Restricted access to abortion in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: exploring abortion tourism and barriers to legal reform

Cult Health Sex. 2014;16(4):366-80. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2014.886724. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Access to abortion remains a controversial issue worldwide. In Ireland, both north and south, legal restrictions have resulted in thousands of women travelling to England and Wales and further afield to obtain abortions in the last decade alone, while others purchase the 'abortion pill' from Internet sources. This paper considers the socio-legal context in both jurisdictions, the data on those travelling to access abortion and the barriers to legal reform. It argues that moral conservatism in Ireland, north and south, has contributed to the restricted access to abortion, impacting on the experience of thousands of women, resulting in these individuals becoming 'abortion tourists'.

Keywords: Ireland; abortion; abortion tourism; moral conservatism.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Abortion, Legal / psychology
  • Abortion, Legal / statistics & numerical data
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Medical Tourism / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Medical Tourism / psychology
  • Medical Tourism / statistics & numerical data
  • Northern Ireland / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Wales / epidemiology