The abortion statistics for 2010, released by the British Department of Health in May 2011, showed that abortions on Irish women in clinics in England and Wales had dropped for the ninth time since 2001. (See our news story) The peak figure of 6,673 abortions in 2001 had shrunk to 4,402 in 2010. This decline was despite an increase in population and an increase in fertile women aged 15-44.
The % reduction between the highest year in 2001 and 2010 is 34%.
In 2010 80% of Irish residents who had abortions were single or separated and, 14% married. The figures show, as in previous years, no abortions were done in emergency to save a woman’s life and the stages of gestation at which Irish women have abortions are much the same as English & Welsh residents.
In 2010, the Irish abortion rate in England & Wales at 4.4 per 1,000 Irish women aged 15-44 was the same as it was back in 1979 and compares with 17.5 per 1,000 women for residents of England & Wales, over 4 times higher than Ireland’s rate.
The reasons for the fall in abortions are difficult to analyse. The falls began before the Crisis Pregnancy Programme (formerly the Crisis Pregnancy Agency) did any work at all and the methods the Crisis Pregnancy Agency advocated to date are the same used in England that have done nothing for England’s problems. It could be a changing national mood in Ireland; it could be that some abortions on Irish residents take place in other countries. Dutch Government agencies do not record abortions on Irish women specifically. There are official records on Belgian, Spanish and German women having abortions in Holland, but none for Irish women. The CPA’s data on Irish abortions in Holland comes from individual Dutch abortion clinics and is not reliable. Based on the Dutch figures, abortions on foreign women in Holland are in decline and abortions on women from unspecified foreign countries have been stable over the past number of years. Some Irish women, North or South, have abortions in Holland but it does not appear to be significant.
Interestingly, it is Irish abortion campaigners who make the case that abortions are not really declining. A fast decreasing demand for abortion is bad news for abortion campaigners.
While we must keep open minds on the possibility of significant numbers of abortions on Irish residents taking place in countries other than England and Wales, or the use of imported abortion drugs, there is no evidence at all and combined with the evidence of opinion polls, Ireland’s pro-life ethos remains.