Beyond time to regulate crisis pregnancy agencies

Senator Annie Hoey image
17 January 2022

Women being lied to in a grotesque manner at a time of deep vulnerability

Labour Senator, and Oireachtas Health Committee member, Annie Hoey, has today demanded that the government act to clamp down on unregulated crisis pregnancy agencies operating in Ireland.

Following media reports, Senator Hoey said there is now a real opportunity for the government to reintroduce a Labour Party bill that will regulate this sector and ensure that those who need access to unbiased, factual, information on crisis pregnancies get it.

Senator Hoey said:

“Reports today in the Journal.ie of the misinformation and the intimidating of women by rouge crisis pregnancy agencies are extremely worrying. However, they are not new. Rogue agencies have been actively working in Ireland for decades. They are simply another one of the many barriers which people seeking access to abortion must navigate. It’s unacceptable.

“It’s beyond time to see these agencies regulated and bring clarity to those who need to access to information. It’s simply intolerable to think that there are people being lied to in the most grotesque fashion at a time of exceptional vulnerability. We have heard anecdotal stories of women in crisis pregnancy situations being told that abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, or that women who have had abortions will later abuse or neglect their children. It is simply not true.

“The continued operation of these agencies is totally unacceptable and something must be done now. They describe themselves as points of information regarding abortion. However, choice campaigners believe that they are in fact fronts for anti-choice propaganda. The language used by these rogue agencies is designed to scare and terrify people away from accessing abortion services. They also waste precious time, making it harder for people to get the health care they need within the 12-week limit of access.

“These groups operate mostly online, a space where the majority of people seeking information on abortion services start researching options. While the Health Service Executive (HSE) is advising that people only use their sites is helpful, it is not enough. Rogue crisis agencies need to be regulated and their misinformation campaigns shut down.”

“In 2016, the Labour Party published a Bill which sought to regulate this sector. The government at the time told us they took this issue seriously, however that legislation was allowed lapse, and six years later these organisations are still operating in Ireland. They have one goal in mind – to limit a woman’s choice to end a pregnancy. When we removed the Eight Amendment there was hope that the days of keeping choice in the shadows were over. The government needs to act now to ensure a choice is realised.”

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