Friday, June 20, 2008

Newspaper Coverage of Irish Abortion Statistics

Hundreds of women travelling to Holland to end pregnancies
By Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent (Independent)
Friday June 20 2008

Hundreds of Irish women are opting to travel to the Netherlands for abortions -- although the numbers going to Britain to end their pregnancies in 2007 fell for the sixth year in a row.

Until now, the only abortion statistics for Irish women were from UK clinics and newly released figures yesterday showed 4,686 had terminations there last year. This compared with 5,042 UK abortions for Irish women in 2006 and indicates a fall for the sixth year in a row.

However, the Crisis Pregnancy Agency revealed 445 women with Irish addresses had abortions in the Netherlands last year.

"Anecdotally, the clinics have reported they have only seen a significant number of Irish women attending for abortions procedures in the Netherlands since 2006," a spokesperson said.

In 2006, there were 461 abortions carried out on Irish women in the Netherlands and 42 in the previous years. It found the numbers going to other countries such as Spain and Belgium were extremely low -- less than 10 women travelled there between 2005 and 2007.

Pregnancy clinics say cost is a factor and while an abortion in the UK can cost over €700, it can be €300 cheaper in the Netherlands.

Allowing for the trend of women going to countries other than the UK, the overall abortion trend among Irish women appears to be falling.


However, last year there was an increase in the number of Irish girls 16 years or younger having abortions in the UK -- 47 compared with 39 in 2006.

The number of women aged 40 or over who had terminations went up from 200 in 2006 to 209. There was a fall in all other age groups.

One in seven of the women who had UK abortions were more than three months pregnant at the time. As many as 2pc were five of more months into pregnancy.

Eight in 10 women had abortions at under 13 weeks gestation.

The reasons women opted for abortion rather than motherhood are not clear.

In the mid-1990s, it became legal here to give women the names and addresses of abortion clinics. Considerable investment has also be made in counselling services.


Katherine Bulbulia, chair of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency -- the state body which funds pregnancy counselling clinics -- said it was important the numbers of women travelling to abortion clinics in countries other than the UK were monitored.

Agency director Caroline Spillane said crisis pregnancy counselling services here have been expanded by 50pc since 2001.

"The agency has seen a marked increase in the number of women who attend crisis pregnancy counselling throughout the country."

She suggested the increased take up and fall in UK abortions suggested the wider availability of services was having an impact.

Commenting on the UK figures, the Pro Life Campaign said it welcomed the Irish downward trend, pointing out the rate in England and Wales was upward.

"Despite the reduction, we must continue to do more to further reduce our abortion rate," a spokesperson

Fewer women travelling abroad for abortions
Friday June 20 2008

THE NUMBER of Irish women seeking abortions overseas has fallen for the sixth successive year, figures released by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency show.

The number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics in Britain has fallen by almost 2,000 since 2001, to 4,686 last year. The number travelling to the Netherlands, however, has increased significantly, though the overall number has declined.

According to the agency, which began gathering data on numbers travelling to Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium since 2005, an insignificant number (fewer than 10 between 2005 and 2007) were travelling to Spain and Belgium.

However, the number of women giving Irish addresses at abortion clinics in the Netherlands increased from 42 in 2005, to 462 in 2006 and to 445 last year.

The decrease - 1,987 - in numbers travelling to Britain, from 6,673 in 2001 to 4,686 last year, means there has been an overall annual decline in women going overseas for abortions of 1,542 since 2001.

The yearly figures for those travelling to Britain are 6,673 in 2001; 6,522 in 2002; 6,320 in 2003; 6,217 in 2004; 5,585 in 2005; 5,042 in 2006.

The numbers per 1,000 women aged 15-44 travelling to Britain fell from 7.5 in 2001 to 7.2 in 2002; 6.9 in 2003; 6.7 in 2004; 5.9 in 2005; 5.2 in 2006 and 4.7 last year.

Enda Saul, spokeswoman for the agency, said there were a number of factors in the decline.

"There is the wider availability of crisis pregnancy counselling which gives women a free, safe,
non-judgmental and confidential space in which to look at all the options open to her. Also we believe more people are using contraception. It's more widely available and there are good behaviours developing."

Relationship and sexuality education in schools had improved and parents were more likely to take a role in educating their young adult children about contraception.

Referring to numbers travelling to jurisdictions other than Britain, agency chairwoman Katherine Bulbulia said it was important that a formal monitoring system be put in place to provide clarity on how many were travelling, particularly to the Netherlands.

Director Caroline Spillane said there had been a "marked increase" in the number of women availing of crisis pregnancy counselling throughout the State.

"When the take-up of the counselling is combined with the reduction in the number of women giving Irish addresses in UK abortion clinics, we can suggest that the increased awareness of crisis pregnancy and the services provided has had an impact," she said.

Ms Saul also suggested changes in attitudes to family and what constitutes a family may have contributed to women's decisions not to seek abortions.

She said there was far less stigma about being an unmarried or single mother than there had been in past decades.

The agency funds 14 crisis pregnancy counselling providers, in more than 50 centres throughout the State.

Details about crisis pregnancy counselling can be obtained by freetexting list to 50444 or visiting

Women going to UK for abortions down to 13 a day
By Evelyn Ring (The Examiner)
Friday June 20 2008

EVERY day last year at least 13 women travelled to Britain for an abortion, new figures show.

While the number of women giving Irish addresses at British abortion clinics has been dropping since 2001, a significant number are travelling to the Netherlands for terminations.

The statistics, compiled by the Department of Health in Britain, show that 4,686 women who had an abortion last year gave an Irish address, compared with 6,673 in 2001.

The latest statistics show a decrease in the number of Irish women aged between 20 and 24 who have given Irish addresses at British abortion clinic.

A total of 1,387 women aged between 20 and 24 gave Irish addresses at abortion clinics in Britain last year, compared with 1,505 in 2006.

There were 47 girls under the age of 16 who gave Irish addresses at abortion clinics in Britain last year, compared with 39 in 2006.

Irish teen abortions, however, remain steady and are much lower than in other countries.

When the Crisis Pregnancy Agency (CPA) was established in 2001, at least 18 women were travelling every day to Britain for an abortion. At 6,673, the number was also up from 6,391 in 2000.

Other jurisdictions have noticed that Irish women have been travelling to clinics since 2006, but the CPA found that the Netherlands was the only jurisdiction that had significant numbers of women from Ireland travelling for abortion procedures.

The CPA also pointed out that the number of Irish women going to Spain and Belgium was extremely low — less than 10 women were reported to have travelled to these jurisdictions for abortion procedures between 2005 and 2007.

CPA director Caroline Spillane said the provision of free crisis pregnancy counselling had increased by 50% since the CPA was established in 2001.

She said the agency had seen a “marked increase” in the number of women attending crisis pregnancy throughout the country.

“When the take-up of counselling is combined with the reduction in the number of women giving Irish addresses, we can suggest that the increased awareness of crisis pregnancy and the services provided has had an impact,” she said.

The lobby group Pro-Life Campaign welcomed the downward trend in the number of Irish women travelling to Britain for an abortion.

“At a time when abortions in England and Wales have increased significantly, the drop in the Irish rate proves that upward trends are not inevitable,” said Pro Life spokeswoman Dr Ruth Cullen.

The statistics also show that 67% of women who gave Irish addresses had an abortion when they were between three and nine weeks pregnant, 20% were between 10 and 12 weeks, while 2% were 20 weeks or more into their pregnancy.