Abortion in Context
Abortion is legal in Ireland only when there is a real and substantial risk to life of the pregnant woman, this includes the risk of suicide. It is not against the law for women to travel abroad to access abortion services or access information on safe and legal abortion services in other countries.
Between January 1980 and December 2008, at least 137,618 women travelled from the Republic of Ireland for abortion services in England and Wales.
The UK Department of Health releases statistics each year on the number of women and girls who gave Republic of Ireland addresses at abortion clinics in England and Wales. Its important to note that these numbers are an underestimation as not all women resident in the Republic of Ireland will provide their Irish address for reasons of confidentiality. Furthermore, some Irish women will give addresses in the UK at which they are not resident in order to obtain abortion care paid for by the NHS.
An increasing number of women are accessing safe and legal abortion services in EU countries other than England. According to the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, 331 women from the Republic of Ireland travelled to the Netherlands for safe and legal abortion services in 2008 and 451 women in 2007.