The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) has said that figures published on the number of women and girls in Ireland who accessed UK abortion services in 2015 do not reflect the actual number of women and girls in Ireland who have abortions.
The UK Department of Health’s annual statistics show that in 2015, at least 3,451 women and girls from the Republic of Ireland accessed abortion services in England and Wales. This is a decrease of 7.6% compared to 2014.
Commenting on the figures, IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said, “We cannot be complacent about this decrease. While it is impossible to quantify the extent of their use, abortion pills accessed online have had a significant impact on the decline in the number of women in Ireland seeking abortion services in the UK.”
“The IFPA knows from its services that women who cannot travel for abortion services are increasingly accessing the abortion pill online. Our experience echoes the findings of a major report published last week by the World Health Organisation and the Guttmacher Institute that data available in Ireland does not give a true picture of women who access abortion.”
Mr Behan continued, “International evidence is clear that restrictive laws and criminal sanctions rarely stop women from having abortions, but the IFPA knows from our clients that such laws harm women’s health.”
“Irish laws and policies must be reformed so that they that protect women’s reproductive health and ensure high quality sexuality education, contraceptive and abortion services.”
- In 2015, 3,451 women and girls provided addresses from the Republic of Ireland at abortion clinics in England and Wales, a decrease of 7.6% on 2014.
- This number is an underestimation. Not all women provide their Irish addresses at UK abortion clinics for reasons of confidentiality or otherwise. Some women travel to other European countries to access abortion services. The IFPA also knows from its services that women who cannot travel are increasingly accessing the abortion pill online.
- Women from the Republic of Ireland constituted the majority (66.5%) of abortions carried out on non-UK residents in 2015.
- From 1980 to 2015, at least 165,438 women and girls from the Republic of Ireland have accessed abortion services in the UK.
- From 2006 to 2014, at least 1,513 women and girls from the Republic of Ireland have accessed abortion services in the Netherlands.
- UK Department of Health statistics 1980-2015 are available here.
- The full UK Department of Health 2015 statistics are available here.
- The lead author of a report published last week by the World Health Organisation and the Guttmacher Institute stated that data available on abortion in Ireland is underestimated as it does not capture abortion pills accessed online. The study showed that criminalisation does not stop women from having abortions but does harm women’s health.
- The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is Ireland’s leading pregnancy counselling provider, providing over 3,000 counselling services annually.
- The IFPA provides free and confidential pregnancy and post-abortion counselling, delivered by accredited and trained counsellors, at eleven locations nationwide. It is the only national pregnancy counselling service that provides information on all three options – abortion, parenting and adoption. The IFPA also provides a comprehensive range of medical and education and training services on a not-for-profit basis.
- In 2015, the IFPA provided 3,682 counselling services to women, girls and couples experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy which became a crisis. The IFPA answered 2,039 calls to its National Pregnancy Helpline and provided 1,413 face to face counselling sessions and 230 follow up support calls.