Number of Irish women travelling to the UK for abortions fell in 2017

The number of Irish women travelling to the UK for abortions fell again last year.

173 less women made the journey in 2017 than in 2016, following the downward trend over the past number of years.

In 2017, 3,092 women with Irish addresses had an abortion in an abortion clinic in England and Wales, while 3,265 did so in 2016.

Figures from the UK Department of Health revealed the decrease in the number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics in England and Wales.

Reacting to the figures, the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme said the drop in figures reflects the fact that Irish women are continuing to contact online providers of abortion pills in large numbers.

They are highlighting that a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE is available to any woman free of charge.

Helen Deely, Programme Lead for the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme said: “If a woman takes an abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, faints, or experiences other complications, we strongly encourage her to attend an emergency department or GP straight away.

"If a woman is in any way concerned about her health following taking an abortion pill or travelling abroad for an abortion, we encourage her to attend a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE."

"These services are free of charge and the full list of services is available on www.abortionaftercare.ie.

Ms Deely continues, “There are HSE funded crisis pregnancy and post-abortion counselling services in over 30 locations nationwide. Crisis pregnancy counsellors provide on-going support and information to women and their partners. A list of crisis pregnancy services is available on www.positiveoptions.ie and abortionaftercare.ie."

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) says the latest abortion statistics from England and Wales show that the proposed primary-care model for abortion services in Ireland is practical and achievable.

IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said: "The UK report gives us important insights that should inform the type of abortion care we introduce to Ireland.

"The statistics show that the vast majority of UK residents who access terminations – 77% – have abortions at or under nine weeks' gestation. Only 0.2% of all women who have abortions require overnight care."

Mr Behan continued: "Although the report cannot provide a definitive Irish abortion rate, as the figures don’t account for the growing trend of women accessing still-illegal abortion pills online, it shows us that women from Ireland tend to have abortions later due to the extra burdens of travel.

"The provision of legal care in Ireland will mean women in this country will no longer face unnecessary delays accessing services. We expect that the overwhelming majority of women who need terminations will have early medical abortions. This type of care is deliverable at a primary healthcare level."

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said that the figures "show that the government is continuing its relentless policy to eliminate disabled babies".

Antonia Tully, Campaigns Director at SPUC said: “On the day when judges in the Supreme Court expressed their lethally discriminatory opinions about unborn babies with life-limiting conditions, we note that the pressure on parents to abort disabled babies with a whole range of medical conditions is unremitting.

"Every year around 3,000 families who face the challenging news that their unborn baby has a disability of one kind or another undergo the unique tragedy of abortion, where their child’s life is quite deliberately taken."

“While studies show that all women risk mental health problems following an abortion, the after-effects for women who abort a disabled baby are particularly traumatic. Many studies show that these women experience a range of emotions including sadness, loneliness, grief and anger.

“Families need care and support when they are expecting a disabled child, not the heartless ‘solution’ of an abortion. Tragically we abort so many of our disabled babies that there is less and less understanding of disability.

"Families need proper information about their child’s disability, as well as positive messages about the unexpected joys a disabled child can bring to a family.”

Anti-abortion group Love Both welcomes in the drop in abortions, with Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign saying:

"This is the sixteenth consecutive year that the number of Irish women seeking abortions in England has declined. It is something positive that should be welcomed by everyone.

“Sadly repeal of the 8th Amendment and making abortion available in Ireland will inevitably lead to an increase in the numbers of abortions taking place.”

"Ms Sherlock said: “There is no doubt the availability of the abortion pill online is a factor in the fall in the numbers of women travelling but campaigners for abortion way overstate this factor."

- Digital Desk

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