Day on which abortion services become legal described as ‘historic day’ for Ireland

Department of Health and HSE websites updated to carry details on available services

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was one of many public figures who on Tuesday welcomed the introduction of legal abortion services in Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said January 1st, 2019, would be marked as the day in which “abortion services become legally available in Ireland”.

The Department of Health and HSE websites were both updated yesterday to included information on the newly available services.

The department’s site stated: “Abortion services will be provided by the HSE, through GPs or family planning services, and in maternity units and hospitals across the country, from today. Abortion care will be free of charge to people who need it.”


On its website, the HSE offers advice on how to get an abortion.

In a comprehensive information section, it states the pregnancy can be brought to end by taking medication or having a minor surgical procedure.

“You can have an abortion if your pregnancy is no more than 12 weeks – 12 weeks of pregnancy means 84 days since the first day of your last period.”

Certain circumstances

It continues by stating that after 12 weeks, a woman can only have an abortion in certain circumstances.

“The earlier an abortion is carried out, the simpler and safer it will be. Getting support early on will also give you more time to make a decision if you’re unsure whether you want to have an abortion or not.”

A new information freephone line went live on New Year’s Day.

The My Options helpline (1800 828 010) is provided by the HSE and will be staffed by trained professional counsellors.

To date approximately 165 GP clinics have agreed to provide abortion services which, in the first instance, will be the abortion pill.

The list of GPs has not been published as many fear being targeted by anti-abortion activists but the names will be given to women who ring the My Options freephone line.

‘Lifting the stigma’

Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council, said it was a “a historic day: when women in Ireland could finally access abortion at home, in the care of their own doctor.

“It is also very significant in lifting the stigma and shame that so many women experienced for decades unable to speak to family, friends and seek the medical care they needed,” said Ms O’Connor, who was one of the co-directors of the Together for Yes campaign.

Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign, which campaigned to retain the Eighth Amendment, said New Year’s Day would be remembered “as the day Ireland abandoned authentic human rights, to sanction the direct and intentional killing of innocent human life.

“Voters were lied to every step of the way during the referendum campaign by abortion supporters. This will become very apparent once the new law is activated.

“It is a law built on a lie that will not make Ireland a kinder, gentler, more compassionate place as some abortion advocates suggest,” she said.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times