Decrease in number of Irish women having UK abortions

Latest figures from the UK Department of Health show rate down from 3.5 to 3.1 per 1,000

There has been a further decrease in the number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics in England and Wales, according to figures issued by the UK Department of Health.

The latest statistics show the number of women has fallen from 3,265 in 2016 to 3,091 in 2017. This equates to a decrease in the rate of women travelling to the UK for an abortion from 3.5 per 1,000 women in 2016 to 3.1 per 1,000 in 2017.

The reduction follows a general downward trend in these rates over the past number of years.

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) said women from Ireland are continuing to contact online providers of abortion pills in large numbers.


One online provider reported that 1,217 women from Ireland “received the medical abortion pill” from their service in 2017. A second online provider reported that 878 women from the Republic “used the service” in 2017.

The figures also show that 919 women gave addresses from Northern Ireland at abortion clinics in England and Wales last year. This is an increase of over a quarter from 2016 and is the highest level since 2011. However, it remains well below a peak of 1,855 in 1990.

SHCPP programme lead Helen Deely said women were encouraged to attend a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE.

“If a woman takes an abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, faints, or experiences other complications, we strongly encourage her to attend an emergency department or GP straight away,” she said.

“If a woman is in any way concerned about her health following taking an abortion pill or travelling abroad for an abortion, we encourage her to attend a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE.

“These services are free of charge and the full list of services is available on”

Ms Deely added that anyone experiencing a crisis pregnancy “should be aware of the support available to them free of charge”.

“There are HSE funded crisis pregnancy and post abortion counselling services in over 30 locations nationwide,” she said. “Crisis pregnancy counsellors provide ongoing support and information to women and their partners.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter