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Harney must regulate crisis pregnancy agencies

18 July, 2006

Dublin Mid West Sinn Féin representative Joanne Spain has called on Minister for Health Mary Harney to pass legislation regulating the area of crisis pregnancy advice agencies. Spain made her call following a shocking undercover investigation into such agencies by Dublin radio station Newstalk 106. Following the report, Harney was questioned as to whether legislation would be forthcoming, but denied it would be and refused to give an adequate answer as to why not.

Spain said:

"Dublin Mid West has an alarmingly high number of crisis pregnancies, particularly among young women. At this point in their lives, women are vulnerable and often turn to counselling services for help. Unfortunately, they are often tricked into agencies whose sole purpose is to force their ideological viewpoint on the woman and prevent her from
considering abortion.

"The presence of these clinics has been highlighted by the National Women's Council, the Rape Crisis Centre and the Wellwoman's centre.  Their so-called counselling techniques can include forcing a woman to look at videos of abortions, getting her to hold plastic models of an early stage foetus and advising her about mother and baby centres where she can have the baby and walk away afterwards.

"This kind of practice is wrong. Everybody is entitled to have their opinion on abortion, but it is not right to prey on women asking for help, pushing a choice on them and then calling it 'options' advice.

"I am disappointed that Mary Harney does not see this as a more serious issue, particularly when in her own constituency, the statistics show that there are many women who could end up in sham centres like these.

"I would call on her to immediately examine the issue and look at legislation that would put centres like this out of business. It is not enough to hope that women don't accidentally walk into them. It is her job to ensure they are not allowed call themselves something they are not."ENDS

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