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SPUC criticises Catholic centre which hosted conference run by pro abortionists

10 June 2002

SPUC criticises Catholic centre which hosted conference run by pro-abortionists Belfast, 10 June 2002--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has expressed concern that a Catholic conference centre has hosted a conference run by supporters of abortion. In a letter sent today to Fr Patrick Ryall, prior provincial of the Servites' British and Irish province, Mrs Betty Gibson, chairman of SPUC Northern Ireland, points out that one of the organisers of the weekend conference at Benburb Priory, County Tyrone, used to be on the board of the pro-abortion Brook advisory centre in Belfast. Mrs Gibson also writes that the conference, held yesterday and the day before, was due to include a workshop on abortion law led by Ms Georgie McCormack of the Northern Ireland Family Planning Association (FPA). The FPA, an affiliate of the world's largest abortion provider, is trying to liberalise abortion in Northern Ireland and Catholic bishops are opposing the move. Mrs Gibson writes: "The fact that a representative of a notoriously pro-abortion, anti-Catholic organisation was allowed to lead a workshop on Catholic premises, even as her organisation fought the Catholic Church in the courts, is intolerable. Audrey Simpson, director of FPA Northern Ireland, was also present at the conference." Mrs Gibson's letter, dated today, to Fr Ryall says: I would like to thank you very much for your statement concerning the Women's Information Group conference held at the Benburb Centre last weekend. SPUC's deep concerns about the conference remain. You say that you were assured that the Women's Information Group was not pro-abortion, but its co-ordinator (who helped to organise the conference) is Kathleen Feenan, who was on the managerial board of the Brook advisory centre in Belfast. This is an institution which is avowedly pro-abortion. Of even greater concern to us is the fact that the facilitator of the conference workshop on abortion law was Georgie McCormack, a senior representative of the Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland. This happened at the same time as the Irish Catholic bishops are engaged in a legal action against her organisation's attempts to liberalise abortion practice in Northern Ireland. You will know that the FPA have mounted a judicial review of abortion practice here, and that the Catholic bishops have submitted evidence against their case. Judgement in the case was reserved, but is now expected to be handed down very soon. Ms McCormack's organisation openly campaigns for the introduction of an abortion law in Northern Ireland which is even more liberal than Britain's Abortion Act 1967 (the FPA is a founder member of Voice for Choice which campaigns for this very end), and the FPA is also an affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world's largest abortion provider. The IPPF encourages all its affiliates to campaign for permissive abortion, and stated in 1984 that: "Family Planning Associations ... should not use the absence of law or the existence of an unfavourable [i.e. pro-life] law as an excuse for inaction; action outside the law, or even in violation of it, is part of the process of stimulating change." (IPPF, The Human Right to Family Planning, 1984). The fact that a representative of a notoriously pro-abortion, anti-Catholic organisation was allowed to lead a workshop on Catholic premises, even as her organisation fought the Catholic Church in the courts, is intolerable. Audrey Simpson, director of FPA Northern Ireland, was also present at the conference. I would like to assure you again that I appreciate the strongly pro-life comments in your statement, but I would urge you to realise that this conference, and especially the workshop led by Ms McCormack, were undoubtedly pro-abortion.

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