Abortion cold calls resume despite regulator

Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 00:00

An unknown service provider has resumed making unsolicited anti-abortion calls to households in Ireland after it was shut down on foot of complaints to the Data Protection Commissioner.

Just before 3pm today, the Data Protection Commissioner closed a Dublin line that was making automated calls to households after it received 30 complaints.

However, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner confirmed this evening it was again receiving complaints from people receiving the calls.

A spokeswoman for the office said that it was marked as a priority case. "We would consider 30 complaints to be a very large number, so it was made a priority," she said.

The spokeswoman said she could not name who was behind the automated calls as it is still under investigation.

The calls, which are being made from a Dublin number, purport to quote a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology. The automated caller said that Irish doctors do not put the life of a mother at risk, even if it means the unborn child's death.

Prof Eamon O’Dwyer, Prof emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway, said the calls included a quote from a short speech he made at a conference some time ago but he wished to dissociate himself from the calls. He was not aware his comment was going to be used in a telephone messaging campaign, he said.

The call references a recent case where a pregnant woman died in Ireland, but did not directly mention the case of Savita Halappanavar.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is advising people not to engage in the call.