Press release 17th May 2016: Ireland must take action now to provide free, safe and legal abortion services

Statistics published today by the UK Department of Health show that women from the island of Ireland accounted for 82.6% of legal abortions provided to non-residents in England and Wales during 2015.

This annual report, published by the UK Department of Health, presents statistics on abortions carried out in England and Wales, and has been published in the current format since 2002.

Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) spokesperson Linda Kavanagh said, “Although the number of women from Ireland seeking abortion in England and Wales has declined year on year since 2001, the reality is that we have no idea what the reasons behind this decline are. While some of this may be down to improved access to contraception, particularly the emergency contraceptive pill, it is also likely that significant numbers of women are still feeling the impact of the recession.”

“Successive austerity budgets have dramatically decreased household budgets. What this means in practice is that fewer women have the means to travel abroad to access safe and legal abortion services. As a result, more women are likely choosing to order the abortion pill online, risking a 14-year prison sentence by doing so. We know from recent research in the UK that abortion pill providers Women on Web and Women Help Women receive around 3,000 requests for help and advice every year from women in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

Ms Kavanagh continued, “The publication of these statistics comes a week after Ireland’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), during which 18 UN Member States called on the country to reform its draconian abortion laws. At the UPR, Ireland was once again embarrassed on the international stage for its criminalisation of abortion-seekers and its failure to provide services for women who decide to terminate a pregnancy.”

“Ireland must take action now to provide free, safe and legal abortion services in this jurisdiction – we cannot keep exporting abortion-seekers.”