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IFPA reacts to latest abortion statistics

By August 21, 2002News

– Release date: 22 August 2002

The IFPA has said that, while the latest statistics for Irish women accessing legal abortions in Britain is down marginally on the comparable period for last year, there has been a notable rise in the numbers aged 20 years and under who travelled for terminations.

Figures released today (22.08.02) from the Office for National Statistics indicate that 1,689 Irish women travelled to England and Wales during the first quarter of 2002. This represents a decrease of ten on the first quarter statistics for 2001.

However, compared with last year, these figures show an increase of 47 in the number of Irish women and girls under the age of 20 who accessed abortion services in the first three months of the year. In total, 257 Irish people in this age-group had terminations in the period January-March 2002.

"Over the past year, official figures have indicated a steady increase in the numbers travelling for abortions in the under-20 age group. This trend is worrying and requires a comprehensive response", said Catherine Heaney, IFPA Assistant Chief Executive.

"Incredibly, at the same time as we have seen these figures rise, there has been a complete withdrawal of funding for the 'think twice' programme, which was aimed at educating, informing and empowering 18-35 year-olds about relationships and sexuality.

"Clearly more young girls and women are experiencing crisis pregnancy. We need to respond to this comprehensively through a programme of self-esteem and empowerment, as well as providing information about and access to contraception for younger people.

"The Crisis Pregnancy Agency must ensure that any of the programmes which it intends to fund or develop are targeted at the under-20 age group. Providing contraceptive and sexual health services which meet the specific needs of young people, in addition to providing free access to contraception for young people would be important steps towards reducing crisis pregnancy among this age-group", she added.