Release date: 04 July 2006
The Irish Family Planning Association has said that abortion figures released today by the UK Department of Health Statistics Office reflect the fact that Irish women are now travelling elsewhere in Europe to access termination services.
According to the statistics, a total of 5,585 women resident in Ireland travelled to Britain for terminations in 2005. This represents a reduction of 632 on the previous year.
According to the IFPA’s Director of Counselling Services, Rosie Toner, “We welcome the drop which represents the most significant year-on-year change in abortion statistics and the lowest figure since 1997 (5,340). However, it is important to note that these figures are not an accurate reflection of the numbers of women who travel abroad to access termination services.
“The number of women attending our post-abortion medical services and counselling, who indicate that they had terminations in other EU states, such as Holland, Spain and Belgium has grown very significantly in the past 18 months.
“The Euro-Sterling difference now makes accessing terminations in England very expensive. Access to the internet as well as cheaper and more frequent airfares around Europe have made travelling beyond England a real option for women.
“The most significant drop recorded was in the 20 – 30 age-group, and this would probably represent the most mobile and flexible age group. The only increase in the numbers travelling from Ireland took place in the 40+ age-bracket.
“The statistics also indicate a small rise in the number of women travelling from Ireland who had terminations by nine-weeks of gestation. This rise shows that when women have the choice of an early termination, they will opt for it. Of course, early medical abortions are difficult for Irish woman because of the travel issue,” added Rosie Toner.
The Irish abortion situation will be the focus of a number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights in the next few years. Given that Ireland’s ban on abortion does not stop women from terminating the pregnancy the IFPA call on Political parties to consider this as they prepare for next years general election.