Friday 23 March 2018

Harris backs bill to stop rogue pregnancy advisers

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris
John Downing

John Downing

Health Minister Simon Harris has backed a new move to clamp down on so-called "rogue crisis pregnancy advisers" who give distressed women false information.

Mr Harris has confirmed that he is accepting a draft law being put forward by Labour leader Brendan Howlin which provides for the first time that crisis pregnancy counsellors be registered and regulated.

The move follows revelations earlier this year that some counsellors who are avowedly against abortion give women false information to dissuade them. Some of the "information" given suggested that abortion increased breast cancer risks and could lead those who undergo it to become child abusers in later life.

"I was absolutely appalled to see the false, misleading and offensive information being provided to some women during a crisis pregnancy," said Mr Harris.

"Women deserve better and I had made it clear that I intended to act to improve this situation," the Health Minister added.

Mr Harris said that Mr Howlin's Bill gave him the first chance to signal a change of policy in this area.

He said some changes would have to be made to the draft law to ensure against unintended consequences, such as doctors being penalised for giving crisis pregnancy guidance.

Mr Howlin welcomed the minister's decision and urged all other parties to support the measure, due for Dáil debate next Thursday.

"For too long, these agencies have been allowed to lie to women in the most grotesque fashion, and it's time we worked together on all sides of the House to put an end to this abuse," Mr Howlin said.

In September, the 'Times' led an investigation which discovered that a Dublin-based crisis pregnancy centre was giving women incorrect advice regarding their pregnancies.

Irish Independent

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