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Investigation says HSE MyOptions hotline is failing women in unplanned pregnancies

A recent investigation undertaken by Students For Life between November 2021 and January 2022 has revealed the recurrent deficiencies present in the HSE MyOptions service. The research findings indicate that counsellors frequently promote abortion as a solution to unplanned pregnancy first and unprompted whilst failing to provide practical information on positive alternative such as adoption, social welfare entitlements, or other supports.

A recent story carried by TheJournal on 17 January included a “warning” from the HSE that pro-life support organisations in Ireland are operating as “disingenuous agencies” which “may try to influence a person’s decision with regard to their pregnancy.” In response, Students For Life spokesperson Katie Fenton said:

“Notwithstanding the negative characterisation of non-government-funded agencies which do not promote abortion, the pushing of the HSE MyOptions hotline as an alternative which by implication does not “try to influence a person’s decision with regard to their pregnancy” is completely untrue. This is witnessed in a comprehensive investigative study conducted by Students For Life from November 2021 to January 2022.

“Our research findings show that MyOptions counsellors are more often than not the first to raise abortion when talking to women seeking advice regarding their unplanned pregnancy. In these cases, the women who phoned merely expressed their indecision with their situation and wanted to explore all their options. Instead, in effect, they were presented with only one option: abortion. Shockingly, our research also revealed that MyOptions counsellors repeatedly encouraged women to book their initial abortion appointment even when they had made it clear to the counsellors that they were conflicted and unsure about what to do.

“Our research also shows that MyOptions counsellors are woefully ill-equipped to provide practical information on positive supports and options other than abortion when women seek information about alternatives or state that they have decided to continue with the pregnancy.

“The suggestion that MyOptions is providing a neutral and supportive service for women in unplanned pregnancies is flatly untrue. Due to this deficiency, the role of organisations which provide genuine supports for pregnant women are increasingly important and necessary.

“Following the release of this research by Students For Life, the Department of Health should engage with the issues it identified and immediately launch an internal investigation into the operation of MyOptions with a view to introducing changes and providing women with the fullest range of options. This should in no way be a controversial or partisan point, as 89% of Irish people favour offering women information on alternatives to abortion (Amárach Research, October 2021).”

This piece was first published on Gript

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