The HSE has advised the public to be wary of fake websites advertising the newly launched MyOptions helpline for abortion services.
Official information about abortion services from the HSE began to roll out on January 1, with at least 165 GPs signing up across the country.
A new HSE freephone line staffed by trained professional counsellors was set up, along with a new information website, MyOptions.ie.
However, some users may have found themselves visiting a bogus MyOptions web page today when searching for the free helpline service online.
The site, which lists an Irish mobile number and email address as the contact information, promises to “start solving problems again”.
“Call us now and book a free ultrasound if you are thinking about termination and need to know how far pregnant you are and all you need to know to be fully informed,” the site reads.
The website is linked to an anonymous Facebook page, which shared videos promoting to “save lives and stop abortion” back in May 2018.
A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed to Independent.ie that the site is not affiliated in any way with the official MyOptions helpline or website.
“We are aware of a number of websites and ads that are appearing in search results and social media that claim to be providing unplanned pregnancy support services under variations of the myoptions name,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the HSE are aware of a number of unplanned pregnancy agencies that “may have a hidden agenda”.
“Some unreliable agencies may not be upfront about their intentions and may try to influence a person’s decision. The HSE recommends that people should only visit a recognised or HSE-funded unplanned pregnancy counselling agency,” they said.
“If people are looking at information online, look for the HSE logo.”
They added that the correct freephone number for people seeking information about their options is 1800 828 010.
Some of the signs the HSE encouraged people to look out for when determining if a source is reputable include:
· they may require you to wait a long time between appointments
· they may only meet you in public places such as hotels or car parks
· there are delays in giving you pregnancy test results – these should be given immediately
· their leaflets or information do not give information about all your options or uses language that is very negative or frightening
· they may show inappropriate images, videos or DVDs as part of a counselling session, which are designed to influence a woman’s decision.
MyOptions was established by the HSE to act as the main referral path for women seeking a termination, providing non-directive and non-judgmental advice.
Following last year's referendum and subsequent legislative change, people can now access an abortion in Ireland under specific circumstances. Abortion care will be free of charge to people who need it.
The HSE previously said that there was a steady stream of calls on its first day open.
They said that while it was busy, "our team has been able to support everyone who has been in touch with us".