Gianna Care: Misinformation on a bathroom door

How one anti-abortion agency is using stickers, a staple of campus, to market itself as a women’s health organisation

There are so many stickers and posters dotted around campus that they become easy to ignore. The battle for our attention never seems to stop and the backs of bathroom doors are a consistently popular target for advertising new societies, grinds, or student plays. But a significant number of these advertisements concern politics – and not always college politics. Although there appears to have been a recent crackdown within Trinity, students can still find stickers from People Before Profit, Irish Marxists, housing access campaigns, and lately, Gianna Care. 

Gianna Care is a non-profit which claims to “assist women facing unplanned pregnancies in Ireland”. The organisation, however, reportedly has a history of offering misleading advice that might affect access to legal abortion.

“What they do is fob you off,” said Maeve O’Brien, an activist and organiser with Alliance for Choice Derry, a group of campaigners active across Ireland which O’Brien describes as a “radical, non-hierarchical, pro-abortion group”. 

According to O’Brien, if Gianna Care can consistently reschedule your appointment or consultation until “about the 10 or 12-week mark”, you will be pushed past the point of legal abortion access in Ireland. 

Until recently, stickers promoting Gianna Care could be seen around campus and on lampposts on College Green. The stickers are simple: a pink background, with an elegant white font reading “Gianna Care”, and below, a 24/7 “crisis pregnancy support” helpline. Multiple students were able to confirm that they had noticed those stickers in the women’s toilets on campus during Michaelmas term. 

One second year student who preferred not to be named had seen a Gianna Care sticker on the back of a cubicle door in the Lecky Library’s women’s toilets. 

“I didn’t pay attention to the sticker at first,” she told Trinity News. “I thought they were part of a college support programme.”

Later, however, at a talk she attended, Gianna Care was cited as an example of a pro-life pregnancy support provider.

Gianna Care can afford to pay for their results to appear high up on Google when people enter search terms relating to pregnancy and abortion”


Gianna Care, O’Brien said, can afford to pay for their results to appear high up on Google when people enter search terms relating to pregnancy and abortion. Sometimes they even appear at the very top: depending on what you search, “you can expect My Options (the HSE’s resource page and helpline) to come up second or third,” she said. 

But if Gianna Care can afford to promote its website so that it appears above the HSE in search engines, why put up stickers on bathroom doors? For anti-abortion groups like this one, constant marketing is an intentional tactic used to reach their target audience. College students, particularly those who live away from home, are easier to connect with than older women with established support networks.

O’Brien explained that students and minorities “are the people who will fall victim to these kinds of centres because you do panic when you’re pregnant and don’t want to be. So if you see a sticker, you’re gonna reach out to them”.

“Gianna Care, on the other hand, is likely aware that university students are more likely to be pro-choice”

Political parties like People Before Profit might appear around campuses because members know students are likely to share their beliefs; there’s no need to conceal their aims or ideologies. Gianna Care, on the other hand, is likely aware that students are more likely to be pro-choice, O’Brien suggested. 

“They use that handmade strategy to lure you in and make you think this is gonna be endorsed by feminists”, O’Brien explained. 

Gianna Care’s website is as sleek and non-threatening as its stickers. These organisations rarely publicise outright that they oppose abortion, and often describe themselves using modern feminist terminology. For example, Gianna Care’s Northern Irish counterpart, Stanton Healthcare, calls itself “a safe space where women are empowered to make their best choice”. 

At the same time, their sites will discourage abortion in indirect ways, such as sharing “success stories” from women who realised they didn’t want to have abortions after receiving counselling. In information pages, they discuss “post-abortion traumatic stress syndrome”, which they describe as a “serious, widespread problem”, and say that “emotional side effects” of abortion “can range from mild regret to … depression.” If you’ve been affected by someone you know having an abortion, they can counsel you too. 

Misinformation has always been a tool of groups that oppose abortion. The Gianna Care website emphasises the potential trauma of having a medical abortion at home, stating “the woman may see her baby and need to dispose of the remains”. This is false; medical abortions can be done at home for up to nine weeks (and in hospital up to 12). 

Photos available for free online show everything that would be removed during an abortion at nine weeks, namely a white embryonic sac six centimetres long, in which no “baby” is discernible. O’Brien also pointed to another false claim made by such groups, stating that she has heard that medical abortions cause breast cancer. 

A 2017 investigation by The Times alleged that Gianna Care advised women that contraception was a health risk, there was a link between abortion and breast cancer and sometimes sex may even lead to death.

This misinformation is difficult to regulate; groups like Gianna care are not technically health centres, but charities. In an “advice session” with a volunteer, what’s said is outside the control of healthcare regulatory bodies. 

Putting up stickers or posters is not endorsed by College, and they’re both regularly taken down. However, it seems there’s no way for College to prevent the spread of misinformation within this small ecosystem or control what organisations are being promoted. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether a support provider has motives beyond your well-being. However, closely examining the vocabulary used by its website or advertisements can reveal some red flags. Paternalistic expressions of care, such as the website’s text suggesting to you that you don’t know what you want, could be seen as an indicator that the site opposes a woman’s choice to have an abortion. Another indicator is the use of the word “baby” when, in a medical context, “foetus” or “embryo” might be more appropriate. 

Of course, such close reading of vocabulary can be difficult for someone who struggles with English or finds themselves under heavy stress. Moreover, students and young people with less real-world experience might be less inclined to investigate the political motives of their support providers. An international student, for example, who might not be aware of Irish abortion laws, could be particularly vulnerable to misinformation. 

Overall, O’Brien said the HSE service My Options is the only service that’s guaranteed to be trustworthy and unbiased. “This centralised pathway that offers non-directive advice and links you with abortion providers – it should be on the back of every door in the bathrooms at universities,” O’Brien said. “I’m surprised there hasn’t been a sustained communications campaign… How much money are they putting into other public health campaigns?”

My Options can be accessed by any student in Ireland, regardless of their situation, to be connected with a GP or get information on abortion services and continued pregnancy support. 

You can call their freephone helpline at 1800 828 010.