are family planning clinics in Ireland. People have objected to the expression “family planning clinics”. Let us call them “contraception clinics” in that case. They have helped and are helping thousands of Irish couples. They should be allowed to carry on their work as they are doing at the moment. The educators should get on with their job of preparing young people to cope with life. The Minister should take this Bill away  until he is convinced that a younger and more realistic generation would approve of a better and more realistic Bill. The people who have frightened him into introducing this Bill should be relegated to irrelevance, where they belong.
In a couple of years we could decriminalise contraception in a quite and unobtrusive manner. After all, it is not a criminal offence for two consenting adults to have sexual intercourse outside marriage. I find it extraordinary that we are making it criminal for them to use those means which would prevent an innocent child from coming into the world. When one inquires, without success I must say, of religious people and people who pontificate about sex, whether it is a worse sin for unmarried people to have sex and risk pregnancy, or to have sex and make sure no pregnancy results, the answers one gets are extraordinarily convoluted. You never get a straight answer. The kind of theological convolutions people go into when you ask them this question—particularly priests and members of the Catholic Church—remind you of the debate about how many angels would fit on the head of a pin which divided the fathers of the Church centuries ago. The best answer given to me by a Catholic priest was that in his view it was better to have sex with contraception on the grounds that hell was preferable to war—at least in hell there are no innocent bystanders.
I believe sexual morality is all about caring and loving in a positive way. It is about not hurting other people. If one thinks about it, that is what all morality is about. We should think more about all morality and stop working ourselves into a sweat about sexual morality which we have been doing in this country for a long time. We have confused ourselves to the extent of drawing up ridiculous laws and legislated in an area when no legislation is necessary, while ignoring areas where the State could usefully intervene such as the education of our young people. Therefore, I will be voting against this Bill. I do not like the present situation, but it is infinitely preferable to the one we are legislating to introduce. Two wrongs do not make a right.
 Mrs. Cassidy: If the Bill before the House is passed, by conferring legislative approval on artificial contraception it will change in a very fundamental way the nature of our society. Whether it will change it for the better is the question which must concern us as legislators. This is a matter not of private but of public concern. I should like to talk about the social consequences of such legislation without reference to statistics, because it is possible in this debate to use or abuse statistics to buttress a personal bias. I intend to talk on the basis of commonsense and of known facts.
I would first draw the attention of the House to the fact that, for the first time in 200 years, we are experiencing an increase in population. In the period between 1779 and 1841, our population increased by 172 per cent. In the census year of 1841, this country supported, in what we would now consider conditions of object poverty, over 8 million people. I think it is generally accepted that 9 million would be nearer the mark. By 1851 the population had fallen by 2½ million to 6½ million, due to famine and emigration. In the 16 years between 1848 and 1864 an estimated £13 million was sent back here by emigrants, not for the purpose of investing in its future, but in order to enable those at home to escape from a land in which there was no future for them.
This trend continued. At the turn of the century we supported a little over 3 million people and the figure fell to 2.8 million in the sixties. In the period 1966 to 1971, the last year for which we have census figures, there was a change, a slight increase for the first time. We now have—and I venture to say for the very first time in the history of this nation—a growing population of vital, well-nourished, articulate and reasonably well-educated young people. Those of us who contributed to the baby boom of those years did not think we were providing the State with a burden. We did not regard ourselves as merely taking part in a demographic peculiarity. In so far as we thought about the matter at all, we believed that, in providing a growing population, we were investing in the real wealth of the country.
 In economic terms, compared to the situation two centuries ago, we are now a wealthy country, well able to support a growing population. Our farming community has never been so prosperous. We are progressing in industrial technology and industrial investment, and the task we now should be facing up to is to devise an imaginative system of taxation which will distribute our wealth in an equitable way to ensure that all our people, and in particular our young people, will have a job and a future here. I regard this as a challenge, not a problem. Therefore, I regard any legislation which would give the approval of the State to birth control in any form as socially suicidal.
Has the Irish nation a death wish? Do we want to find ourselves in the situation in which countries like France and Germany now find themselves as a result of the decimation of their population by a combination of two wars and liberal birth control and abortion legislation, and which is causing their Governments grave concern at the moment?
Any Bill which affects the family deserves special consideration. This Bill which approves artificial contraception in the context of family planning deserves our very special consideration. In applying again the basic principle of commonsense, I would first of all like to reject the extreme views first of those who advocate vociferously the free use of contraceptives for all, and then of those who regard the practice of contraception as morally reprehensible. We must not as legislators allow ourselves to be influenced by pressure groups. There are many who are concerned about the social aspects of artificial contraception, particularly with the dangerous consequences to the family of State approval in this area. This concern is not based upon any narrow sectarian viewpoint. A people's faith and religious beliefs are part of their tradition, an integral part of their cultural heritage. We do not throw 15 centuries of tradition out of the window. The question, therefore, that must concern us is whether any legislation giving the approval of the State to birth control can sufficiently protect the rights of the family.
The Constitution of this State  recongnises the family as the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society. Anything that may be construed as an attack on the family is an attack on society. The Constitution does not confer rights on the family: it merely protects the family's natural rights, which are the right to exist, the right to evolve, and the right to expand. How then can contraception which restricts the family's right to expand, interferes with its natural evolvement, and strikes at its very existence, be given legislative approval in any form? We have to educate ourselves to accept birth control as not only socially acceptable but socially necessary, just as we had to educate ourselves to accept racial discrimination as socially accepted and socially necessary. My commonsense tells me that the natural consequences of legalising birth control in the context of family planning will lead, as night follows day, to an increase in marital infidelity among young married couples, an increase in illegitimate births, and will place middle-aged married people with teenage children under intolerable pressure, will undermine their authority, and will do absolutely nothing at all to halt the appalling flow of young women seeking abortions abroad.
We cannot afford to ignore the connection between artificial contraception and abortion. I should like to rely on the opinions of an expert in this field, an eminent gynaeologist and embryologist, Dr. Malcolm Potts, who is Executive Director of the International Fertility Research Programme in the United States. In an article published in Contemporary Review in November 1978, he described abortion as “always an essential element in fertility control”. In a magazine called People published by the International Planned Parent Association in 1978, Volume 5, No. 2, he says, “Abortion is a necessary component of family planning programmes.” Dr. Potts' book on abortion is regarded as the definitive work on this subject. It was published by the Cambridge University Press in 1978. It has been reviewed in the magazine to which I have referred, People, and the reviewer has this to say about it: “This book is the most comprehensive  and objective analysis of the subject of abortion ever undertaken by scientific scholars.” I will quote just one paragraph from this book:
Contraception and abortion are complementary not competitive methods of fertility regulation. Given reasonable access to contraception, the resort to abortion declines as a society becomes more experienced in controlling its fertility but it is never eliminated. A combination of abortion and contraception remains the prime method of fertility regulation throughout the contemporary world.
I do not propose at this stage to deal in detail with the serious health hazards which are posed by the use of artificial contraceptives, particularly the use of hormonal steroids, nor do I intend to deal with the serious implications raised by our ignorance of the mode of action of these steroids. At present, many doctors are prescribing in good faith, and many patients are using in good faith, contraceptives which may be abortifacient in their mode of action. The mode of action of contraceptive steroids has been the subject of many reports from the world's health organisations. In an early report of 1968, No. 386, it is stated:
The mode of action of contraceptive steroids is incompletely understood, partly because there is insufficient knowledge of the physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of ovulation, fertilisation and implantation.
That situation does not appear to have changed. The views I have expressed are my own. I cannot say that I am right and everyone who holds opposing views is wrong. My views are based on a deeply held conviction that artificial contraception is harmful to society in general, is against common good, and will have a destructive effect on the family unit.
There are other aspects of the matter such as the enforceability of the Bill and the necessity to control an existing situation,  which I consider have been so fully dealt with as to require no further contribution from me, other than to indicate that nettles must be grasped, and the law must be enforced without the type of change envisaged by the measure before the House. When we see a rat we may chase it. We do not have to follow it down the sewer.
Mr. Butler: I am very pleased to have listened to Senator Cassidy because she said things I would like to say. I agree with most of what she said, and I will be opposing this Bill. Education and respect are necessary to allow families to live happily together. The introduction of contraceptives cuts out the respect within a family. This Bill is a step towards the day when we might read the horrific news we read in an English paper “And the foetus cried”. That is the trend today. The pressures are on from people who have little respect for the family. The family is number one in this country and has always been number one.
Because I have said I am totally against this Bill, people will say I am right of centre. I assure them that I am not right of centre. If there are propositions before the Seanad to help the poor, I will support them. That might put me left of centre. I am neither right nor left of centre. I am centre of the road in this regard. The family is the foundation of the State, and respect of the family is the centre of the road. Family planning must be carried out only by those who make up the family. The principal people who make up the family are the husband and wife. If education and respect are accepted by both husband and wife, then the family is on firm ground.
I do not think family planning is the function of the State. It cannot be legislated for by this State or any State in the world. No matter what legislation is introduced and passed, it finally comes to the decision of the husband and wife. We are now talking about family planning and not any other type of planning. The Bill deals with family planning and the family is the most important unit. We should do what we can for the family and pass the laws that will help the family. We must help children  to have respect for their parents, their neighbours and the State.
It has been said that family conditions can be the reason for the use of contraceptives. I do not think this is true. Family conditions can be changed by the State helping the family to live the life we would all like to see them living. Nobody has really explained what family planning is all about. The Minister has not explained what he thinks family planning is, or what it should be. Nobody in the Seanad has explained to me satisfactorily what family planning is all about. To me it is the right of the father and mother to plan for the future of their children and for the respect their children will have for them and their neighbours to enable them to work closer together. That is the type of family planning I would like to see, not the introduction of contraceptives.
The introduction of contraceptives into family planning creates distrust within that family. Who has the right to say within the family: I will use contraceptives but you cannot? That could lead to the destruction of a family. It is the right of the husband and wife to come to conclusions between themselves and to have respect for themselves. It could happen that where one of them accepts contraceptives and the other does not. The husband and wife of that family will not have respect for each other and the children of that family will not have respect for each other or for the mother or father. Who is to be the judge of who should get the contraceptives?
The Minister has said that the doctor or the chemist will be the judge. It is my opinion that a chemist who knows a person will accept a request from that person even though the chemist may know that person is not entitled to contraceptives. That is a danger—I am not saying that all chemists will do it—that a small percentage of chemists will sell contraceptives to people whether they are married or not because they have them for sale. If that was not true then events that are taking place throughout the country would not occur and many of our laws would not be broken.
Mr. Butler: I am committed to voting against the Bill because it is the first step down the line to the day we will read in our papers the news that the foetus cried. That will happen. A percentage of people who have no respect for the law today are purchasing contraceptives and when this Bill goes through will propose that we should bring in a law to legalise abortion. Other countries who permitted contraception have now legalised abortion. The same people who pressurised the legislators to legalise contraceptives got on the bandwagon to pressurise for the legalising of abortion. Legalising abortion is legalising murder. When a human is created within a body we have no right to murder that human. The parents of that human have no right, in my opinion, to murder that human. I am firm in my belief that the legalising of abortion will take place within a period of years if those people who got the Minister to introduce this Bill get their way even though people say that the Constitution will have to be taken into consideration. This Bill is against our Constitution and I hope it is challenged and defeated in the courts. Everything would be all right but we would be back to the situation where those who are looking for the legalising of contraceptives would be back on their bandwagon. I do not care if they get on that bandwagon as long as the legislators do not legalise the sale of contraceptives. If our people were asked to agree to legalising contraceptives in any form, my opinion is that 80 per cent of our electorate would vote against contraception. I move around rural Ireland—rural Ireland, in my opinion, is the real heart of the country with the rest making up the limbs—and I have asked those who form that heart what they think of this legislation.
Mr. Butler: They feel that the next move will be pressure from those people to legalise abortion. I know the Minister is not in favour of legalising abortion and that the majority of the legislators here and in the other House are not in favour of legalising abortion, but it will be easier to take the next step and then the step to legalise abortion. What happened in the other countries, and I am talking about Britain, America and other countries of Europe? They have now legalised abortion, have legalised murder within the body. If one spoke about that 20 years ago the people of those countries would be horrified but that is the situation now and the first step in that direction was legalising contraceptives. We are being asked to do that in some way today. I have respect for the Minister because he is putting some severe restrictions in the Bill but nevertheless it is a step, no matter how small, in the direction of abortion.
I am in favour of spending money, if we have to, to educate families, their sons and daughters, to take up positions here and help develop our country. There is no doubt but that there is great interest among our young people in getting involved in the development here. However, I am not in favour of this Bill or any other Bill that will introduce or legalise the sale of contraceptives, whether for sale in chemist shops or on doctors' prescriptions.
My brother-in-law is a chemist and he is very worried that the sale of contraceptives will be forced upon him. He is living in rural Ireland and does not want to be responsible for the distribution of contraceptives. He believes that not one from his area will call for them. He also believes that if he sold contraceptives and chemists in other areas refused to sell them he might have people flowing from those areas into his shop to try to buy them. What will the Minister do in a situation where chemists refuse to sell contraceptives to their customers? Have they the right to refuse? I do not know if the chemist has a right to refuse to sell if it is legal to sell them. I hope the Minister will allow a situation whereby chemists may withdraw from the sale of contraceptives. That would be something. That  would reduce the people who would be purchasing contraceptives.
Mr. Donnelly: In assessing the Bill, in particular in judging the criticisms that have been made on both sides, it is important to understand the background to this proposed legislation. We have had criticisms from Senators Robinson and Murphy on one side complaining that the proposed legislation does not go far enough, or would be ineffective or create inequity. On the other side we heard the type of concern expressed in a very effective contribution by Senator Butler, who is worried about having any legislation along these lines at all.
The concern of Senator Butler is probably shared by considerably more people than the concern of those who feel that the legislation is not going far enough. Indeed, it is probably something in inverse ratio to the length of time each of the supporters of the particular points of view have spoken in the House.
