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Guidelines issued to GPs ahead of abortion laws coming into effect

Clinical guidelines have been issued to doctors ahead of new abortion laws coming into effect in January.

GPs will be able to provide terminations via medication for women who are under nine weeks pregnant.

A pregnant woman between nine and 12 weeks will have to go to hospital for the service.

A 24-hour helpline will be in operation to advise women on their options and where the service is available.

Dr Tony Cox from the Irish College of General Practitioners said it is important the public knows it is an opt-in service for GPs.

“The 24-hour helpline, and communications campaign, will help women access a community provider who can offer the service, but we need further clarity on a number of issues,” Dr Cox said.

“It is essential that the public know that this is an opt-in service for GPs, i.e. only those doctors who plan to provide the service will be contracted to do so.”

No doctor is obliged to provide the service if they do not wish to do so.