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

By May 23, 2011News

News – 24 May 2011

– "Women don’t want sympathy they just want access to the health services they need"

The number of women who travelled to Britain for abortion services last year has remained stable, according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

Figures released today (24.05.11) by the UK Department of Health show that in 2010, a total of 4,402 women providing Irish addresses had terminations in England and Wales.

IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said: “The harsh reality behind these statistics is that every day 12 women must travel to Britain to access safe and legal abortion services. Unplanned pregnancies have and always will be a fact of women’s lives. The statistics show that the women, girls and couples who travel to Britain for an abortion come from all walks of life and all stages of life. They do so after weighing up a complex set of personal and emotional factors.

“Since 1980 we know that at least 147,881 women travelled to Britain for abortion services. These figures serve to highlight yet again the hypocrisy of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws and clearly demonstrate the necessity for domestic-based abortion services in Ireland.

“Clients attending IFPA services for pregnancy counselling express frustration and anger that they have to leave this country to access health services they feel should be available to them at home. Women don’t want sympathy, they simply want access to the health services they need.”

Last December, in a landmark judgment against the Irish State, the European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that travelling abroad for an abortion constituted a significant psychological, physical and financial burden on women.

The Court unanimously found that Ireland’s abortion law violates women’s human rights and that abortion, in certain circumstances, should be legally accessible in Ireland.

With less then a month to go before the Government must submit an action plan to the Council of Europe on how it intends to execute the judgment, it time for the Government to develop a comprehensive policy to give effect to Irish women’s constitutional right to abortion services.

Notes

  • 2010’s figure of 4,402 represents a drop of just 20 on the previous year – a decline of 0.5%.
  • Women travelling from Ireland constitute 67% of all recorded terminations carried out on non-UK residents.
  • Women in their 20s represented 53% of the total figure of women travelling from Ireland. Women in their 30s represented 31% of the total figure. 18 and 19 year olds represented 7%. Women aged over 40 represented 6%. 16-17 year olds accounted for 3% and under 16s represented 1%. (Note: percentages are rounded up).
  • The majority of terminations were carried out at under 9 weeks of gestation (68%)

The UK Department of Health 2010 statistics are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/abortion-statistics-england-and-wales-2010