There have been 6,000 calls to the HSE’s crisis pregnancy helpline since abortion was legalised in Ireland.
In January, the MyOptions helpline received 1,925 calls for information and counselling and 387 nursing-related queries.
In February, there were 1,026 calls to information and counselling services and 218 nursing queries. In March, there were 1,102 calls for information or counselling and 261 for nursing.
In April, there were 919 calls for information or counselling and 293 nursing queries.
The number of people who have terminated pregnancies in Ireland, since January 2, will not be available until a year has passed, says Dr Mary Short.
Dr Short is the director of sexual and reproductive health for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP). 317 GPs have signed the termination of pregnancy (ToP) contract. A further 26 are awaiting completion of their contracts. The ICGP will train a further 40 GPs in the next two weeks.
This represents 11% of the GP population in Ireland.
Of the 317 GPs contracted to provide ToP services, 169 have consented to having their details shared on the My Options website. The rest can be accessed when a person contacts the helpline, where they will be referred to the nearest GP providing ToP services.
In terms of calls per day to the helpline, there were 58 a day in January for information and counselling and 13 for nursing advice. The average calls a day fell for the following months: for information and counselling services, there were 37 in February, 36 in March, and 31 in April.
For nursing queries, there were seven calls a day in February, eight in March, and 10 in April.
In several counties, there are no GPs providing ToP services, nor hospitals providing medical terminations.
While no GP, or hospital, is obligated to provide a service, Dr Short said it is “disappointing” that there are pockets of Ireland with a vacuum of ToP services.
I find it disappointing that in some counties there wouldn’t be a doctor, or doctors, willing to provide this service and that you would hope that they would see their way to rethinking their position for the women that they look after.
Dr Short also runs her own practice, in Blackrock, Co Dublin, where she provides reproductive health and ToP services.
Since the provision of abortion services became legal in Ireland (December 20, 2018, in legislation, and January 2, 2019, in practice), Dr Short has seen a diverse spectrum of women. “The profile is really women in their 30s who’ve had failed contraception. The profile would be of women who have already had families, the timing [of these pregnancies] is very bad, or there could be other issues, health with other children,” Dr Short said.
“There’s a myriad of reasons why they have chosen to be there. While they can feel a bit sad, there is relief, as well,” she added.