I had started to tease out further the whole question of what exactly the Minister for Justice means by the term "referral" as opposed to "information". He seems very coy — a term I would not normally attach to the Minister — about tackling the question which is being put to ensure that this amendment, if passed, will mean what it says and nothing else. The amendment would not permit directive counselling but would permit non-directive counselling. However, the wording of the amendment would not make that distinction. That will be done in the legislation. The words "directive" and "non-directive" do not appear in the amendment. Therefore the amendmentper se will not distinguish between directive and non-directive counselling.
With the greatest respect, we may end up allowing people to have information, counselling and support in a crisis pregnancy under a system which will finish up in a puff of smoke. That is why it is necessary for us to tease out the use of words in one speech or another. The Minister for Health got nearer to what we are trying to avoid, that is clinics in which the only information and advice a woman with a crisis pregnancy gets is to go abroad for an abortion. We do not want to see that sort of advice clinic. The Minister for Health when talking about books, magazines, radio and television said that such information will only be permitted in so far as it is factual in nature, and instead of leaving it there he went on "and does not seek to promote abortion in preference to alternative courses of action."
The word "promote" should be looked at carefully with regard to the legislation. It is a more meaningful word than "referral". The Minister should get his advisers to look at this. The use of the word "promote" as opposed to "referral" which is open to a number of interpretations would be much safer. For example, I can tell the Minister that there are lots of shops in Grafton Street and that is factual, but I can also say that one of them is called such-and-such and that it is great for men's overcoats, and that seems to be referral, but in fact it is just further elaboration of the same information that there are lots of shops in Grafton Street.
If, on the one hand, the law will permit factual information to be published in books or magazines, the Minister, Deputy O'Connell, said on "Prime Time", the programme we shared on television, that would mean the names and addresses without any indication as to which is good or bad. Where does one draw the line in the doctor's surgery or in the advice clinic? A doctor may give a woman all the options he can and a woman may go away and think about it and then come back and thank the doctor for the names and addresses of CURA, the Rape Crisis Centre and so on, which were given because the person was pregnant due to rape in order to assist her to make a decision not to have an abortion. The woman may say that having considered all the advice she wants to have an abortion and wants the names and addresses of clinics which the doctor thinks would look after her properly in the circumstances in which she finds herself; the doctor would refuse because he cannot go any further, although he can tell her to sit in his waiting room for ten minutes and read throughWoman's Way magazine, or whatever, or some leaflets that are there.
Is it necessary to put that onus on advice clinics so that they cannot actually say "Here is a leaflet" such as the one Deputy Fennell showed us from Northern Ireland? When the Ministers are answering I want them to understand what we are trying to tease out. We are trying to make sure that a non-directive counselling service that becomes available with all the necessary resources will not be just some kind of a talking shop. I am not saying that it must refer people or promote anything but it must be useful. It must be of some benefit to the traumatised person seeking it. In most cases people will be happy to complete their pregnancies and deliver their babies safely.
Let us look at the word "promote" because the Minister, Deputy O'Connell, got closer to what we are trying to avoid than the Minister for Justice did in the way he described non-directive counselling. Perhaps the Ministers would take a look at those issues.