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IFPA calls for a review of Life website

By February 2, 2005News

– Release date: 02 February 2005

The Irish Family Planning Association has, today, reiterated concerns expressed by the Union of Students in Ireland over some of the content on the website of Life, a pregnancy counselling service in receipt of State funding.

The IFPA has already raised its concerns with the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, and the organisation wrote to the Minister for Health and Children to draw her attention to the matter.

The IFPA has received a number of complaints about the site from clients and other members of the public.

“The section on Life’s website that deals with abortion is, in our view, designed to scare women in a crisis pregnancy situation who may be considering abortion. It uses inaccurate information and exaggerated claims regarding the effects of an abortion procedure,” said Rosie Toner, IFPA’s Director of Counselling Services.

“Our experience in dealing with women who return from Britain after an abortion – both in our counselling service and in our medical clinics – would indicate that the vast majority of women who have abortions do not experience any post operation complications or high levels of distress.”

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency administers funding to organisations such as Life and the IFPA for the provision of information and support to women in a crisis pregnancy situation.

“Given that the State funds Life’s activities, including the development of its website, we strongly urge the Government to review the information for its accuracy and motivation. While this review is underway, the relevant content on the site should not be on display to web visitors.

“We are also concerned that this information may also be used within counselling sessions by Life volunteers. Instead, if women attend Life for information on abortion they should be referred onto organisations such as the IFPA, Wellwoman, One Family or PACT. All of these agencies provide ‘three-option counselling’ (including information on abortion) by professionally trained counsellors.”

The IFPA said that pregnancy counselling services who do not provide the names and addresses of abortion service providers are completely unregulated and can, at will, give out whatever information they choose, even if it is inaccurate. “The IFPA must operate within the strict confines of the Information Act. It is time that the Act was reviewed and regulations which set standards across all pregnancy counselling services were introduced.”

“It would also be important that those agencies providing medical information or advice should have a qualified medical doctor on staff to oversee advice and information, and answer queries from women. Many agencies, including Life, do not provide any medical services and as such do not have a medically qualified staff,” added Ms Toner.