Abortion services are set to be free of charge

Tadgh Mcnally

Simon Harris, Minister for Health, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and former justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, looking out into the crowd present at Dublin Castle the day the referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment won a yes vote. Image Credit: Cáit Caden

Abortion services in Ireland are set to be free if charge, according to Minister Simon Harris. 

Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, confirmed that no fees will be paid by the patients who need to make use of abortion services.

“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want costs to be a barrier,” said Harris.

He explained that this was to prevent private clinics from providing terminations, as well as ensuring an end to people travelling for abortions.

“We don’t want this to happen,” said Harris when speaking about the circumstances in which some women had to get abortions before the 8th Amendment was repealed. With plans to launch abortion services in January, some doctors are worried whether there will be enough supports and services to carry out abortions safely.

Dr Peter Boylan, the chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, spoke about a need to invest in the health service before an abortion service is brought in.

“I think in general, it’s pretty well acknowledged that there are capacity constraints in the system,” said Dr Boylan, who also added his concerns about the lack of both MRI and ultrasound facilities.

While three meetings were planned to take place with the IOC and Department of Health, only two have taken place.

According to Dr John O Brien, the chairman of the Irish College of General Practitioners, the meetings have been about the guidelines of the service. There hasn’t been any discussion however, about how the services will be carried out.

The IOC has requested that a helpline which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week be run. This helpline would be run to help book appointments, provide advice and support for any women who are looking to avail of the service.

The IOC has also argued against the three-day window that a woman must wait when they first ask for an abortion. They have said that it isn’t supported by evidence.

“It makes unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions,” said.

He argues that women who request terminations are already satisfied with their decision.

By Tadgh Mcnally

Image Credit: Cáit Caden