Figures published by the UK Department of Health on the number of women in Ireland who accessed UK abortion services last year are a modern indictment of the State’s treatment of women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.
That’s according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) which provides pregnancy counselling and post-abortion services to over 1,500 clients annually.
IFPA CEO Niall Behan said: “At least 3,679 women from the Republic of Ireland were forced to travel to the UK last year to access a safe and legal abortion because they are denied these necessary health services in their own country. Every day our clients tell us about their experiences of being abandoned by the Irish health care system and forced to rely on the services of another country.”
“Since 1980, over 158,252 women have had to make the journey to the UK to access abortion. These women are not criminals but the law treats them as such because they are seeking a service that is illegal in almost every circumstance in Ireland,” said Mr. Behan.
“The criminalisation of abortion does not deter women from seeking an abortion but it does act as a barrier to receiving care. Abortion is the only other area of health where the Government can ignore its duty of care and shift the onus of seeking services onto women.”
“As long as abortion remains criminalised and Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is in place, women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies are treated as second class citizens. It is long past time to change our stigmatising and discriminatory laws and provide access to safe and legal abortion in Ireland,” added Mr. Behan.
- In 2013, 3,679 women and girls provided addresses from the Republic of Ireland at UK abortion clinics. This figure is an underestimation as not all women will provide their Irish addresses, while some women travel to other European states to access abortion services.
- This figure represents a decrease of 7.6% on the previous year.
- Women and girls travelling from the Republic of Ireland constituted 67.3% of all recorded abortions carried out on non-UK residents in 2013.
- Since 1980, at least 158,252 women from the Republic of Ireland have travelled to the UK to access abortion services.
- International human rights bodies that have expressed concern regarding Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws include the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner.
The UK Department of Health 2013 statistics are available here.