This post is inspired by and adapted from a post originally published at Feminism and Tea, also on the topic of abortion services. However: this is me saying all of it, and I take full responsibility for that.
Abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances in Ireland. In this post is information on the legal situation in the Republic, and how you can get the services you need. I’ll be sharing information on both legal and illegal methods of accessing safe abortions. If you need to use the latter, be careful! I’ll advise you on precautions that you can take to make sure everything goes smoothly and you get what you need.
Also: I am not a medical or a legal professional. I have a good layperson’s knowledge of the situation. I will update this post with any changes to circumstances or services, as and what I learn about them. So please do check this post for updates if you need to use this information. Similarly, because circumstances change: please link to this post instead of copying it, to avoid passing on out-of-date information.
I’m not writing this on behalf of any of the organisations I link to.
I’m writing this from the perspective of the Republic. The legal situation is different in Northern Ireland, and I’m not currently familiar enough with it to advise. However, much of the information here is also applicable to the North.
Best of luck.
The Law in the Republic of Ireland
What is illegal:
- Abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Ireland, unless it’s necessary to save your life (as distinct from your health).
- Helping someone to have an abortion in the Republic is also illegal.
Both of the above carry a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. If you need to have an abortion in Ireland, be careful.
What is legal:
- Therapeutic abortions to save your life. If your life is immediately threatened by your pregnancy, medical professionals are obliged to give you a termination and only one doctor needs to agree that it’s necessary. Where the risk isn’t immediate, two doctors have to sign off that your life is at risk. If the risk is psychological (risk of suicide), three doctors need to agree. This legislation has been used to deny suicidal women access to abortion and to have them involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility instead: if your pregnancy is causing you to be suicidal, I strongly recommend using one of the alternative routes below if you can.
- Travelling to a country where abortion is legal.
- Sharing and accessing information on services legally available overseas.
I need an abortion and I can afford to travel to the UK
The Abortion Support Network provides a list of UK-based abortion providers and clinics who offer discounted rates to pregnant people travelling from Ireland.
I need an abortion and I can’t/don’t want to travel overseas
Depending on your circumstances, you have two options. If you are legally and practically able to travel, there may financial help available. If you’re not able to travel, you’ll need to import abortion pills.
I want/have to travel and I need financial help
The Abortion Support Network may be able to help. They provide advice, financial assistance and accommodation to people travelling to the UK from either the Republic or Northern Ireland. Call them before booking your trip!
I can’t travel or I want to do this at home: I need to get medical abortion pills
Note: travelling to the UK for an abortion is perfectly legal. This is not.
If you are less than nine weeks pregnant, you can use abortificant pills to induce a medical abortion. You will have to import these. Because this is illegal, there are a lot of unreliable suppliers out there.
Women on Web is a reputable online source for abortificant pills. They work with pregnant people all over the world in countries where abortion is illegal. You’ll be taken through an online consultation before you can buy your pills.
If you choose to do this, do not have the medication sent to an address in the Republic. They will be confiscated at customs. Send them to an address in Northern Ireland instead, and then post them to the Republic or collect them from there yourself.
Misoprostol (one of the two drugs you need to take to induce an abortion) can make you feel nauseous, so people often prefer to take them vaginally. However, because of the legal situation in Ireland, it’s advisable to take them orally instead as this is a lot more difficult to detect if you have (rare) complications.
I had an abortion and I think I’m having complications. What can I do?
Medical and surgical abortions are both incredibly safe! However, every medical procedure comes with a risk of complications.
If you travelled to the UK, you can tell your doctor that you had an abortion without facing legal consequences- you’ve done nothing illegal.
If you used Women on Web to self-induce, you may not want to tell your doctor about it. If you don’t feel safe telling your doctor, you can tell them that you had a miscarriage. Which is true- a medical abortion is an induced miscarriage.
I’m thinking of having an abortion, or I had one, and I need to talk to someone about it.
If you need to decide whether to have an abortion or continue your pregnancy, remember: no professional that you talk to can legally advise you to terminate. However, you can access non-directive, non-judgemental counselling and a listening ear.
Even if abortion was the right choice for you, you might be having complicated feelings and need to talk about your experience. Whether you need to talk about what choice to make, or to process your experience, it’s important to be careful about who you go to. There are many rogue anti-choice ‘counselling’ agencies in Ireland.
The Irish Family Planning Association and Dublin Well Woman Clinic both provide non-directive counselling. IFPA has centres all over the Republic.
I don’t need an abortion but I have more money than I know what to do with. What should I do with it?
The Abortion Support Network relies on donations to help people in Ireland get the medical care they need. Throw them buckets of your cash.
This situation is terrible! I’m in Ireland and want to do something about it
Good! Pop yourself over to the Abortion Rights Campaign and get involved.
Even bloggers have to pay the bills! Monthly subscriptions- no matter how small- help give me the security to devote time to this place and keep a roof over my head. If you like what you read, please do help out:
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[…] woman did something that hundreds (or thousands) do every year: she bought abortion pills online, and took them in the privacy of her own home. She did so alone, without medical supervision. Her […]
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