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Drop in numbers travelling to UK for abortions

By Susan Gately - 13 June, 2014

pregnant womanThe number of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortions has decreased for the twelfth consecutive year according to statistics released from the UK’s Department of Health.

In 2013, 3,679 Irish women travelled to England and Wales for abortions, down from 3,982 in 2012, a 7.6 percent decrease.

2013 is the twelfth consecutive year that Irish abortions have declined and represents a 44.8 percent decline since the high of 6,673 Irish abortions in 2001.

Welcoming the decrease, Cora Sherlock of the Pro life Campaign (PLC) said that while every abortion was an immense human tragedy, the “huge drop in numbers travelling to Britain for abortion over the past 12 years is a positive development”.

Niamh Uí Bhriain from the Life Institute also welcomed the news and said the numbers travelling for abortion had dropped “as supports for mothers in crisis have improved and awareness of the humanity of the unborn children has improved”.

According to a report from the HSE/Crisis Pregnancy Programme published in 2012 (Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010) more women now regret their abortions.

“In that study, 44 percent of women expressed varying degrees of regret about their abortions up from 33 percent in a similar HSE study in 2003,” Cora Sherlock explained.

She said the “outright refusal” of groups like the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) to acknowledge the evidence of abortion regret was a huge disservice to women.

“Likewise the legislation introduced by the Government last year which provides for abortion in the case of threatened suicide is not based on a shred of medical evidence.”

“While this law has not been fully activated yet in the absence of Department of Health regulations, it will inevitably in the years to come lead to an increase in the numbers of abortions taking place as all it takes for an abortion to be granted is for two like-minded psychiatrists to sanction away the life of an unborn baby without having to base their decision on any medical evidence whatsoever.”

The UK figures show that repeat abortion is on the rise, 37 percent, almost one in four of all abortions being repeat abortions. Of the Irish women who travelled to the UK for abortion, 17 percent were repeat abortions.

Commenting on this statistic, Ms Uí Bhriain said it was a “worrying trend”.

“This is the model of abortion provision that has now arisen in Britain: I don’t think it’s a model we want to follow in Ireland,” she said.

She noted that in its yearly response to the statistics from Britain, the Irish Family Planning Association “have never welcomed the decrease in the numbers of abortions, but instead try to use these figures to push for abortion on request in Ireland. We need more support for woman, not the British model of abortion.”

The UK statistics show that of the 3,679 abortions attributed to women with Irish addresses, the vast majority, 41 percent, were women from Dublin (1,164), the next highest numbers came from Cork (262), Galway (133) and Meath (119).

Almost half of those who had abortions were aged between 20 and 29, with another 35 percent, aged from 30 to 40.

The total number of abortions in the England and Wales in 2013 was 185,331.

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