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Women forced to travel for abortion care during pandemic, UK statistics show

By 10 June 2021June 22nd, 2021News

2020 statistics highlight the stark reality of unmet need for abortion services in Ireland

The publication today (June 10) of the UK abortion statistics gives a damning picture of the exclusion of women from access to care in Ireland. Almost 200 women travelled to the UK for abortion care in 2020. While most women who needed abortion care were able to access it at home, the law forced others to risk exposure to Covid-19 by travelling to England and Wales during the pandemic.

That’s according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

Commenting on the publication of the UK statistics, Niall Behan, IFPA CEO, said, “The government imposed travel restrictions to protect public health. But 194 women who could not access care under the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 had no other option but to risk exposure and travel to the UK for abortion care.”

While the overall number of women who travelled dropped between 2019 and 2020, there was no decrease in the number of those seeking abortion care due to complex foetal anomalies.

Mr Behan said, “A principal reason for introducing abortion care was to end the unacceptable cruelty of forcing people to travel to another state for abortion services.

“In 2020, travelling abroad became its own health risk. Yet these women were forced by the law to leave the State to access health services in the UK, with heightened anxiety, stress, insecurity and expense during the pandemic.“

Mr Behan continued, “The UK statistics show a clear unmet need for abortion care in Ireland. The pandemic has exacerbated the harms of denying abortion care. But women will still have to travel when the pandemic is over. This will still be cruel, inhumane and degrading, an unacceptable infringement on women’s right to respect for reproductive autonomy and self-determination.

“As society looks forward to once more taking the right to travel for granted, we can’t forget those on whom travel for abortion care is imposed by the law. The needs of these women should be central to the forthcoming review of the 2018 Act.”


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