I should like to acknowledge the deep concern, the worry of many people that this type of legislation is being introduced and that means of artificial contraception in any form may be available. The Supreme Court ruled in the McGee case that married people had a constitutional right to regulate the size of their own family and in handing down that decision they clearly spoke in terms of family rights.
The court ruled that the relevant section of the Criminal Amendment Act, 1935, which prohibited the importation of contraceptives, was unconstitutional. Regardless of the concern and the worry about the social effects or side effects of the availability of contraceptives, it is clear from the decision of the Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution, and in its direction in relation to the 1935 Act, that any responsible Government would have to introduce legislation to regulate and bring acceptable order to the circumstances in which contraceptives would be available.
I was surprised to hear Senator Murphy refer to the Minister as not having  acted with courage. Facing up to this responsibility, taking on the difficulties and the complexities of the problem, the Minister, and the Government, have acted with great courage and responsibility. Their action contrasts very markedly and favourably with the regrettable and, indeed, pathetic shambles which arose when the previous Administration failed to face up to their responsibility collectively as a Government to introduce legislation following the decision of the court.
The body of opinion which is concerned about any legislation in connection with family planning on involving contraception, hold a deep and honourable belief but clearly it is more responsible, particularly from that point of view, to regulate the availability of contraceptives in a way which is consistent with the Constitution and the standard of values of the vast majority of our population. Of course it is a question of judgment. Of course it is a question of being sensitive to opinion and to various shades of opinion. For that reason the legislation very properly takes what has been described as the middle ground.
It is important to stress the family context in which the Supreme Court decision was made because the Bill is solely concerned with family planning and the tone of the proposed legislation is within a family context. It is essentially a positive measure in that it provides a means for responsible parenthood to make personal private decisions on the size of their family and to make those decisions in consultation with their family doctor. The involvement of the family doctor is a positive element in the Bill. I cannot accept the view expressed by several Senators on the other side that doctors were being set up as moral arbiters. It is clear to me that they will act as doctors. They are familiar with the history of their patients and will have a regular normal pattern of follow-up. They are, therefore, in a position to advise, firstly, on health and, consequently, the appropriate or alternative means, or both, for people to plan or regulate the number of children they wish to have. It is the people who will decide and are free to decide. What they have available to them is expert medical  opinion. Their freedom to choose is not interfered with by anything in the proposed legislation.
The Bill preserves and assists the right of the individual to make personal, private and conscientious decisions. It supports this with qualified expert counselling and advice. It is carefully and delicately thought out legislation. In presenting the Bill in this way the Minister has acted with great responsibility and great patience. He has correctly resisted the strident calls for unrestricted access to contraception outside the area of family planning. These are demands which are highly vocal at times, and are vocal beyond their number. They are at variance with the standards, wishes and attitudes of the majority of our people. It was right to have resisted this. In doing so it has been a positive decision, because there is a basic distinction between this type of legislation—family planning legislation worked out and developed in the context of the family—and legislation which simply calls for legalising the sale of contraceptives. Contraception per se is essentially negative. Concentrating on the question of contraception as opposed to family planning is putting the emphasis on the prevention of life. That is the objective of contraception taken in isolation.
It is this crucial distinction between contraception and family planning or responsible parenthood that provides the basis for the belief that in countries where there is simply a contraception service or a contraception mentality abortion and abortion services follow quickly afterwards. The reason I believe that to be true is that the approach initially was taken on the basis of contraception without studying the broader possibilities of family planning legislation. That arises because if the prevention of conception is taken as the basic aim we reduce the value of life and we relatively exalt the value which is put on considerations of personal convenience. It is only a short step from that to providing a service which will eliminate life if the artificial means of contraception fail for some reason or other. That is where the problem arises. That is  where the sequence of events which appears to have emerged in other countries of abortion services following quickly after contraception services. It almost arises in a way which, because of the circumstances in which the decisions were made initially in those countries, is almost irresistible. In devising our legislation on the broad base of family planning we are avoiding that fundamental mistake. It is one which will stand to our credit for many years if not generations to come.
No practice of contraception, as far as I am aware, is guaranteed to work all the time and on all occasions. There is no doubt an acceptance that there is a failure rate. If we simply concentrate on providing a contraception service, there will clearly be a follow-up demand where the contraception service has failed to provide another remedy to achieve the objective which was there at the beginning but which has not been achieved. In other words, to use the chilling Hitlerian term, there will be a demand for a final solution because the initial intended solution did not work. The great irony of the situation is that fallacious if not at times phoney liberalism tends to lead to that most dictatorial of actions—the termination of life. The emphasis in this Bill is on family planning and, as such, is a positive, far-ranging measure that includes support for research into natural family planning methods which I fully endorse and support.
Drafted, framed and thought out in the way it is I see the Bill as providing this hope and immense distinction between legislation concentrating on contraception and legislation dealing with the broader aspect of family planning. I see this Bill as essentially a positive measure leading to pro-life legislation and avoiding the negative, narrow, anti-baby attitudes which emanate from concentrating solely on contraception.
Having referred to abortion, as indeed many other Senators have, I support section 10 of the Bill which prohibits the processing of abortifacients and also the importation, manufacture and advertising of abortifacients. In this we are dealing with a very genuinely difficult question because, as far as I know, there is a possibility in some cases that some  devices may act as abortifacients or may act as contraceptives or both at different times. That is an area where we probably have to wait for medical research and medical opinion to reach conclusions. I believe that so basic and so fundamental is the right to life that where there are grounds for believing that a device may act as either that is sufficient reason for bringing that particular device within the scope of section 10. Maybe everybody does not agree, and I know the complexities of the situation, but if we adhere rigidly to the principle of benefit of the doubt always being given on the side of the right to life, then we will avoid far more mistakes in that way. It is a basic, positive, principle which a vast majority of people accept.
The degree to which we protect the weak and the unprotected is a measure of the degree of our civilisation. These type of decisions are very historical because the decay and the undermining of civilisations through history can very often be traced back to basic internal social character weaknesses. There is none more weak, more unprotected, more dependent on the goodwill of humanity than the unborn life, however early in the pre-natal stage of development.
Yesterday in the debate in an attractive and slightly convoluted way it was suggested that because we were not making contraceptives more freely available and because the Bill stopped far too short and was not catering for general availability of contraceptives, we were neglecting, if not actually contributing, to what was described as the abortion trail to England. I discussed already where I consider the basic problem arises from that thinking. It is the failure to see that there is far more involved in this than simply contraception. If contraception becomes the only matter of concern or becomes the key basic point of policy, then not only does one not stem the tide or reduce the rate at which people may seek abortion but, in time, one will contribute to it and will probably find oneself faced with the demand for providing the service at home. It seems to me the logical, natural conclusion is that if contraception fails, and fail it must in many cases, whatever the  accepted failure rate is, then those who find themselves in that position will demand another solution. The solution to the abortion trail, as it was described, is totally different. The approach to the solution is in a caring society that is sufficiently sensitive to give the support that is needed to people who may be contemplating abortion. It is a society sufficiently attuned and unselfish to respond to the needs physically, psychologically, financially and morally of people who may be contemplating this action. That is the approach to the problem of abortion where it exists.
The Bill before us has been drafted with great sensitivity and great skill. It reflects the fair opinion and judgment of the vast majority of the people. I believe that, in time, it will commend itself to the people.
Mr. Keating: I sympathise with the Minister. Deputies and Senators have accused him of lack of courage and of various failings of that kind. If one takes the speeches simply in this House, leaving the Dáil aside, with Senator Robinson on one side and either Senator Cassidy or Senator Butler on the other side, it indicates the sort of no win position that anyone trying to draft legislation in the area of contraception and family planning finds himself in in Ireland.
In regard to the points of view which were recently put by Senators Cassidy and Butler, and by many other people in the debate in the other House, I respect their point of view entirely. I also disagree with it entirely but I respect it. What strikes me in this debate is that people like Senators Cassidy, Butler and most recently Senator Donnelly, and many of the propagandists against contraception in Ireland, do not respect the point of view of their opponents. They do not respect my point of view. I am a single representative of an enormous and a growing viewpoint, both in Ireland and on a world scale, a representative of what is the majority viewpoint. The majority viewpoint is not alone that contraception is a good thing, which I take it to be and I will indicate why in a minute. It is more than that, it is a fundamental human right. End of statement.
I respect the position of the opponents  of it but let me give some examples of the attitudes that in the carrying on of the debate from the other side I find offensive. I wrote down Senator Cassidy's last words. The record may show that I did not get them exactly right but I am not trying to distort what she said. She said: “When we see a rat we may chase it.” Is the rat contraception in that metaphor of hers? Then she is not just being contemptuous of her opponents in Ireland, of all the persons in Ireland with different moral and religious beliefs from herself, but she is contemptuous of the majority of mankind. If one looks at the world as a whole and at the great religious and moral systems as a whole, contraception is looked on by the majority as a positive good.
Senator Butler said the genuine people who make up this country are on his side. The phrase I am quoting is “the genuine people”. I would like to ask him am I not genuine. I feel genuine on this issue. I feel passionately strongly on this issue. I respect his point of view but I expect in the decencies of the debate, the decencies of a plural society and the decencies of a democratic society that the point of view of people who believe passionately in contraception are at least accorded a validity that corresponds to their extent in the world among people of all kinds, of different moral systems and different religions.
Senator Donnelly spoke about antichild attitudes, anti-baby attitudes and anti-life attitudes. Those attitudes do exist in the world and I deplore them as much as he does. He may believe that his deploring is more effective than mine but mine is as sincere as his. On my side of the debate, on the contraceptive side, are we less moral? Do we believe less in the family? Are we less patriotic? Are we less supportive of pro-child and pro-life attitudes? The record internationally does not permit that generalisation of people who favour contraception. I am not going to hedge at this phoney distinction between contraception and family planning. One plans by spacing and by determining the number when one has had enough.
Those ends, desirable as I believe them, are attained by contraceptive  methods. Do the people of a great society and a great culture like Japan who believe in contraception profoundly cherish their children less or believe less in the family? Only either mad or ignorant people, or people who are simultaneously both, could make such affirmations. Let us observe the decencies then and say that there is a genuine fundamental difference in this island and in the world on this issue. Both sides hold their views passionately because on issues as fundamental as this of course passions are aroused. Neither side ought to yield to the other one to be more pro-life, more pro-family, more pro-decency, more in favour of the rearing of children because those arguments, beliefs, desires and aspirations operate on both sides. Let us leave that out. It is cheating to say that people who believe in contraception are against the family.
I said that I would come back to the reason that contraception is a positive good. Senator Butler spoke of respect; to have contraception one has less respect between the couple of the nuclear family, between the husband and wife or between the two people. I claim to be as genuine an Irishman as he is. I claim as good a connection with the Irish countryside as he has and as good a connection with the norms of Irish marriage from my judgment and from his judgment. We are not in any position, speaking as one of the men of Ireland, to say: “My peers as the men of Ireland show respect for the women of Ireland.” I am appalled by the attitude of the men of Ireland towards the women of Ireland in a non-contraceptive society.
Sexual love is a very positive force in society. It is a binding and unifying force. To be able to have sexual love separate from the danger of conceiving when people do not wish to, for all the variety of reasons they may not wish to, is a positive good. It increases the respect between the partners. It increases the possibility of having children when wanted and who, therefore, are totally cherished. It increases the possibility of having a thoroughly healthy mother and, therefore, thoroughly healthy children. It increases the possibility of a family that is not hassled by too many children. It is the woman who  bears the burden. Hassled by too many children at short intervals undermines her wellbeing and her health. It even decreases the physical health of the next generation. There is evidence that pregnancies at too close intervals, in the same way as very bad nutrition, alcoholism, or whatever, on the part of the mother, physically damages the foetus in the womb before it is born so that it never has a chance intellectually and physically of a decent life.
I am saying all these things but I would have thought that in a civilised society they would not need to be said. These are the truisms, these are the threepenny bits; these are the basics of the arguments in favour of contraception. I was so appalled at the apparent absence of awareness of them that I thought perhaps it was no harm to put them on the record. I know others have done the same but let us say it again. We do not yield our place morally to the people on the other side. We do not ask them to yield their place morally to us. We treat them as equals and we expect decent reciprocation in this debate.
Mr. Keating: I am sure the Minister will not deny me saying all I want to say. It may not get through this House so we may go all around the horse pond again. It is going to be debated for a long time. If it becomes law, as is most probable, this is legislating to permit people who wish to do a thing to do it and it is not saying for a moment that one must do it. They are really two categories of legislation. There are some which say: “That is the law of the land.” That bears on everybody. This is in quite a different category because it says: “You can if you want to.” That is a distinction between two classes of laws. I do not  know what the lawyers call it. This is enabling rather than enforcing the use of contraception only for those who want it.
People who know me well say that I am a bit intolerant but I try not to be. I am intolerant about intolerance. As I do not wish to have my moral position violated on this issue I do not wish to violate other people's moral position. I would be extremely angry if anyone tried that. The people who are opposed to contraception have the right to their point of view. They have the right to make propaganda for their point of view and so have the people who favour contraception. I would be bitterly opposed to any effort to coerce people who do not believe in contraception to use it. I hope people will believe me that I would oppose that as bitterly as I would oppose the opposite. One of the issues that comes out is: who has the greater confidence in the maturity and dignity of the population and in their power to judge—those who want to force a line of action or those who say the alternatives are there? We are talking about permitting something to happen and not compelling anyone who does not want it to use it.
I come to the nub of it. I look on contraception as a positive good and also a basic human right. The liberty of persons to me is the important thing. For those who believe that planning their family, spacing their children and deciding the number is a basic human right, I want to see that they can do it. For those who believe that it is a violation of some religious or moral belief, I would never countenance interfering with their position. They must be just as free to avoid contraception as I want to be free to use it.
