Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions (217)

Joanna Tuffy


217. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide counselling and other support services for mothers with fatal foetal abnormalities and their partners and families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14410/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme is a national programme, situated within the Health and Wellbeing Directorate of the Health Service Executive. It currently funds counselling and other support services to women who have received a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormalities and their families.

The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme (the Programme) defines crisis pregnancy as “a pregnancy which is neither planned nor desired by the woman concerned and which represents a personal crisis for her”. The Programme understands this definition to include the experiences of those women for whom a planned or desired pregnancy develops into a crisis over time due to a change in circumstances.

The primary function of the Programme is to prepare and implement a strategy to address the issue of crisis pregnancy, in consultation with relevant Departments of State and with such other persons as are considered appropriate. The purpose of the Programme is to bring strategic focus to the issue of crisis pregnancy and so to add further value to the work of existing service providers. The Programme is currently delivering a programme of work to meet the strategic objectives of its third national strategy for the period 2012 – 2016.

The Programme funds 15 Service Providers, both non-statutory and statutory, to provide free, non-judgmental crisis pregnancy counselling and related services in over 50 centres nationwide. These services are governed by a mix of Service Arrangements, Grant Aid Agreements and Service Level Agreements, depending on the funding thresholds concerned. The agreements sit under Section 39 grant funding governance framework (HSE Governance Framework for the Funding of Non-Statutory Services) and HSE governance processes (SLAs).

The mix of services include those who provide counselling on all options and contact details for abortion service providers abroad if requested in a face to face counselling session (3-option information services) and those who provide counselling and information on all options but do not provide contact details for abortion service providers abroad if requested (2-option information services).

The Programme funds the Crisis Pregnancy Counselling Certificate Course in NUI Maynooth. This course and the practice guide that accompanies it address the issue of a diagnosis of a foetal abnormality. Crisis pregnancy counsellors provide support to women and their partners in dealing with a diagnosis of foetal abnormality. As with all crisis pregnancy counselling the woman and her partner are supported through the decision they make.

The Programme also funds services to provide free post-abortion medical check-ups and post-abortion counselling for women living in Ireland who have had an abortion. The counsellors and doctors working in these services are experienced in supporting women who have had an abortion. They see women who have had an abortion recently and women who had an abortion many years ago.

All services offer crisis pregnancy counselling from one to multiple sessions depending on what the client seeks. These services operate a mix of models that in some cases facilitate their ongoing engagement with clients who opt to parent and need support with this or who are considering adoption and require further counselling in this area.

For further information on services funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme, please see:;

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 209.