Unplanned pregnancy

Introduction

If you have an unplanned pregnancy and need support, there are free confidential counselling and information services to help you consider your options and access the services that you need.

My Options helpline and counselling service

My Options is a freephone helpline that provides information and support on all your options if you have an unplanned pregnancy, including information on continued pregnancy supports and abortion services. It is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

My Options provides counselling over the phone and can give you information about getting free face-to-face counselling. It can refer you to a recognised HSE-funded counselling agency for unplanned pregnancy.

Counselling is also available for partners affected by an unplanned pregnancy.

Supports to continue pregnancy

If you think you are pregnant, you can visit your GP (family doctor) or contact your local maternity unit or hospital. They can give you information on the antenatal care options available to you. Antenatal care is the care you get from healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. Antenatal care in public maternity hospitals is free.

You can read more about antenatal and maternity care options here.

If you are having a baby, there are various benefits and entitlements available.

There is also a range of social welfare, tax and employment benefits and entitlements for families.

There are information resources for parents, including for young parents and one-parent families.

Adoption is an option that you can consider and decide on at any stage during the pregnancy. If you are considering adoption, you can discuss this with a counsellor for unplanned pregnancy.

Abortion

An abortion, also known as a termination, is the medical process of ending a pregnancy. It may involve taking medication or having a minor surgical procedure.

An abortion is available for free in the public health service if you live in Ireland.

When can you have an abortion?

You can have an abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy (that is, no more than 84 days since the first day of your last period). After 12 weeks, you can only have an abortion in exceptional circumstances.

You need to attend a pre-abortion consultation and a doctor must certify that you will not be more than 12 weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion.

You must get this certification at least 3 days before you have an abortion. You should have this consultation as early as you can.

After 12 weeks, you can only have an abortion if the pregnancy:

  • Puts your life at risk
  • Risks serious harm to your health
  • Is likely to lead to the death of the foetus before birth or within 28 days of birth because of a problem with its development

If you are under 18 years of age

If you are aged under 18, you are encouraged to involve your parents or another supportive adult.

However, if you are over 16, you can choose not to involve an adult and a doctor can offer you an abortion if they think you can understand the information and give consent.

If you are under 16, and choose not to involve an adult, a doctor can only offer you an abortion if there are exceptional circumstances and you have had an assessment with a doctor.

If your doctor believes there is a risk to your safety or welfare, in certain circumstances your doctor may have to report your details to Tusla - the Child and Family Agency.

After an abortion

You will be offered a free post-abortion check-up about 2 weeks after having an abortion. You can have this check-up with the GP or doctor you saw at your pre-abortion consultation. This appointment is optional.

Post-abortion counselling and support is available free of charge from My Options.

My Options provides a 24-hour nursing team for someone who has had a recent abortion and needs medical advice.

Myoptions.ie provides information that is useful to have after an abortion.

Contact

The My Options helpline can provide you with counselling, information and support on all your options, including information on supports to continue your pregnancy and on abortion services. Call Freephone 1800 828 010 or +353 1 687 7044.

For more information, visit the website Myoptions.ie.

Page edited: 7 October 2019