50 women travel to UK for late abortions
MORE than 50 Irish women had abortions in UK clinics in the past three years at 24 weeks or over into their pregnancy, it has emerged.
Although the legal limit for an abortion in the UK is 24 weeks, it is granted beyond that time in exceptional cases.
The young suicidal woman at the centre of the current abortion controversy here was allegedly informed her pregnancy was so advanced she was not entitled to an abortion and her pregnancy had to be terminated through caesarean section.
However, last year 16 Irish women went to the UK to have an abortion after 24 weeks. It is understood many related to a diagnosis of fatal abnormality of the foetus.
A spokesman for the Department of Health in the UK said these late "legally induced" abortions are carried out only after being certified by two registered medical practitioners as justified under one or more grounds.
l The continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.
l The termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman .
l There is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped .
It is also possible for a doctor to intervene in an emergency to save the life of a pregnant woman or prevent grave permanent injury to her physical or mental health.
A British parliament inquiry learned that 27 women from the Republic had these late abortions in 2010 and 2011 on the grounds that the foetus they were carrying was at risk of physical or mental disability.
The little-known section of the 1967 abortion legislation means that the upper limit of 24 weeks can be set aside and the foetus can be terminated "up to birth" in certain circumstances.