Thousands of Irish Women Traveling to Britain for Legal Abortions

The United Kingdom Department of Health released a report today revealing that everyday 12 women travel from Ireland, where abortion is not legal, to Great Britain to obtain abortion services. In 2010, 4,402 Irish residents sought abortions in England or Wales.

Niall Behan, Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) chief executive, clarified, “These figures serve to highlight yet again the hypocrisy of Ireland’s restrictive abortion law and clearly demonstrate the necessity for domestic-based abortion services in Ireland. Clients attending IFPA services for pregnancy counseling express frustration and anger that they have to leave this country to access health services they feel should be available to them at home. Women don’t want sympathy, they simply want access to the health services they need.”

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in December that Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortions violates a woman’s right to adequate medical care in life-threatening situations. Nevertheless, the court maintained Ireland’s right to prohibit abortions in other circumstances. In 1992, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in cases when the woman’s life was endangered. Ireland’s Parliament, however, never enacted legislation to protect that right.


IFPA Statement 5/24/11; UK Department of Health 2010 Statistics; Feminist Daily Newswire 12/16/11

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