Eamon Murphy sought to countersue the HSE, claiming that its My Options website was “fake in its intentions”.
THE HIGH COURT has directed a man who allegedly set up a crisis pregnancy website to stop operating it under a name that is similar to the HSE’s freephone service ‘My Options’.
Eamon Murphy, with an address at Finglas Road Dublin 11, claims to have registered the domain name www.myoptions.website on 8 December, telling the court that his crisis pregnancy service has been in operation for more than 20 years under different names.
The website offers counselling and ultrasounds to women experiencing crisis pregnancies, and was registered after the Minister for Health announced the name of the HSE’s crisis pregnancy service www.myoptions.ie.
The HSE service went live in December following the passage of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018, and its freephone service commenced in January.
‘Attempt to confuse’
However, the High Court heard that “legitimate confusion” had since emerged among women seeking to avail of the HSE service as a result of the name of Murphy’s website.
The judge said that despite the range of other names Murphy had used for his business over 20 years, there was now a legal issue over whether he could operate his website under the ‘My Options’ name.
She said that it was “quite clear” that Murphy only used the My Options name when HSE announced the use of the ‘My Options’ name last December, and that there was now a “very genuine urgency” to deal with the matter.
She also mentioned media reports regarding an individual who had sought to use the HSE’s service, but became unsure when she also came across Murphy’s website.
The judge added that Murphy’s registration of the ‘My Options’ name in December could “only be construed as an attempt to confuse” individuals seeking to use the HSE’s service, and questioned his motives for doing so.
In response, Murphy announced his intention to countersue the HSE over the use of the name, claiming that its ‘My Options’ website was “fake in its intentions” and “recklessly endangering” women in a way that could lead to loss of life.
He told the court that his business had been operating since 1995 as the Women’s Counselling Network, also known as the Good Counsel Network, to assist women who believed they had no choice when they became pregnant.
“Thousands of women and babies are alive as a result of our operations over the last 20 years,” he said today.
“If the HSE did what they alleged we were doing, none of those women or babies would be alive.”
He claimed that a number of individuals from outside of Ireland had contacted his company since it began trading as ‘My Options’, and argued that it would be unfair if he was to stop using the name as a result.
“The fact is that we have the number one ranked page [on Google] has nothing to do with MyOptions.ie,” he said.
Murphy also revealed that he was operating a number of other websites using the ‘My Options’ name, and claimed it would be difficult to immediately desist from using the name, as he would have to contact domain hosts in California to have the website taken down.
In her ruling, the judge rejected a request by Murphy to commence the order from next week, saying that while there was nothing to stop his company continuing its service, the name under which it was operating was “difficult”.
She told him to immediately take steps to desist from using the ‘My Options’ name on any crisis pregnancy websites he operated, until the matter could be heard again in two weeks’ time.
The matter was adjourned until 1 March.