Ireland’s public health agency, the Health Services Executive (HSE) has admitted to spending close to €1 million of taxpayers’ money in the last four years to ensure that its My Options pregnancy hotline beats pro-life competitors in online search engine rankings.
The revelations came in a reply to recent parliamentary questions submitted to the Irish government.
“To help combat the promotion of disingenuous messaging, the HSE are monitoring any competitors and have set a bid management strategy to automatically increase their bids if another website appears ahead of theirs. The HSE monitors the search ad performance, and that of disingenuous agencies, on an on-going basis and shares feedback with Google,” the HSE responded to Labour Leader Ivana Bacik.
In a separate question submitted by MP Carol Nolan, the government divulged that close to €1 million had been spent on the online ad campaign in the last four years.
“The revelation that the HSE has set up a management strategy for MyOptions on search engines to automatically outbid any websites which offer alternative options to abortion points to how the government’s agenda is clearly to promote abortion as a one-track option,” Eilís Mulroy with Pro Life Campaign said. “The minister even admits the government has collaborated with Google to promote MyOptions and suppress organisations which offer support to women in unplanned pregnancies.”
He unfairly refers to the work of such organisations, which are often staffed by qualified volunteers motivated by genuine compassion, as ‘disingenuous’ and ‘rogue agencies’ simply because they do not offer abortion.”
The organization also noted that this is the first response from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly about the hotline after a year of questioning and pressure on the issue from pro-life parliamentarians and that the government still has not addressed or even acknowledged reports of the help line’s pro-abortion bias.
The Ireland chapter of Students for Life published a study in January 2022 citing evidence that the government’s My Options hotline demonstrated a pattern of directing women towards abortion, routinely encouraging them to book their first appointment with an abortion provider, even if the woman had made it clear she was not certain she wanted to have an abortion, without offering meaningful alternatives.
According to Pro Life Campaign:
If Stephen Donnelly was genuinely bothered about “disingenuous messaging” and shoddy practices in unplanned pregnancy counselling, he would not have kept his silence for over a year now on the evidence that came to light in 2022 about the disturbing pattern involving My Options counsellors advising women to book their first appointment with an abortion-providing doctor, even in situations where the women made it clear they were unsure if they wanted to have an abortion at all.
The Pro Life Campaign also said. “Think of the women who are genuinely conflicted about whether to go through with an abortion—who end up contacting the My Options hotline. My Options have shown that they are not equipped to meet the needs of these women and have nothing to offer other than abortion.”
According to Pro Life Campaign, since 2019, over €20 million of taxpayers’ money has been used on the rollout of abortion provisions in Ireland, including funding for abortions, since 2019.
The Independent also reports that, according to documents gained through a Freedom of Information request, in 2021-2022 the Ministry of Equality transferred €1.1 million of “unspent” funds allocated to programs for the Traveller and Roma peoples, migrant integration, and the Magdalene laundry redress to LGBT projects.