Irish minister reveals 26 county abortion figures

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Image copyright RTE
Image caption Mr Harris made the comments during a two-day debate on Irish abortion law

The Irish health minister has said 3,265 women travelled from the Republic of Ireland to the UK for abortions in 2016.

Simon Harris provided a county breakdown of the figures during a debate on the 8th amendment.

Based on his figures County Dublin saw the most women (1,175) make the journey, while County Monaghan had the least with only 15.

Overall, 186 fewer women travelled for the procedure than in 2015.

At present, the 8th amendment says "the right to life of the unborn and with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother".

The Irish government has said it will hold a referendum on the 8th amendment in May.

'Not faceless women'

While the amount of women travelling to the UK for abortions dropped, there was an increase in the amount not stating which Irish county they are from, according to the 2016 abortion statistics for England and Wales, which was published on the UK Department of health website ,

In 2015, 231 women did not state the county there were from, compared to 520 in 2016.

The majority of speakers during the two-day debate were in favour of repealing the amendment and allowing unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks.

In the Seanad (upper house of parliament), a number of speakers expressed opposition, but believed the issue should be put to the people.

Speaking in the Dáil (Irish parliament), Mr Harris said: "Each crisis pregnancy is different and each involves a real women, facing a very difficult and personal decision.

"These are not faceless women. They are our friends and neighbours, sisters, cousins, mothers, aunts, wives.

"Each women is dealing with her own personal situation and making what is a deeply difficult decision."

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Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said those who opposed abortion were entitled to their view and were equally entitled not to have a termination.

"Everyone has the right to choose," he said.

"It's not for anyone to push their views on anyone else."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he would support the repeal of the 8th amendment from the constitution.

He said: "If we are sincere in our compassion for woman, and if we are sincere in respecting their choices, then we must act".

Mr Martin's party colleague John Paul Phelan voiced his opposition to repealing the 8th amendment.

He said he supported the public getting to have a say on the issue but that he could never support a "purposeful destruction of a viable pregnancy".

The debate is set to continue on Thursday.

Abortion in the Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has a near total ban on abortion.

In 2013, abortion was legislated for under certain conditions - when doctors deem that a woman life's is at risk due to medical complications, or if she is at risk of suicide.

The law does not allow for terminations in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

The law was introduced in the wake of the case of Savita Halappanavar who died in a Galway hospital in 2012 after she was refused an abortion .

In what was known as the X Case of 1992, a 14-year-old rape victim was prevented from travelling to England to terminate her pregnancy by the High Court.

This ruling was overturned by the Irish Supreme Court and a referendum approved a further update to the constitution, stating that the eighth amendment did not restrict the freedom to travel to another state.

Number women who travelled from the Republic of Ireland to the UK for an abortion by county

Dublin - 1,175

Cork - 241

Kildare - 130

Galway - 113

Meath - 100

Limerick - 99

Wicklow - 85

Louth - 83

Tipperary - 69

Wexford - 69

Donegal - 63

Waterford - 56

Clare - 53

Kerry - 49

Kilkenny - 44

Laois - 42

Mayo - 38

Westmeath - 38

Carlow - 36

Cavan - 33

Sligo - 29

Offaly - 28

Leitrim - 21

Roscommon - 20

Longford - 16

Monaghan - 15

County not stated - 520