Some of the benefits to Ireland of its abortion ban have been estimated in a new study. Ireland’s Gain: The Demographic Impact and Consequences for the Health of Women of the Abortion Laws in Ireland and Northern Ireland since 1968 is written by London-based actuary and statistician Patrick Carroll, of the Pension and Population Research Institute. The study was launched last week in Belfast and Dublin.
The study notes that birth rates in Ireland are close to replacement level, giving the island a healthier, more youthful, demographic profile than other European countries. In England and Wales the birth rate would be at or above replacement rate were it not for the high number of abortions. Among the benefits to Ireland’s economy are lower rates of PRSI (Pay Related Social Insurance) than would otherwise be the case.
Most of the abortions carried out on Irish women involve nulliparous women (women who have not previously given birth), and so are particularly injurious to their health. But since these abortions are comparatively rare, Ireland enjoys a low incidence of maternal and infant conditions known to be abortion sequelae: still birth, low birth weight, premature birth, cerebral palsy and maternal deaths. Other health benefits linked to the rarity of abortion are a lower incidence of cerebral palsy, comparatively good mental health among women, and low incidence of certain diseases of the immune system.
The study offers a number of projections for the Irish population if abortion law were to be changed. The population of Northern Ireland for 2010 would be 1.71 million instead of 1.8 million had Scottish abortion rates applied since 1968. Thus 90,000 people now living in Northern Ireland would not have been born had abortion been lawful there. In the Republic, assuming abortion rates increased over the next ten years to converge with Scottish rates, the population would be only 4.9 million by 2021, a loss of 40,000 people compared to the actual projections of the Central Statistics Office. By 2030, 100,000 people would be lost.
Among other findings of the study was a dramatically lower rate in both parts of Ireland, compared to Britain, of the prescription of eight commonly prescribed anti-depressants. Use of such drugs is particularly associated with women who have abortions, both before and after the abortion.
Pension and Population Research Institute. December 15.
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