In reply to a parliamentary question asked by Deputy Michael Collins, the HSE wrote on 4 April that a sign of a ‘disingenuous organisation’ is one which offers ‘advice and supports that do not include information on abortion services.’ This explicitly rules a pro-life pregnancy counselling service, which is open about its pro-life ethos, to be ‘disingenuous’ simply because it does not offer abortion.
We already know that the government has placed a bid management strategy to ensure the HSE MyOptions hotline outranks any potential pro-life websites on search engine results. A 2022 study demonstrated how HSE MyOptions counsellors regularly provide desperate or unsure women in unplanned pregnancies with leading advice to make appointments for an abortion. It is highly inappropriate to suggest there is no role for life-affirming counselling services, particularly in light of the gross deficiencies evident in MyOptions.
Responding to the parliamentary reply, Deputy Collins said: “I was disappointed to learn the HSE’s definition of a ‘disingenuous’ pregnancy organisation would include any that do not offer information on abortion. An openly pro-life counselling service should not be smeared in this way simply because it adheres to a life-affirming ethos which rejects the claim that abortion is healthcare.
“Pro-life counsellors across this country know that abortion takes a human life, and for this reason they are motivated to provide women in unplanned pregnancies with positive supports and alternatives to abortion. As is evident from the startlingly high abortion rate of 8,500 last year, the government is failing to provide women in unplanned pregnancies with much needed supports and other services.”