“It’s clear that change needs to happen.”
1,053 women in Northern Ireland travelled for abortions last year.
According to the National Abortion Statistics, 192 more people seeking terminations travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales in 2018 compared to the year before.
Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK where abortion is still illegal.
Women in NI can avail of the service free-of-charge in England and Wales due to the lack of legal options they have in their own country.
Amnesty International called the new figures “unsurprising” and has asked the UK government to change the law.
"We should be #leading on #reproductiverights and decriminalising #abortion across #UK. Not shackling our own citizens under outdated and harmful laws.” @GTeggart in @thetimes #nowforni #repealedThe8th #thenorthisnext #ItsTime https://t.co/y9rVFchwNu pic.twitter.com/sizUdQgK1q
— Amnesty Int'l NI (@AmnestyNI) May 24, 2019
“The ongoing near-total ban on abortion doesn’t stop women needing or seeking abortions, it just forces them to board planes to access the healthcare,” said Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager.
“Women should be treated with respect and dignity and given the right to make choices about their own body at home.
“It’s clear that change needs to happen. It’s degrading and insulting that the UK Government allows women in Northern Ireland to travel to receive vital healthcare services, but will not give us this same access at home.”
Teggart added that the new statistics don’t reflect the women who are unable to travel for an abortion – “including those in abusive relationship and those without confirmed immigration status – nor do they reflect those forced to access abortion pills online and risking prosecution in doing so.”
The UK’s 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland.
Abortions are only permitted in specific circumstances including where there is a substantial risk to the life or health of the mother.