Bogus crisis pregnancy advice agencies to be regulated in Ireland

The Irish government has committed to a major overhaul of how abortion information is regulated. Simon Harris, the health minister, has announced a full review of the Regulation of Information Act, which restricts what women can be told about abortion services outside the state. The review will run at the same time that a bill with cross-party support, which would regulate all crisis pregnancy counsellors, is making its way through the parliament. If it goes ahead, it would be the first time a government has moved to shut down crisis pregnancy agencies that give inaccurate or misleading advice. These moves follow an investigation by The Times that exposed a clinic run by a Catholic anti-abortion group which claimed falsely that abortion could cause breast cancer and turn women into child abusers. No evidence exists to support such claims.One centre in Dublin is now at the centre of a police investigation. The centre is linked to a Catholic anti-abortion group that holds protests outside clinics in Britain and has defended the Magdalene laundries. It is also connected to a man who was found in a 1999 High Court case to have used a similar clinic to illegally adopt a baby from a woman who had been talked out of an abortion.Anecdotal evidence of anti-abortion groups travelling to schools and making incorrect claims about abortion and sex was also brought to attention by a member of the parliament.The Health Minister said he found the information reported in the Times “…repulsive, spineless, unacceptable to any right thinking person. It should not and will not be tolerated,” he said. While he and other parliamentarians feel the bill needs improving as to goes through parliamentary scrutiny, the intention is to ensure a version of it passes.SOURCE: The Times, by Ellen Coyne, 18 November 2016 ; PHOTO: Dublin, 2007