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Your questions answered

What is the law on abortion in Ireland?

Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life (as distinct from the health) of the mother.

Women are entitled to travel to another country to get an abortion.

It is always legal to discuss termination with a pregnant woman. However, if information is requested about abortion services that are legally available in another country then this information may only be given under specific conditions that are set out in law. For example, all the options that are open to a woman in her particular circumstances must be explored appropriately.

It is not lawful to promote or advocate for an abortion in individual cases.

For further information on the law regarding abortion in Ireland, click here.

Will my check-up and my counselling session be confidential?

Counselling and medical check-ups are confidential. There are times, however, when, to protect you and other persons, confidentiality may be compromised. This will only happen where a counsellor has reason to believe that:

  • you are at risk of harm
  • other people are at risk of harm
  • there is a child protection issue
  • he or she is obliged by law or by a court to disclose
  • it is in the public interest to disclose

In these cases, a social worker or An Garda Síochana may be informed depending on the circumstances. The counsellor will discuss this with you unless doing so would place you or another person at risk.

Can I have a check-up and counselling session if I am under 18?

This will depend on your exact age and on the service’s policy. No matter what age you are, it is important that you get the support you need. All services should discuss this with you and help you get the support of a parent/ legal guardian or someone else appropriate if possible.

If you are aged 16-18

Medical check-up: If you are over 16, you are old enough to consent to a medical check-up and do not need the consent of a parent or a legal guardian.

Counselling: If you are over 16, you may also be able to have counselling if the service provides this without a parent or legal guardian being with you or consenting to you having counselling. Many services, however, will only provide counselling to persons under 18 if they have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. All services should discuss their policy with you around this and help you to get the support you need.

If you are under 16

If you are under 16, then a service will require parental/ legal guardian consent for a medical check-up and counselling session unless the circumstances are exceptional which can only be decided on a case-by-case basis. The service should always discuss with you how important it is to have support.

Will my check-up and counselling session be confidential if I am under 18?

The doctor or the counsellor should discuss this with you. Confidentiality is very important but it can never be guaranteed, whatever age you are, especially where there may be concerns around your own age, the age of the other party to the sexual activity or general child protection concerns. Confidentiality can also not be guaranteed if, for example, there is a court order or a request under the Freedom of Information for a child’s records by a parent.

Abortion aftercare service

Free medical and counselling services are available in Ireland for women who have had an abortion abroad. These services are funded by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme.

The counsellors and doctors working in these services are experienced in supporting women who have had an abortion. Services are free of charge to all women, regardless of their age, income or where they live.

Below are services that provide free abortion aftercare medical check-ups and counselling services:

Below are services that provide free post-abortion counselling services: