What would Sherie do? The future of pregnancy counselling in Ireland
Pregnancy Counselling and Sherie’s leadership in the practice of counselling has played a critical role in supporting people dealing with unintended and crisis pregnancies in Ireland over many decades. In the third of the series of annual seminars organised by One Family in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin’s School of Social Work and Social Policy commemorating the pioneering pregnancy counsellor, Sherie de Burgh, we explore, the role of pregnancy counselling practice in Ireland – past, present and future.
When abortion was not legally available in Ireland, Sherie de Burgh pioneered ‘Open Line Counselling’ along with other committed counsellors and volunteers to negotiate the grey areas in legislation and support women in the darkest of years. At this time not only was abortion unavailable in Ireland, but information on abortion care providers in Britain was censored.
As policy evolved to place counselling centrally in crisis pregnancy support services, Sherie worked as a pregnancy counsellor and service manager in One Family and played a leadership role representing the sector to inform policy and practice developments. Repeal of the 8th Amendment and legalisation of abortion in Ireland changed the landscape of services and prompts consideration of how counselling can now be best situated in the expanded model of care relating to unintended pregnancy and abortion care.
Building out of the infrastructure of pregnancy counselling put in place by Sherie and colleagues over many years, this seminar will reflect on the role of pregnancy counselling and abortion in Ireland past, present and future and examine the care pathways following legalisation of abortion in Ireland. We hope this discussion can inform the review of the Operation of the Act currently underway by the Department of Health paying specific attention to the place of pregnancy counselling in how the Act has operated and might be reviewed.
Date: Tuesday 15 February
Time: 7.00pm – 8.15pm
Location: via Zoom
Chair: Dr. Ruth Fletcher
- Dr. Catherine Conlon, Assistant Professor, Social Policy School of Social Work and Social Policy Trinity College Dublin. Catherine will discuss the historical/social context of pregnancy counselling as it evolved in Ireland after insertion of 8th Amendment, following referenda on information in 1995 and also pose questions about the place of counselling in the new model of care implemented following 2018 Act extending legal abortion considerably in the Irish context drawing from research she was involved in on Irish women’s abortion experiences in 1994, 2005 and 2021.
- Karen Kiernan, Chief Executive Officer, One Family – Ireland’s national organisation for people parenting alone, sharing parenting and separating.
- Anne McCarthy, Lead Tutor, Crisis Pregnancy Counselling Skills and Masterclass Programme, Department of Adult and Community Education Maynooth University.
To register for the seminar please contact us at: email@example.com or telephone: 01-662 9212
Sherie de Burgh Fund
In February 2020, One Family launched a fund in memory of our friend and former colleague Sherie de Burgh. The fund was established to help to support some of the most vulnerable children and families in the state. The fund focuses on two areas of Sherie’s work that she was particularly passionate about:
- Perinatal therapy: Perinatal therapy provides specialist therapeutic supports for mothers and their babies immediately before and after birth. The therapy works to strengthen lifelong attachments and security between mother and child. This may be particularly beneficial for mothers who have experienced an unplanned or crisis pregnancy, domestic violence or who have practical challenges such as homelessness.
- Financial support for vulnerable families: Sherie worked with some of the most vulnerable children and families in our society; families experiencing homelessness, direct provision, addiction and abuse. The Sherie de Burgh Fund is used to continue her work, helping to support vulnerable children and families when they most need it. The fund may be used for the purchase of school uniforms, fees for education courses or for baby equipment.
The fund is administered by One Family and overseen by our Board of Directors.