Simon Harris to meet attorney general over 'misleading' abortion clinic claims

Health Minister Simon Harris is set to meet the attorney general to clamp down on abortion clinics which give “misleading” information after it emerged that one pro-life group claimed the procedure could turn parents into child abusers.

He confirmed he is planning to discuss potential licensing and regulation of the groups with the State’s legal adviser, adding that he would “encourage” anyone affected to contact gardaí under existing laws.

On Monday, the Ireland edition of The Times revealed that a Dublin-based pro-life organisation had advised an undercover reporter seeking an abortion that the procedure could lead to breast cancer due to links with ovarian cancer and the impact of an abortion.

The same counsellor also alleged that in some cases parents who have an abortion can become child abusers by either neglecting their future children or giving them too much attention.

The chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Peter Boylan, rejected the claims, insisting there is absolutely no truth that someone who has an abortion is at greater risk of either breast cancer or committing child abuse.

Mr Harris said he is so concerned by the situation he plans to raise it with the attorney general in the coming days and wants anyone affected to contact the gardaí immediately.

“I was, like a lot of people in this country, very alarmed by what I read in relation to the so-called advice that had been provided to some women who went to a certain clinic seeking information.

“I’ve asked my officials to examine all of the policy options, as I said yesterday, and I rule nothing out.

“I’m very open to the idea of regulation, and I intend to ask the attorney general’s office at an official level to look at all the options.

“But I would point out the 1995 Information Act is already on the statute books. It does say women must be provided with true and factual information. Therefore, if there is any suggestion, as clearly seems to be the case, that any information given has been misleading or is downright false, it is obviously open to anyone to make a complaint to An Garda Síochána, and I would encourage people to do that.”

Simon Harris to meet attorney general over 'misleading' abortion clinic claims

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said the announcement of a €40m winter initiative to deal with emergency department overcrowding has been postponed due to lack of agreement.

Mr Harris said his first priority was to ensure the €40m is spent effectively but stressed that he still expects the plan to be published by the end of this week.

“What we absolutely need is to make sure that any measure they commit to in here is introduced in the hospital,” he said.

“What we don’t need to see is in previous years commitments are given and not delivered. So what I need to be convinced of and I think today is important in that regard, is that everything the HSE sign up to deliver can actually be delivered.

“This is €40m of taxpayers’ money... today’s meeting gives an opportunity to stakeholders to give their views on how it should be spent and I expect this plan to be published by the end of the week.”


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