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Number of Irish women travelling to England and Wales for abortions dropped in 2018

The number of Irish women ordering abortion pills online increased in 2018.

Image: Shutterstock/Ekaterina Pokrovsky

THERE WAS A decrease in the number of Irish women travelling to England and Wales for abortions in 2018 according to the latest figures from the UK Department of Health.

The figures, released today, also show that the number of women who accessed abortion pills online increased in 2018. Irish women are also still contacting online abortion providers, despite the legalization of abortion since January. 

New figures show that the number of Irish women travelling to England and Wales for abortions dropped to 2,879 in 2018 – a decrease from 3,019 in 2017. 

Figures on Irish women who travel to the UK for abortions are published every year by the UK’s Department of Health. Since 2001, there has been a 57% decrease in Irish women travelling to the UK for an abortion. 

In 2018, the number of women who bought online abortion pills rose to 1,405 – an increase of 188 from 2017 – according to data from the online provider that was shared with the HSE.

Since 1 January 2019, abortions services have been legally available in Ireland following the vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment in 2018 and the enactment of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act. 

As the law stands, women can access terminations up to 12 weeks. The legislation also provides for terminations where there is a risk to the life or a serious risk to the health of the pregnant woman. Women who have been given a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormalities can also legally avail of early termination of pregnancy.

Irish women are still seeking access to abortion pills online following the legalisation of abortion. In the first three months of 2019, 107 women contacted an online abortion pill provider according to data shared with the HSE. 

In a statement, the assistant national director for HSE Health and Wellbeing, Helen Deely, said: “Women who reached out to an online provider earlier this year may not have been aware that new abortion services had been introduced and are available free of charge in Ireland.”

Deely encouraged any women seeking information and support in relation to an unplanned pregnancy to use the HSE’s My Options support services. 

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