Cardinal will pay to stop abortions

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Cardinal Thomas Winning, the leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics, will this afternoon pledge church money to encourage women to stop having abortions, writes Keith Nuthall.

In a speech in Glasgow to the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, he is to launch a programme of help funded by his Glasgow archdiocese, to be available to British women of any religion or background.

He will say: "We will offer practical alternatives to abortion. I make this pledge as a genuine response to this fundamental problem of society." Aid will include accommodation, counselling, financial support and the facilitation of adoptions. "No one will be turned away," said spokesman Father Noel Barry.

The move has been timed to have maximum impact on the coming general election, where abortion will be pushed onto the agenda by pro-life candidates.

"We would like to spark a new train of thought at this time when people make choices which will change society at the start of the new millennium," said Fr Barry.