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The RCOG backs abortion reform in the Republic of Ireland

News 25 April 2018

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) was established in 1929 as a College for the British Isles and gives equal status to the constituent parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. A representative from the Republic of Ireland sits on the RCOG’s Council and the majority of O&G consultants in Ireland are members of the College.

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the RCOG, said:

“The RCOG believes that women in the Republic of Ireland should be able to access abortion care services within their own country. The presence of the Eighth amendment in the Irish Constitution means that thousands of women travel from Ireland to the UK every year to access abortion services because this care is otherwise unavailable to them.

“In 2016, at least 3,265 women from Ireland – more than 60 a week – travelled to England, Scotland or Wales for an abortion without a medical referral and at huge personal cost, emotionally and financially.

“The high cost and stress of travelling to another country for an abortion, combined with the increasing availability of abortion medication online, has seen a growing number of women from Ireland – potentially up to 1,000 year – attempting to end pregnancies this way, without any medical supervision.   

“If the amendment is repealed, we urge the Irish government to ensure that abortion is subject to regulatory and professional standards, in line with other medical procedures. The RCOG stands by ready to help train and support our colleagues to deliver safe abortion care services throughout Ireland.”

Professor John Morrison, National University of Ireland Galway and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Galway University Hospital, and RCOG Council Representative for Ireland, said:

“The current situation in Ireland means that abortion care is provided under limited circumstances, such as when a woman’s life is in danger. In other clinical situations, such as following the diagnosis of a fatal fetal condition, or where the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman’s health, women in Ireland have to make their own arrangements to obtain abortion care in a different country. Removing the Eighth amendment would permit the introduction of legislation to facilitate abortion services in Ireland in compliance with best international medical and regulatory standards.”


Notes to editors:

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 7045 6773 or email

The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @RCObsGyn.