DUBLIN, July 11, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This September, the National University of Ireland (NUI) Maynooth is offering a series of “masterclasses” on counseling women in crisis pregnancies that includes a course on the subject, “Termination of Pregnancy: a lawful choice.” The program will consist of a presentation by Sherie de Burgh, a former employee of the Irish Family Planning Association, an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood.

Pro-life campaigners have pointed out that while the program is being co-sponsored by the government-run Crisis Pregnancy Program, it directly contradicts the law, since abortion remains a criminal act in Ireland under the Constitution.

“This is a travesty that must be challenged immediately,” said Pat Buckley of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute, told LifeSiteNews.com that the program is part of a deliberate plan to undermine Ireland’s pro-life laws and shut pro-life people out of crisis pregnancy counseling. The Crisis Pregnancy Program, sponsored by the country’s Health Services Executive, has been “pushing the boundaries further and further” every year, to try to legalize abortion, she said.

The next step, Ui Bhriain said, is to make the diploma course compulsory for people wanting to help pregnant women. A similar system is already in place in the medical establishment throughout Europe, in which those seeking qualifications in obstetrics, midwifery, nursing and pharmacy must participate in, or at least approve, abortion.

The government’s Crisis Pregnancy Program is also “enabling” abortion by referring women in unexpected pregnancies to abortion facilities such as Marie Stopes International in the UK, Ui Bhriain said.

Established as a Catholic university for lay people in 1795, the NUI maintains ties with the Catholic Church in Ireland and functioned exclusively as a seminary for aspirants to the priesthood for 150 years. It was granted a pontifical charter in 1896. The university is now formally separated from the Pontifical University of St. Patrick’s College Maynooth that operates as Ireland’s last functioning national Catholic seminary.