43 Down Syndrome babies among 3,265 terminations last year
Some 141 late abortions were performed on women from the Republic in the UK last year on the grounds that their baby would be born with a severe disability, including Down Syndrome.
The women, who were more than 24 weeks pregnant and were granted terminations under special grounds, were among 3,265 who travelled to UK clinics for an abortion last year, new figures reveal.
The severe disability grounds recorded included fatal foetal abnormalities such as Edward's Syndrome and anecephaly, where the baby would be born without a full brain.
However, 43 of the abortions were carried out on babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome and on six assessed as having spina bifida. Nine were carried out on babies with severe congenital heart defects.
Most abortions relate to unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, and 677 of the women had a previous termination.
Nearly half of the women were married or in a civil partnership, while 753 had no partner.
The number of abortions in 2016 is a slight dip from 3,451 in 2015 and compares with 6,673 in 2001.
However, the HSE pointed to the high numbers of women in the Republic inquiring about buying abortion pills over the internet.
Helen Deely of the HSE said figures from one online provider showed a 162pc rise in contacts from the Republic over five years - up from 548 in 2010 to 1,438 in 2015 - although it is unclear how many were purchased.
The 2016 figures show 240 abortions among teenagers, including 10 under 16 years of age.
There were 255 terminations by women over 40, but the majority were among women in their 20s and 30s.
Some 1,175 women gave Dublin as their address, followed by Cork (241), Kildare (130), Galway (113), and Meath (100). Some 520 did not provide county details.
Niall Behan, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association, said forcing women to go abroad for abortion was "reproductive coercion".
Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign, however, said the decline over 15 years was a "very welcome development".