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New statistics show decrease in Irish women seeking abortions in the UK

By October 30, 2003News

– Release date: 30 October 2003

The Irish Family Planning Association has said that the small reduction in the number of women who travelled to England and Wales for abortions last year is welcome.

Figures released today by the UK Department of Health show that in 2002, a total of 6,522 women providing Irish addresses had terminations in England. This represents a drop of 151 on the previous year.

According to the IFPA Chief Executive, Catherine Heaney, “while the decrease is of course welcome, it may be a fact that more Irish women are travelling to other European countries to access services there. Travelling to Britain for a termination is extremely expensive. Some women now choose to travel to other European countries which where they can pay for their termination in euro.

“Access to the internet and increased mobility of young women means that Britain is no longer the only option for those seeking termination services.

“In order to more accurately measure the success or otherwise of the work of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in bringing about a reduction in the numbers seeking abortion services, the Department of Health should undertake to compile it’s own abortion statistics. This would require statistical feedback from all EU countries to which Irish women travel for abortion services.

“Nonetheless, at face value this decrease is a move in the right direction. It represents the first time since 1989 that there has been a fall in the number of Irish women travelling to England and Wales for abortion services.”

The IFPA also welcomed the new breakdown in the statistics that have been introduced. “Up to March 2002, the National Statistics Office had responsibility for compiling statistics on abortion. This work has now been handed over to the Department of Health and the statistics now include breakdowns for eight age-groups. Previously, there were only three age-group breakdowns.”

According to the statistics, the highest number of those who had abortions were in the 20 – 24 age-group, followed by the 25 – 29 age group. Fifty six Irish girls under the age of 16 were recorded as having abortions in 2002 and 263 women were over the age of 40.