Statistics show 12 abortions were allowed under NI's 'restrictive and unfit' law in 12 months

File photo.

Official statistics have shown that 12 abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018.

More than 900 women travelled to England and Wales during the same period, according to Amnesty International Ireland.

The data was published today by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health ahead of a meeting of the Women and Equalities Committee as part of its inquiry into the abortion law in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty International Ireland will urge the Committee to "finally bring an end to the archaic law which harms women" by recommending that the UK Government decriminalises abortion, and puts in place a human rights compliant framework for access.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said: “There’s a significant gap between the number of women who were allowed an abortion in Northern Ireland last year compared with the number of women who travelled to access the service. This demonstrates just how restrictive and unfit Northern Ireland’s abortion law is.

“Because of the near-total abortion ban in Northern Ireland, up to one thousand women fly to other parts of the UK to have abortions every year. Countless others go online to purchase abortion pills, risking prosecution in doing so.

“How can it be the case that it’s ok for women to fly to England, or now get a train to Republic of Ireland to have an abortion, but it’s not OK for them to access the health service at home? It makes no sense. It’s time the UK Government ended the hypocrisy and inequality.

“Northern Ireland has one of the cruellest abortion laws in the world, and our reproductive rights are falling further and further behind.

“The UK Government cannot ignore the grave situation for women here. Abortion must be decriminalised - made free, safe and accessible without having to travel.”

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