Almost 10 women a day travelled from Ireland to UK for abortion last year, figures show

There has been a slight fall in the number of women travelling from Ireland to Britain for an abortion, official figures have revealed.

Records from UK health chiefs showed 3,451 women gave addresses in Ireland - almost 10 a day - while attending clinics in England and Wales last year.

The UK government report showed there has been a 48% decline in the numbers travelling to terminate a pregnancy since 2001.

Helen Deely, head of the Health Service Executive's crisis pregnancy programme, said the reduction was welcome - but cautioned about the dangers of using abortion pills bought on the internet.

"It appears that the abortion rate is stabilising," she said.

"It declined relatively rapidly between 2001 and 2007. In recent years the decline has been more gradual."

The HSE said a survey it had carried out on crisis pregnancy revealed 73% of expectant mothers decided to become a parent, 24% had an abortion and 1% chose adoption.

The remainder reported that they had a miscarriage or were currently pregnant.

But Ms Deely warned about the risks to a woman's health by using drugs bought online to terminate a pregnancy.

"If a woman makes the decision to have an abortion, it is safer for her to attend an abortion clinic in the UK or other country where abortion is legally available, than ordering the abortion pill online or from other sources and taking it at home alone," she said.

"If a woman takes the abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, fainting, or other complications, it is important that she attends an emergency department or GP straight away".

Ms Deely also said women need to know they can get free post-abortion medical check-ups and counselling in Ireland.

Separate figures from the Netherlands - the only other jurisdiction women from Ireland travel for abortion procedures in any significant numbers - showed numbers also falling from 31 in 2010 to 16 in 2014.

There are no records kept on women who travel from the Republic to abortion clinics in Northern Ireland to avail of a termination in limited circumstances.

Abortion is banned in Ireland under the eighth amendment to the Constitution, but a pregnancy may be terminated if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother including from suicide.

The UK Department of Health figures showed 6,673 women with an address in Ireland travelled for an abortion in 2001.

The numbers fell rapidly to below 5,000 in 2007 and again to below 4,000 in 2012.

The report showed 3,679 women travelled in 2013 and 3,735 in 2014.

KEYWORDS: abortion


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