Monday 23 October 2017

No matter what our views, we can all agree that abortion is a reality - and it's time we faced it

'The Citizens Assembly is recommending legalising abortion, with a majority supporting allowing it up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. On the other hand, a majority in the assembly also supported replacing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution with something else, not removing it' Photo: PA News
'The Citizens Assembly is recommending legalising abortion, with a majority supporting allowing it up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. On the other hand, a majority in the assembly also supported replacing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution with something else, not removing it' Photo: PA News

Catherine O'Mahony

Step this way for polarised debate, emotional outbursts, hard cases and tough talk: abortion is back on the menu as we progress towards a likely referendum in 2018.

The rhetoric is inevitable, but the facts matter more. Here's one: more than 3,000 women a year give an Irish address when they attend a UK clinic for an abortion. This represents a substantial drop from the numbers registered 15 years ago. However, it is a large number when you consider there were just under 66,000 births in Ireland in 2015. Roughly nine Irish pregnancies are "terminated" (in the parlance of the clinics) a day.

We don't know much more than that. Unless we know them personally, or until exit polls are established outside abortion clinics to grill people as they leave, we will never know why people decided to go this route. We can assume the vast majority will probably be in very early pregnancy (92pc of UK abortions in 2015 involved pregnancies of 13 weeks and under).

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