Women ‘cannot afford abortion in Britain’

ABORTION Support Network says the number of Irish women contacting it because they cannot meet the cost of an abortion in Britain has more than doubled since the start of the year.

The London-based organisation was set up in October 2009 to provide accommodation and financial assistance to women travelling from Ireland.

Figures from the Department of Health in Britain show that 4,402 women providing Irish addresses had terminations in England and Wales last year. It was a drop of 20 on the year before and the ninth year in a row when the numbers travelling fell.

Abortion Support Network director Mara Clarke said that while the number of women travelling to England dropped by 0.5% last year, those contacting the organisation because they were unable to afford the cost of an abortion, plus travel and other costs, had more than doubled.

The network received 89 calls for help from Irish women in 2010 and has received 80 this year to date.

“Ireland’s severe abortion restrictions affect poor women the most, an ordeal which is further exacerbated by the current economic crisis,” she said.

According to the network, the cost of an abortion in Britain, depending on gestation, varies from €400 to just over €2,000.

Last December, in a landmark judgment against the state, the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that travelling abroad for an abortion constituted a significant psychological, physical and financial burden on women. The Government has until tomorrow to submit an action plan to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe setting out the measures it will take to implement the judgment.

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