Nuns consented to plans with 'reproductive clinic'
The Sisters of Charity gave consent to the planning application for the new national maternity hospital which includes accommodation for fertility services.
Documents seen by the Irish Independent show Vicar General Sr Patricia Lenihan wrote to the HSE on behalf of Sr Mary Christian (Superior General) of the religious order in late February saying the order was giving consent to the application.
The application to build the €300m maternity hospital at the St Vincent's campus includes 244 beds, each with a private room, and five operating theatres.
On the first floor it will have a "reproductive medicine facility", which will allow for fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The Catholic Church does not support IVF and an ethical code, drawn up in 2010 by the Sisters of Charity order - which will own the new hospital - says any means of assisting conception which bypass the normal marital act "are not acceptable in our health care services".
The planning application was accompanied by detailed architectural drawings.
The letter states: "The Religious Sisters of Charity gives its consent to the making of the planning application to An Board Pleanála... in respect of its lands at the St Vincent's University Hospital campus."
It is not clear from the letter if the order was specifically briefed about the inclusion of a fertility clinic.
The Sisters of Charity did not respond to questions by the Irish Independent yesterday on how it reconciled the 2010 ethics document and the provision for IVF in the new hospital.