I want to touch very briefly on this contraception leads to abortion issue. Contraception gives one the possibility of a more trusting, calmer and a more decent sexual relationship than exists without it. It gives the possibility of better health and better domestic atmosphere for the smaller number of children who are really cherished. I, therefore, believe that there are fewer abortions where there is more and better contraception. Senator Donnelly will not  expect me to find a meeting point on this, but in the end we cure the problem of abortion—which is a problem in all societies that we know of and for as much history as we know—in a cherishing and caring society where real respect, including respect in the sexual aspect of our relationship to each other, is something much better developed and much more important than it currently is. I am not saying that abortion is not a problem.
In so far as I have a point of view, I believe that the problem of abortion is diminished by the ready availability of contraceptive knowledge and of the sort of attitude between men and women that free availability of contraception engenders. I understand the fear of those who say this is the floodgate situation, open only that much to contraception now and then there will be totally free contraception and abortion is just down the road. I understand that but I believe it to be profoundly wrong.
On the matter of conscience Senator Donnelly gave a rub, and a deserved one, to the previous Government because they were not able to bring contraceptive legislation on to the Statute Book. It was a debacle. I was a member of that Government and I found it deeply embarrassing. It is not just on one side. A colleague of the Minister in the present Government has asked to be excused on grounds of conscience. The difficulty exists in all parties. This is an issue that divides people in Ireland regardless of party. This is why it is hard to legislate. That difficulty in legislating has been experienced by the present Government and by the previous one. I want to comment on this matter of conscience in a wider context because I find what has happened with the Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Gibbons, very offensive. Deputy Gibbons has objected to voting for an enabling Bill, and not an enforcing one, on the basis that this violates his conscience. I would like to ask Deputy Gibbons through the Chair: does your conscience require you to violate the conscience of other persons? Does your conscience require you to violate the conscience of every kind of Protestant in Ireland? There may be  some tiny groupings that are opposed to contraception but the great majority are not. Does it require you to violate the conscience of the Jews of Ireland or the agnostics of Ireland or the atheists of Ireland, all of whom are moral people with a valid point of view? I wait for the Deputy Gibbonses and for people in the Hierarchy and those in various sorts of political, moral and social leadership in this country to demand not that their own conscience be not violated, because that is something we all guard for ourselves, but that the consciences of minorities and other people for whom we purport to speak in this Oireachtas be not violated. I found the brandishing of conscience by the Minister, Deputy Gibbons, nauseating.
I want to turn to what seems to me in any sort of reasonable, logical, scientific or even ordinary commonsense clear thinking terms the core of weakness and of nonsense in this Bill. We will have a Committee Stage I can assure the Minister now if he was not so aware. I refer to section 2 (b) which provides for a comprehensive natural family planning service. It will not be any surprise to the Minister that I am zeroing in on the word “natural”. Within any sort of scientific or logical opinion of a non-theological kind, the distinction between natural and artificial in regard to contraception is bogus and without meaning. It is not just that it is wrong, which it is, but when one analyses it, it has no meaning at all. A calendar is natural; a piece of latex is artificial, based on the same knowledge of human reproduction. Is this what the solemn Legislature of a mature country is reduced to trying to put on the Statute Book? That word “natural”, the distinction between natural and artificial which it purports to legislate into the laws of this country, is a nonsense. It is worse than that. We recognise its source.
In the Catholic Church there is a spectrum of opinion. Let nobody pretend otherwise because we have all heard the different opinions expressed by different members of the Catholic Church in good standing in this country and elsewhere, and nobody can hide behind the position of saying: “I am a Catholic, that is what my Church says.”
 The Catholic Church speaks with a number of voices on this one. There are many Catholics, in this debate they are the ones I most respect, who say that is a bogus nonsensical distinction. That is a way of trying to have your cake and eat it. That is a way of cheating intellectually and morally because you say: “No artificial contraception, no devices. Of course not, but since biological and medical science have learned a great deal about human reproduction, we will give you that knowledge, and we will give you a calendar, and that is natural. We will give you a lot of advice, and that is natural, but we will not give you a piece of rubber because that is unnatural.” That is cheating, that is trying to have it both ways.
Everyone recognises the demand of ordinary decent people for contraception. Everyone sees that you must not have a category of contraception. Which category must you not have? You must not have that which you designate as artificial contraception, but the natural kind you can have. So you split contraception into two with a bogus division which will stand no rigorous, logical or scientific examinations. You say one you can have and one you cannot have. I would hope that a Supreme Court, if it were not thinking theologically, would reject the Bill on the grounds of that word as having no meaning, of trying to enforce a distinction without meaning, trying to enforce a distinction which is non-interpretable and therefore nonapplicable. I would hope that the Bill would fall for those reasons, but I do not think it will. The Supreme Court always reflects the attitudes of the more elderly of the time in which the law givers give their judgments; they are generally people who are very good lawyers and not very good scientists. Probably the Supreme Court will stand over that kind of distinction, if anybody ever asks it to.
Maybe the Bill will get struck down on other grounds. Then we shall go all around the horse pond again and we shall sympathise again with the Minister, because nobody can mock anybody on how difficult it is to legislate on this issue, with Irish public opinion as it currently exists.
 What this Bill is trying to do is very serious. It is trying to put into the laws of the Republic of Ireland the prevailing, perhaps the dominant, but not the only, opinion within one of the churches of this island, albeit the church of the large majority of the people. It is not even taking advantage of the divisions that exist within the Catholic theological ethos. This is a theological bit of drafting. It is the theology of the more conservative portion of the Catholic Church. I find it totally deplorable that one should try to put that sort of point of view into what will shortly be a law of the land.
I talk about the rights of all those people who are Catholics in good standing, and who found religious advisers in good standing whom they trust, who advise them otherwise. They are a very significant and growing proportion of this country, I talk of the different sorts of Protestants here and of the others, agnostics, atheists, Jews and so on. It would be serious enough if we were an island out in the middle of the ocean, but we are a divided island and, really, we are offering Doctor Paisley and his cohorts a field day. We are validating the most frightful things they say about us. This is legislating in violation of the conscience of very many people in the Republic, and — we know without asking them—of an even larger number of people outside the Republic but within the island. We have the effrontery to talk about national unity, and we want to pass a law like this. That seems to me both double-think and hypocrisy. I regret to say that because, as I have indicated, I recognise the Minister's difficulty.
I would like to say a word in defence of a group of organisations who have rendered dedicated service and done immense good in Ireland — I refer to the family planning clinics. I am not entirely clear as to what their future will be, but I would find it extremely retrograde if they, in any way, were to be coerced out of existence. I record my admiration for what they have done and my hope that they will be permitted to continue doing so.
This is putting on doctors a burden that should not be put on any learned profession, a profession that I and others  respect, but that are still a proportion of our population; even more retrograde, to put it on chemists. The Minister knows what will happen in practice, and we all know what will happen. We know that, in the medical profession, there is a spectrum of opinion; that there will be doctors who believe, as I do, passionately in contraception. They will be generous with their little bits of paper to take along to the chemist. There will be a small number of doctors who are passionately opposed to it, on the Senators Cassidy and Butler lines, and they will not have anything to do with it. There will be a lot of cynical doctors who will say, “The guy down the road is writing the bit of paper, so I will write the bit of paper. Do not go to him; I will do it for you.” We know there is an auction between competing doctors in any particular area. We can see the same auction between competing chemists.
So the other thing we are doing, which I suspect the Minister knows, is trying to pass a law and passing it in the knowledge that it is bad law and in the knowledge that it will be widely violated. It is a law designed to be broken, designed to be unenforceable. That will produce an end result which I am pleased about, but will produce it by a method which I find unpermissible. I believe passionately that the laws should be defended and upheld, indeed much more than they are. In many issues we have laws which we do not enforce at all; we say they are on the Statute Book, mostly laws about permissible loading of lorries and so on. Nobody enforces them at all. It is doubly a pity on a central issue like this, about the moral atmosphere in a country and about the relationship between men and women, that we have a piece of legislation designed to be broken.
In international terms, we were given a stereotype by the British—if you oppress people you have to make them a laughing stock or make them contemptible or foolish. We had that stereotype painted on to us for centuries. We never believed the Irish were like the jocose, stage people of the British stereotype. Now we start behaving like them. By our difficulty on a fairly clear-cut issue like  this, by our protracted foosterings between the last Government and this, and possibly appeal to the Supreme Court and possibly having this Bill stroked out, by that on-going mess that we have, we simply make ourselves a laughing stock.
The position ought to be that no-one should violate the conscience of another, that no-one should use contraceptives, or even have propaganda in favour of contraceptives, pushed at them if that is in any way offensive to their religious, moral, or other convictions, but a society is immature which does not trust its people with choice. I heard accusations of anti-child, anti-life, anti-baby, that the contraceptive lobby did not believe in the family, or were contemptuous of the family, or that contraceptives produced lack of respect between the parties of the marriage. What expresses less respect for a population than the contemptuous attitude which says, “You may not exercise your own judgment”? I do not want to force contraception on anybody who does not want it. I will tell the Minister, the House and the country, through the records of the House, something that applies to me and to very many other people in this country. The McGee judgment validated, I am glad to say, something that I had been doing all my adult life in violation of the law, within my own marriage. My wife and myself practise contraception, we believe to our mutual benefit. We did it in violation of the law. We were continuously offended, as hundreds of thousands of other Irish people were continuously offended by a law which violated our consciences. We were continuously offended by breaking that law, but we did it, as hundreds of thousands of Irish people did.
One should not have laws that violate the consciences of a recognised minority and of serious, honourable, decent people. Therefore you legislate to permit. You let those who do not wish to use it, not use it, and let those who believe it is a positive good and a basic right use contraception. That is the simple solution, the solution that has been followed by most of the world. It is the solution from what one can see on comparing countries, that only the mad chauvinist  or the very ignorant person can say produces a worse family relationship, worse relations between men and women, worse children, worse families. If we were being truthful and a tiny bit humble about it, we would see in the family practices of other countries, a greater degree of cherishing, a greater degree of solidarity in contraceptive society than exists before our eyes in this theoretically non-contraceptive, but hypocritical, society.
This is all very embarrassing for everybody. I dare speculate that the Minister himself may be as embarrassed as any of us. In one sense, I hope it is the end of it, because I do not want to see us go on being a national laughing stock. But in the other sense, I hope it is not the end of it. I am certainly going to vote against the Bill and there may well be enough people in this House to defeat it. Then there will be the parade to the Supreme Court and it may be struck down. In terms of the atmosphere that I want in the relationship between the sexes in Ireland, I hope it is struck down. In terms of our not being too much of a laughing stock, it would be nice to get it over with. It is a bad law, contemptuous of ordinary people. It is divisive; it is sectarian and it violates the conscience of a large and rapidly growing proportion of our population. Those seem to me very terrible things to do in a piece of legislation.
Mr. Jago: Originally, at the beginning of this debate, I was going to attempt to go through the Bill and prove that the Bill was the only logical one which the Minister could produce. Later, as I heard some of the contributions, I decided not to speak at all, but a pattern appears to be set that we have to, as it were, stand up and be counted as to what we believe in regard to this Bill. Therefore, that is all I wish to do. I do not wish to spend a lot of time proving other people are wrong in their beliefs, or that they are taking the wrong attitude. All I will put forward is what I believe myself.
In this part of Ireland those members of the Christian faith not members of the Roman Catholic branch are known as the minority; I happen to be in that  category. I wish to say that I do not know the minority viewpoint on this subject. I do not know if there is an official minority viewpoint. The Minister probably knows more about the minority viewpoint on this matter than I do, having had discussions with some of the members of our Church. What I am doing is saying what I personally believe.
First of all, I am stressing that I want to say as few words as possible because I believe that on this subject there has been too much said for the common good, from all angles. It is our job to cater for the common good. It is not our job to lay down rules for private morality. It is also our job to support the Constitution. Mrs. McGee brought all this matter out in the open. The Supreme Court decision at the time demonstrated that there had been legislation controlling private morality; that was there. The decision of the Supreme Court left a void, and what we have to do is to decide if that void needs to be filled for the common good or to uphold the Constitution.
I must say straight away that I believe in the right of family planning; I have no doubt whatever on that. At the same time as saying that, as Senator Keating has put it, I do not turn around and say that all must plan their families. The right is there; there are very good reasons for it and I am not going to go through all those detailed reasons at the moment. It appears now to be generally accepted and, therefore, that is one of the reasons why I will support the Bill. For the first time, we have a recognition—if this Bill is passed—that family planning is acceptable in this country.
I must also say that I do not see any reason whatever for segregating the methods of family planning. They are divided between two methods. I have also to accept that other people have genuine reasons why they should be separated. If I want to see a Family Planning Bill go through, I have to accept that position. I would much prefer to see a simpler Bill, covering the right to family planning and the perfect right of any person who is married to obtain contraceptives. I know that that will not be acceptable and I can appreciate that  the Minister has had to frame the Bill in a certain way and he has left rights to himself, in the national interest, to do certain things. I have to look to the Minister, in accepting the Bill, when that times comes, to do what I think should be done.
I welcome the proposal to provide a proper family planning service and the research backing that it will have. On another point of view, I believe we have to support the Constitution. I hold fairly strong views on the fact that the family is the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society and is guaranteed State protection. That is in Article 41.1, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Constitution. I support the State pledge to guard, with special care, the institution of marriage. That is in Article 41.3, paragraph 1. For me, as a Member of the Seanad, there is only one marriage, and that is according to the law of the State. This is the basis of the family, as far as I am concerned. Therefore, to protect the family, family planning must apply only to marriage under State law. Those not married, in my opinion, must not be allowed access to family planning methods. I firmly believe that, otherwise, we will jeopardise the situation of the family in this country.
Tomorrow we shall all be voting in the referenda. One of the things we will be trying to do is to make sure that children in this country can have the benefit of a family—the love, care and protection of the family—legally and properly confirmed. That is one of the things we are doing. I view the family as essential and I must say I do not believe in the free sale of contraceptives.
