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Northern Ireland women going to Holland for cheaper abortions

Published 22/05/2009

Women in Northern Ireland are travelling to the Netherlands for cheaper abortions, a sexual health charity said today.

Official figures showing a fall in the number journeying to England need to be treated with caution, the Family Planning Association (FPA) added.

Director Audrey Simpson warned more people were using potentially dubious internet sites to purchase abortion pills.

"Until our legislators face up to the fact that women in Northern Ireland want to have abortions we won't know the extent of this," she added.

Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland except when the woman's life is at risk. All four of the main parties here oppose legalising it.

More than 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England for an abortion last year, according to official figures.

The total of 1,173 for 2008 is down on the figure of 1,343 for 2007.

The Department of Health report also showed 4,600 women travelled from the Republic of Ireland, down slightly on last year.

Ms Simpson added the results should be viewed sceptically.

"Women don't give a Northern Ireland address for fear of being found out... or some people may get mixed up with the Republic of Ireland (in the statistics grading)," she added.

"Women are also going to other cheaper countries, for example the Netherlands."

She also claimed more women were accessing abortion medication on websites.

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From Belfast Telegraph