Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) yesterday played down a comment he made last week urging public acceptance of children born out of wedlock, a remark that sparked controversy.
“I personally would accept childbirth out of wedlock because this is a phenomenon that has existed — and will continue to exist — in society and could become more frequent in future,” Chien said when approached by reporters outside a legislative meeting yesterday. “Whether [a child is born to a married couple or out of wedlock], as long as the child is born, it’s a life, and we should always accept the child and respect life.”
He said the ministry had never considered childbirth out of wedlock a concept to be promoted or encouraged, nor did the ministry have any intention to do so. That every life is precious was his personal opinion, he said.
The controversy bubbled up following a press conference to announce a contest organized by the ministry for slogans promoting childbirth on Friday, when Chien told reporters that the public should be more accepting to childbirth out of wedlock.
He said at the time that the birth rate in France had gone up from about 1.4 children per woman to 1.9 and that more than 40 percent of newborns in France were born out of wedlock. Greater public acceptance of children born out of wedlock could help bring up the birth rate in Taiwan, which was only 1.02 — one of the lowest in the world — last year.
Chien said he raised the issue at a ministry meeting on Thursday last week and that no one raised any objections, but ministry officials did not further discuss the matter.
The remark immediately drew criticism from the public and welfare groups, who said that such a comment would encourage childbirth out of wedlock, which would make most single mothers miserable as most may not be able to afford a child because there are no government measures to support them.