– Release date: 26 August 2004
Commenting on the figures released today by the UK Department of Health the IFPA has welcomed the reduction in the number of women who travelled to England and Wales in 2003 for abortions.
According to the provision figures a total of 6320 women providing Irish addresses had terminations in the UK. A detailed analysis of the figures is not possible as no statistics regarding client age break-down or time of gestation when abortion performed, have been released.
While the decrease is marginal, and we would need to monitor the trend for a number of years before commenting with any certainty, it is an indication that recent investment in three options pregnancy counselling or in awareness raising about safe sex and contraception has not, as predicted by some, led to a huge increase in the number of women travelling.
Neither does the figure of 6320 account for the number of women who have been compelled to avail of illegal abortions at home. Recent reports of back street abortions are an extremely worrying development, but not at all surprising given that in any country where women’s access to safe, legal abortion is denied women will seek to terminate the pregnancy by other means.
We should be looking to countries like Switzerland which has the lowest abortion rate in Europe. The Swiss have seen the number of women travelling from their country to others going down thanks to the liberalisation of the practice in the whole of the country as a result of legislation which allows abortion on request within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A spokesperson for the Association stated that, “While the abortion rate in Ireland has decreased with these statistics we must pay heed to longer term trends. The rate of terminations in Ireland increased from 2.6 in 1975 to 10.3 in 2003. International research argues that in developed countries which have legalised abortions and access to abortion services, the long-term predominant trend in abortion rates is downwards”.