Research conducted by Students for Life has revealed that counsellors operating the Government run MyOptions telephone line are essentially directing women towards abortion while failing to provide even basic information on alternatives to abortion.
The HSE MyOptions service, which was launched in 2019, claims to provide “information and support” for women in unplanned pregnancies “including continued pregnancy supports and abortion services.” But the latest research by Students for Life tells a very different story.
The research, which included a series of calls to the My Options ‘helpline’, was carried out between November 2021 and January 2022. It contains some very disturbing revelations, including evidence of MyOptions counsellors advising women to book their first consultation with the abortion provider even when the women seeking help have stated clearly that they remain conflicted about whether to opt for an abortion or not.
Commenting on the findings, Students For Life spokesperson Katie Fenton said:
“The research clearly shows that MyOptions counsellors are not equipped to talk to clients about anything other than abortion. Even when clients don’t seek information about it, abortion is the first issue counsellors raise with clients facing an unplanned pregnancy. It is extremely inappropriate as well that MyOptions counsellors repeatedly advise women to contact abortion providing GPs for their first consultation, even when they say they are unsure about whether to proceed with an abortion or not. This is the consistent pattern with MyOptions counselling from all the calls we made. It is a massive scandal that this is happening and it points to the need for major changes in how public policy in the area of unplanned pregnancy is delivered.”
Based on what Students for Life have brought to light, it is vital that people with experience in meeting the needs of women who wish to continue their pregnancy in these situations are invited by the Government to participate in the decision making process, by appointing them to the relevant bodies overseeing policy in the area of unplanned pregnancy. Nothing else is going to deliver the kind of change that’s needed. The Government and those in charge of My Options have shown that they’re either unwilling or unable to provide these essential supports to women. The line the Government uses of “trust us, we follow best practice” has lost all credibility, given the latest revelations.
As members of the pro-life movement, we have a tough battle ahead to ensure that the relevant changes are made and to guarantee that the information women are entitled to receive about practical supports and alternatives to abortion are given to them, prior to any abortion taking place. The latest opinion poll results show that there is huge public backing for women being informed about these supports. We’ll have to fight really hard and not relent until the changes that are needed happen in 2022, as part of the Three Year Review of the abortion law.
While this week’s revelations are very disturbing, Students for Life deserve huge credit for the work they have done in unearthing the truth about how the Government run My Options telephone line operates.