A free helpline aimed at assisting women who have used online abortion pills is set to be launched across the county.

According to The Independent, The British Pregnancy Advisory Service will be providing women in Ireland with confidential aftercare while offering reassurance and advice to those who have taken tablets ordered from two websites.

Commenting on the launch, BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi said: "What these women really need are accessible, high-quality abortion services at home."

Acknowledging the Repeal the 8th debate currently raging across the country, she added: "They shouldn't have to make the choice between travelling to England and breaking the law by purchasing pills online."

"While we wait for politicians to do the right thing, BPAS will provide telephone aftercare to women who have bought pills online from these two women's organisations and who want to speak to someone in confidence about what they are experiencing, or who simply need a reassuring voice at the end of the line,"

As it stands in the Republic, the offence of procuring an abortion carries a potential 14-year jail sentence while in Northern Ireland the maximum penalty for the crime of administering a drug to induce miscarriage is life imprisonment.

It is understood that the new helpline staffed by nurses will be advertised in newspapers in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man.

The announcement has been met with criticism from Pro-Life campaigners.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of Life Institute argued: "Maybe they would consider putting this time and money into actually helping women, who are all too often seeking abortions in fear and panic, have their babies and raise their babies."