Monday 11 December 2017

Rogue pregnancy advice crackdown

Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Outlawing of rogue counsellors who give false information to women in crisis pregnancies moved a step closer, following agreement by Health Minister Simon Harris to support a Labour Party bill on the measure.

However, he told the Dáil that additional work needs to be done on the proposed legislation before it proceeds further.

The bill was brought forward by Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin.

It follows reports earlier this year that some maverick agencies, which issue misleading advice to women in crisis pregnancy, were continuing to operate here.

"It's not enough for us to express horror and outrage, and then for the issue to disappear once more," Mr Howlin said.

"To do so would leave these rogue agencies operating for another decade, abusing countless women when they most need care and support."

In response, Mr Harris said there would need to be a number of changes to the bill. Proposals to establish crisis pregnancy counsellors as a separate profession would give rise to difficulties.

Separately, the Health Department is starting a review of the existing 1995 law allowing for non-directive counselling to be given to women in crisis pregnancy.

Allegations of providing misleading information under this law may be referred to the gardaí for investigation, Mr Harris pointed out.

The review will establish if these provisions need to be strengthened and examine other relevant issues and concerns which have been raised.

Irish Independent

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