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Over 3,700 Irish women seek abortions in Britain

Amnesty International Ireland has published a 112-page report entitled 'She Is Not A Criminal - The Impact of Ireland's Abortion Law’, calling for abortion to be decriminalised in the Republic

The Republic has come under renewed fire over its abortion laws as it emerged that more than 3,700 women and girls travelled to Britain to terminate pregnancies last year.

Figures released by the Department of Health in London showed that the number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics increased from 3,679 in 2013 to 3,735 in 2014.

The Republics Health Service Executive said that despite the increase, there had been a downward trend over 12 years since the establishment of the Crisis Pregnancy Programme in 2001 when 6,673 women travelled across the Irish Sea.

However, the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) claimed the figures highlighted the states continued failure to uphold womens right to health.

It accused the state of having turned its back on women by obliging them to rely on the health care system of Britain.

Since 1980, almost 162,000 women and girls have had to make this journey to the UK, and assume all the financial, practical and emotional burdens involved in travelling abroad for abortion services, said chief executive Niall Behan.

The state cannot continue to abdicate its human rights responsibilities. It must now vindicate womens right to health by reforming its abortion laws through constitutional means. Until this happens, thousands more women and girls will have to travel to the UK and other countries each year for reproductive health services that should be available in Ireland."

Separately, Amnesty International Ireland published a 112-page report entitled 'She Is Not A Criminal - The Impact of Ireland's Abortion Law, calling for the controversial Eighth Amendment to be amended or repealed.

The constitutional amendment, which was approved by a 1983 referendum, states that: The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Amnesty is also seeking the decriminalisation of abortion as well as its provision at a minimum in cases where there is a risk to the womans physical or mental well-being, severe and fatal foetal impairment, and in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

However, the Pro Life Campaigns deputy chairwoman, Cora Sherlock, accused Amnesty of ignoring cases of horrific human rights abuses like babies being born alive after failed abortions and being left alone to die in the corners of hospitals without receiving and medical attention or care.

Stormont justice minister David Ford recently proposed legislating for cases of fatal foetal abnormality in Northern Ireland, where abortion is also strictly limited, although the DUP has said it favours new guidelines.

More than 1,000 women a year are thought to travel from the north each year to Britain to have an abortion, where terminations are permitted up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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