British abortion clinics have been turning away Irish women but say it is a ‘temporary measure’

British abortion clinics have been turning away Irish women but say it is a ‘temporary measure’

BRITAIN’S largest provider of abortions has reassured Irish women that a recent measure to turn them away due to overwhelming demand is temporary.

A spokesperson for Marie Stopes International told The Times that it would be prioritising clients referred by the NHS in Britain.

They said that Irish women who had booked before the measure would still be treated.

Irish women seeking terminations in Britain will instead be referred to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which also offers abortions.

However, a spokesperson for the BPAS revealed that its services are also stretched at the moment.

“We’re looking at our capacity across the country. Irish women may have to go to slightly different locations to access our services,” they said.

Abortion remains illegal in Ireland under the controversial Eighth Amendment, except when the mother’s life is at risk.

Over 3,000 women from Ireland travelled to Britain in 2015 to seek private abortions.

In 2016, it was revealed than an average of nine Irish women per day travelled to Britain to seek terminations.

Paul McPartlan, managing director of Marie Stopes UK, told The Irish Post: “We’d like to reassure people that we are not suspending any services.

“January and February are always the busiest times of year for all abortion services and we are currently managing high demand by referring private clients to other providers to ensure they can be seen as soon as possible.

"This is a temporary measure. We believe getting women access to services quickly is the right thing to do when our wait times are high.

"We'll always support Irish women however we can in Belfast, in England and through our helpline 24 hours a day so they can be seen as quickly as possible.”

Women who have any questions about how the measure might affect them are asked to call Marie Stopes from Ireland on 1 800 200 374 or from Northern Ireland on 0345 300 3737.