Marie Stopes International, Britain’s biggest abortion provider, is to begin prioritising British women due to demand
Britain's largest provider of abortions is to begin turning away Irish patients because of "overwhelming demand".
A spokeswoman for Marie Stopes International told The Times warned that it would prioritise clients referred by the NHS, although Irish women who had already booked appointments would be treated.
Irish clients will instead be referred to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which also offers terminations. However, a spokeswoman for the BPAS warned that its services were also under strain.
“We’re looking at our capacity across the country. Irish women may have to go to slightly different locations to access our services,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Marie Stopes added that the suspension is a temporary measure.
"January and February are always the busiest times of year and we are currently managing high demand by referring some women to other providers to ensure they can be seen as soon as possible," the spokeswoman said.
"We are managing demand by focusing on NHS clients but our helpline is very clear to everyone that calls that if they have difficulty finding another provider they should call us back."
Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland under the Eighth Amendment, except in cases where the woman's life is at risk. In 2016, 9 women travelled every day to avail of the service.
The Citizen's Assembly is now halfway through its consideration of the Eighht Amendment, having met at the weekend for the second time.
The Assembly is set to meet again on the 3rd and 4th of March for what will be the fourth of five meetings on the topic.
At the next meeting the Assembly will hear directly from women who have been affected by the Eighth Amendment.
In a statement following the meeting, the Life Institute said the Assembly has lost all credibility by making a decision to give a platform to abortionists and extremists.
"We can see that the Assembly has now become a farce, since no reasonable person could think that abortionists are impartial witnesses in a debate on the 8th amendment," said spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain.
Meanwhile, a pro-choice activist group is due to meet with Dublin City Council (DCC) ahead of their monthly meeting today.
Strike4Repeal are to brief councillors on their for a national strike on March 8th unless a referendum on the Eight Amendment is called before then.
Spokesperson Avril Corroon said: "We will welcome the invitation to brief DCC [...] Elected representatives have a responsibility to listen to the voters.
"We will be highlighting just how urgent the need for a referendum is."