Looking at section 4 which has been mentioned—the bona fide method and the doctors—I do not believe that the doctor's conscience comes into this thing at all. The reasons why a person is going to a doctor to get a prescription is that you are trying to protect the fact of the family and the doctor is only allowed to give that protection to married people, just that. It is a bona fide case, within the context of family planning. In my opinion, there is no family other than those married under the law of the State. All a doctor has to do, in my opinion, is  to say, “Yes, you are married,” and give the prescription; outside that it is none of his business. It is helpful, of course, if you can go to a doctor for help, maybe, on what type of contraceptive to use. You may take that advantage. In my opinion, in that Bill, that is the right of the doctor and his conscience does not come into it at all.
I support this Bill in that, for the first time, we have legal family planning for those who wish to use it, the right of contraception for all married couples, but restrictions of the free sale of contraceptives. Now, it may not succeed 100 per cent in that—at least Senator Dowling has said it may not—but it endeavours to and therefore I support it because of my views on that. I also support it on outlawing abortion. I do not believe that allowing contraceptives to those not married will reduce abortion or is the eventual cure for abortion. I believe that a family is the cure, in the end. If we protect the family—and this country is one big family—then we will create a different environment for the unmarried girl who find that she is pregnant. That child can become part of the family and if we can get that environment right, that is the cure, in my opinion, and not the unrestricted sale of contraceptives to everybody.
Yesterday, I listened to Senator Robinson quoting the attendance at family planning clinics; the big percentage of those who were unmarried and the big percentage of the unmarried who had no intention whatever of marrying. This related to an environment of discos and pubs, that you must appreciate that in that environment there will be promiscuity and that that we must accept, and is a reason why we should probably have to give more freedom in the use of contraceptives. I cannot say anything else but that this rather shocked me. I realised that this was bringing home to us that we are not doing enough for the education of the young. I happened to pick up this morning's Irish Press and there is a report in it on the 16th Annual Ecumenical Conference at Glenstal, and the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Reverend Samuel Poyntz, is complaining that we, as a State, are not contributing  sufficient funds—and he quotes the figure of £619,000 written into the advancement of the youth works. He goes on to tell what is done by voluntary organisations, girl guides and scouts and in conclusion, he is quoted as pointing out:
A large segment of our young people have been exposed over the past decade to violence, insecurity and hatred. Others were growing up in a society where they read daily of armed robberies and every inducement to take up a life of crime. Increasing numbers were exposed to alcoholism and drugs.
I do not regard it as sinful, or anything like that, but these are two clerics, who reveal that we have an awful lot to do for the youth and this is something we have to attend to. In my opinion, the passing of this Bill will certainly fill a void. It may not be perfect. I have not heard anybody thanking the Minister for all he has done and the work he put into the preparation of this Bill; everybody has criticised it, including myself. Before I sit down I say “thank you” to the Minister for the work he has done.
Mr. Howard: I have listened to the debate, as has the Minister, over yesterday afternoon and again today, most of the comments have been made and I find that there are just a few rather brief points to which I feel obliged to refer. Let me say, at the beginning, that I recognise the need for legislation following the McGee case, to tidy up the present situation. I have reservations in  respect of three sections of the Bill which I will outline and, perhaps, the Minister in his reply, will inform us of the course of action he decides to take. He may take certain steps that would satisfy my reservations on these sections.
I recognise the right of married persons, married couples, to plan their families. However, I do have some reservations about making contraceptives freely available to young unmarried persons. I believe that in a debate of this kind you take a stand on one side or the other, and you are accordingly labelled. Having said that, I have always felt I belonged to what has been described here as the middle ground.
Having listened to the discussion and the contributions that have been made here over the past two days, could I say this much, that I believe that they were generally free of political considerations. I was impressed, as I think anybody who listened to them would be, with the obvious sincerity and the objectivity of the many Senators who spoke here.
It is obvious that a Bill of this nature, which relates to families and which will have certain effects on the stability of the family, would undoubtedly generate considerable discussion, and discussion has been generated, not alone within the Houses of the Oireachtas, but outside also. Many views have been expressed on the subject, and we have been deluged with material from all sides over the past number of months. That is understandable. There is also the added difficulty that, when you get involved in a discussion involving morality, there is a tendency to divide the people who participate into two camps. You are labelled as a liberal or as conservative, a progressive or a reactionary.
There was and still is middle ground on this issue. Many of the people who contributed to the discussion sought honestly and earnestly to achieve that middle ground. I had a fair idea of who occupies that ground. Then, as I listened to the contribution—and a brilliant contribution by Senator Murphy—I became confused as to who really occupied that middle ground. It is customary to describe who have grown up in a certain tradition, where certain cultural and moral values have been given a high  priority, when they seek to defend these principles, as being old-fashioned, as not being with it, and as being regressive in their attitudes.
Senator Murphy categorised these people as being influenced by or belonging to a certain ethos, a Catholic ethos. He described their views as the product of a mentality possessed with a ferociously puritanical attitude towards sex. I do not know if he would apply that label to the courageous contribution made by Senator Cassidy. I certainly would not. In fairness to the people who propagate these views with a fair measure of intensity, rather than condemning them as being old-fashioned or repressive, we should look deeper and realise that the views they express are often inspired by a deep commitment to the moral and cultural values they have inherited. They have a determination to defend these values, when they are being challenged and when the people who challenge them are not in a position to produce an obvious and satisfactory alternative. People who advocate the down-grading of these inherited values in advancing what is described as the permissive society cannot reasonably expect to convince the people they condemn until they go to our society and see for themselves the spiritual and social improvements, and the progress that has been made within that society. The views of those who seek to protect inherited values and traditions cannot be easily dismissed. There is a tendency on the part of many people to judge new ideas and new methods against their experience. Many will judge this Bill on the basis of what it will do to improve the quality of Irish life, to what degree it will strengthen the bonds of the family and to what degree it will lead to a better society in the future.
I want to comment on Senator Lambert's contribution. He said there was evidence that where contraception and advice are available, the need for abortion is reduced. I should like to be told where that evidence is available. I am not prepared to say I reject it, but I would very much like to see it. Any material I have seen, any statistics I have read, tend to indicate, in the words  of Senator Cassidy that, as night follows day, the easy availability of contraceptives leads to an increase in demand for abortion. Senator Dowling also produced figures from Denmark which seemed to bear out that point of view.
I am raising these issues not so much to condemn the points of views advanced as to try to reconcile, if that is possible, the conflict that exists. I would be interested to see the evidence Senator Lambert said is available which shows that where contraceptives and advice are freely available the need for abortion is reduced. If I could see that evidence, it would certainly have an effect on my thinking on this issue.
With very limited exceptions, all those bodies which I have consulted felt that it was desirable that in legalising the sale of contraceptives here for the first time, action should be taken to ensure that contraceptives would not be available on an uncontrolled basis to the entire population without regard to age or circumstances.
He also said sections 4 and 5 are the core of the Bill. It is provided that contraceptives will be made available to a person. There is no reference to whether that person is married or single, or what age he or she be. Therefore, if we accept section 4 as it is, we are putting the burden of judgment and responsibility on to the medical practitioner. We are shifting the conscience of this Parliament to the medical profession.
Section 5 deals with the importation of contraceptives. They can be imported provided they are part of a person's personal luggage accompanying him when he is entering the State and their quantity is not such as to indicate that they are not solely for his own use. That section is wide open to abuse. It is not capable of implementation. Who is to be the judge in these circumstances? What precisely is meant by that section?
The final section on which I have reservations, and on which very many responsible people inside and outside Parliament have reservations, is section  10. It would appear that there are good reasons to believe that some contraceptives can be abortifacient in effect. Most people suffer a certain disquiet on this issue. We may say we are for contraception and we will legislate for it. We are not legislating for abortion, but the effect of these pills and devices in bringing about abortions needs to be examined. If we and the Minister fail to do that we will not be passing satisfactory legislation. I understand it has been suggested to the Minister that he should amend that section so as to provide the mechanism by which the effects of the different pills and devices can be categorised, and we will know which of them have caused abortions.
It has been suggested—and there is a lot of merit in this suggestion—that a committee of qualified or expert people should be established by the Minister, who would be available at all times to decide on this issue and on any changes that may arise in view of future developments. I understand the Minister is not satisfied with that suggestion. I regret it if he is not, because it is worth while and has considerable merit.
I have expressed my reservations on sections 4, 5 and 10. I hope the Minister will have further thoughts on these sections, and amend them or improve them in some way which would not involve us in gambling dangerously with the quality of Irish life in the future.
Miss Harney: I welcome the opportunity this Bill has given us in Seanad Éireann to discuss a vitally important social problem. I realise the tremendous pressure to which Members of this House and the other House have been subjected over the past few months. I appreciate, as Senator Lambert said yesterday, that many people have sincerely held views on this subject. We live in a democratic State, and it is only right and proper that pressure groups should lobby their public representatives to make sure we support their particular cause. That is healthy in my view. It is a sign that our democracy is well if we have active pressure groups continually pressurising the Government.
What I object to about this vociferous  minority grouping is the manner in which they have conducted their campaign, the way they have to blackmail public representatives into voting against this Bill. They have told us that if we support it we are unlikely to be re-elected to either this House or the other House. They have gone on to point out that we are breaking the law of God, and so on. I respect their opinions, but I would wish them to respect my opinion. I would like them to realise that they have no Godgiven right to set themselves up as the moral watchdogs of what we do in this society. They would do well to examine the immorality, for example, of having young children begging on the streets of Dublin. Such groups would do well to examine the attitude we have in Ireland to the unmarried mother. Minority vociferous groups who have pressurised us over the past few months should now content themselves with issues like this.
As legislators we must face this problem honestly and courageously. We must not give in to any group. We must tackle the problem as it exists. I appreciate the difficulty the Minister had in drafting this Bill. As he said in the other House, it is a highly emotive and sensitive issue, one on which there are many different views as to the type of legislation we should bring in. There are differences of opinion in my party on this subject. There are differences of opinion in the Fine Gael and Labour parties. It is only right that on an issue like this we should respect the different views people have. There is no doubt that, no matter what sort of legislation we might introduce, it would not please everybody. Some people want to ignore the problem in the hope that it would solve itself. If we did that, we as public representatives, we as legislators in Seanad Éireann, would be failing in our responsibility to the people.
There are many, including people in this House, who feel the Bill is not restrictive enough. There are others who think it is too restrictive. The important thing about this debate—and we have had over ten hours of it now—is the different way in which Members have spoken. The debate is certainly very much different from the last time this  particular subject was touched upon in the Oireachtas.
I remember then, as a student, coming to listen to the debate in Dáil Éireann. I was horrified at the manner in which some Deputies spoke at that time. I appreciate that they spoke sincerely, but some of them laughed as if they were school children, and failed to tackle this problem in a responsible and sensible manner. That is not the position on this occasion. No matter what they said, everybody spoke openly and honestly. As a result, we are coming to realise in Ireland that we now live in a pluralist society and cannot dictate to minority groups on what they should or should not do. I hope it will not be long before we as legislators realise that our laws must change, and change rapidly, to keep in touch with changing social attitudes and values.
I appreciate that any Government, faced with the challenge of having to legislate on what I believe is essentially a question of private morality, are faced with the dilemma of having, on the one hand, to uphold public order and morality, and, on the other, to cater for the rights of the individuals in the State. I accept that all Governments have a responsibility to uphold public order and morality, and to ensure that any legislation enacted does not have undesirable social consequences. In doing so they must seek to interfere as little as possible with the legitimate rights of the individual.
I firmly believe that every adult person has a legitimate right to the availability of contraceptives if he or she so wishes. I believe—and here I differ from Senator Hussey and those who said the State had no role to play—that the State and the Government have a duty to ensure that the person can exercise that democratic right. This is essentially a question of conscience. I do not think that I or anybody else has any right to tell two adults how they should behave on this question, and whether or not they should avail of family planning services.
We pride ourselves in Ireland on living in a Christian society. In my view, the basis of all Christianity is that we  respect the rights and opinions of others. For too long in Ireland, we have a hypocritical attitude to matters of private morality. We have been only too willing and anxious to lecture other people on what they should or should not do. Many women in our society bring into the world children they cannot cope with and cannot look after properly. These children are very often brought into a very unhappy home. Every child born in this State has the right to a stable and proper upbringing. In order to ensure that that is the case, married couples not only have a right but a responsibility to plan their families.
It is infinitely better to avail of family planning services than to produce unwanted children, many of whom end up in institutions for the rest of their lives. Worse still, is the dramatic increase in the number of Irish girls going to Britain to have abortions. I might add, from my information all of these girls are not single either. It is a horrific thought and it is something to which we as legislators, as responsible people, must turn our minds. As was said in this debate and the debate in Dáil Éireann, nobody could ever in any circumstances condone abortion. I do not honestly believe there is any connection between the availability of contraceptives and the eventual introduction of abortion. I do not accept that argument. I do not ever think we will reach a stage where we will be introducing abortion. I certainly hope we will not.
The family is the basis of our society and any laws we enact must have that in mind. We must try at all times to nuture the family and to make sure that as many people as possible have access to a proper unbringing in a happy family surrounding. It is time we planned an evolution into a caring society, a society that cares about the conscience of others. I agree to some extent with what Senator Keating said. It is OK for me to vote on this issue depending on how my conscience dictates but, if this Bill is defeated, by my vote I could be preventing other people from exercising their rights, from following their conscience. That is something that I would not have on my conscience, no matter how I felt about this Bill.
 As a society we must look seriously at all our laws that affect marriage and the role of the family. One of the biggest single social problems we will have to face in the very near future is the increase in the number of marriages that are breaking down. I know from my short time as a public representative working in this city that the number of young people who are very unhappily married is horrific. It seems strange to me that we allow girls of 16 and 17 to rush into marriage and then, no matter what a particular church says, force them to continue on in that marriage for the rest of their lives. Very often the Catholic Church annuls marriages. It is about time the State followed and at least recognised that people can make wrong decisions and that we should not force them to live for the rest of their lives in a very unhappy, unstable marriage.
