21st June 2022
- 60% of all clients giving a foreign address at abortion services in England and Wales last year came from the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland
- ASN remains concerned that restrictive provision in Ireland is leaving women behind
- Abortion Working Group writes to Irish Health Minister calling for serious reform of services
Statistics released today1 (21 June) show that hundreds of Irish women are still forced to travel to England for abortion services, despite provision of services in 2019. The Department of Health reported that 206 women from the Republic of Ireland and 161 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England for an abortion, representing 60% of all people who gave an address from outside of England and Wales.
The data indicates that at least 30% of Irish people who have an abortion overseas cannot afford to travel without financial support. In 2021 ASN funded 59 clients from the Republic of Ireland to travel for their abortion, and helped many more with information on accessing an abortion in-country. The average grant ASN makes to Irish clients is €800.
Charlotte Fischer, Abortion Support Network’s Chair of Trustees, said:
We remain very concerned that there are women being left behind by Ireland’s abortion laws. Travelling for an abortion last year was difficult for many people, with Covid restrictions, cost and childcare all creating barriers. If more than 200 Irish women travelled for their abortion, there will have been many more who weren’t able to. This is where the law is failing women.
The proportion of Irish women who needed an abortion due to serious foetal abnormality increased from 32% to 50% of all procedures2. Ireland’s current laws allow for abortion in some cases where there is serious foetal abnormality but it is very restrictive, which means many people are still forced to travel to England to terminate a much-wanted but unviable pregnancy.
Dani Anderson, Fundraising Manager at ASN, said:
Through the ASN helpline, we help women who are being forced to travel for an abortion for many different reasons.
We recently shared examples of cases we’ve seen, such as a 16-year-old who was denied treatment for being close to (but not over) the legal limit. There are many unviable pregnancies that didn’t mean the criteria for an abortion in Ireland, and young women who discovered they were pregnant after 12 weeks. Each of these cases is state-sanctioned medical negligence.
Notes to editor
Contact: Dani Anderson, Fundraising and Communications Manager at Abortion Support Network: [email protected] / +44 (0)7563 385 199
- Abortion Statistics for England and Wales: 2021
- Table A, grounds for abortion – Ground E
Abortion Support Network (ASN) is a UK charity that provides financial assistance, non-judgmental information and accommodation to those from Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and elsewhere in Europe, forced to travel and pay for abortions abroad. ASN is a member of Abortion Without Borders, a network of groups in Europe who have collectively helped more than 40,000 people from Poland to access an abortion since its launch in December 2019.
For examples of Irish clients ASN has helped, see the ‘No One Left Behind’ campaign: asn.org.uk/nooneleftbehind or contact.
Abortion Working Group letter to Irish Minister for Health: https://www.nwci.ie/learn/article/a_denial_of_healthcare_more_than_700_irish_residents_have_travelled_for_abo