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Interpreting our abortion data: there is no substitute for common sense

If you are on the Curragh, and you hear galloping hooves behind you, the conclusion you would draw is that they are horses. You would not assume that they are zebra or buffalo.

What if you are appointed by the State to investigate the working of our abortion regime, and you encounter, looking at the data year after year, a discrepancy of about 1500-2000 per year between the number of women who book an initial abortion consultation, and the number who go on to have an abortion? It is brought to your attention that some of these are women who were outside the 12-week gestational limit for abortions, and some may have had miscarriages in the course of the three-day reflection period. But there remains a discrepancy of about 1000 in the data each year. The commonsense explanation is that these 1000 are women who changed their minds, in the course of the three-day reflection period, and decided instead to keep their babies.

But those responsible for the Abortion Review seem determined not to arrive at this commonsense explanation. They started, instead, by speculating that the discrepancy arises because women are booking in with more than one abortion provider!

They are now arguing (as at the recent Health Committee hearings) that the discrepancy has something to do with those women who present at 9-12 weeks gestation, and because of this are referred on from the GP to a hospital. That is simply not true. The calculation is not based on the difference between the number of initial and final payments to GP’s, it is based on the difference between the number of initial payments and the number of abortions. In round figures, last year there were about 10,000 initial payments and about 8000 abortions, a difference of 2000. Whether the abortion is performed by the GP or in a hospital setting is irrelevant to the calculation.

The Abortion Review is recommending the scrapping of the three-day reflection period based on this nonsense.  Liberal politicians will then use this recommendation to justify changes to the abortion legislation which will inevitably have the effect of increasing the number of abortions here even further.

We are, therefore, in grave danger of legislating out of existence one of the few safeguards that we have in our abortion legislation, despite clear evidence, year after year, that this safeguard works as intended, and saves about 1000 lives a year.

You could not make it up!


Jim Stack

This article was originally published on Gript and is published here with permission

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