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New UK abortion statistics – 12 women a day must travel to Britain to access abortion services

By May 24, 2010News

Press Release – 25 May 2010

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has welcomed the small reduction in the number of women who travelled to England and Wales for abortion services last year. Figures released today (25.05.10) by the UK Department of Health show that in 2009, a total of 4,422 women providing Irish addresses had terminations in England and Wales. This represents a drop of 178 on the previous year.

IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said: “While this trend is a step in the right direction the harsh reality behind these statistics is that every day 12 women must embark on a journey to Britain to access safe and legal abortion services. These figures are compelling evidence of the need for domestic-based abortion services in Ireland.

“The Government’s failure to face reality means that women’s and girls’ rights are being denied on a daily basis. The criminalisation of abortion has little impact on abortion rates; it merely adds to the burden and stress suffered by women experiencing crisis pregnancies. Since 1980 we know that at least 142,060 women travelled to Britain for abortion services. This figure highlights the hypocrisy of Ireland’s laws on abortion, which are among the most restrictive in the world.”

Ireland’s abortion laws were put under the spotlight at the European Court of Human Rights last December when the Court’s 17-judge grand chamber heard a challenge from three women living in Ireland. All three had travelled to Britain to access termination services and argued that Ireland’s laws jeopardised their health and wellbeing in violation of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. A judgment on this case is expected later this year.

Notes

According to the UK Department of Health statistics, the highest number of those who travelled to the UK for abortions were in the 20-29 age group (2,398 women). 38 girls under the age of 16 and 155 girls aged 16 and 17 were recorded as having abortions in 2009. 258 women aged 40 and over also travelled to England and Wales for termination services.

The UK Department of Health 2009 statistics are available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130107105354/http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsStatistics/DH_099285

About IFPA

The Irish Family Planning Association is Ireland’s leading sexual health charity. The IFPA offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis, including clinical and counselling services, sexual and reproductive health information, education and training. The IFPA provides free non-directive pregnancy counselling services at 11 centres throughout Ireland. The IFPA provides post-abortion counselling and medical services and also operates a pregnancy helpline – 1850 49 50 51