herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

Harris 'sickened and concerned' at clinic's fake abortion advice

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris led the criticism of "dangerous" claims made by a maverick Dublin clinic that having an abortion can cause cancer and lead to child abuse.

The minister said he was "sickened" and "extraordinarily concerned" after it emerged that the Women's Centre on Berkeley Street, Dublin 7, is reportedly telling women who go there for crisis pregnancy counselling that having an abortion can cause breast cancer later in life.

One woman purporting to be a counsellor at the unregulated clinic also reportedly told an undercover reporter for The Times that having a termination could result in psychological damage to women, who could go on to abuse any subsequent children they have.

Mr Harris said the issue has highlighted the lack of regulation for pregnancy counselling and is concerned by what some women are being told.

"I have asked my officials to give me an urgent update on the situation and present me with policy options," he said.

"It is important that women in this country are provided with factual information. What I read in the newspapers today is very alarming and very worrying."

The minister's concerns were echoed by a pro-abortion organisation called Doctors for Choice Ireland (DFCI), which said the advice that was secretly recorded and published online is "entirely dangerous, untrue and dangerous".

Perverse

"There is no reputable published research and no medical evidence for an increased risk of breast cancer or psychological sequelae [after-effects] from abortion when compared to women who have completed pregnancies," DFCI said.

The physicians group also suggested it was perverse for the 'counsellor' to link women who have had abortions with child abusers.

"To suggest that women who have had abortions are more likely to perpetrate child abuse is to heap insult on top of the stigma already imposed on the more than 100,000 women who have been forced to leave Ireland to access safe legal abortion services," DFCI said.

The Times also said its reporter was shown photos of aborted foetuses.

She was also reportedly questioned about the state of her mental health.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is calling for the immediate registration and regulation of people claiming to be psychotherapists and counsellors.

"The production and promotion of misinformation is unethical, unhealthy and, frankly, dangerous," said USI president Annie Hoey,

"The only way to ensure the correct information is broadcast and advised is by having statutory registration and regulation of psychotherapists and counsellors, which will contribute to a more ethical, transparent and modern health system in Ireland."

The Women's Centre could not be reached for comment last night.

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