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Irish Abortion Numbers in UK for 1999 Estimated at 6,100, but Rate of Increase Has Now Slowed Very Dramatically

By March 1, 2000News

– Release date: 01 March 2000

Latest UK statistics obtained by the IFPA (Irish Family Planning Association) show that the rate of increase in the number of women giving an Irish address, when obtaining an abortion in England and Wales, has slowed dramatically but that the total number is now set to exceed 6,000 in a single year for the first time.

Based on statistics for the first three quarters of 1999, it is now known that 4,621 women gave an Irish address in the first nine months of 1999 compared with 4,473 in 1998 and 4,006 in 1997. This shows a rate of increase to September 1999 of 3.3%, substantially down on the 11.65% increase recorded for the same period in 1998.

The third quarter figure for 1999 has been released to the IFPA on a provisional basis by the UK Office for National Statistics and is therefore subject to possible revision.

The IFPA also stresses that these statistics, as before, include only those women giving an address in the Republic of Ireland. Those who disguised their home address will not have been included. In this context these statistics should not be regarded as complete.

Based on this data and our own information and analysis for the final quarter (October, November, December) the IFPA is predicting that the final figure for 1999 will be between 6,080 and 6,145 as compared with a full year total of 5,891 for 1998. The percentage of the annual total number of abortions performed in the fourth quarter typically ranges from 31.5% to 32.92%.

"Statistics now closer to reality"
Commenting on the latest statistical analysis, the IFPA's Chief Executive Tony O'Brien today said: "Each of the women reflected in these statistics is an individual and we should never lose sight of that when discussing figures. It is obviously of concern that the reported numbers continue to grow at a time when as a country, to our collective shame, we do little enough to seriously tackle the underlying issue of unplanned pregnancy.

"The IFPA has contended for some time that the increases recorded in recent years were the direct result of a more open society rather than, necessarily, a true increase in the numbers travelling. We have never had a complete picture because of the sensitivity of the abortion issue and the particular need to protect anonymity which exists here.

"The 1995 Information Act has had a huge impact on the willingness of women to discuss their unplanned pregnancies and to be more open with friends and family. This has now fed through to more Irish women disclosing their correct addresses to abortion clinics in England. The IFPA believes that the high rates of increase, seen in British statistics in the last few years, represents a progressive realignment of the statistics so that they are now closer to reality. The Information Act has done a great service to individual women and our collective knowledge of the reality of Irish Abortion. An average of approximately 117 women gave an Irish address when having an abortion in England in each week in 1999. That’s about 20 women per day of clinic service."