Wednesday 17 January 2018

Fifth of women who went to UK for abortion had done so before

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

NEARLY one in five of the Irish women who terminated pregnancies in UK clinics last year had one or more previous abortions.

The statistics showed that 755 of the 3,982 women from the Republic had been to clinics for the same procedures previously.

This is the first time that data has been made public which shows that 19pc had previous abortions. The rate compares with 37pc for the UK as a whole.

The new figures, released by the Department of Health in the UK, show only a slight fall in Irish women having abortions in the UK – down from 4,149 in 2011.

TEENAGERS

It means that around 11 women are travelling to the clinics daily and last year 32 were teenagers under the age of 16.

The highest number of abortions, 1,082, was among the 20 to 24 year age group and followed by those in their mid to late 20s.

There were 1,326 abortions among women in their 30s and 263 among those aged 40 years or older, the statistics revealed.

Women from Dublin accounted for 41pc (1,275) followed by those from Cork (320). Significant numbers also gave addresses in Galway and Kildare as well as Limerick, Wexford and Tipperary.

Although 889 women confirmed they were from the Republic they declined to say what county they lived in, according to the report.

Among those who had abortions 101 were pregnant for five months or more. The highest numbers (2,700) were three to nine weeks pregnant when the termination took place.

The figures form a stark backdrop to the tense debate in the Dail on the introduction of restricted abortion legislation here and are a reminder that Irish women are terminating pregnancies in their thousands every year.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, Head of Health Protection in the HSE also revealed that hundreds of abortion pills imported into Ireland over the internet were seized here last year.

Customs officers seized 487 abortifacient tablets, of which 471 contained Misoprostal and 16 Mifepristone which would be used for so called DIY "home abortions".

Mr Kelleher said the establishment of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency had helped contribute to this fall, which oversees funding for counselling providing all options to a woman in a crisis pregnancy.

Data is also being collected on how many women from the Republic will travel to Northern Ireland to the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast which opened in October 2012. The number of women having abortions in other countries remains "low", he added.

Data for the UK shows that overall there were 185,122 abortions carried out there in 2012, which is 2.5pc less than in 2011 and 5.2pc more than in 2002.

Irish women formed the biggest group of non-residents who had abortions in the UK last year. There were 5,850 abortions on women from outside the UK, the lowest since 1969.

Irish Independent

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