Statement by Brendan Howlin on regulation of rogue crisis pregnancy agencies
10 years ago today, a fledgling campaigning organisation that would become Choice Ireland staged the first demonstration outside a rogue crisis pregnancy agency. For some years this issue slipped off the political radar, but it was brought back to the fore last year following an undercover investigation by Ellen Coyne and Catherine Sanz of the Times.
Last October, the Labour Party published a bill to regulate crisis pregnancy counsellors. In November, this Bill passed second stage in Dáil Éireann, and we were given a commitment by Minister Simon Harris that it would be progressed as a matter of urgency. Our Bill is scheduled to be scrutinised by the Oireachtas committee at the end of this month.
Earlier today, representatives of the Labour Party met with senior officials from the Department of Health to discuss progress on the matter. We were given an assurance that the Department of Health is working to designate the professions of counsellor (including crisis pregnancy counsellors) and psychotherapist within the existing legislative framework. And we were assured that the regulations would be put before the Oireachtas, for the approval of both Houses, before the summer recess.
This represents progress towards putting an end to the abuse that these organisations preside over. I’m glad that the Labour Party has secured this progress on International Women’s Day.