The number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics in England and Wales has fallen, new figures have shown.
However, recent research has shown that an increasing number of women in Ireland are making contact with online abortion pill providers.
According to the figures from the UK Department of Health, the number of women giving Irish addresses at UK abortion clinics fell from 3,451 in 2015 to 3,265 in 2016.
In 2001, the number of women giving Irish addresses was 6,673.
Commenting on these figures, Niall Behan, CEO of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), said that they are an ‘indictment of Ireland's treatment of pregnant women'.
"The State excludes women who opt not to continue unintended pregnancies from the healthcare system, forcing them to seek care outside of Ireland. This is reproductive coercion. The IFPA hears from the women behind these statistics every day. They come from all walks of life and from every county in Ireland.
"They find themselves in circumstances where the decision not to continue an unintended pregnancy is the right one for them. Abortion should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor, but they are abandoned by the State and forced to seek care in another country. This ejection from the Irish healthcare system imposes physical, emotional and financial costs on pregnant women," he said.
Following the publication of the figures, the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme noted that recent research indicates a big increase in the number of Irish women contacting online abortion pill providers. Figures published by one such provider suggest a 62% increase over a five-year period, from 548 enquiries in 2010 to 1,438 in 2015.
The HSE pointed out that these figures do not represent the number of women who actually took the abortion pill, as some may have changed their mind and continued with the pregnancy, some may have suffered a miscarriage and some may have opted to travel for an abortion.
Meanwhile, the research also suggests that while most women did not need medical attention after taking the abortion pill at home, just over 9% were advised by their abortion pill provider to seek medical help after experiencing some kind of symptoms. Of these, 95% took this advice and sought medical help.
"If a woman takes an abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, fainting, or other complications, we strongly encourage that she attends an Emergency Department or GP straight away. Or if a woman is concerned about her health following taking an abortion pill or travelling abroad for an abortion, we would encourage her to attend a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE. A list of services is available on www.abortionaftercare.ie," explained the head of the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, Helen Deely.
She added that free crisis pregnancy counselling services are available for women in over 50 locations nationwide. A list of these is available on positiveoptions.ie
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