This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.
If you think you might be pregnant or know you are pregnant and would like advice you can visit your GP (family doctor) or local health centre for advice and support. There are free, non-judgemental crisis pregnancy counselling services all around Ireland. For a list of these, visit the MyOptions.ie website or text the word ‘LIST’ for free to 50444.
Can I go for counselling for a crisis pregnancy without my parent or guardian knowing?
If you ring a counselling service, you can ask over the phone about their policy on seeing someone under 18 without the consent of a parent or guardian. Some services will talk to you about how to tell your parent or guardian, and they will support you in doing that.
Other services will only see you if your parent or guardian comes with you.
Is there any special support service for teenage or young parents?
Some parts of the country have a Teen Pregnancy Support Programme (TPSP) for young parents under 19 years of age until their child reaches two years of age. The TPSP is a community-based service which gives free, confidential information and advice to young parents and other family members like grandparents.
The TPSP will tell you about your rights, entitlements and responsibilities as a young parent. They can also give you information about services available to you including:
Can I get free medical care while pregnant?
Yes, you are entitled to free pregnancy care under the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme until your baby is six weeks old. This covers:
- doctor visits
- ante-natal clinics
- the maternity hospital when your baby is born
- two check-ups after the birth
Contact your GP (doctor) or your local health centre for more information. You can also get more information on the scheme on the MyChild.ie website.
Can I still go to school if I am pregnant?
Yes, you are entitled to continue your education if you are pregnant.
You may be entitled to financial assistance for schooling at home under the Home Tuition Grant Scheme. This scheme pays for nine hours of schooling a week for 10 weeks. It is usually given to students who need to be absent from school in the later stages of pregnancy or immediately following the birth of the baby. To access this scheme, contact the Special Needs and Tuition Grants section of the Department of Education and Skills website.
Can I get an abortion?
An unplanned pregnancy may leave you feeling worried and confused. Deciding whether or not to continue with a pregnancy is a personal decision. You should not feel forced by anyone to have an abortion.
You can have an abortion if you are no more than 12 weeks pregnant which means it has been 84 days since the first day of your last period. After 12 weeks, you can only have an abortion in certain circumstances. You can visit your GP or local health centre for advice and support.
You can also contact My Options which is a HSE Freephone line that provides free and confidential information and counselling to people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. If you choose to continue with your pregnancy, they can support you with this option. If you decide that you want to have an abortion, they can also provide you with information on abortion services as well as post-abortion support. They can also explain to you about consent, confidentiality and involving your parent, guardian or another supportive adult.
You can contact them from 9am to 9pm on Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays at 1800 828 010 or see their website MyOptions.ie.
Read more of our pregnancy content:
- The professionals you may come into contact with when pregnant
- A healthy eating guide for pregnant people
- What happens if you drink alcohol during pregnancy?
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.