4th June 2010
Latest figures show drop in abortion rate
The latest Irish abortion figures released on 25th May (Statistical Bulletin, Summary Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2009) show another drop in the numbers of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortion. In 2009, 4,422 Irish women travelled to Britain for abortions, down from 4,600 for the previous year. It is the eighth consecutive year that Irish abortions have declined after more than a decade of upward trends.
That’s a drop of a third over the eight years since the figures peaked in 2001. It represents a fall in the abortion rate among Irish women having abortions in Britain from 7.3 per 1000 women in the Republic, aged 15 to 44, in 2001 to 4.4 in 2009. The rate for residents of England and Wales is 17.5, four times the Republic’s rate.
The figures are all the more astonishing given the increase in the Irish population in recent years from three to four and a half million. If the culture was as supportive of abortion as Marie pro-choice groups claim, then you would expect a rising number of abortions as the number of women of child-bearing age increases. But that’s not happening. On the contrary, the number and the rate are falling.
The decline in numbers kicked in before Ireland's Crisis Pregnancy Agency started its work in this area, and anyway the approach they have taken has mirrored the British approach to pregnancy reduction which has had no noticeable impact in reducing abortion numbers there, so they cannot be responsible for the sea change in behaviour since 2001.
Some have suggested the reduction in abortions may be as a result of more Irish women opting for abortions in other European countries. But there is no statistical evidence to back up these claims. Holland is often mentioned as a country where more Irish women may increasingly travel for abortions but the official Dutch figures in recent years show little or no change in the number of abortions on foreign nationals.
So why are more and more Irish women who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy opting to have their baby and bring up their baby themselves, rather than go to England for an abortion?
Clearly, a lot more research needs to be done on this issue to find out the real reasons why more women are opting against abortion with a view to accelerating the downward trend. There is certainly growing anecdotal evidence that more and more women are sharing their negative experiences of abortion with others. We have also now reached a stage where everyone knows lots of women who have made the choice to have their baby and be a little family with them, and this means that anyone facing an unexpected pregnancy knows personally how several of their friends have managed and coped, and that is feeding into their decision to have their own baby.
Listen to Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Geraldine Martin discuss the latest abortion figures on Newstalk here