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New figures confirm that 3-day-wait reduces abortion: Life Institute says scrapping it would betray voters

New data released to Carol Nolan TD shows, yet again, that more than a thousand women changed their mind during the 3-day period of reflection after a first abortion appointment. 

The Life Institute said that the data was “incontrovertible evidence for the third year running that the 3-day wait gave women time to think” and said that the government needed to “keep its promise made to voters in the referendum by ensuring that the period of reflection was retained.” 
Spokeswoman Megan Ní Scealláin said that figures released to Deputy Nolan for 2021 showed that there were 8,284 initial consultations charged by GPs and other clinics for termination of pregnancy services. In contrast, the Department of Health has estimated that 6,700 abortions took place. 
“That suggests that more than 1,500 women changed their mind during the 3-day period,” Ms Ní Scealláin said. “It also shows that the 3-day waiting period may help women by giving valuable time to them to access support and help before making an irreversible decision.” 
Data for previous years from the HSE released to Deputy Nolan showed there were 8,057 initial consultations for Termination of Pregnancy services in 2020, against 6,577 abortions recorded that year. 
In that year, the Department also confirmed that 6,577 abortions were carried out. We concur wth Deputy Nolan’s conclusion that more than 1,400 women appear to have changed their mind and did not go ahead with an abortion during the 3-day period.
In 2019, some 7,536 initial consultations were provided while 6,666 abortions took place. 
This means that a growing number of women are changing their mind about undergoing an abortion in the 3-day period,” said Ms Ní Scealláin. “Some 870 women did not return for an abortion in 2019, while that number climbed to 1,400 in 2020 and now more than 1,500 in 2021. That means almost 1 in 5 women are choosing to have their baby instead. Surely that’s a good thing? Why would anyone want more abortions to take place?”
The Life Institute spokeswoman said that while some of the babies might have been lost to miscarriage in the 3-day period, it was up to the HSE to conduct research to ascertain those numbers. 
“It would be reprehensible for the government to scrap the 3-day waiting period and take that time to think away from women,” she said. “They would be dramatically increasing the abortion rate, and breaking the promise they made in 2018 to voters on abortion.” 
“In 2018, Tánaiste Simon Coveney promised voters that abortion would only be legal under “strict guidelines” including a 3 day period of reflection for a woman seeking abortion. The waiting period was “very important”, he said, as a reassurance to voters, because the “magnitude of terminating a pregnancy was part of the decision making” when it came to abortion.

In fact, he and other Yes leaders, like Leo Varadkar, used the promise of the 3-day wait to convince people to support repeal. 

“They must not be allowed to break that promise  – taking away from women that time to think and hugely increasing the number of abortions that take place when the rate is already shockingly high,” said Ms Ní Scealláin. 
Responding to the same figures, Deputy Carol Nolan TD said:
“Once again we have been provided with solid, substantive indicators unequivocally establishing the value of the three day wait period. Seen in this light there should be no question of abandoning this prudent, proportionate and life-saving legislative safe-guard. There is no basis in good medical practice, ethical governance or otherwise for this measure to be abandoned just to suit a political agenda that is rushing headlong, without any meaningful justification, into the further liberalisation of an already extreme abortion regime.”

Life Institute has produced a billboard and social media campaign urging that the 3-day waiting period be retained – and say they are “stepping up the campaign this week with local advertisements and door-to door- leaflets”.

This piece was first published on Gript.

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