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Taoiseach says abortion services may not be available in every hospital in January

Varadkar said he is confident services will be available, but perhaps not in every hospital or clinic.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said rolling out abortion services in Ireland will not be like flicking a switch.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said rolling out abortion services in Ireland will not be like flicking a switch.
Image: Julien Behal

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said abortion services may not be available in every hospital come January but terminations will be available in Ireland. 

Speaking to reporters today, he said he is confident services will be available, but perhaps not in every hospital or clinic. 

“Like any new service it is going to have to phased in,” he said, adding that “it may not be available in every single hospital and every single place, but the service will be available”. 

“Assuming the legislation is enacted, signed into law by the President, then a service will be available in January,” he said. 

He added that it is not going to be the case of “just flicking a switch” and the new service will be ready to go everywhere. 

His comments come as some doctors have questioned the implementation and timeline of rolling out the service. 

Writing for TheJournal.ie last week, Health Minister Simon Harris said he is determined to meet the deadline of rolling out services in January.

Harris said an agreement has been reached between the Irish Medical Organisation and the Department of Health on a fee for GPs providing the service. Each GP has been written to, expressions of interest in providing the service have been sought and details of the level of participation should be known over the coming weeks.

The HSE has also been working closely with the Irish Family Planning Association and the Well Woman Centre to ensure they are able to provide the service from January.

Hospitals have provided a plan for the rollout of termination services from January. These are currently being examined by Dr Boylan and the Women and Infants Programme.

For the service user, there will be a 24-hour helpline. It will offer the information, non-directive counselling, and if required, free face to face counselling.

“Crucially, it will direct the woman to her nearest provider willing to provide the service. When the legislation is enacted, the HSE will run radio advertisements and digital advertisements informing the public of this phone line.

“The HSE will also have new content on abortion services ready to go live on sexualwellbeing.ie when the legislation is enacted,” he said, adding that significant resources have been allocated to the service in Budget 2019. 

The Taoiseach’s comments come as the landmark legislation that will allow women to access an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with no restrictions was passed by the Dáil last week and is today being debated in the Seanad. 

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