Irish bishop defends crisis-pregnancy agency

Following accusations that the Irish Bishops pregnancy crisis agency facilitates the obtaining of abortions, its president has said definitively that the agency "cannot, does not, and will not provide telephone numbers for abortion clinics".

Catholic World News reports that Bishop John Fleming, the president of the agency Cura, issued his statement in response to public debate about the agency's relationships with other groups that make abortion referrals.

The bishops' agency has come under fire from pro-life activists, however, because Cura counsellors do provide women with the names of other organisations that will provide referrals to abortion clinics.

The Irish Independent reported at the weekend that Cura has entered an agreement with the State-run Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) to give women the numbers of family planning agencies as part of their counselling practice.

Bishop Fleming said that the Cura policy had been discussed by the Irish bishops at their general meeting in March, and would be on the table once again when the bishops convene in June.

Earlier this week, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin had called for a full discussion of Cura policies, and asked the agency to provide "more detailed information" about any indirect relationship with abortion referrals.

These agencies then give women contact details for UK abortion clinics upon request.

Details emerged after Cura volunteers blew the whistle. Four volunteers from Letterkenny said they were refusing to hand out the Positive Options leaflet produced by the CPA. This has contact details for all organisations funded by the CPA including the Irish Family Planning Association and the Well Woman Centre, both of which make available contact details for abortion clinics.

A letter from the four women appears in this week's Irish Catholic.

A letter from Cura's National Co-ordinator, Louise Graham, that appears in the same issue, confirms that the Positive Options leaflet is being handed out to Cura clients, but denies this violates the organisation's pro-life ethos.

Catholic advisers 'hand out abortion contacts' (Irish Independent 7/5/05)
Church advice service must stop giving abortion info, says theologian (Irish Examiner 11/5/05)
Irish bishop defends crisis-pregnancy agency (Catholic World News 11/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Statement issued by Bishop John Fleming, President, Cura (Catholic Communications Ireland 11/5/05)

Crisis Pregnancy Agency (not endorsed by Church Resources)

Church's pregnancy advice agency compromised by state funding (Irish Examiner 11/5/05)
Vatican called in over Cura abortion advice (The Sunday Times 8/5/05)
Archbishop: Cura should maintain anti-abortion ethos (Irish Times 10/5/05)
Indirect Abortion Referrals by Irish Catholic Pregnancy Organization Lead to Vatican Complaints (Lifesite 9/5/05)

12 May 2005