DUBLIN, October 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A leading abortion organization in Ireland is on the defensive after a group of undercover investigators caught counselors at the organization giving out advice that could be both illegal and life-threatening.
Investigators, working with the Irish Independent newspaper, say they were told “in several instances” by employees of various “abortion counseling” services, all taxpayer-funded, that they could “conceal their abortions from doctors,” advice that doctors say could be criminal and extremely dangerous. Many of the counseling services belong to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), an affiliate of Planned Parenthood.
The investigators were also told how to obtain the RU-486 abortion pill, which is illegal in Ireland. Dozens of women around the world have died of complications arising from the use of this drug and investigations are ongoing of how the drug was approved in the US by the FDA.
The women made five hours of recordings of conversations with employees at eleven IFPA locations and at the offices of the Crisis Pregnancy Support Service. The paper reports that officers of the Health Services Executive, Ireland’s national health service, have heard the recordings and launched an investigation. An HSE spokesman said that “any potential breaches of the legislation will be pursued.” Police in Dublin have also been notified.
The recordings reveal a woman being told at the Dundalk IFPA, “Now when you go for medical attention they have no way of knowing that you have had an abortion. You need to say that you had a miscarriage. They will know you were pregnant but you need to say that you had a miscarriage.”
On obtaining the abortion pill an IFPA employee said, “If you have an address in the North or you can buy a PO box number, and get them to send it ... You can ... then go and collect the tablets in the North and take them down here.” At the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, an investigator was told, “I suppose I’m not encouraging you to break the law or get into trouble … but it can be done.”
Among the legal abortion services available at IFPA offices is the distribution of the Morning After Pill, called “emergency contraception,” which according to the manufacturer information can cause a very early term abortion by making it impossible for the newly conceived embryo to implant in the uterine wall. They also distribute copper intrauterine devices, IUDs, that have a similar abortifacient action using mechanical means rather than artificial hormones.
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The Independent, whose editorial position has been largely favorable to abortion legalization, quoted Dr. Simon Mills, a lawyer and medical doctor, saying, “It is definitely reckless and probably negligent advice to tell a woman to conceal from doctors something that may be a vital part of her medical history.
“This is especially the case if she presented unwell in the immediate aftermath of a termination and felt that she shouldn’t tell her doctor about it when it could be the key piece of information to deliver prompt and life-saving treatment.
“If somebody turned around and said the reason I didn’t tell my doctor was because a counselor told me it wasn’t necessary, civil liability would almost certainly arise and I think it is possible that criminal liability could too.”
Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute told LifeSiteNews that taxpayer funding for the IFPA should be immediately suspended pending a full investigation of illegal practices at the abortion referral agency. She pointed out that the IFPA has received more than €10 million in taxpayer funding in the past ten years from the Republic of Ireland.
“These revelations confirm what we’ve been hearing from women for years,” she said.
She also observed that Health Minister James Reilly recently appointed a former IFPA chief, Tony O’Brien, to be head of the Irish Health service. “That appointment should also be suspended, and Mr. O’Brien needs to answer questions as to the practises he oversaw at the IFPA,” she said.
The IFPA says it offers “contraceptive advice,” “fertility advice” male sterilisations, and “pregnancy counseling.” But it is an open secret in Ireland that they help pregnant mothers arrange abortions in the UK.
The organization is reported to be consulting legal advice in the wake of the Independent sting operation. It has issued a statement saying that “all of its counselors set out to work in adherence with the law” and that it operates “under protocols and procedures which take into account all legislative requirements.” According to the law, such counseling services are legal only so long as they do not engage in “promotion or advocacy” for abortion with clients, though it is also well known that IFPA is among the most powerful lobbyists pressing the government to legalize abortion.
Abortion in the Republic of Ireland, remains illegal, with the country enjoying the world’s highest rating for maternal health. However, abortion groups are particularly interested in overturning the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn. The government is expected to release a report by its expert group on the question of clarifying the law following a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights.