The HSE has issued a press release warning those ahead of using the incorrect number.
An incorrect phone number and image, which have been advertised online as the new HSE unplanned pregnancy service My Options, has been spotted online by those who searched the service.
Twitter user @himynameisaine noticed the bogus number in place of the HSE helpline on the morning of 3 January, and alerted those "in need of help" to the actual helpline of 1800 828 010.
PSA: when you google My Options a bogus number comes up, NOT the HSE helpline. Please don't call them if you're in need of help!!! 1800 828 010 is the number you need pic.twitter.com/CJ8oCybGvG— Áine (@himynameisaine) January 3, 2019
It is unsure as of yet what service this number provides, but it's believed to be linked with Anti-Abortion campaigners. The image used when searching the service online is believed to be of a Pro-Life clinic
Back in April of last year, The Times Ireland uncovered that Eamonn Murphy – of the Good Counsel Network’s fake clinic – posted similar misleading ads and campaigns online during the run-up to the Eighth Amendment Referendum, with the aim of targeting women trying to get help accessing abortions.
A representative from Irish Tatler phoned the currently listed number. A man's voice answered, and when asking what service this number provided, he originally refused and then replied with "Where did you get this number?" and "How many weeks pregnant are you?"
Irish Tatler contacted the HSE who promptly issued a press release confirming the awareness of several groups with a "hidden agenda".
"The HSE’s My Options service is a new free unplanned pregnancy support service which is the first point of contact for support and information about an unplanned pregnancy," they wrote.
"My Options offers non-directive, free counselling and information for people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. Information is available about all options, including continued pregnancy supports and abortion services.
"We are aware of a number of websites and ads that are appearing in search results and social media that claim to be providing unplanned pregnancy support services under variations of the My Options name.
"MyOptions.ie is part of the HSE website, and the official myoptions helpline is 1800 828 010 for unplanned pregnancy information and support.
"We have been promoting the official myoptions.ie website and helpline online through search and social media, and will be doing this on an ongoing basis. All our ads mention the HSE, and all our search and social media ads link through to the official HSE website. The HSE is a trustworthy source and will ensure that women get the information they need about all their options regarding an unplanned pregnancy.
"The My Options awareness campaign is also running across national radio and social media to ensure that those who need the service are aware of the correct details and phone number - www.myoptions.ie / 1800 828 010.
"There are a number of unplanned pregnancy agencies that may have a hidden agenda. Some unreliable agencies may not be upfront about their intentions and may try to influence a person’s decision. The HSE recommends that people should only visit a recognised or HSE-funded unplanned pregnancy counselling agency. If people are looking at information online, look for the HSE logo.
"Signs that an agency or counselling service may not be reputable:
- they may require you to wait a long time between appointments
- they may only meet you in public places such as hotels or car parks
- there are delays in giving you pregnancy test results – these should be given immediately
- their leaflets or information do not give information about all your options or use language that is very negative or frightening
- they may show inappropriate images, videos or DVDs as part of a counselling session, which are designed to influence a woman’s decision.
"You can get information about reputable HSE funded unplanned pregnancy counselling services on myoptions.ie or by phoning 1800 828 010."
On 26 May, almost 67% of the Irish electorate resoundingly voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment in Ireland, thus legalising medical abortion in Ireland.
The National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street has publicly announced that it will be accepting referrals for abortion services from 7 January 2019.