Abortion services will be provided in Ireland for the first time from today.  

The services will be provided by the Health Service Executive, through GPs or family planning services, and in maternity units and hospitals across the country. 

Following last year's referendum and subsequent legislative change, people can now access an abortion in Ireland under specific circumstances. 

Abortion care will be free of charge to people who need it. 

The Irish College of General Practitioners has emphasised that the 'My Options' freephone number which began operating at 9am should be the first port of call for anyone seeking a termination.

The helpline number is 1800 828 010.

Yesterday, Minister for Health Simon Harris described the fact that abortion services will be available from today as momentous.

Mr Harris said, as 80% of terminations would take place in the community, he was satisfied that the estimated 165 GPs who have signed up to provide the service was enough to meet demand. 

Last week, the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street in Dublin said it will accept referrals for abortion services from 7 January.

It said it will accept such referrals from its catchment area of south Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare.

Other hospitals which have committed to providing services as soon as possible include the Rotunda, Dublin; Cork University Maternity Hospital; University Hospital Galway; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; University Maternity Hospital, Limerick; The Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar; Mayo University Hospital; and University Hospital Waterford.