Figures released by the UK Department of Health show that four people per week leave Ireland to have an abortion abroad, and one person per day leaves the island of Ireland. 367 people gave addresses in Ireland, North and South when having an abortion in England or Wales in 2021. 206 people travelled from the Republic, and 161 from Northern Ireland. By any objective analysis, the government has failed to deliver on the straightforward demands of the Irish people in 2018 to stop exporting abortion care to Britain.
“Every person forced to travel for abortion care did so during the waves of Covid-19, risking their health and their family’s health,” said Abortion Rights Campaign spokesperson Helen Stonehouse. “It also constitutes a serious curtailment of human rights for each person who had to undertake that journey. It is unacceptable that anybody should be forced to travel for abortion care. This is not what we voted for four years ago.“
“This is a damning indictment of the failures of our legislation and shows that much-needed improvements must happen following the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.”
Ms Stonehouse continued, “Even though thousands of people have accessed abortion care here in Ireland, there are glaring deficiencies which disproportionately impact vulnerable and marginalised people. The 12-week gestational limit is a significant barrier for people living in rural Ireland, working-class people, disabled people, migrants and people living in direct provision. As experts warn that the cost of living crisis will exacerbate health inequalities, we are especially concerned for people who live at the sharp end of this crisis and for whom travel simply won’t be an option.”
“Our research shows that people are being refused abortion care without being referred to another provider, despite onward referral being required by legislation. Yet no one is compiling the number of people refused an abortion here and the reasons why.”
Helen Stonehouse concluded, “Abortions must be available on request throughout pregnancy for everyone. Anything less means we will continue to see pregnant people forced to travel for abortion care that they should be able to access here, at home.”
The UK Department of Health statistics are published here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/abortion-statistics-for-england-and-wales-2021.