Pill fear as Irish women seeking abortions falls
The number of Irish women traveling to Britain for an abortion has dropped amid concerns that more and more are purchasing a termination pill online.
New figures from the Department of Health in Britain reveal that 3,451 women from the Republic travelled there for an abortion last year, down from 6,671 in 2001.
Of this figure, more than one in three - 1,311 women - gave a Dublin address.
However, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) said the true abortion figure was higher because women were buying medication online to terminate their pregnancies.
In 2014 the Heath Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) intercepted 1,017 unit doses of abortion pills, which are not legally available in Ireland.
Helen Deely of the HSE described the decline in the number of women traveling to Britain for a termination as "welcome", but warned of the dangers of abortion pills.
"If a woman makes the decision to have an abortion, it is safer for her to attend an abortion clinic in the UK or another country where abortion is legal, than ordering the abortion pill online or from other sources and taking it at home alone."
The HSE admitted that data from the HPRA suggests some women may be ordering the abortion pill online. "If a woman takes the abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, fainting, or other complications, it is important that she attends an emergency department or GP straight away," it said.
The IFPA said that the latest figures published do not reflect the number of women in Ireland who have abortions.
"We cannot be complacent about this decrease," said chief executive Niall Behan.
"While it is impossible to quantify the extent of their use, abortion pills accessed online have had a significant impact on the decline in the number of women in Ireland seeking abortion services in Britain.
"Our experience echoes the findings of a major report published last week that data available in Ireland does not give a true picture of women who access abortion."
The British figures do not include women who go to other countries.
The Pro Life Campaign said the fall in the number of abortions has been happening for the last 14 years and questioned claims that many women were buying abortion pills.