Miss Harney: Part of the problem lies in the whole attitude to the role of women in our society. For too long in Ireland on leaving school a girl's future was seen in terms of a relatively short period in employment and then she was to take on the responsibility of marriage and parenthood. There was something wrong with a woman who may have chosen not to get married. She was considered to have been left on the shelf, as it were. There was a terrible stigma in our society on a girl who was not married. As a result very many girls, for very many different reasons, rushed into marriage without thinking of it very seriously. It is about time now that educationalists and politicians faced up to this problem and made people aware, particularly young people, of the serious contracts they were entering into. If they make a mistake it is up to us to provide the sort of laws that will deal compassionately and realistically with that problem.
I welcome this Bill. If it is defeated it will set back progress. It is the only possibly Bill that could get through the Oireachtas at this stage. I do not believe that a more liberal or more unrestrictive Bill would be passed by the Oireachtas.  No matter what sort of facilities you make available to the people—and I am not in favour of their being freely available either—we must back up a family planning service with a public education programme. Contraceptives can be available but, unless people know where to go and how to go about getting advice, then they will never avail of family planning services. I hope the Minister will consider—and I am not sure exactly of how he could go about this—some public education programme on the role of family planning and on its importance.
I should like to end by referring to some of the comments made today by two Senators. The first was a comment frequently made by many people about students. As somebody who is not so long out of college, I would like to say that students are no more permissive than any other group in society. I went to a university where contraceptives were freely available yet, to my knowledge, this did not encourage students to behave in an irresponsible or selfish way. The availability of contraceptives does not in any way lead to a permissive society. People are responsible in this country, and it is about time we recognised that. The availability of contraceptives does not force anybody who does not want to, to use them. The vast majority of people in Ireland recognise that we now live in a pluralist society. It is about time that we allowed them to exercise freedom of conscience.
I should like to refer to something Senator Hussey said when she urged doctors not to implement this Bill. That was irresponsible from a Member of this House. Just as she is free to exercise her conscience, so too should the doctors of Ireland be free to exercise theirs, and to decide for themselves whether or not they should implement this Bill.
I welcome the opportunity we have been given to discuss this vitally important subject. It is a great start along the road to eventually having a comprehensive system of family laws that will deal compassionately and realistically with the many social problems that confront us.
Mr. A. O'Brien: If a referendum were held on this matter, the vote against the making available of artificial contraceptives would be overwhelming because it goes against the sincerely held beliefs of the vast majority of our people. If, on the other hand, research and education were to be conducted into natural means of family planning, there would be little if any objection. For that reason I will have to vote against the Bill.
Ruairí Brugha: First of all I should like to commend the Minister on introducing this legislation. It became necessary, as we all know, arising out of the judgment in the McGee case. I am quite satisfied that the legislation is necessary. Much of the controversy and talk about this whole area tends to be a bit phoney. I may be annoying many people but I feel it is a matter that concerns women of child-bearing age only. It does not concern men, and it does not concern women who are not of child-bearing age. We are trying to lay down rules and regulations for everybody except ourselves. We are inclined to overdo things in what we believe to be our moral approach. I do not think the end of the world will come in Ireland because the Minister in this Bill is sanctioning the use of contraception by those who wish to use it in certain areas in relation to family planning.
I am appalled at the examples being given to us of the modern approach in other countries. One of the curious things about the European Community at present is that we are the only member of the Nine who has not got a birth rate problem. The other eight member states have serious falling birth rate problems. Yet it is suggested that we should be following the example of other countries.
The only example we should follow is the one we set ourselves, what we think is best, and what we as legislators think is best for our community at this stage. The Minister's Bill is about the only legislation that is practical and that may have an opportunity to work. I hope the  passing of this Bill—and I intend to support it—will bring an end to this rather phony controversy that has been going on. No legislation is perfect and this Bill is not perfect. In fact, it is full of imperfections. For that reason I would recommend to the Minister that its operation should be reviewed every couple of years because, in this area as in other areas, experience may be the only guideline that we can follow.
Mr. Mulcahy: I sat through most of this debate because it deals with a very serious matter and I wanted to hear what my colleagues had to say. It was clear that opinions were going to extend from one end of the spectrum to the other. In fact, the Minister readily admitted this in his opening address.
I will be supporting the Bill. As some Senators have said, we have been subjected, and rightly so, to a good deal of lobbying on this matter. I have done my best to read some of the lurid and shocking documents that have come through my letter box. I have tried to get my brain around the issues and I have also read the series of articles published in The Irish Times and the rebuttals that were delivered here in terms of the Thomas Moore Society. I get a feeling that the people who were making their case on both sides do not seem to take into account the fact that the Deputies and Senators they are sending this material to are thinking people who will take into account that each side has a prejudiced point of view. This emerges when they try to draw conclusions from statistics in a simplistic way.
I could put up an alternative hypothesis to explain any of the statistics that were brought forward but I will just mention one. The change in the moral behaviour of society might be more readily explained by the degree of education achieved in the society than it is by the existence of any devices for contraception. For instance, a report, which was mentioned many times in the famous book by Servan Schreiber, The American Challenge, indicated the percentage of people who were in third-level education between the ages of 19 and 24 and showed that for some  countries it was almost 45 per cent in 1966 while in other countries it was only around 9 per cent. If one looks at that statistic and how it has behaved up to recently one will see that in the case of Britain it has gone from 9 per cent to nearly 30 per cent, and in the United States it has gone to nearly 60 per cent. I would hypothesise, therefore, that the level of education — almost by definition the level of questioning — could more readily explain changes in the attitudes to sexual morality. I make that point as a general one to avoid being put into the position where I have to accept the statistics that are sent to me.
We are living at the moment in a particular evolution in social behaviour. We have incomplete knowledge about it. Medical and scientific research is not yet adequate to explain what goes on between the point of conception and the point at which the first menstruation takes place after conception. Anything can happen during this period and I do not understand it and I do not think the researchers understand it yet. Given the situation we have at the moment some form of legislation is required. The Minister has taken the middle ground on this and it makes sense to me, as part of the evolution of thinking, as part of the evolution of practice and as part of the evolution in our understanding of what goes on, not only the morality of it but also the physical aspects of it, that we should go with this legislation.
I understand the difficulties the Minister must have had. He has come up with a solution that is not perfect and which will not satisfy everybody but it is a solution that enables people on all sides to exercise their conscience, conduct their practices in a way that does not attack their rights.
By taking the common-sense view of this — I am using it in the philosophic sense as used by a great Jesuit philosopher, Fr. Lonergan — we can see that this legislation makes sense. We have had, for instance, the very analytical approach of Senator FitzGerald to the more extreme views expressed on matters of freedom and rights. I should like to make one important point on sexuality which seems to be important but has not been made so  far. There seems to be an assumption that the sexual act has to be connected with procreation only. The good God, when He devised in His own way the process which would ensure the procreation and continuance of human life until such time as the human race reaches whatever the end might be, if ever, meant that there would be more to it than just procreation. The sexual act was introduced to help human beings — the female and male in the marriage state — to live together in peace and harmony. The fact that He made it enjoyable is important. If it had to do with procreation only He might have made it painful and parents who still wanted to have families would still indulge in whatever painful act was required in order to have the family. Unlike the case of the non-human kingdom, it is a continuing urge in the human. Even though I would not put the role of the sexual act, in making it possible for people to live together continuously in harmony, on the same level as procreation, if one is primary the other is a very strong secondary role. At a common-sense level I can understand that and I do not need to have it explained to me by any group of churches or otherwise.
We need at this point in time to make progress. This legislation has found a balance which will allow progress to be made. It is dangerous to try to take a lead on the question of sexual morality and on many other forms of custom and behaviour. Legislators in this case are better to move with the system and to moderate it rather than to lead it. The line taken by some Senators are too far ahead of what is custom or a developing custom. They are setting themselves up to make decisions and suggest practices on the basis of their own limited analysis and knowledge of the situation.
I would have some sympathy with some of the views put forward by other Senators. Our society, because we have accepted our mores from the instructions and good guidance of a particular faith, tends very often to be a believing society rather than a knowing one. Believing is believing what other people have reasoned out and tell one to be true, while knowing is what one has reasoned out for oneself and concluded  to be true. I believe — and this comes from the basis of my own attempts to understand the situation — that we must develop as a knowing society. That comes from being informed and taking responsibility for our own conclusions and not necessarily being ballyragged into believing what other people have thought out in their own way or have accepted through time. We face a difficult situation. We have questions about what will happen in the future and questions about abortion. I am not going to elaborate on them because I do not think the Bill is about abortion; it is against abortion. It is an enabling Bill which will allow people to exercise their rights.
The fact that words like “natural” are used in the Bill was questioned but I do not see anything wrong in allowing into a Bill concepts or words which have come from the evolution of our valued systems through the faith which has guided us over the years. I do not see anything wrong with “natural” being there because “natural” can be interpreted in many ways. One definition of the dictionary of the word “natural” is madness so why should we get hung up on the use of the word? We are reflecting in it a definite concept which has a position in our society and we should not be ashamed to let it in.
On the question of control — the Bill provides for control which is needed — we may be in a very peculiar situation in this regard because there are some forms of contraceptives that one cannot control in the sense that one can control their distribution or importation. Young people at the moment are making their own contraceptives from materials that are readily available and for us in Parliament to be saying that we are going to make things happen or can make things happen might be shown to be somewhat out of date in the light of what young people will do anyway. Nevertheless, we need a form of control, and this is provided in the Bill.
The Bill also provides for monitoring by the profession in the best position to undertake that monitoring, the medical profession. If we do not understand the issues as ordinary lay people, then it is more important that we allow those who  are closest to the marital system to take a view on it. We all know that where a marriage begins to break down because of breakdown in relationships between a husband and wife that very often it is the family doctor who first knows about it. I have been told by friends who are general practitioners of the proportion of their time that has to be given to giving family advice in relation to these matters. It is not strange that the family doctor should have a role in family planning. It is an appropriate way of introducing the monitoring on the one hand and the enabling aspect on the other that this legislation provides.
I sympathise with a wide range of Senators in their views particularly on the role of the sexual act in our lives as well as the difficulties in legislation. However, given all of that, I am happy that the Minister has taken the right step. He put the position very well in his opening statement when he said:
I have tried to put forward legislation which would meet the requirements of the constitutional situation and, at the same time, be broadly acceptable to the majority of reasonable people who wish to see this problem which has been far too long with us resolved.
Mr. Markey: I had not intended contributing but, having listened to a section of the debate, I was forced to say something. The Bill is less than honest as a worth-while piece of legislation or to the people who are promulgating it and to the general public. When it was first announced it was put across to the public that artificial family planning methods would be available to married couples only and that in the case of single persons it would not be available. That is not spelled out sufficiently in the Bill. I believe that because of that, if there was a free vote on this matter, Government Members would not vote as they will vote this afternoon. There is not a positive statement in the Minister's speech or in the Bill that the provisions relate solely to married persons. Therefore, I must conclude that it will be open to single persons to seek contraceptives for their use. To that extent the Bill  is not as honest as it should have been. It may be good politics to put it across to the public that the Bill is there for one purpose while it can also be used for other purposes. It does not make good law. We must consider whether it is good law to meet the circumstances which arose following the McGee case.
In one aspect it departs from the judgment given in the McGee case in that it was held that a married couple had the sole right to determine their own family planning methods. The Bill takes away that right and responsibility to an extent from the married couple and places it with the medical profession.
The threatened demise of family planning clinics as they operate at present is a regrettable aspect. One Senator asked where young people would now turn for advice or for family planning guidance if those clinics are closed. It is regrettable that the Minister cannot see his way to encourage the continuation of these clinics. If the Bill was more honest and open in what is being made available for all persons the vote would be different than it will be here this afternoon. In those circumstances the Minister should have another look at the Bill and return with a more honest one.
Professor Conroy: With a good deal of reluctance, and a certain amount of humility, I will contribute to this debate because I consider that it is primarily a personal and moral or ethical issue. Other Members have far more to contribute on these grounds than I. I have my own views, no more or no less than any other Member. However, there are certain aspects of the Bill and family planning generally which are inevitably of a medical nature. The consequences of the use of the various methods involved in family planning, whether we describe those methods as “natural” or “artificial”, inevitably have a medical bearing even though the decision to use them is generally a personal one.
Some Senators referred, for example, to the oral contraceptives and tablets which quite properly are only prescribed by medical practitioners. They have, indeed, many serious side effects or consequences in certain conditions so inevitably,  there is already a medical involvement in that aspect.
There is a great deal of research still to be done on oral contraceptive tablets. It is very good to have the assurance of the Minister that research support will be encouraged in this direction. Quite a lot of work is already going on here and we are playing our part internationally on this particular research topic which is clearly one of enormous importance. Perhaps less fully realised is the fact that inevitably the physical methods of birth control in many cases have medical involvement. The use, for example, of the coil is almost inevitably medical and, certainly, some of the consequences of using it again imply medical involvement although yet again it may be a personal decision. It is a little difficult to separate the personal and medical decisions, in that it is difficult for them to consider that they are fully informed unless they have had a medical consultation on the matter.
The various so-called natural methods are based on medical physiology, and the Billings method also has a very definite medical involvement. It is only right, proper and natural that family doctors should be involved in family planning. It is not just a question of feeling free to do so; they have a duty to be involved. I am also glad to hear that the Minister is going to encourage more training in family planning. It is certainly an area of medical education which has been greatly neglected here. Clearly it is a very important qualification for our doctors to have. That is the inevitable medical involvement but that does not mean that because there is this inevitable medical involvement that the medical profession particularly wanted to become involved in this Bill.
The Irish Medical Journal of January 12 1979 stated in clear terms the extreme reluctance of the medical profession to get involved in this Bill. Contrary to what has been implied by one or two speakers the medical profession have made a number of statements on their views. The Minister had close consultations with the profession and they were referred to in a leading article in that issue. That article stated that the Irish Medical Association indicated that the  profession would be adverse to having non-medical contraceptives on prescription and that at the January meeting of the Central Council which devoted considerable time to the Bill there was virtually unanimous opposition to the proposal that only doctors should prescribe or authorise contraceptives such as condoms.
