Eight medical abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland last year.

The figures were published by the Department of Health just months before changes to the region’s law around abortion will take effect.

The total is four fewer than the previous year.

Abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland last October following legislation passed by Westminster.

Terminations will become more widely available from April.

Previously, abortion was only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman’s life was at risk or there was a danger of permanent and serious damage to her physical or mental health.

The change has been criticised by anti-abortion campaigners, who have staged several large demonstrations against it.

Northern Ireland abortion laws demonstration
Anti-abortion protesters staged a silent demonstration at Stormont in November against the law change (PA)

Pro-choice campaigners have also held rallies.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, described the law change as “necessary”.

She said 1,050 women travelled from Northern Ireland to England to have abortions in 2018, while a further unknown number accessed abortion pills online.

She added: “This demonstrates just how necessary our new law is. Soon, those who need a termination will have their choices treated with dignity and respect at home.

“All eyes are now on the Northern Ireland Secretary of State to ensure regulations and a swift transition to services that respect rights, choice and are fully accessible.”