- The Iona Institute - https://ionainstitute.ie -

How the 8th amendment saved lives

An official three-review review of Ireland’s abortion law is to begin soon. That law has been in effect since January 2019. In the first two full years of its operation, a total of 13,243 terminations have taken place in Ireland. A terrible total.

This is certainly a big increase on the number of Irish women having abortions in the years immediately before 2019. According to official figures from the UK [1], 2,879 Irish women travelled to England for terminations in 2018, the year of our abortion referendum. A total of 3,019 travelled the previous year.

That comes to 5,878 in all over two years, far less than the figure of 13,243.

Even if we allow for women in Ireland using the abortion pill, which was not legally available here before 2019, there has still been a huge increase.

Simon Harris, then Health Minister and leading campaigner for repeal of the 8th Amendment, estimated in December 2018 [2] that around three women per day in the country were taking the abortion pill. He believed about 4,400 Irish women were having abortions each year.

But that is still much less than the number that have occurred since we legalised abortion.

According to official Department of Health reports, 6,666 terminations [3] took place in Ireland in 2019, and 6,577 in 2020 [4], despite the extended lockdowns last year.

In other words, even if we accept Simon Harris’s higher abortion estimate, there has still been a very big increase in the number of Irish women having abortions. Therefore, there is excellent reason to believe that the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution saved lives.