Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he feels "a bit sickened" by reports concerning a pregnancy counselling centre and the kind of advice it seems to be giving about abortion.

Mr Harris said he was extraordinarily concerned and what he had read in the newspapers today was very alarming and very worrying.

He said he has asked his officials for an update and to present him with all policy options, including regulation.

The minister said all women were entitled to be provided with factual and accurate information.

It comes as the Ireland edition of The Times carried out an undercover investigation of abortion advice services and published a video of a woman being given advice in a Dublin centre.

On the video a woman can be heard telling the undercover reporter that having an abortion can increase the risks of getting breast cancer and could also lead to a woman abusing any future children she may have due to psychological issues.

Speaking about the video, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said the Government provides funding on the basis of giving impartial advice.

If that is not being done, she said, it could add to the trauma of what women are experiencing and she would consider if regulation is required.

HSE aware of 'disingenuous crisis pregnancy counselling services'

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Dr Peter Boylan said breast cancer risk is not highest in the group of women who have had abortions and there is no evidence to suggest abortion makes women more likely to abuse their children.

He told RTÉ's News At One that there is no regulation of organisations giving pregnancy advice and he said if women are looking for informed advice they should go to a family planning association. 

Dr Boylan said doctors are allowed to give information to women about the termination of pregnancy but they cannot refer women directly to clinics in UK, or anywhere, for a termination of pregnancy under any circumstances.

Reacting to the story, the Health Service Executive said it is aware of a number of alleged "disingenuous crisis pregnancy counselling services" that advertise themselves as crisis pregnancy counselling services but cause considerable upset and anxiety to women already in a very difficult situation.

It said it does not have any power to regulate crisis pregnancy counselling or to prosecute, but has addressed this problem by ensuring that women are aware of State-funded crisis pregnancy counseling services through the Positive Options advertising campaign.

In a statement, the HSE said its Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy programme provides funding to 16 crisis pregnancy counselling services and funds training for all crisis pregnancy counsellors that work in the State-funded services.

Since 2015, all crisis pregnancy services are obliged to complete a self-assessment framework and to make improvements to the quality of the service they provide, which is monitored by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy programme.

Elsewhere, the anti-abortion group Pro Life Campaign said a discussion on counselling services for women with an unexpected pregnancy is "long overdue".

In a statement spokesperson Cora Sherlock said: "It goes without saying that women facing an unexpected pregnancy should at all times be given accurate and precise information."

Also reacting to the controversy, pro-choice group Choice Ireland said it is unacceptable that this situation is allowed to continue and that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that all crisis pregnancy counselling services are regulated. 

Spokesperson Stephanie Lord said: "Choice Ireland appeared before an Oireachtas Committee as far back as 2009 where we highlighted the medical misinformation that these clinics with an anti-choice agenda were disseminating. 

"The clear aim of these organisations is to bully and manipulate vulnerable women into not seeking terminations. 

"They present themselves as providing objective and impartial information when nothing could be further from the truth. 

"Telling women that they will have serious negative health consequences and become child abusers should they have a termination, as well as other lies, is a grossly unethical act. 

"Women seeking abortion information during a time of crisis pregnancy are vulnerable enough without having to wade through misinformation too.

"Clearly there is an urgent need for the Government to overhaul its attitude to pregnancy in Ireland.

"People in crisis pregnancy situations in Ireland deserve better."