Abortion services are now available in Ireland.
Abortion officially became legal here after the President, Michael D Higgins, signed the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill into law on December 20.
From January 1, 2019, abortion services are being provided by the HSE, through GPs and family planning services, and in maternity units and hospitals nationwide.
The legislation permits abortions to be carried out in the following cases:
-Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. People under nine weeks of pregnancy will mainly be cared for by a GP, and people between nine and 12 weeks will be cared for in hospital
-Where there is a risk to the life, or of serious harm to the health, of the pregnant person. People in these cases will be cared for in a hospital setting.
-Where there is a condition likely to lead to the death of the foetus before or shortly after birth. People in these cases will be cared for in a hospital setting.
Abortion care will be free of charge to those who need it.
According to consultant gynaecologist, Dr Peter Boylan, who is working with the HSE to support the introduction of these services, ‘clinical guidance and training has been provided and circulated to healthcare teams nationwide to assist practitioners in the clinical decision making involved in providing abortion care'.
"A lot of work has been done by people across our health service to prepare for this new service, with a sufficient number of GPs signed up and others continuing to do so," he added.
The HSE has introduced a new unplanned pregnancy support service, My Options, which should be the first point of contact for anyone who needs advice or support.
"We're here to help you with professional counsellors if you want to talk to someone, have a question about continued pregnancy supports, or want information about abortion services. The HSE's My Options service is free of charge and you can contact us at Freephone 1800 828 010," explaned Helen Deely of the HSE's Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme.
The My Options website provides clear, accessible information for people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, including detailed information on abortion services and how they work.
The My Options counselling service is being provided on behalf of the HSE by experienced pregnancy counsellors from One Family, a national organisation for one-parent families.
"One Family is delighted to provide the My Options counselling service on behalf of the HSE, building on our decades of work in the areas of unplanned pregnancy support and helpline services. We look forward to ensuring that people who need information, support and counselling on any aspect of an unplanned pregnancy can have their needs met," commented Karen Kiernan, CEO of One Family.
If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and need information about continued pregnancy supports or how to access abortion services, call 1800 828 010 or visit myoptions.ie.