Students warned of risks posed by ‘rogue’ crisis pregnancy groups

USI to legally provide ‘all-options’ pregnancy advice for first time as part of SHAG week campaign

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has warned students about risks associated with services provided by ‘rogue’ crisis pregnancy agencies run by pro-life campaigners as part of its SHAG (Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance) campaign. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has warned students about risks associated with services provided by ‘rogue’ crisis pregnancy agencies run by pro-life campaigners as part of its SHAG (Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance) campaign. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has warned students about risks associated with services provided by ‘rogue’ crisis pregnancy agencies run by pro-life campaigners.

The sites are designed to resemble the MyOptions website, run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) but USI president Síona Cahill said that women who contact the sites are met with delaying tactics, designed to edge them towards the 12 week limit for a termination.

“What’s concerning people is the confusion around rogue agencies,” she said.

She said students have told the USI their experiences of mistakenly contacting the rogue agencies.

“They’re getting numbers they think are real because they look legit, and then they’re confused as to whether the service they’re accessing is the real one,” she said.

“When they do know the person intends on accessing abortion care, they then try to delay or push out the appointment, then you’re more likely to be over the 12 weeks.”

‘Horrendous’

Ms Cahill said the USI “absolutely condemns” the imitation services, which she called “horrendous”.

“If you want to continue your pregnancy you should get all the supports needed… but pushing people a certain way is not the way to go forward,” she said.

Ms Cahill was speaking as the USI launched its Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) campaign, which is being run this week in conjunction with the HSE.

It will be the first time that the USI has been able to legally provide ‘all-options’ pregnancy advice, Ms Cahill said. In addition to providing advice on unwanted or crisis pregnancies, the USI is also focusing on the issue of consent, and will roll out workshops on the topic across the country during the week.

The union will distribute 30,000 ‘SHAG packs’ during the week, which will include condoms, lubricant and information on consent, sexual health and contraception.