Cura, the Catholic Church crisis pregnancy agency, to close on Friday

Decision linked to declining demand and proliferation of other agencies


Cura, the Catholic Church agency that assists women dealing with crisis pregnancy, is to close on Friday.

The agency has been in existence since 1977 when it was founded by the late Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones. It has been reviewing its situation since 2015.

In a statement, the agency said that it was one of just two agencies providing a crisis pregnancy in 1977. “Today there are 14 various services, operating in a new regulatory environment with changing counselling quality standards compliance requirements.”

It had been “experiencing decreasing service demands in line with national trends and we feel this decision, which has been considered carefully for a number of years, is now the correct one.”

The decision also followed recommendations in a HSE review last November and was “further reinforced” by Minister Simon Harris’s recent announcement of the decision to regulate the professions of counselling and psychotherapy, it said.

Cura employed two full-time and 14 part-time staff.

“In the early days we had no State funding, so we were entirely dependent on the support of the church and religious, voluntary donations and the efforts of volunteers and supporters at various levels.”

“It’s time to pass our work on to other counselling services who will continue in the support and care of each individual who needs them,” said Charlotte Keery, Cura PRO and a former counsellor with the agency. “This is a difficult day for all of us but also a proud day,” she said.

Voluntary basis

Since 1996 Cura has conducted 163,400 face-to-face and telephone counselling sessions with clients. Its services were provided by more than 70 counsellors, some working on a voluntary basis, at about 30 locations. These included supports for planned and unplanned pregnancy as well as counselling after an abortion.

Cura became the centre of controversy in 2005 when the Catholic bishops instructed it not to distribute the Positive Options leaflet prepared by the State-sponsored Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA). At the time Cura received funding of € 654,000 from the CPA.

The bishops’ decision was a response to controversy over the leaflet after the Cura national executive council dismissed four volunteers in Donegal who had raised concerns about abortion information available from agencies listed in the leaflet. Cura then began referring women seeking information on abortion to their GPs.

In November 2007 the agency negotiated a new three-year support services contract with the CPA worth €2.2 million and under which it continued to provide crisis pregnancy support services and post-abortion counselling but did not distribute the Positive Options leaflet.

In 2012 Cura visited 176 schools and delivered 162 hours of its schools awareness programme to about 6,200 students, giving details of its crisis-pregnancy services. More than 1,600 people contacted the service in 2012.

In a May 2013 statement, opposing the the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, the Catholic bishops pointed out that “through Cura, the Church’s crisis pregnancy agency, help is available to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy.” The Bill, which was passed into law, allowed abortion where a mother’s life* was at risk through pregnancy.

*This article was amended on June 14th