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New Abortion Statistics: Irish figure highest on record

By November 9, 2001News

– Release date: 09 November 2001

The Irish Family Planning Association has said that the latest abortion statistics for Ireland show that, regardless of whether or not there is a referendum on the issue, the number of women traveling to the UK for abortions will continue to increase.

The IFPA was commenting on figures released today by the UK Office for National Statistics which show that, during the second quarter of 2001, a total of 1,715 women who had abortions in the UK gave Irish addresses.

These second quarter figures are the highest on record for any quarter and show an increase of 19 on the first three months of the year. In the first quarter, 1,696 women traveled from Ireland to the UK for abortions.

"At this stage, we can assume that the end-of year figure will surpass last year's total of 6,500 and will probably reach 7,000. The clear message behind these figures is that, regardless of whether or not there is a referendum on abortion in the spring, the reality will remain the same: Irish women will continue to leave our shores for abortions services in the UK and elsewhere," according to Tony O'Brien, Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association.

As the Government attempts to pass legislation which has the narrow objective of over-turning the Supreme Court ruling in the X case, it will simply bury its head in the sand when it comes to confronting the reality of Irish abortion. The Taoiseach has said that the woman’s right to travel will be reaffirmed in his new abortion proposals, but this simply gets him off the hook. By exporting our abortion figures, the Taoiseach and his Government can remain unaccountable for the continued increase in the number of women traveling for abortions.

"Just a week out from the anniversary of the All Party Committee's report on abortion, the only thing that has changed is that our abortion figures have increased. No new money has been spent on preventative and education programmes and the new Crisis Pregnancy Agency remains aspirational.

"The hours of debate currently underway in the Dail on the Government's Bill to overturn the X Case would be better spent on debate and action concerned with reducing the number traveling to the UK. Furthermore, these figures point to the need for a more realistic approach to abortion in Ireland," added Tony O'Brien.