Abortion in Ireland is free and legal up to 12 weeks’ gestation.
The 12 weeks are counted from the first day of your last period, not from when you had sex.
Abortion in Ireland is carried out either through pills, or as a surgical procedure.
Beyond 12 weeks, abortion is legal only in cases where the pregnancy poses a serious risk to the woman’s life or health or if there has been a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.
To access an abortion for medical reasons after a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality, two doctors must agree that the condition would lead to the death of the baby within 28 days of birth.
The vast majority of abortions in Ireland happen before 12 weeks, through pills provided by a GP. However, not all GPs in Ireland provide abortion services.
The HSE has a phone line called MyOptions, which can direct you to your closest GP. The number is 1800 828 010 or +353 59 913 8175 from outside the Republic of Ireland.
Early medical abortion is also provided by maternity hospitals. But again, not all maternity hospitals in Ireland are providing abortion services at the moment.
A medical abortion (with pills) is often only available from a GP if you are under nine weeks’ pregnant. Between nine and 12 weeks, you may have to go to a maternity hospital.
Under Irish law, there is a mandatory three-day wait between when you first ask a doctor for a termination and when you can access the procedure.
This is important to know, as the 3-day wait could push you beyond the 12-week limit, at which point you may not be able to access a legal abortion here.
The three-day wait is measured between the day when you are “certified” – your first visit to the doctor where it will be confirmed that you will be less than 12 weeks’ pregnant by the time the abortion is carried out. So this means that if you went to a doctor on a Monday, the earliest you would be able to access an abortion would be Thursday.
It is also important to be aware that in some cases, a doctor may need to refer you for an ultrasound scan to certify that you will be less than 12 weeks’ pregnant by the time you access the abortion. This can also cause a delay, which could push you beyond the 12-week limit.
The MyOptions phone line can also provide crisis pregnancy counselling, if you are not sure what to do.
Some agencies which claim to offer objective crisis pregnancy counselling services are run by anti-abortion activists, so it is important to verify that you’re speaking to a trustworthy counselling service.