For the tenth consecutive year the number of Irish women traveling to Britain for an abortion has dropped. Official figures for 2011 show that the number fell by 7 per cent, from 4,402 in 2010 to 4,149 last year. More than half that number were women in their twenties; 1,289 were women in their thirties while 257 women were over the age of 40. The vast majority, almost 70 per cent, had abortions between three and nine weeks of pregnancy; 16 per cent were between 10 and 12 weeks gestation; 12 per cent were between 13 and 19 weeks pregnant; while 3 per cent, or 114 women, were over 20 weeks gestation.
The numbers declined across age categories. The figures include almost 150 Irish minors. 37 girls under the age of 16 gave an address in the Irish Republic having travelled to Britain for an abortion in 2011, a 10 per cent drop when compared on the previous year. There were a further 111 girls between the ages of 16 and 17, a 3.5 per cent drop on the statistics for 2010. 295 women between the ages of 18 and 19 travelled for abortion, a 3 per cent drop on the 2010 figure.
The decline in the number of Irish abortions was against a continuing upward trend for the total number of abortions in England and Wales. That total was 189,931, up 0.2 per cent on the 2010 figure of 189,574. The number of abortions performed on non-residents was the lowest since 1968. 2,307 abortions were committed on the grounds that the child could be born handicapped.
F&L Comment: We welcome the continued fall in the number of Irish women who feel they have no alternative, when confronted with a crisis pregnancy, but to resort to abortion. The figures bear testimony to the efforts of Family & Life and others to educate the Irish people about the value and dignity of unborn human life, and to ensure that women know there are life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Even so, 4,149 Irish babies were killed by abortion last year and 4,149 Irish women risked serious long-term harmful effects. This is 4,149 too many and we will continue working until we reduce this figure to zero.
The Irish Times. May 29. Department of Health (E&W). May 29.
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