13,243 abortions in two years: what the figures tell us

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October, 08, 2021

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13,243 abortions in two years: what the figures tell us

Each year the government is obliged to report on the abortion regime established by Simon Harris's bill which made abortion widely available in Ireland. 

Several TDs asked that the annual reports be based on the UK reporting around abortion, so that a better understanding of why women undergo abortion could be achieved. The British Department of Health gathers data on women undergoing abortion including age structure, socio-economic grouping, marital status and the grounds for abortion. Obviously, identifying data is never revealed.  

In contrast, the Irish reports - and they were designed to be this opaque - tell us almost nothing. Clearly, the government are not interested in transparency, or in gathering information which might help to bring down the number of abortions, and offer women better supports. 

      


      

WHAT WE DO KNOW

To date two reports have been issued by the Department of Health on Abortion in Ireland - for 2019 and 2020. They tell us :

a) how many abortions took place under each section of the abortion legislation, b) The number of abortion per month, and c) the number of abortions per county. 

That's all. 

   

In 2019, 6,666 abortions  took place. 

6,542 were carried out under Section 12 - abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks

100 babies were aborted under section 11 - where the baby had a severe disability that was held to be likely to lead to death. 

We now know that a preborn baby boy, named Christopher, was misdiagnosed with a "fatal" condition in the National Maternity Hospital in March 2019 and aborted. Further tests showed the little boy had no abnormalities.

21 babies were aborted under section 9 - a risk to the life or health of mother

3 babies were aborted under section 10 -  a risk to life or health in an emergency 

  

In 2020, despite the lockdown, 6,577 abortions took place. 

6,455 were carried out under Section 12 - abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks. 

97 babies were aborted under section 11 - where the baby had a severe disability that was held to be likely to lead to death. 

20 babies were aborted under section 9 - a risk to the life or health of mother

3 babies were aborted under section 10 -  a risk to life or health in an emergency 

    



   

WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES IN TERMS OF REPORTING

Very little. 

It states that in terms of Notification: 

Section 20 of the Act of 2018 provides for a notification system in relation to all terminations of pregnancy carried out under the legislation. Specifically, it requires that the Minister for Health be notified of each termination of pregnancy no later than 28 days after it has been carried out.

The notifications are recorded on the form entitled “Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 (Notifications) Regulations 2018” (Statutory Instrument No. 597 of 2018). The following information is included in the form

  • Medical Council registration number of the medical practitioner who carried out the termination of pregnancy;
  • The section of the Act under which the termination was carried out, i.e., section 9, 10, 11 or 12;
  • Medical Council registration number(s) of the medical practitioner(s) who made the certification concerned;
  • The county of residence, or place of residence (where the woman resides outside of the State) of the woman concerned;
  • The date on which the termination of pregnancy was carried out.

No identifying information on the pregnant woman is included on the notification form.

Section 20 also requires the Minister to prepare a report on the notifications received during the immediately preceding year not later than 30 June in each year and to lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Minister must publish a copy of the annual report as soon as practicable after it has been laid before the Houses. No information that could lead to the identification of either the women or medical practitioners involved may be included in the report