Around 20 women sought terminations on January 1st – the first day of abortion services being legal in Ireland.
The HSE has officially commenced free, safe and legal termination services this year, following last year’s repeal of the Eighth Amendment and legislative change.
A new free unplanned pregnancy support service has been launched to help people in crisis. In the first few days, the website and helpline, called MyOptions, had a high volume of calls from women seeking information about abortion services.
According to The Irish Times, the helpline was “busy but not overwhelmed” with queries. GPs reported that around 20 women had sought terminations on the first day of the service on Wednesday.
Women who seek terminations must undergo a 3-day decision period before certification and the procedure, which means the earliest abortions could take place in Ireland this weekend.
Services are accessed locally through GPs or family planning services. The maternity unit at Letterkenny University Hospital has not yet begun providing abortion care, according to the HSE website.
The HSE currently lists nine hospitals in Ireland that are providing care, adding that it is expected that other hospitals will begin to provide abortion care in the near future.
The new law allows abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, and in limited cases thereafter.
The HSE MyOptions.ie website was set up to be the first point of contact for support and information about an unplanned pregnancy.
Counselling services are available over the phone and face-to-face through HSE-funded agencies. However, no face-to-face unplanned pregnancy counselling service is listed for Donegal.
Helen Deely from the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme outlined the supports offered by My Options, saying: ‘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.’