Family Planning Association to provide abortion services from January

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) will start providing legal abortion services from January 7, it has confirmed.

The announcement comes a day after abortion officially became legal in the Republic of Ireland after President Michael D Higgins signed new legislation into law.

A bill to legalise abortions in Ireland passed through all its parliamentary stages earlier this month.

The IFPA said it has completed its preparations for the introduction of abortion services and will provide abortion care at its clinics in Dublin city centre and Tallaght on Monday January 7.

On Thursday, President Higgins signed the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Bill 2018.

The new laws will allow for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to a cooling-off period and a requirement for medical consultation.

After 12 weeks, abortions will be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

The legislation will give effect to the result of a referendum in May.

Preparing our abortion service has been the focus of our work since the referendum.

The poll delivered landslide support for the repeal of a section of the state’s constitution – the Eighth Amendment – that provided the legal basis for the country’s near-blanket ban on abortion.

Niall Behan, IFPA chief executive, said: “Preparing our abortion service has been the focus of our work since the referendum.

“We’re ready and we’re dedicated to providing abortion care to women in Ireland for the first time.”

Mr Behan said the IFPA was proud to be at the “vanguard of the new services” after its long campaign for abortion rights.

“The IFPA has been advocating for full reproductive healthcare in Ireland for 50 years,” he added.

“The organisation was founded at a time when even basic contraception was illegal in this country.

“We’re now at a place where we can provide safe and legal abortion care for women and girls in Ireland and this is truly momentous. We’ve been working hard to ensure that we can deliver the best possible care.

“This is an entirely new service, developed in the extremely tight timeframe set by the Minister for Health (Simon Harris).

“The onus is on the Department of Health and the HSE to ensure that women who seek abortion care have timely access and don’t encounter any barriers.”

IFPA medical director, Dr Caitriona Henchion said: “Our abortion care service can only begin as planned if the medication and pregnancy tests are supplied on time, and the protocols for rhesus testing and the provision of anti-D are finalised.

“Most important is the referral pathway.

“Our clinics will be providing early medical abortions up to nine weeks’ gestation.

“Patients who have their first appointment with us and are between nine and 12 weeks pregnant will need to be referred for hospital care.

“We cannot arrange those first appointments until we are certain those referral pathways are in place.”

- Press Association

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