More than 6,700 women had an abortion via their GP last year, new official figures indicate, but when the numbers from hospitals are included, plus the number still going to England and Wales, the figure easily exceeds 7,000.
The total of 6,700 alone is the highest figure since the 2018 referendum that repealed the 8th amendment. In 2019 and 2020, the figures were 6,666 and 6,577 respectively.
Some media are reporting a sharp drop of numbers. Don’t be misled by this. There was a big drop in the number of abortions officially notified to the Department of Health, but not in the actual number that took place.
According to the Department of Health, notifications from doctors came to 4,577, but there were 6,700 reimbursement claims presented to the HSE by GPs after prescribing two abortion pills to women. The Department of Health blames the low number of notifications on the pandemic and the cyber-attack on the HSE in May 2021.
To the figure of 6,700 must be added several hundred more who will have had abortions in hospital, in addition to the 206 Irish residents had a termination in England and Wales last year. This brings the total to well above 7,000. Given that 58,433 babies were born in Ireland in 2021, that comes to approximately one abortion for every eight births.
This week, a new report commissioned by the HSE about the three-year review of the operation of the abortion law was also published. The research was led by a Trinity College academic who was involved in the Repeal the 8th Campaign.
The report shows its colours by calling into question conscientious objection, the three-day waiting period and the current provisions around ‘fatal foetal abnormalities’ which require a baby to have an expected lift-span of only 28 days, or less, after birth in order to be aborted.
The push continues to make our present abortion law even more permissive.