Over 3,500 Irish women travelled to Britain for abortions in 2013 according to new figures released by the UK’s Department of Health.

Official documents confirm that 3,679 Irish women underwent abortions in the UK, a drop of 7.6 per cent and continued a downward trend.

The Irish Family Planning Association has told the Irish Independent that the latest figure does not tell the full story.

The Association said that not all women seeking an abortion provide their Irish addresses and some women travel to other European states to access abortion services.

IFPA Chief executive Niall Behan told the paper: “At least 3,679 women were forced to travel to the UK last year to access a safe and legal abortion because they are denied these necessary health services in their own country.

“Every day our clients tell us about their experiences of being abandoned by the Irish health care system and being forced to rely on the services of another country.

“Since 1980, over 158,252 women have had to make the journey to the UK to access abortion.

“These women are not criminals but the law treats them as such, because they are seeking a service that is illegal in almost every circumstance in Ireland.”