Protection Of Lobbyists, Not Women’s Health At The Heart Of Howlin’s Bill – McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has sharply criticised a Private Members Bill that is due to be debated in the Dáil. The Health and Social Care Professionals (Amendment) Bill 2016, being brought forward by Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin, aims to regulate so called ‘rogue’ crisis pregnancy advice clinics:

“No one disagrees with the principle that best practice should be observed in all services that offer advice to women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.

But what this Bill is seeking to do is to use that principle as political cover to silence services or advocates that do not support abortion as a solution to a crisis pregnancy.

This is manipulation and spin masquerading as the high moral ground and it needs to be exposed for the cynical ploy that it is.

If Deputy Howlin and indeed Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Minister for Health, who I understand are supporting this Bill, were in any way serious about protecting women’s health, then they would have applied the same exacting standards to the scandal of life threatening advice that was offered to pregnant women by the Irish Family Planning Association in 2012.

The real agenda of this Bill is to throw legislative protection around organisations like the IFPA which are de facto government supported lobbyists for the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment amongst other things.

I am proposing today a further amendment to this Bill to ensure that no pregnancy counselling agencies can also be involved in political campaigning.

The fact that groups like the IFPA are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaign for repeal of the 8th Amendment from people like George Soros is an outrage.

I cannot see where a difficulty arises in framing the law to rule out the possibility of groups like the IFPA campaigning for changes to the Constitution, including repeal of the 8th Amendment, while also supposedly acting as impartial counselling providers,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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