12-Year-Old In Abortion Flap

Abortion-rights activists have criticized a Scottish Catholic Church aid program for paying a 12-year-old girl not to have an abortion.

The unidentified girl, who lives in England and is now midway through her pregnancy, was advised by teachers and social workers to terminate the pregnancy because of her young age, the British news agency, Press Association, reported Sunday.

But her unemployed parents contacted the Scottish Catholic Church's Pro-life Initiative, a program set up to offer alternatives to abortion. The family was offered immediate financial help if the girl chose to go ahead with the birth.

The amount of the payments was not disclosed, but the action drew quick and pointed criticism from abortion-rights groups in Britain.

Rosanne Ready, coordinator of the Scottish Church's Pro-Life Initiative, told BBC radio that the girl was adamant that she did not want to have an abortion, but she added that the church Â" does not think it's a good idea for twelve-year-olds to get pregnant, and does not encourage it in any way.Â"

Edinburgh Monsignor Tom Connelly, a spokesman for the church, told BBC TV that the church did not solicit the financial arrangement with the girl.

Â"We have to give help where it's needed, and where it's asked for, remember. We don't go touting for business,Â" he said.

But Anne Marie McKay, Family Planning Association, told BBC that the Church funding was irresponsible.

Â"Offering advice like this to somebody so young ignores the long-term difficulties that somebody in this position might have, of depression, disrupted education, significant health problems,Â" she said.

Â"The major concern is that the girl is not suffering in any way,Â" said Connelly.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report