Government to back Labour Bill on pregnancy agencies

Harris ‘appalled’ at ‘false and offensive information’ given to women about abortion

Labour leader Brendan Howlin: “For too long these agencies have been allowed to lie to women in the most grotesque fashion.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

Labour leader Brendan Howlin: “For too long these agencies have been allowed to lie to women in the most grotesque fashion.” Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The Government is to support a Bill from Labour leader Brendan Howlin that would require those who provide counselling to women during crisis pregnancies to be registered and regulated.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has informed Mr Howlin of his intention to support the Bill, which will come before the Dáil this week.

It is understood Mr Harris is keen to support the proposals in Mr Howlin’s Bill, although Government sources said some work will have to be done on aspects of it.

The Government is expected to come forward with its own proposals in this area.

“We have heard frightening tales of how women in crisis pregnancy situations have been told that abortion increases their risk of breast cancer, or that those who have had abortions may later go on to be abusers,” the Labour leader said.

“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. The way in which these rogue agencies abuse women at a time of immense vulnerability must come to an end.”

‘Misleading’

He said he was glad of Mr Harris’s support and expressed hope that other parties would also back it.

Mr Harris said he was “absolutely appalled to see the false, misleading and offensive information being provided to woman during a crisis pregnancy”.

“Women deserve better, and I had made it clear that I intended to act to improve this situation. Deputy Brendan Howlin’s Bill provides the first opportunity to signal policy intent in this area.”

He added there was “a lot of work to do to make sure the legislation is robust and effective”, and he looked forward to working with Mr Howlin and others “to make to make important progress in this area”.