Referral Policy Questioned at Crisis-Pregnancy Agency

4 Whistle-blowers Fired in Ireland

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DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 6, 2005 ( A debate over a policy by the Catholic crisis-pregnancy service in Ireland resulted in the firing of four longtime volunteers who «blew the whistle» on the program.

The case involved Cura, the Church’s pregnancy counseling agency, which has an extensive base of volunteers.

The government-run Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) agreed to give Cura 600,000 euros ($736,000) yearly if it would sign on to a policy that CPA promotes in all the counseling agencies it funds.

CPA insists on using a «non-directive approach» in giving advice, and asks the agencies to distribute information about services they are unable to provide.

In accord with this agreement, Cura began handing out a leaflet which includes contact information for the Irish Family Planning Association and other centers through which a woman could be referred to abortion clinics.

In May, four volunteers from Letterkenny wrote a letter to the newspaper Irish Catholic expressing concern about the policy, which indirectly cooperates with the abortion clinics.

The four were then called to a meeting with the National Executive of Cura on May 26, which they declined to attend while awaiting the decision of the Catholic hierarchy on the policy.

Last week, all four women received a letter of expulsion from Cura, for breaking the rules on confidentiality and refusing to attend a meeting with the executive board.

In an article in the Irish Independent, Cura national coordinator Louise Graham denied that their pro-life ethos has been violated by the pamphlet, stating that it is given «in the belief that it is providing the woman with an opportunity to further explore and contemplate her options.»

Father Vincent Twomey, professor of moral theology at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, disagreed with this rationale.

«Catholics cannot in good conscience subscribe to any law or policy that would in any way facilitate the grave sin of abortion,» he was quoted as saying in the Irish Independent. «The Church’s teaching is crystal clear.»

Bishop John Fleming of the Killala Diocese, the episcopal head for CURA, issued a statement on May 11, that Cura would not be involved in any activity or practice which would make abortion a more likely option in a crisis pregnancy situation.

He said that Cura supports the right of every child to be born and to receive his or her human rights and reiterated that its ethos is well known. Cura cannot, does not and will not provide telephone numbers for abortion clinics, the prelate said.

The Irish bishops’ conference will meet in Maynooth on June 13, at which time Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has called for an explanation and discussion of Cura’s policies.

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