The British Department of Health has released figures which reveal that 12 Irish women travel across to Britain to have abortions every day. Abortion is illegal in Ireland.

Last year 4,422 women who used abortion clinics in Britain gave Irish addresses.

On the back of these figures the Irish Family Planning Association has asked the Government to legalize abortion despite the fact that this figure has dropped continuously over the last eight years. These figures have dropped from 6,673 in 2001.

Niall Behan, the Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association said “While this trend is a step in the right direction the harsh reality behind these statistics is that every day 12 women must make the journey to Britain to access safe and legal abortion services.

“These figures are compelling evidence of the need for domestic-based abortion services in Ireland.”

The association has calculated that since 1980 at least 142,060 women travelled to Britain for abortions.

He blames the Government for this figure. He said it is a “failure to face reality means that women's and girls' rights are being denied on a daily basis.

“The criminalization of abortion has little impact on abortion rates; it merely adds to the burden and stress suffered by women experiencing crisis pregnancies.

“This figure highlights the hypocrisy of Ireland's laws on abortion, which are among the most restrictive in the world.”

Those from the Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland feel that “confronting the reality” ignores the humanity of the unborn children and the latest negative consequences of abortion for women.

Dr Ruth Cullen, who is involved in the Pro-Life Campaign said: “Rather than seek to have abortion introduced in Ireland, we should see the latest reduction in the abortion rate as very encouraging and work together to ensure this downward trend continues.”

Caroline Spillane, director of the Irish Health Service Executive Crisis Pregnancy Programme said, “The Crisis Pregnancy Programme along with many other organizations working in the area of sexual health have given strategic focus to initiatives aimed at preventing crisis pregnancy and also to improving the supports which are in place for those who do experience a crisis pregnancy.

“We hope that these statistics are an indication that this work is having a real impact in reducing the instance of crisis pregnancy in Ireland.”

An investigation is underway into a 14-year-old African girl's miscarriage in an Irish hospital last yearStock