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IFPA says Small Drop in Abortion Figures is due to Greater Numbers Accessing Services outside Britain

By July 26, 2005News

– Release date: 27 July 2005

The Irish Family Planning Association has said that the small drop in the number of women accessing abortion services in Britain is most likely a result of the high costs of having the procedure there.

6,217 Irish women travelled to the UK for abortions in 2004. This represented a drop of 103 on the previous year. Women aged between 20 – 30 years represented the majority of those who travelled to Britain for abortion services in 2004.

According to the IFPA’s Director of Counselling Services, Rosie Toner, “we have increasingly noticed that there are women attending our post abortion medical and counselling service who had their terminations in other European counties, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Lower airfares and access to the internet has enabled Irish women to investigate other options outside of Britain.

At present the cost of a termination in the UK for an early abortion (between 7 – 14 weeks) varies from €650 – €750, depending on the location of the clinic and the service provider. Meanwhile, the cost of an early abortion in the Netherlands can be €250 – €350 less. Even when travel and accommodation are taken into account, it can still work out much cheaper to travel to other EU countries.*

“There is a real need for Irish statistics on abortion, which indicate the number of women who access termination services within the EU, America and Russia, which are all locations that Irish women have been reported to travel to for abortions.

“Unless we can develop a real picture of the numbers of women travelling for abortion services, we will not be in a position to develop strategies and services that deal with the needs of women,” said Ms Toner.

The Irish Family Planning Association also said that the fact that over 6,000 Irish women travelled to Britain for abortions in 2004 was further evidence of the need for domestic-based abortion services.

“The Irish abortion laws are so frequently evaded by women travelling abroad for abortion services, the laws are ineffective and thereby cannot justify the hardship imposed on women,” said Ms Toner.

“The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney should start taking some political leadership on the issue of abortion, as so far in her Ministry she has completely avoided the issue.”

*

Women travelling to London on Saturday, 6th August for terminations would be required to pay €1010 to cover flights to Heathrow, one night’s accommodation in a budget hotel and abortion service fees. Meanwhile, travel, overnight accommodation and abortion services fees for the same date in Amsterdam would cost €890. Travel in both cases has been estimated from AerLingus on 27th July 2005. Mid-week travel to Amsterdam is significantly less expensive and would increase savings.