According to the Department of Health in the UK, 4,422 women with Irish addresses travelled to England and Wales for an abortion in 2009, a drop of 178 women compared to 2008 figures.
Women between 20 and 29 years old accounted for 2,398 abortions. Under-16s accounted for 38 abortions; 16- and 17-years olds for 155; and women over 40 for 258.
Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) chief executive Niall Behan said: “While this trend is a step in the right direction, the harsh reality behind these statistics is that every day 12 women must make the journey to Britain to access safe and legal abortion services. These figures are compelling evidence of the need for domestic based abortion services in Ireland.
“The Government failure to face reality means that women and girls’ rights are being denied on a daily basis. The criminalisation of abortion has little impact on abortion rates; it merely adds to the burden and stress suffered by women experiencing crisis pregnancies. Since 1980 we know that at least 142,060 women travelled to Britain for abortion services. This figure highlights the hypocrisy of Ireland’s laws on abortion, which are among the most restrictive in the world.”
In December 2009, Ireland’s abortion laws were challenged at the European Court of Human Rights by three Irish women who travelled to the UK for an abortion. The women argued that Ireland’s laws jeopardised their health and wellbeing and violated their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. A judgment on this case is expected later this year.