There is certainly no desire whatever by the medical profession to become involved in any sense as arbiters or in any sense as the moral conscience, as Senator Murphy said, of other people. It is with great reluctance that the medical profession have finally agreed to help this Bill to work. It is right that the profession should have had these reservations and it is also right that they should have agreed to make the Bill work. It would have been an intolerable situation had the medical profession refused to allow it to work, whatever may be the individual feelings of doctors. There is just as wide a range of viewpoint among the members of the medical profession as has been expressed in this House. Those of us who have been involved and have seen the tragic, sad and unhappy situation in which either married couples or single people have found themselves in relation to pregnancies or unwanted pregnancies know that it induces a very considerable feeling of humility in attempting to state what is right or what is not right in these matters. I take some exception to some of the comments of Senator Robinson when she referred to certain family doctors in a particular area. She made some uncalled for remarks about the medical profession in this legislation and matter.
The legislation is necessary for a number of reasons. One is because of the decision of the Supreme Court to which many of the Senators have referred. In my opinion the Government would have been failing in their duty had they not taken cognisance of that decision and introduced appropriate legislation. I am glad that they have had the courage to do so. That action did require courage. As we have heard in this debate many people are very strongly opposed to any legislation at all and yet a Government  must govern. They have done so by bringing in this legislation.
Another aspect was referred to by some Senators, is, perhaps, less widely known and that is that the United Nations in its declaration of human rights, to which we are signatories, have stated family planning is a basic human right. Our legislation was wanting in this respect. Other organisations of which we are members such as the World Health Organisation and the Council of Europe are deeply involved with the support of this country in family planning. This legislation was very necessary. I would also join with Senator Harney in the courageous call she made for up-dating much our legislation in relation to the family.
There have been a few statistics and quotations put forward by Senator Robinson and Senator Cassidy. There is a vast amount of literature on this subject. We could go on for another 14 hours without any difficulty at all summarising the views, conclusions, investigations, reports and so on that have been made in relation to family planning and in relation to any one of the methods used. I do not propose to quote either from any obscure journal or from any of the better known medical or sociological journals, but I would refer Senators to the very factual and reputable articles which my medical colleague, Dr. David Nowlan, wrote and which were published in The Irish Times on 2, 3 and 4 April of this year. I do not say that I necessarily agree with the views or conclusions of Dr. Nowlan in any of these respects. I suggest that those on either side of this argument should at least look at these figures, statistics and facts before jumping to any conclusions either way. They are freely available and published in that newspaper.
There has been a tendency in public debate for very misleading or very selective quotations to be made by those who would wish for a much more radical, completely open, completely free approach to these matters and also by those who would prevent any attempt to introduce this legislation. This is only natural because it is a deeply emotional subject and a serious topic. That is a  pity. I am glad to say it did not to any great extent disfigure the debate which we had in the Seanad.
While I am mentioning Dr. Nowlan, I should like to comment on the very informative and valuable contribution which he has made to medical literature on this topic of family planning and on many other topics. He has, made a very considerable contribution to health education which reflects great credit both on Dr. Nowlan and on The Irish Times for publishing the many articles which he has written. Most of us would agree that a greater amount of health education will be necessary and very valuable for the future. The Minister has encouraged people to think a little more about their health. In many instances preventive measures are so much better than curative treatment later on.
Senator Cassidy's views are clearly very deeply held. She is entitled to them just as much as I am to mine. How one feels on this matter is an entirely personal affair. I suggest that she is to some slight extent, confusing certain matters. It has not been shown that contraception leads inevitably to abortion or that contraceptive availability leads inevitably to abortion. In so far as figures and statistics show anything, and I share Senator Mulcahy's reservations about the statistics, they would seem to indicate that, at the very least, the availability of contraceptives lessens the occurrence of abortion. The availability of family planning probably also lessens the likelihood of induced abortion. Speaking as a medical person, I think that if one had to deal with the sadness, tragedies and misery of the unfortunate girls who have — again it has been their personal decision — decided to make the trip across to England and have abortions, one would be extremely slow to deny these people the possibility of family planning or contraceptives.
Dr. West: I intend to be brief as I have spoken so often on this topic that I am beginning to hear myself and that is  an unpleasant sensation. It is a form of political self-abuse, hearing your own speech whatever about inflicting your views on other people.
I have been associated with a number of other attempts to change the law in this area spearheaded by Senator Robinson. She deserves a great deal of credit for the attempts and for the beneficial effect they had on public opinion. I would prefer a Bill along the lines of the various Bills which she and two other university Members, including myself, introduced. One has to recognise the sad fact of political life that those Bills were unlikely to get through when they were introduced and they would still be, on the whole, too liberal for our legislators. Bills as liberal as those, which I would prefer, would not pass both Houses of the Oireachtas, however much I might wish for the situation which that would leave us in.
That does not mean that on pragmatic grounds I am in favour of the present legislation. There are a couple of points in this Bill I am very worried and unhappy about. One must reflect on the fact that a sincere attempt was made by Senator Cooney during the period of the last administration to introduce a fairly restrictive Family Planning Bill. It failed in a welter of publicity. This measure is a restrictive Bill. The difference in this situation is that it is likely to succeed. Once the Minister had done his homework and sold it to his own party, with one notable defection in the Lower House, once it had passed the Lower House, even if it does not pass the Upper House — our powers are only delaying powers — essentially this legislation will ultimately become law.
Some of the fears which have been expressed about the restrictive nature of this Bill do not worry me so much. Senator Alexis FitzGerald made the case yesterday that there are a number of loopholes in this Bill, and no doubt they will be used to get over what appear to be some of the apparent restrictions.
There are two points I should like to put to the Minister and ask him to clarify in his reply. In common with Senator Harney, I believe that all adults should have access to contraceptive facilities. I do not think that one can  restrict contraceptive facilities, access to them and education in connection therewith, to married couples. I am not putting forward a moral view but a practical one. The necessity for this was illustrated by Senator Conroy, who has had a lot of practical experience in this area where there can be many and stark tragedies. The situation is that many couples live together outside marriage. The number may be increasing. I do not have any idea of the statistics involved. My guess is that there is a change in private morality. This situation exists and has got to be taken into account. We cannot legislate against sin. That is not what we are here to do. We have to face up to that fact. Adults should have the right of access to all contraceptive facilities.
The second point concerns the family planning clinics. The situation is confusing. During the Dáil debate the Minister introduced an amendment. There was considerable confusion in the debate as to the interpretation of the amendment and then the Minister amended the amendment, in his words, to clear up the confusion. It did not clear the confusion in my mind. Since the McGee case the clinics have acted responsibly and have provided a necessary service. They have filled a great void that was not there prior to the McGee case. I hope that the Minister can clarify the position for the clinics and that the good work they have done will continue. I have not heard anybody say that these clinics have been acting in an irresponsible way. The general feeling among the medical profession — whose views I respect — is that these clinics have acted in a responsible and mature way. It is essential that these clinics should be allowed to operate and be given adequate help. My attitude to the Bill is really dependent on those two specific questions.
Mr. Kilbride: I will not delay the House on this matter. There are a few aspects of the Bill which when referred to led me to feel that I should reassert the view that I asserted when the previous Bill was before this House. In doing that I would like to emphasise that what the Bill is all about is whether or  not the procreation of another human being should be prevented or allowed. Man being a social and racial animal has a tendency towards reproduction. It is the second urge of nature. At different stages in the life of the individual man or woman, boy or girl, that urge is greater. It is greater when people are in their teens. People of this age are more susceptible to be led to do things that they should not do at any time, but which they would not do if they were older and wiser.
As regards contraception, we are dealing with a really personal and very sacred exercise, whether or not to procreate a human being. The concept of contraception is adverse to what nature intended. What nature intended and what God ordained is something, as far as the human being is concerned, more than a natural exercise. It is the calling into being of a human, with a spiritual soul that has to live forever. The marriage act may or may not bring this about but the action of some particular agent such as a contraceptive is cutting across the very sanctity of human life and the right of a being to be born.
We are dealing with the fountain of life. All of us owe our existence, our ability and our personal attributes whether they are simple or great, whether we are possessed with great minds or otherwise, to the parents who begot us and to the goodness of God in blessing us. We would like to look back and say that those parents were people we could love and respect and who had a standard we could be proud of.
What we are doing in this Bill is creating a circumstance in which young people influenced by the sale or availability of contraceptives, will pursue a course where virginity will be thrown to the wind. Children will be born outside of marriage who will not even know who they are and they may be born of a mother who may have been ravaged by VD, and other diseases that come from loose living and free love. This is the kind of society which we, as a legislature, will bring about in the future. We have only to look at our sister island to see the complete abandonment of the sanctity of marriage and how short a time marriage exists in any shape.  Should we copy other European countries where diseases and empty cradles led to the downfall of nations?
Marshal Petain when he was signing the surrender to Hitler said it was the empty cradles of France that were responsible for the downfall of his nation. He did that with regret and, with that one pronouncement, said it was the loose living of the people of France that brought about that condition. That was one of the greatest nations in Europe. It is a great nation still.
As far as we are concerned, the day we allow young people to have access to contraceptives, not necessarily legally but in the circumstances which we may have here, we are sowing the seeds for a society that will be of a far inferior calibre, an unhealthy society both spiritually and corporally. We are sowing the seeds for a future not only where we will have contraception but where we will have all the other pursuant ills that stem from contraception which exist in the European countries which have been so freely and eloquently referred to by some Senators today. We know of the very serious situation that exists in France, Britain and other countries. We know the position we are now starting towards with the best of intentions.
I do not want to blame the Minister or the Government. The youth are entitled to be educated about sex to the extent that they are educated about any other professional or scientific pursuit. We are entitled to see that the youth until they are 21 years of age — not 18 years of age — are not put at risk by seducers saying to young girls: “It is all right, I have a contraceptive” and all the other things which cajole people into this sort of action and the serious consequences that follow. In later life that girl will expect to be the mother of a family whose husband is entitled to see in her fidelity, love and affection. I submit that the seeds are sown for a waywardness, indifference and the complete dereliction of marital responsibility. Not only that, but the seeds of infidelity between husband and wife are sown. Those who are indifferent and free loving in their single life and their early years are the ones who are most likely to be wayward in later life. The kind of society which we will  have in the next generation will not be as vigorous and as robust as the one that brought us to the stage we are at at present.
I am against the Bill in its entirety. I am against it on the grounds that it is an unnatural exercise to prevent the most natural thing in the world. I was astounded a few months ago to see seven or eight young girls listening to an interview being broadcast on Radio Éireann with two or three ladies who had the bad luck of having had abortions in England. It was a word for word interview. It was not by any means an exercise by Radio Éireann to promote the terrible problem of abortion. When the talk was finished, two of the older girls said: “An abortion is not such a terrible problem at all and these girls are over it all in six hours”.
Now that is an extraordinary situation to have in a country like this, the very thing that we all reject, the very thing that we all abhor being put across the air to the people of this country, to the young people and the young girls. It is a tragedy and is something that should not be happening. There is weakening of the moral fibre of our people. The young boys and the young girls of 1979 are, at this time, facing the most terrible circumstances you could imagine. I shudder to think of what will be the position in another generation or two.
It is a terrible situation that our national broadcasting service, both radio and television, highlights those aspects of life, of infidelity and of marital abandonment to the pure minded youth of this country. There is no great alternative that the Minister has — I would like to give him that much credit — but our youth will have to be educated.
I am a member of the governing body of UCD and I was out there a few months ago when the matter came up of a contraceptive vending machine being set up on the campus to give the youth of the university a free hand at procuring the means of free love. I do not think my county council in Longford, or the Minister, or the Department of Health, ever intended the youth of tender years in our national university to be fed with that sort of poison. No matter what  respect I have for people who claim the right to express an entirely different view, I believe that is the very reverse of what I expected to be provided by parents, provided by the paymasters, whether it is the local authority, the Minister or his Department. We will have to consider whether or not contraceptives are to be available to married people only or who will be the judge and jury as to who should get these contraceptives.
We have to look seriously at what means can be adopted to prevent our youth from being brought up to have no respect for the sanctity of marriage or for the love and fellowship between a wife and a husband because it can be said of the children of a marriage “Their parents were wayward; it is no wonder they are wayward”. I do not ever want to see that and hope it will never happen. This is the biggest problem we have facing us and I would plead with the Minister to think this whole matter over and the necessary steps to ensure that our youth are protected from these seductive practices, programmes and advertising; that they will not be laid open to the flood-gates of contamination from European and other countries, including the United States.
Before contraceptives came into being, there was, amongst the ordinary decent people of this country, the idea that it was a national scandal to become an illegitimate mother or an illegitimate father. Since contraceptives came into being, the attitude is, “You can do what you wish; you can have all the love you want, and you can have it freely as long as you have the contraceptives”. That is the position today and that is why there is a very different approach to moral standards in this country from that of the last generation. We must see to what extent we can mend the situation, if it can be mended. The heart and the centre of every home is the mother, and if the mother in the future generations is a mother born in circumstances where there is free love between her parents or she has free love on her own part with somebody else or with a number of other men, what kind of mother is she likely to be; how much regard and respect can  either herself or her husband have for each other, and what kind of morality or national outlook will they implant in their children? How will they educate their children?
These are things we will have to ask ourselves. It was stated here, less than five minutes ago, and it is true, that there are people in Dublin and in other parts of the country, living together outside of marriage and that the progeny of that sort of living is no less a responsibility for them than for married people. But what sort of society are you going to have from such living. We cannot abandon our standards and bring our society, our people and our nation down to a level where there is nothing to hope for or to look to, or to take any national pride in. We were once a nation of saints and scholars but now we are sowing the seeds to enable people to be the very opposite.
Minister for Health (Mr. Haughey): I think there would be very widespread agreement that this has been an interesting and, on the whole, constructive discussion. I want to express my personal appreciation to all the Senators who have taken part in it. Some very penetrating comments, some observations of concern have been made during the course of the debate and some very valid and cogent arguments put forward about different aspects of the situation, as well as the legislation. I want to express the feeling — and I hope I am right in it — that there is something of a consensus here in this House in favour of the proposals in the legislation. I find that that consensus is not just on the Fianna Fáil benches.
