Scottish Church Blasted for Helping Pregnant Child

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

London ( - Pro-abortion groups have attacked the Catholic Church in Scotland for offering financial support to a pregnant 12-year-old and encouraging her to have her baby.

The National Abortion Campaign in Britain accused the church's Pro-Life Initiative of robbing the child of "choice" by offering her money. At least one tabloid newspaper columnist said the incident amounted to "bribery."

Commentators have also questioned the ability of a 12-year old to handle the emotional pressures of motherhood.

But pro-life activists have hit back, defending the church's actions and questioning the spin placed on the story by some media.

"What should the church do, should it ignore her plight?" one London-based pro-life campaigner asked Tuesday.

"That would be completely unloving. Here the church responded to the need, and loved the girl."

"Using the 'bribery' argument is unfair. At our [counseling] centers, we'd do everything in our power to help a pregnant teenager have her child. The effects of abortion, even years later, can be significant and traumatic."

The Catholic pro-life group, set up two years ago by the head of Scotland's 750,000 Catholics, has pointed to the life saved and explained that it will also give emotional support to the young mother-to-be.

It was not giving her money to have the baby, said coordinator Roseann Reddy, but would help pay for baby clothes, a crib, a pram and other expenses. The 12-year-old is about halfway through her pregnancy.

Because of her age, the unnamed child was advised by social workers to have an abortion. But her parents contacted the Pro-life Initiative, which has helped save the lives of some 200 babies since 1997. The girl was said to have taken the decision to have the baby before the church was approached.

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in western Europe - although lower than the U.S. and Canada. More than 4,000 under-16 girls have abortions in Britain every year, a little over half of the total number of under-age girls falling pregnant.

Last summer the Blair government launched a campaign aimed at cutting teenage pregnancies by half. It will enable under-16s to obtain contraceptives, without their parents' knowledge. Sex education will also be given to younger school pupils.

But pro-life groups believe the focus of sex education is wrong. Lucy Bartley of Christian Action Research and Education (Care) told Tuesday the organization has submitted recommendations to the government calling for "relationship education" to be highlighted.

"We're in favor of sex education, but we advocate looking at the context and the holistic aspects of sex, not [portray it as] just a mechanical activity. Most education merely promotes contraception, although that is only a tiny part of the problem."

Care has produced a video that promotes "an unashamedly abstinence message," and is now available at 40 per cent of Britain's secondary schools, Bartley said.

She said the pro-abortion lobby was "disingenuous" in accusing the Catholic church of denying the 12-year-old "choice." It was instead they who would deny her the choice of having her baby.