Customs has already seized 158 abortion pills this year
Customs officers have already this year seized 158 medicines which could be used to administer an early pregnancy abortion.
It is illegal to import the tablets Misoprostol and Mifepristone and use them to end a pregnancy at home although nobody has ever been prosecuted.
The Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) said last year 536 of these tablets were detained and 850 in 2015.
However, it is likely this does not capture the full scale of the volume of these medicines imported here as many women in the Republic are opting to have them collected in a post office or other address in Northern Ireland.
It comes in the wake of a 'British Medical Journal' study showing that for more than 1,000 women in Ireland who sourced the medication from the online Women on Web group, the outcome in ending their pregnancy was safe and effective.
A spokeswoman for Women on Web said yesterday it receives around 300 emails a month from women across the island of Ireland.
Not all are seeking medication and some are asking for information about abortion, she added.
The service uses an Indian company to post the medications to Ireland.
The HPRA spokesman said the "majority of the consignments detained in the Republic during 2016 and 2017 originated in India".
"These medicines are not authorised for supply on the Irish market."
While Women on Web is seen as a reliable and safe source for these medicines, the fear is that women will buy the medications online, which is potentially dangerous. The HPRA said it "continually recommends that, because of the risks to their health, patients do not seek to self-medicate with prescription medicines that have not been prescribed by their doctors".
"In addition, they should not try to obtain prescription medicines from unauthorised sources, including via the internet, as there can be no guarantee as to their safety, quality or efficacy."
The Pro Life Campaign warned that "taking abortion pills is never a trivial matter" which in reality it ends the life of a child.