Ireland Moves to Regulate Crisis Pregnancy Center Counselors

By Austin Roscoe Published on November 21, 2016

Ireland’s crisis pregnancy centers have moved one step closer to facing government regulation.

Irish health minister Simon Harris announced on Thursday that a full review would be conducted on the Regulation of Information Act of 1995, which regulates what information may be shared about abortion.

The review was announced after an investigation by The Times found one crisis pregnancy center was claiming abortions could cause breast cancer, among other things. Harris called the claims “repulsive, spineless, unacceptable to any right thinking person” and said, “It should not and will not be tolerated.”

The Times reports that the announcement of the review comes “at the same time that a bill, which would regulate all crisis pregnancy counselors, is making its way through the (legislature of Ireland).” Harris said he was “not convinced” that such legislation is the best way to address the problem, but decided not to delay its progress for fear of sending the “wrong signal.”

The bill has passed the second stage of the Irish legislature’s lower house and will be examined at a health committee within two months.

Other agencies have allegedly been found spreading “dangerous information” as well. Independent Teachta Dala (TD) Mattie McGrath noted that the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) had been found instructing women back in 2012 to tell their doctors they had miscarried, and not had an abortion, in the event of complications after the procedure.

McGrath expressed his distaste that a pro-life crisis pregnancy center was the motivation for such a bill, and not the IFPA, which receives funds from the state. “Surely there is something amiss,” he said, “when the Minister for Health sits back and does nothing when a State-funded body is found to be engaging in such reckless behaviour.”

Ireland’s own Pro Life Campaign (PLC) has supported the regulation of crisis pregnancy counselors. PLC deputy chairperson Cora Sherlock told The Irish Catholic, “What we’ve always said is that we support women getting full and accurate information when they are in crisis situations — that goes without saying.”

In reference to the IFPA going unquestioned in 2012, Sherlock said, “I think there’s nothing cynical about suggesting that this looks like an attempt to target agencies that are opposed to abortion.” She then said that politicians would certainly be “open to the charge of double standards if they don’t do what should have been done before, which is to ask the IFPA to provide an explanation for what happened in 2012.”

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