HSE warns of ‘hidden agenda’ of some crisis pregnancy services

Oireachtas committee to be told of inappropriate tactics used by some organisations

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Organisations are masking as crisis pregnancy counselling services and influencing women to make choices they may not want, a Health Service Executive official believes.

Janice Donlon, funding officer of the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme will, on Wednesday, warn the Oireachtas committee examining the Eighth Amendment of the “hidden agenda” of certain organisations advising women in crisis pregnancy situations.

“Once these agencies have been contacted by a client they can seek to delay the counselling process and, in certain cases, show clients inappropriate images or use other tactics in an effort to influence their decision,” her opening address to the committee states. “These organisations are not State funded and women are advised to find out as much information as possible about a pregnancy service before they make an appointment.”

Ms Donlan will also advise on the use of abortion pills, stressing their use has become more prevalent due to the low cost and easy access.

Meanwhile, the Irish Family Planning Association will also address the committee advising of the significant cost women face if they seek a termination.

Dr Caitríona Henchion said there are also practical difficulties a woman could face if she chooses to travel.

“The Eighth Amendment places unacceptable burdens on women. It forces them to travel to another state for medical care,” her opening statement to the committee says. “Travelling abroad for a legal abortion can prove impossible for some. This leaves them with little option but to risk prosecution by obtaining abortion pills online.”

The current system imposes a significant burden on women at a time of crisis and stress in their lives, she will add.

“It criminalises women and healthcare providers. All women are disadvantaged and discriminated against when they are forced to travel to another state to access abortion services, and even more so if they access illegal abortion.”