Four out of five abortions will be carried out in the ‘community’: Minister
WOMEN who require abortion services will be able to contact a free new information phone line from New Year’s Day.
The My Options helpline is provided by the Health Services Executive (HSE) and will be staffed by trained professional counsellors from 9am on January 1.
After nine weeks, women will be referred to their nearest hospital providing abortion services.
There are currently nine hospitals in the State willing to provide abortion services, including University Hospital Waterford, the regional hospital for the South East.
Health Minister Simon Harris has said he expects up to four out of every five terminations will be carried out in the community.
So far around 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.
Minister Harris said New Year’s Day will be a “momentous” one for women in crisis pregnancy situations.
Speaking at a press conference to outline details of the My Options service, the minister admitted it would take time for the services to fully evolve.
“But what I can say to women across this country is that the services on offer tomorrow will be so much better than what we have in our country today, where we can’t provide that support, we can’t provide those options,” he said.
“Obviously this is a very sensitive issue many people will ring the helpline with an unexpected pregnancy just looking for advice on all of their options.
“Remember there are lots of different options and different women will make different decisions and we trust women to make choices and decisions. That’s very much what our referendum was about.
“I would encourage people to go to myoptions.ie for any information and the helpline will indeed become live tomorrow.”
Women seeking advice will be able to request the name of the nearest GP who can provide abortion services if they are up to nine weeks pregnant.
The freephone line (1800 828 010) will be available from 9am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm.
There is also a 24/7 nurse line for medical or nursing queries. This service will be available to women who are looking to take the abortion pill or have taken the abortion pill.
Women who are looking for counselling rather than medical services can leave a voicemail if nobody is available to speak to them and somebody will get back to them.
A face-to-face or phone counselling service will be available and can be arranged between two and five days.