I listened very carefully, indeed, to all the contributions and to the nuances and have been very conscious in many cases of what people did not say as much as what they said. There is a fairly general acceptance among Senators of what is being proposed here, many of them, perhaps, on the despairing basis of the lesser of two evils. There have been a number of very forthright, refreshing declarations of personal views and convictions. We must all agree that these have been entirely admirable. As Senator Mary Harney pointed out, the  courage and frankness with which people have spoken in this debate has been something exceptional.
In so far as some of these personal declarations by individual Senators were related to or based upon particular aspects of the Bill, I would hope to follow them up and offer some assurances. Unfortunately, some of the assurances which I wish to give would be more appropriate, and may only be possible, on Committee Stage. I could reassure a lot of Senators on particular points if I had time in concluding this Second Stage. I certainly hope to do so on Committee Stage.
One Senator who spoke with great sincerity and clarity was Senator Harte. I always like to hear Senator Harte speaking on these issues because he has the capacity to speak straight out and say what he means. On this occasion, he gave clear expression to some of his worries. The first point he made was about the interpretation of bone fide family planning; he was worried that a general practitioner would have the right to decide, in the case of certain families, not to grant a prescription or authorisation.
I want to reiterate categorically, and as firmly as I can, that in my view there is no situation where a husband and wife, married people, family, seeking artificial contraceptives for any purpose of the family could be denied, or should be denied, a prescription or an authorisation.
Mr. Haughey: I did not interrupt any Senator in the course of this discussion. This is a complicated, complex manner and I want to be very careful about what I say. I would be very grateful if Senator Robinson would do me the courtesy of refraining from interrupting. I am endeavouring to say, in reply to Senator Harte, that the particular question raised about economic circumstances would, in my view have no bearing whatsoever on the decision of the medical practitioner. As long as a married couple or family, husband and wife, wish to have artificial contraceptives for any family purpose,  whether that is to space the children, or to have no children, or for any reason they wish, then they are fully entitled to a prescription or an authorisation.
This must be emphasised and, if there is any doubt still left in the minds of some Senators about it, I would assure them that I will convey these views to the medical profession, as I am in a position to do. I propose to work in very close relationship with the medical profession in creating a comprehensive national family planning service and this will be a matter which I will emphasise. I do not think it will need to be emphasised. The meaning of the legislation should be quite clear to medical practitioners. They are there to advise their patients on all aspects of family planning, to give them the benefit of their experience, and then the decision as to what type of contraceptives or family planning the couple wish to avail of is a matter for the couple and for nobody else. The role of the medical practitioner will be to advise, help, encourage the family and then, when the couple have decided what particular form of family planning they wish to practise, the duty of the medical practitioner will be to facilitate them in that matter.
I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Connaughton who is anxious to vote for the Bill but there are some aspects of it that he does not like. He asked me some questions, which I hope to deal with. I gather from what he said that he is one of those many people who have a preference for natural family planning. The Bill appeals to him because it places a great deal of emphasis on the importance of natural family planning. In my view, natural family planning is something of fundamental, practical, urgent importance to thousands of married persons in this country, and married women in particular. There are countless thousands of married persons in this country for whom, if there could be a perfect natural family planning system, it would be the answer to all their problems. They want to plan their families, space the births, have a satisfactory marital relationship, and at the same time they are totally opposed to artificial contraceptives. For that very large sector of our population,  natural family planning provides the answer. I have no doubt that it is a very solemn obligation on me, as Minister for Health, to try to meet that urgent need of that very large section of the population. I am going to do that, because I detect here among some Senators, the avant garde liberal lobby with a barely concealed hostility to natural family planning. Senators should disabuse their minds of that. So many people would wish to avail of natural family planning, if they could be sure that it is effective.
For those people in the community and in this House who think there is something insular and Irish about this predilection for natural family planning, I want to assure them that the World Health Organisation, with all its authority and status, is profoundly interested in natural family planning, in research into it, and is providing for the very large number of people throughout the world who want natural family planning. We will be co-operating with the World Health Organisation later this year in organising here an international seminar on the present state of knowledge, information and research into natural family planning. That seminar will be an entirely objective scientific seminar and will seek to give the people of this country in particular and the member states of WHO as well an insight into the prevailing situation in this very important area. I do deplore this attempt to create two schools of thought in this area, that you are either for artificial contraceptives or you are for natural family planning, and if you are for one you are against the other. The proponents of the liberalisation of the law on artificial contraceptives availability should not necessarily have this barely concealed animosity for the whole concept of natural family planning.
Senator Connaughton asked me about research, and I want to deal with this matter of research clearly. I am absolutely satisfied and fully advised that I have no problem whatever in providing funds for research into family planning matters which involve the use of artificial contraceptives. I said in my opening remarks that it was not necessary for  me to put anything into the legislation in that regard and I propose, as a normal matter of departmental activities, to pursue research into all forms of family planning involving the use of artificial contraceptives and not involving the use of artificial contraceptives. There are very many important medical questions which have to be answered about all forms of artificial contraceptives.
A great deal of research can be carried out into better and more effective natural family planning methods. It was simply to remove any doubt that there might be as to whether or not I had the statutory power to provide funds for research into natural family planning methods that that particular section is in the legislation. There is nothing sinister about it. There is nothing underhand about it. It does not indicate any particular preference for one form or the other. It is simply to clear up any statutory doubt that might have existed. Further, in answer to Senator Conaughton I want to assure him that there are no particular figures mentioned in the legislation because there never are. Legislation normally just provides the power to make funds available; it does not specify what the level of those funds should be. Whatever funds are required for research into any type of family planning, these will be provided.
That leads me also to the question of education and training. I think whatever other opinions there may be in different sections of the House, there is agreement that certainly a great deal more is required in the training of the medical profession in family planning matters and in education and advice to the general public. This will be the top priority of my Department and myself when this legislation comes into force — the making sure that the necessary degree of training and expertise is available to the medical profession and that as far as possible the greatest level of access of the general public to information, training and guidance on all aspects of family planning will be provided.
I might mention here that the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists attached to the Royal College of Physicians, in conjunction with the Royal  College of General Practitioners, have established a joint committee the function of which committee is to provide training among the medical profession in family planning matters.
One of the few discordant notes that struck me in the course of the debate was Senator Robinson's position in regard to family planning clinics. She seemed to me to quote with approval a statement by these family planning clinics that they would defy the law. That attitude is deplorable and irresponsible and it is not an attitude which should be taken up by any Senator.
Mr. Haughey: If Senator Robinson wishes to depart from that position, I will very gladly accept a denial. But I want to make it clear that anybody who advocates that this legislation, if it is passed by the Oireachtas, should be ignored or treated with contempt, does not do the entire democratic process in this country a service. Senators might ask themselves why should they take trouble to legislate and give their attention to these matters if other Senators wish to suggest that the law should subsequently be ignored.
It seems to me that a number of Senators, and indeed a number of Dáil Deputies, would wish that we were a different sort of people from what we are — that we had different beliefs, traditions and outlooks. They would clearly like to live in a different sort of community from the Irish community of today, but we are as we are, with all our faults and all our virtues. That is why I said that I was seeking to provide an Irish solution to an Irish situation or an Irish problem. I have to legislate — and this House has to legislate — for Irish society as we find it today. It is not helpful or constructive or productive for Senators to suggest that Irish society should change itself or that the Irish people should change all their beliefs, traditions and outlook on things. They may in time, but we must deal with the situation as we find it now, and I do not think the majority of Senators here want us to  follow slavishly concepts and ideas, attitudes and outlooks in other countries.
Listening to the debate I got a very distinct impression that most Senators here take Ireland and the Irish people for what they are, and respect them for what they are, and want to give them the legislation that is suited to them and not what, perhaps, might be popular in some other circles or some other society. That view is not shared by the avant garde pseudo-liberal, sophisticated lobby, but I think it is the genuine view of the overwhelming majority of Senators here. Senators Robinson and FitzGerald and others pleaded for tolerance.
Mr. Haughey: I want to query the sincerity of that plea for tolerance and to ask them to have a look at their own attitudes and to see if they are completely tolerant of the views which have been expressed here very trenchantly by a number of Senators, which are conservative and traditional and, if you like, illiberal — but tolerance cuts both ways.
Mr. Haughey: If any particular group of Senators wish to appeal for a tolerant outlook, then I suggest that they should bring that tolerance to bear themselves and bring that tolerance to bear on the provisions of this Bill. They should not use words like “sham” and “farce” and these other pejorative expressions which have been used. Tolerance is a great virtue and something to be valued and treasured, but we would all like to be in receipt of a tolerant attitude from those who disagree with us.
Another matter I want to talk about is the extraordinary rubbish that has been talked here about the medical profession, in particular, by those who are opposed to this legislation from a particular point of view. I do not know what sort of world these critics live in, but I want to say that, in my view, in my long experience of public life, the real bulwark of the health and the welfare of ordinary families is the general practitioner of the  medical profession. These are the men and women who day in and day out provide for the needs and the health requirements of men and women. Suddenly, apparently, there are Senators in this House who want to regard them with suspicion: they are somehow or other untrustworthy; they are nearly a dangerous sort of people.
These general practitioners are the people whom I want to entrust with the future development of our family planning services. These are the people on whom I am going to rely. They know their patients. They know their circumstances. They deal with their problems. They are in a far better position than anybody else to give advice and guidance on this very important matter. I asked in the Dáil, and I want to ask here again, how loud would be the ranting and raving of the liberal wing if I did not bring the medical profession and the nursing profession and the pharmacists into this area?
We all know that at one time — and this was, in fact, the Coalition approach — this was regarded as a matter for the Minister for Justice. I have sought to take it out of that penal, criminal ambience, and transfer it into the realm of health and welfare, and bring doctors in on family planning, and bring nurses and pharmacists in, because these are the people who have the skill, the knowledge, the training, the experience and the sympathy to deal with this matter as I want it dealt with. I find it completely incomprehensible to have this resistance to doctors being involved with ordinary families in their decisions about family planning.
I also want to make it clear that there is no question of doctors being moral arbiters, or guardians, or custodians, or anything of the sort. They will, in accordance with this legislation, be placed in a special position to advise a family on family planning matters, and in a position to make available to them whatever particular form of contraception the family wish to avail of. I was particularly distressed by a suggestion that the medical profession would talk about their patients, would disclose their  patients' secrets. I reject that entirely. Doctors these days take a decision as to whether or not a patient should have, for instance, a tranquilliser. They take decisions about some very intimate matters in regard to their patients, and they do not talk about them. I do not think the normal person feels in any way inhibited from going to their doctor, their general practitioner, and talking to him or her about the most intimate, even embarrassing, personal matters.
Why then should there be this terrible reluctance among ordinary men and women, families, to go to their general practitioner, their trusted adviser, and discuss this particular aspect of their lives with him when they do it about everything else? I really do not give any credence whatsoever to that argument. The doctor's role, his training, his whole experience are designed to equip him for talking to people about the most intimate and embarrassing personal matters and helping people with these matters. I cannot see that there should be any inhibitions on people from going to their general practitioner and discussing family planning matters with him. I am particularly aghast when I see implicit in some of the discussion here the suggestion that the general practitioner is a less reliable person in this regard than somebody in a family planning clinic. The general trend and implication of some of the statements made here was that, in these family planning clinics, the people are of impeccable integrity, whereas the general medical practitioners are a doubtful sort of people and not people to be trusted with intimate family decisions. This is something which I do not believe would stand up at all.
Mr. Haughey: I listented to allegations all day. Senator Robinson spoke about the pill. Part of her complaint was that doctors had found it very easy to prescribe the pill and, therefore, they had been quite neglectful of their duty in many cases by taking the easy way out in prescribing the pill. Surely if that were so — I do not agree that it is so, but to take her own argument — it is an argument for the proposals in this legislation because now, for the first time, a doctor will be able legally to prescribe methods of contraception other than the pill, and doctors will be trained to advise their patients on other methods. Surely the very argument about the dangers of the pill is one in support of the proposals in this legislation.
I should like to make one point for the benefit of Senator Keating. I think it was he who adverted to this. It is interesting to keep in mind that the Supreme Court decision in the McGee case related to contraceptives which were prescribed by a doctor. That is an interesting fact about the origin of that case. Even in that case, perhaps the starting point of this process, the contraceptives in question were actually prescribed by a medical practitioner.
One of the arguments Senator Robinson made seemed to me to be inexplicable. I have to go back here to what Senator FitzGerald said. He said that, in his view, this legislation is wide open, and anybody who liked could get artificial contraceptives without let or hindrance. It seemed to me that Senator Robinson quoted that view of Senator FitzGerald with approval. On the other hand, she accuses me in introducing this Bill of being retrograde and bringing in restrictions, that this Bill is unnecessarily restrictive. She and Senator Hussey would prefer the existing state of the law to this Bill because this Bill proposes to introduce restrictions and limitations. I want to suggest that the Senators cannot have it both ways. If the Bill is riddled with loopholes and is wide open, and it is possible under it to have contraceptives widely available, then it is not restrictive. Perhaps they would endeavour to crystallise their attack on the Bill.
Senator Robinson particularly asked me whom I had consulted in the course  of my process of consultation. Here again I am criticised, I think by Senator Murphy, for engaging on a process of consultation. This is a new form of criticism as far as I am concerned. Ministers are sometimes being attacked because they are domineering or autocratic, or because they do things out of their own resources without taking public opinion and feelings into account, but I am now criticised by Senator Murphy because I engaged in a long, tedious and painstaking process of consultation.
