Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Irish Times: More find it harder to afford abortion services

Health Correspondent

Tue, Jun 29, 2010

MORE WOMEN are reporting difficulties in coming up with the money necessary to access abortion services, according to the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA).

The association’s chief executive, Niall Behan, said yesterday that the association counsellors were seeing more women reporting this difficulty in the current economic climate.

The association offers counselling at centres in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Gorey, Letterkenny, Limerick, Monaghan, Sligo and Waterford.

Mr Behan said, however, that “finances are only one of a range of factors women take into account in their decision-making process”.

His comments came a day after Dublin’s Well Woman Centre said increasing numbers of women attending its three pregnancy counselling services in the capital were considering terminating pregnancies as a consequence of the recession.

Chief executive Alison Begas said up to one in five of the 2,000 or so women who presented to Well Woman for pregnancy counselling last year cited financial concerns as the main reason why they were seeking information on having a termination.

However not all crisis pregnancy counselling services are seeing the same trend. Deirdre Seery, director of the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, said the numbers it was seeing who were considering terminations for financial reasons hadn’t increased.

“In fact what we’ve heard anecdotally through the various strands of our work is women are saying they may as well be pregnant because they are not working, that it’s a good time to get pregnant,” she said.

Meanwhile Dublin Well Woman’s annual report, published yesterday, said the recession is also affecting the numbers of people presenting for full screening for sexually transmitted infections (STI). It said the numbers attending for such testing had fallen by about a third.

“Sadly we don’t think that’s due to massive behavioural change . . . we think its probably due to financial constraints,” Ms Begas said.

A full screening which involves blood and swab tests to check for infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis costs €145 at Well Woman. While screening is free at some public hospitals, clients may have to wait for the service, Well Woman said.

It said reduced testing meant a lower detection and treatment rate of STIs which ultimately exposes more sexually active people to risk.

Separately, Well Woman reported a significant increase in the numbers of women presenting for cervical smear tests last year after the death from cervical cancer of UK celebrity Jade Goody.

© 2010 The Irish Times