Accessing Abortion Care in Ireland

On 1 January 2019 the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act came into law allowing for abortion services in Ireland. The service is free to anyone living in the Republic of Ireland. It is available to anyone outside of the Republic for a charge. What are the steps for those seeking abortion care?

What does the legislation mean? 
Abortion services are provided in the following circumstances:
  • If the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks
  • If there is a risk to the life or health of the mother 
  • If the continuation of pregnancy or birth is likely to lead to the death of the foetus
  • Parents are required to give consent for those under 16 yrs.
Two medical practitioners must agree on the need for a termination in points 2 & 3. Medical practitioners include nurses, midwives, GPs and specialist doctors. 
What should I do first?  HSE Multilingual Resources and Translated Information - HSE.ie

As soon as possible call the HSE 24 hr free-phone helpline:
MyOptions 1800 828 010
From outside of Republic of Ireland call +353 1 687 7044 (Not free-phone)
The helpline offers pregnancy and abortion counselling and can give you details of a Doctor in your area providing abortion services.
What if I am over 12 weeks pregnant?
After 12 weeks, you can only have an abortion if… 
  • There is a risk to your life or serious harm to your health 
  • The foetus has a problem with its development and is likely to die before or within 28 days of birth
  • Surgical abortion is performed in hospital
What are the next steps?
  • It is best to have the pre-abortion consultation as early as possible.
  • At the pre-abortion consultation you will have a pregnancy test. The doctor must certify you are no more than 12 weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion. 
  • The doctor may refer you for an ultrasound scan to confirm the date of pregnancy. 
  • Your doctor will then give you a date for the abortion. There is a 3-day wait between your pre-abortion consultation and any abortion procedure. 
IMG_7428
What are the pathways? 
Medical Abortion
  • Up to 9 weeks pregnant (About 69 days since the first day of your last period.) Involves taking tablets in a doctor’s surgery and at home.
  • 9 to 12 weeks pregnant  (About 69-84 days since the first day of your last period.) Involves taking tablets in hospital.
Surgical Abortion
  • 9 to 12 weeks pregnant (69-84 days since the first day of your last period.)
  • Involves a minor surgical procedure in hospital called vacuum aspiration.
Up to 9 weeks pregnant:
Medical Abortion
  • After the 3 day wait, you will attend your doctor and sign a consent form. 
  • You will then take the first medication with a doctor present after which you’ll be able to go home.
  • You will be given the second medication to take 24 to 48 hours later at home. This will complete the abortion.
  • You can have an optional post abortion check-up 2 weeks later. 
9 to 12 weeks pregnant, medical option:
You have the option of having a medical abortion with pills in the hospital or having a surgical procedure.
  • After the 3 day wait, you will be referred to the hospital by the Doctor.
  • You take the first tablet in hospital then go home. 
  • You will go back to the hospital to take the second tablet (between 24 to 48 hours later). 
  • You have to stay in hospital to complete the abortion under observation (about 8 hours, unlikely overnight unless the pregnancy has still not passed) 
  • You can have an optional post abortion check-up with the doctor 2 weeks later. 
9 to 12 weeks pregnant, surgical option:
You have the option of having a medical abortion with pills in the hospital or having a surgical procedure.
  • After the 3 day wait, you will be referred to the hospital by the Doctor.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form at the hospital. 
  • Vacuum Aspiration takes 5 to 10 minutes 
  • You will have one of the following depending on what is available in the hospital: local anaesthetic (where the area is numbed) procedural sedation (where you’re relaxed and may be awake) or general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep) 
  • You will need to stay in the hospital for a few hours recovery. There is usually no overnight stay. 
  • You can have an optional post abortion check-up with the doctor 2 weeks later. 
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What can I do if I’ve been refused an abortion? 
You are legally entitled to challenge the decision taken by medical practitioners
You need to make a formal application to the HSE who will establish a committee within 3 days of receiving your application. 
The committee must complete its review within 10 days of your application.
You are entitled to be heard by the Committee
Where it grants an abortion, the Committee must arrange the procedure immediately.
Where it believes there is no risk to your life or health, or a condition likely to lead to death of foetus, the committee will notify you in writing. 
What if I have still been refused an abortion after review? 
You still have the right to travel and receive information about travel. 
For more information visit Irish Family Planning Association: 
https://www.ifpa.ie/get-care/abortion or call 1850 49 50 51
Further Information:  
We can only refer you to the services listed below. Please be aware that there are fraudulent help-lines and websites.
Information, support and pre- and post-abortion counselling is offered by the HSE on My Options 1800 828 010.  It is free to phone for those in the Republic of Ireland. 
From outside of ROI:+353 1 687 7044. Or visit the HSE website at https://www2.hse.ie/abortion. 
If you are in need of counselling:
  24-hr Rape Crisis Hotline:Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
1800 77 8888 or text 086 823 8443 
 
Women's Aid
 
Women’s Aid Helpline
1800 341 900 or text 087 959 7980
(includes interpretation service)
HSE Multilingual Resources and Translated Information - HSE.ie
 
MyOptions pre- and post- abortion counselling:
1800 828 010 or webchat at myoptions.ie

 

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