Just to give Senator Robinson an idea of the sort of people I consulted, I had formal consultation with the Council for the Status of Women, the Medico-Social Research Board, the Irish Medical Association, the National Health Council, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the Irish Pharmaceutical Union, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Irish Family Planning Association, the Catholic Hierarchy, the Church of Ireland, the Jewish Representative Body, the combined health boards, NAOMI which is a natural family planning organisation, the Irish Nurses' Organisation, the Association of Social Workers, ICTU and the Irish Family League. In addition, in reply to a specific question asked by Senator Hussey, I had scientific surveys carried out. As a result of the surveys and all the consultations I have had, whatever else I may be, I am certainly better informed about every segment of public opinion in this country than anybody else at this point in time. Having taken part in all these consultations and listened to the debate in the Dáil and here in the Seanad, and having carried out the survey of public opinion, I have a fairly accurate idea of what ordinary Irish people think about this matter, whatever about the lobbies and the pressure groups.
In answer to Senator Hussey, I would mention that one of the surveys disclosed a fairly large majority of people in favour of making artificial contraceptives available for married persons. The general result of the surveys was that there would not be anything like a majority of persons in favour of the making available of artificial contraceptives for single persons. Whether you like it or  not, that is the fact, and that is the way the Irish people feel about this matter.
I was disappointed in Senator Hussey's approach because I would have thought she would have been a bit more oncoming and understanding in her view of these proposals. I can understand her not being satisfied with them. I can understand that they do not go as far as she would like. I genuinely think it was mischievous and destructive on her part to encourage the medical profession not to work this Bill if it is passed by this House. I wonder if she realises the full enormity of the implications of that statement on her part.
As a number of Senators have pointed out, this Bill has a very good chance of going through the Oireachtas, and of bringing some order and legality into the situation. If it fails, I doubt if there will be, in the time of most of us here, any other attempt to put through such legislation. That means that an overwhelming majority of our people will not have legal access to artificial contraceptives.
In so far as the body of public opinion which Senator Hussey represents is concerned, surely that would be a retrograde step. Whether Senator Hussey would like the legislation to go further and make artificial contraceptives more widely available is a question which I would not quarrel with her about. She has a view and other people have different views. I would have thought she would have recognised that this legislation at least, for the first time, will make artificial contraceptives legally available to lots of families who wish to avail of them. Surely there is some importance in that. I do not think Senators should just glibly accept that it is perfectly all right that people can get contraceptives illegally at present.
Mr. Haughey: For the first time, this legislation recognises that there are a very large number of families who do wish to have access, without any difficulty, to artificial contraceptives. All I am doing is asking that, in so far as  anybody has access to family planning methods, there should at the same time accompany that access medical advice and opinion, help and guidance. That is a reasonable approach. It may not go far enough to satisfy some Senators, and as was very clearly expressed here, it goes far too far for a very large number of Senators. It seems extraordinary that whereas only two Deputies in the Dáil expressed the view that it was morally wrong to pass any legislation dealing with artificial contraceptives, because they were inherently bad in themselves, there are many more Senators who take that view. I thought that was a very restricted and narrow view held only by two Dáil Deputies.
I am surprised to find that that very traditional and conservative view is sincerely held by more Senators than Deputies. That is the sort of situation we have to take into account. There are a number of Senators who genuinely feel that there should be no legislation dealing with artificial contraceptives because, once you legislate for artificial contraceptives in any way, you are giving them some form of statutory approval. That is abhorrent to some Senators as it was abhorrent to some Dáil Deputies. We have to recognise that and take it into account.
On the other hand, there are Senators like Senator Lambert, Senator Trevor West, and others, who would like this legislation to be much wider in its context. To try to deal with that situation, to try to meet the constitutional requirement, and to try to meet the very considerable demand from a large section of married persons, I have put forward these proposals. I would have thought that most Senators who understand the situation would accept that it does provide some answer to this dilemma in which we find ourselves. It is legislation which can be got through the Oireachtas, which can provide, for the first time, legal access to artificial contraceptives. Therefore, I would have thought that, to that extent, it would have been welcomed by these people.
Senator Keating is probably a bit disturbed by some of the things I am saying but I want to make a point in reply to a point he made. I was very surprised to  hear him make the point about his own personal experience, because he is a man who has a lot of intellectuual capacity and a lot of experience. I must point out to him, and to other Senators who seem to be under some misapprehension about this, that the use of artificial contraceptives, or the possession of artificial contraceptives, has never been illegal in this country. It is not now illegal, and will never, so far as I know, be illegal. All we are talking about in this debate is the control of availability. We are not entering into any domestic situations and purporting to lay down the law about the use or the possession of artificial contraceptives. It is an entirely different matter when you come to deciding to what degree artificial contraceptives should be available to the general public.
From all my discussions, and from all my examinations of the matters, and all my consultations, I have come very firmly to the conclusion that what is required is that artificial contraceptives should be made available to married persons for family planning purposes but that they should not be made available, unrestricted or without limitation, to the general public. That is the principle which this Bill is based upon. If you accept it, the rest of the Bill follows as a matter of logic inevitably. If you do not accept it, I am afraid then the Bill is unacceptable to you. But if you accept that there must be some limitation, then you are led inevitably step by step to the sort of arrangement and the sort of proposals enshrined in the Bill.
Senator West asked me about the clinics. The principles of the Bill are quite clear. Why should we not rely, in the main, on the general medical practitioner corps to provide a family planning service and, allied to them, the pharmacists? If it transpires that in any area, or to any extent, these arrangements are not meeting the situation, then I shall have to consider what other arrangements will have to be made to provide the service. For that reason I have provided in the Bill that a health board can provide a family planning service or the Minister can license clinics. It is my intention that, if there is a public need for family planning clinics, these  will be provided. The only thing I will say about them is that, if they are licensed, they will have to comply with the provisions of this Bill. It is a simple and as straightforward as that. If there is a need for family planning clinics, if they are required in the public interest, they can be licensed to provide a family planning service and they will then have to conform with the provisions of the legislation.
Senator West mentioned the amendment. It was represented to me that in certain circumstances, if there are clinics and a doctor issues a prescription, or an authorisation in the family planning clinic, in a hospital, a health centre or elsewhere, the patient might then have to proceed some distance to a pharmacist in order to procure the artificial contraceptive and then return to the clinic. In order to meet that situation the amendment I introduced in the Dáil provides that a pharmacist can establish as part of his pharmacy business in a health clinic an arrangement for the provision of artificial contraceptives.
One of the justifications I had for having this round of consultations was that I felt that a number of religions in this country are not well served by people who purport to be their spokesmen, and I think that applies to all religions. I am absolutely astonished at Senators who purport to talk for religious minority groups. I took the trouble to find out in detail what these religious minority groups really would like. I want to say categorically that I am much closer in my thinking, my approach, in my outlook and my attitude to the greater number of minority religious groups in this country than a number of Senators here who purport to interpret their wishes and their views and who to my knowledge and in my view are completely off the mark and who do not do these minority religious groups any service by attributing all sorts of views, attitudes and desires to them which they do not have. I am very glad from that point of view, if for no other reason, that I had this round of consultations and had the opportunity of speaking in great depth with these fine people and finding out the sort of Ireland they want to have  and what they want for their congregations.
Whether this legislation will benefit the health services of this country, or the welfare of the people, or whether it will adorn the legislative Statute Book of our Oireachtas, it certainly has been a very salutory lesson as far as I am concerned. It has taught me a great deal about the makeup of our community and about the views held, the beliefs and the attitude and outlook of so many people. It has also given me a great insight into the motivation of different political groups and individuals. On the whole, that insight I have received into the motivation of our politicians has been encouraging.
There have been the trimmers. They are easily identified. They get up here or elsewhere and they talk with one eye on the voting implications of what they are doing and, on the other hand, they want to protect their image with some particular pressure group, or lobby, or clique, by whom they wish to be well thought of. By and large, it is very encouraging to find the honesty and the frankness, when it comes to an issue like this, with which the politicians seek to interpret the views of their constituents and, indeed, to give expression frankly and honestly and courageously to their own particular views.
Senator Martin made a point and he was criticised by Senator Murphy for it. He said he was embarrassed with all this discussion and this long drawn out debate and he would rather be dealing with other things. I sympathise with that point of view. There are many other  things I would have wished to have been doing in the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare over the past six months, many urgent things that I have been prevented from getting on with. I mentioned in the Dáil that a very important Bill dealing with our psychiatric services is held up pending the completion of this Bill. To get legislation like this through the House pins one down and is very time consuming, and very absorbing, and prevents one getting on with many, many other things which are urgent and necessary and beneficial and, to that extent, I have great sympathy with Senator Martin when he says we have talked enough about this. It is something which should have been dealt with by the Oireachtas in a much more expeditious way, without so much heavy heart-searching and protestation and an expression of viewpoints.
In any event I now want to recommend this Bill to the House for what it is worth. As I said in the Dáil, it is not perfect. Many people would regard it as inadequate. Others regard it as unnecessary. I would like those Senators who are not irrevocably wedded to one particular point of view, or one particular lobby, to look at the situation overall, to consider all the different elements in the situation, the pressures, to see what is the best that can be done, and to ask themselves: at this stage is this not perhaps the best possible solution to this complex situation which can be put forward, given all the various factors involved?
de Brún, Séamus.
Donnelly, Michael Patrick.
Jago, R. Valentine.
Lambert, C. Gordon.
Martin, Thomas Augustine.
Mulcahy, Noel William.
O'Toole, Martin J.
Whitaker, Thomas Kenneth.
Yeats, Michael B.
Cooney, Patrick Mark.
McCartin, John Joseph.
Murphy, John A.
Reynolds, Patrick Joseph.
Robinson, Mary T.W.
Mrs. Robinson: I would ask that Senators be given an opportunity of examining the Official Report of the debate which took place in the last two days. The House has facilitated both the Minister and the Leader of the House by sitting through lunch today in order that the Second Stage might be completed this week. We will not get the Official Report of the debate that took place until next Wednesday. There were a number of very interesting and well-researched contributions from both sides of the House, raising a number of points. It would be important for us to have an opportunity of reading that in order to see what the attitude will be on Committee Stage to the Bill, section by section. There will be other business coming from the Dáil for next week. Also there will be the other business we have not reached today which can be taken. I would ask for the Committee Stage to be taken on 17 July 1979.
Mr. E. Ryan: I could not agree to that. Anybody to whom it was important to hear all the contributions today before putting down amendments for next week could have stayed here to hear these contributions.
Mr. E. Ryan: It is essential, if we are to get the business done and to rise as soon as possible, that Committee Stage of this Bill be taken next week. I could not agree to put off the next stage for a fortnight. As a matter of fact, it is possible that we might conclude our business next week if we sit later in the week. I think some Members of the House are agreeable to sitting Thursday and Friday of next week to conclude the business. I am not saying that will necessarily occur, but it is a possibility and, in these circumstances, I must press for Committee Stage to be taken next Tuesday.
Mr. Keating: The Leader of the House makes the point that we may be able to finish up next week, but that could only arise in the circumstances of sitting on Thursday and Friday. That being the case, and it also being the case that we will have quite enough material perhaps to sit four days next week if we so choose to order our business, why would it not be possible to give us more time to see the record? It is not a matter of being absent. We heard what the Minister said very clearly.
Mr. E. Ryan: The point is that the Business we will be doing on Thursday and Friday next week, if it takes place in that way, will be business that we would not be getting until Wednesday evening from the Dáil. Consequently, it is essential that the business available should be taken as early as possible. The business available next week includes the remaining Stages of this Bill and four Bills which have now cleared the Dáil. They will be ready on Tuesday and Wednesday next.
Mr. E. Ryan: They are relatively short Bills. The remaining business we would take on Thursday and Friday and this, of course, may not take place. What we are hoping is that the timetable will allow us to get the remaining business from the Dáil on Wednesday evening and take it on Thursday and Friday. That may be possible. To leave over the Committee Stage of this Bill for a fortnight would be impossible if we are to make any effort to conclude the business of this House at a reasonable stage this month.
Mr. E. Ryan: Those which I understand are ready are, Trustee Savings Banks Bill, the Transport (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, Tourist Traffic Bill and the British & Irish Steam Packet Company Limited (Acquisition) (Amendment) Bill and, possibly, Córas Beostoic agus Feola Bill, I am not sure whether that has been cleared by the Dáil or not.
Mr. Cooney: In two of those, and probably a third, there is room for considerable debate. The B & I Bill will  evoke a lot of debate in view of the recent report of the Joint Committee. Tourism is a matter which is not receiving attention at the moment and likewise, the Transport Bill, which I understand provides for an increase in CIE fares, is generally a subject which exercises a fair amount of attention and interest in both Houses. I imagine that business would easily fill the time on Tuesday and Wednesday leaving Thursday free to meet Senator Robinson's request.
Mr. E. Ryan: I suggest that we start those four Bills on Tuesday but we certainly have to take this Bill immediately they are concluded. In fact, we will have to fix Committee Stage of this for Wednesday. We could do the Bills I mentioned on Tuesday afternoon. That is as far as I can go.
Mr. Reynolds: Is the Leader of the House happy that the other Bills will be dealt with on Tuesday? Senator Robinson's request is not unreasonable and I suggest that the Bill she is concerned about be left over until Thursday morning. It is a most complicated Bill and is something that will have to be looked at before we deal with Committee Stage.
de Brún, Séamus. Harney, Mary.
Jago, R. Valentine.
Lambert, C. Gordon.
|Donnelly, Michael Patrick.
Hanafin, Des. McGlinchey, Bernard.
Mulcahy, Noel William.
Whitaker, Thomas Kenneth.
Yeats, Michael B.
Cooney, Patrick Mark.
McCartin, John Joseph.
Reynolds, Patrick Joseph.
Robinson, Mary T.W.
Tellers: Tá, Senators W. Ryan and Brennan; Níl, Senators Reynolds and Harte.
Question declared carried.
An Cathaoirleach: One further item was ordered for today, No. 3 on the Order Paper. What is the position in relation to that item?
Mr. E. Ryan: It is proposed to take that item on Tuesday next.
Mr. Reynolds: At what time will we be meeting on Tuesday next?
Mr. E. Ryan: At 2.30 p.m.
Mr. Reynolds: Will that be the first item?
Mr. E. Ryan: Probably.
The Seanad adjourned at 5.25 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 July 1979.
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