Statistics Library

Statistics Library

If you require any further information or clarification on any of the figures contained here, please contact us. The statistics for the number of abortions that took place during 2019 under the 2018 Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act were released on 30th June 2020.

Irish abortion statistics.

We have become familiar with the annual release of NHS statistics which gives us a good idea of how many Irish women have been seeking abortions in England and Wales since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed. These statistics were useful in determining the demand for abortion in Ireland and showed clearly that the demand was declining since 2001. In the ten years 2009 to 2018 the number of Irish abortions in England and Wales declined from 4,422 to 2,879 which is by over a third. At the same time abortions in England and Wales were on the increase. The Irish abortion figures peaked at 6,673 in 2001 and with the exception of 2014, which showed a slight increase, has been on the decline on every year since. The 2018 figures represent a decline of 57% from 2001 figures.

The numbers from 2014 onwards count the number of abortions performed under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, 2013. The Central Statistics Office estimates that there is a ‘twinning rate’ of 18.6 per 1,000 pregnancies. This would increase the final number of babies’ lives that are ended by abortion by 54 for 2018. On 30 June 2020 the number of abortions for 2019 were released and showed 6,666 abortions performed under the new legislation. This combined with the abortions in England and Wales gave 7,041 or an increase of 241% on the 2018 figure and almost 400 more than the previously recorded high in 2001.

Abortions performed on Irish women.

Year England & Wales Ireland Total
2005 5,585 5,585
2006 5,042 5,042
2007 4,686 4,686
2008 4,600 4,600
2009 4,422 4,422
2010 4,402 4,402
2011 4,182 4,182
2012 4,006 4,006
2013 3,691 3,691
2014 3,751 26 3,777
2015 3,485 26 3,511
2016 3,287 25 3,312
2017 3,019 15 3,034
2018 2,879 32 2,911
2019 375 6,666 7,041

The main source for self administered abortion pills in Ireland was the organization Women on Web who offered “online consultations” and sent pills from the Netherlands. This  might account for part of the decline in the numbers obtaining abortions in England and Wales but to what extent is unknown. Activists who have claimed that our abortion number is much higher and base this on anecdote have no concrete evidence.

If there was widespread use of the abortion pill in this period and at an increasing rate then you would expect to see a fast decline in abortions at the earlier gestation periods and a slower decline at the later gestation periods.

This chart shows the yearly decline in abortions by gestation.

Gestation weeks 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
3 – 9 -2.13% -10.33% -4.97% -7.55% 2.23% -6.96% -4.93% -4.73% -0.86% -2.43%
10 – 12 -16.00% 7.84% -9.57% -7.54% -0.65% -11.01% 0.88% -8.43% -6.16% -8.92%
13 – 19 -13.97% 2.04% -2.00% -7.18% -2.92% -9.37% -3.91% -9.56% 6.40% -3.80%
20 and over -22.03% 11.32% -5.36% -10.40% 15.74% 6.93% -11.40% 4.59% 23.86% -4.35%

The English and Welsh abortion statistics for the period show a relatively consistent decline in abortions at all stages.

After the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 commenced on 1 January 2019 it was expected that the number of Irish women obtaining abortions in England and Wales would drastically decline. One of the reasons given for changing the Constitution and introducing the law was it was considered a hardship for women to travel to England for an abortion. The total number of Irish abortions in England and Wales was 378, an 87% decrease on the previous year’s numbers. The decline was very different in the different gestation categories though. There was a 97% decrease in abortions in the 3-9 week gestation period while the reduction in the 20+ week category was just over 14%. The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 made obtaining an abortion in early stages very easy but still placed restrictions on babies at 20+ weeks. Many of the babies aborted at 20+ are past the viability stage. This is also the stage after which there is little doubt but the human fetus feels pain.

Republic of Ireland abortions in England and Wales.

Gestation weeks 2019
3 – 9 65
10 – 12 33
13 – 19 198
20 and over 79
Total 375

The figures released in June 2020 for abortions in the Republic of Ireland do not break down the numbers according to gestation in the same way but do record that 6,542 abortions were performed at under 12 weeks gestation.

The 1967 Abortion Act stipulated that statistics be gathered on every legal abortion performed. This is done by completing HSA4 forms and submitting them to the Chief Medical Officer. The forms collect a wide array of information about the woman obtaining the abortion, her age, ethnicity, where she lives, previous abortions, reasons for the abortion, gestation stage etc. While this was collected on a paper form in the past today the forms can be completed electronically. In the debate around the Health, Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 after the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment an amendment was introduced by  to collect similar statistics on abortions performed in Ireland. This was rejected by the government in favour of reporting just the bare numbers and not figures that are routinely reported elsewhere, e.g. gestation and reasons for late term abortions, e.g. disability.

England and Wales continue to have a very high abortion rate. The table below compares abortions in England and Wales as well as Scotland with the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Year England & Wales Northern Ireland Scotland Republic of Ireland
2005 28.9 5.4 23.6 9.2
2006 28.9 6.2 24.1 7.8
2007 28.8 5.9 24.4 6.6
2008 27.6 4.9 23.5 6.1
2009 26.8 4.8 22.6 6.0
2010 26.2 4.6 22.3 6.0
2011 26.2 4.3 25.1 5.6
2012 24.0 3.6 21.8 5.5
2013 26.5 3.5 21.0 5.3
2014 26.6 3.4 20.8 5.2
2015 26.6 3.5 21.8 5.2
2016 26.7 3.5 19.0 5.1
2017 26.8 3.7 23.1 5
2018 30.5 4.6 26 4.7

 

Please note that while every effort has been made to ensure that the data compiled herein is correct, given the fact that the data has been compiled using various sources, the Pro Life Campaign accepts no responsibility for any possible errors or discrepancies.