The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating the source of unsolicited phone calls urging a pro-life view after receiving a large number of complaints.

A spokesperson for the commissioner said the office is treating the issue as a matter of urgency.

Recipients were left a taped message on their mobile phone, saying that Ireland is one of the safest places to have a baby.

The call also refers to the recent death of a woman in a Galway hospital, although it does not name her and the message also cites the views of a named obstetrician.

The Data Protection Commissioner’s spokesperson said it is an offence to mount a direct marketing campaign in this way when consumers have not given their consent to receive calls.

The regulator ComReg is also investigating the unsolicited phone calls and has received a number of complaints.

The phone number behind the automated pro-life messages left over the past day has now been shut down.

The Data Protection Commissioner is now investigating options for prosecution. Each call could incur a penalty of up to €5,000.

An investigator said the office contacted various service providers and tracked down the company providing the phone line and had it shut down.

Investigators are now trying to ascertain who was using the phone number.