Pell promises Church 'won't bully on abortion'

Catholic counsellors would not bully or pressure a woman who was seeking proposed taxpayer-funded counselling on abortion, Cardinal Pell said yesterday.

The Australian/AAP reports that Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott asked his cabinet colleagues to back a $60 million plan to reduce the number of abortions in Australia, which he has described as a "legacy of unutterable shame".

The plan includes Medicare-funded pregnancy counselling and a 24-hour phone hotline for women considering an abortion. An announcement on whether cabinet signed off on the plan is expected by the end of the week.

Mr Abbott has not ruled out allowing church groups to run the phone hotline - but he says if that is the case, religion would not be rammed down the throats of women seeking advice.

Sydney's Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, told the ABC that the Catholic church is still considering whether it would apply to run the hotline service.

But he said the professionalism of Catholic counsellors should not be questioned.

"Our counsellors are thoroughly professional and respectful and they wouldn't be bullying or pressuring anybody to do anything," he said. "They are used by many people of every religion and no religion precisely because of their competence and respectfulness."

Asked if a Catholic counsellor might advocate abortion in any circumstances, Cardinal Pell said he did not know what advice they would offer.

Cardinal Pell last week intervened in the RU486 debate, warning MPs not to shirk their responsibilities on important moral issues by handing approval power over the drug to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Catholics 'won't bully on abrtion' (The Australian/AAP 21/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Centacare Sydney

Catholic Welfare pushes for more abortion counselling (CathNews 20/2/06)
RU486 decision a bitter pill (CathNews 17/2/06)
Pell says Australia changing its mind on abortion (CathNews 15/2/06)
Catholic groups decry Senate vote (CathNews 10/2/06)
Catholic and Evangelical students join Muslims in RU-486 fight (CathNews 9/2/06)
Abbott says attacks are sectarian (CathNews 9/2/06)
Bishop Fisher says RU406 won't curb abortions (CathNews 7/2/06)
Catholic GPs ready to quit over RU-486 (CathNews 3/2/06)
Life Office criticises advertiser's gag on abortion debate (CathNews 1/2/06)
Churches lead RU406 protest (CathNews 30/1/06)
Day of action to fight abortion drug move (CathNes 27/1/06)
Melbourne Archbishop says maintain abortion drug ban (CathNews 25/1/06)
Pope says 'no' to gay marriage, abortion pill (CathNews 13/1/06)
Catholic Health to address abortion pill inquiry (CathNews 15/12/06)

Abbott calls for church group input into rtion counselling (ABC Radio AM 21/2/06)
Abbott wants churches to have greater role in rtion counselling (ABC Radio The World Today 21/2/06)
No bullies on church rtion line: Pell (Sydney Morning Herald 22/2/06)
Cabinet vows $60m to cut rtion rates (The Australian 22/2/06)

22 Feb 2006