The Real Story Behind Ireland and Isle of Man Abortion Figures (The Association for Women’s Rights in Development), 18 May 2016

2015 DoH report shows small change in numbers of women travelling but hide real picture of harm done by Ireland and Isle of Man’s abortion laws.
The 2015 abortion statistics published by the Department of Health today show minimal differences in the numbers of women travelling to access a safe, legal abortion in England, reporting a slight decrease in the number of women from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and a more substantial increase in the number travelling from the Isle of Man.

However, a steep increase in calls from these countries to Abortion Support Network (ASN), which provides financial assistance, practical information and accommodation to women forced to travel to England to access an abortion, reveals the real story.
In 2015, Abortion Support Network received calls and emails from 648 women, couples and families seeking help in accessing a safe and legal abortion in England. ASN has heard from an additional 257 in the first four months of 2016 (Jan-April) which includes a slight increase in contacts from people in Northern Ireland, likely related to the recent conviction of a young woman for taking safe but illegal early medical abortion pills.
Abortion Support Network Director Mara Clarke said:

Abortion Support Network is an almost entirely volunteer-run charity helping women forced to travel to England to access abortion. We speak to women directly and hear first-hand of the difficulties and distress they are forced to endure because they cannot access a safe legal abortion in their own country.

These Department of Health abortion statistics only tell us how many women gave an Irish, Northern Irish or Isle of Man address at a UK family planning clinic; ASN knows these numbers only tell part of the story.
These numbers do not capture the women who cannot travel – women who need but cannot obtain passports or visas needed to travel, women who cannot escape from violent partners and women who do not have the £400 to £2,000 it costs to travel to England and pay privately for an abortion and who don’t know that ASN exists and can help them.

They do not include the women who come to England and give the address of a local friend or family member, the women who travel to other countries to access abortions, or the hundreds – if not thousands – of women who are obtaining early medical abortion pills online from Women Help and Women on Web, the two reputable groups providing these medications, or the hundreds more taken in by scam websites who steal women’s money.
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