Medical students go to London for abortion training

A London clinic that provides abortion care training for medical students attracted 15 students from Irish universities over the past 18 months.

The Richmond clinic, run by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), offers the one-week internships where students are allowed witness how abortion procedures are carried out.

A spokesperson for the BPAS said they “felt honoured to be able to help these motivated students learn about abortion and hope one day they will be able to care for women needing this care at home”.

Abortion remains illegal in Ireland unless it occurs as a result of a medical intervention performed to save the life of the mother.

Figures published by the UK Department of Health yesterday show that 3,735 women and girls travelled to Britain from the Republic of Ireland last year for abortions, of whom 21 were under the age of 16.

Approximately one in five of the women had had a previous abortion. Two in five (1,389) gave Dublin as their place of residence and one in 10 (345) gave Cork.

The majority of the abortions, 69%, took place between three and nine weeks gestation, while 125 abortions related to women at 20 weeks gestation or more.

The highest number of abortions among women who gave Irish addresses were in the 20-24 age group (918). Just 1% occurred in the under-16s and 8%, or 294 abortions, were carried out for women aged 40 and over.

The restrictive nature of the State’s abortion law has been repeatedly criticised nationally and internationally by human rights groups.

Yesterday, Niall Behan, the chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Agency, said that the State had “turned its back on these women by obliging them to rely on the health care system of the UK”.

Mr Behan called on the State to “vindicate women’s right to health by reforming its abortion laws through Constitutional means”.

The Abortion Support Network, a charity that provides financial assistance to women forced to travel to access abortion, said it had witnessed a “steep increase in calls” from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Network director Mara Clarke said that, last year, the network received 552 calls from women seeking support accessing abortion in the UK, the majority — 342 — from the Republic of Ireland.

However, the HSE said the abortion rate is stable among women giving Irish addresses at UK abortion clinics — at 3.8 per 1,000 women aged 15-44, the same as 2013.

Separately, a doctor and two nurses charged with the manslaughter of a 32-year-old woman from Ireland who had an abortion in London are due to appear in court on June 19.

Adedayo Adedeji, 62, Gemma Pullen, 31, and Margaret Miller, 54, are due to appear at Ealing magistrates’ court in west London on June 19.

Scotland Yard said they have each been charged with “manslaughter by gross negligence and failing to take reasonable care of other persons who may be affected by acts or omissions at work”, contrary to Section 7 and 33 Health and Safety Act 1974.

READ MORE: MAP: How many women from your county travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2014?

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