Statistics released by the Department of Health, show that 919 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England or Wales to have an abortion in 2017.
This is an increase of more than 25% from 2016 – when 724 women from Northern Ireland had an abortion in England or Wales – and is the highest level since 2011.
Emily James, FPA’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager said:
"Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, where abortion is only available in extremely limited circumstances. This does not include cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.
"These statistics highlight the reality that women are being forced to travel overseas to access healthcare that is readily available and accessible in all other parts of the UK.
"It is unacceptable that women in Northern Ireland face daily discrimination and inequality through the denial of their reproductive rights.
"While the UK government’s funding of abortion care for women from Northern Ireland was a step in the right direction, women who are unable to travel are left with a choice between buying illegal abortion pills online and risking prosecution, or being forced to continue with a pregnancy against their will.
"On Thursday the UK Supreme Court found that the law on abortion law is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. FPA strongly agrees.
"The UK Government must urgently act to ensure all women can access the reproductive services they need, without the indignity, stress and expense of having to travel overseas to do so."
Notes to editor
- In June 2017, the UK government announced that women travelling from Northern Ireland to England will no longer be charged to access abortion services.
- In October 2017 a further announcement was made outlining that travel costs would also be funded if women are in receipt of certain benefits or have an income less than £15,276. Accommodation will be provided as well if clinically necessary.
- In March 2018 a central booking system run by bpas (the British Pregnancy Advisory Service) was established to simplify the process for women travelling from Northern Ireland to access abortion services in England. A single telephone number is available to call and an appointment will be made with the most appropriate provider, based on the woman’s requirements, her medical condition and the availability of the providers.
- FPA provide the only non-directive Pregnancy Choices Counselling Service in Northern Ireland which provides information and support on all pregnancy options. We also offer post abortion counselling. An appointment can be made for these services on 0345 122 8687.