Northern Ireland’s abortion rate has almost doubled in the last three years since the province’s abortion law was changed, an FOI request has revealed.
The Freedom of Information request, made by pro-life group Both Lives Matter, revealed that 5,648 abortions have taken place in Northern Ireland since new abortion regulations came into force in March 2020.
The Department of Health disclosed the number of abortions which have taken place from March 2020 to 23rd May 2023, with the pro-life group saying that the annual abortion rate has “nearly doubled” according to the statistics.
The organisation said that the North’s abortion laws stand “in stark contrast to our previous life-affirming law.
“Before Westminster’s intervention around 2,000 lives were being saved from abortion every year. Our research, which was scrutinised and upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority, showed that our previous law saved the lives of over 100,000 people born between 1967 and 2017. Now this carefully balanced law has been reversed,” the group said in a statement.
Information released by the Northern Trust under FOI showed that 87.8% of their healthcare staff, who could potentially be involved in abortion provision, have signalled ‘conscientious objection,’ according to the statement.
A midwife who wished to remain anonymous expressed the difficulties facing those in the profession, stating: “With the law change it can sometimes be really challenging to be a midwife who simply wants to care for both lives. The fact that 87.8% of healthcare workers in one trust have said they won’t take part in abortions is a real encouragement for us, that we aren’t alone in supporting women, their families, and their unborn child.”
“Conscientious objection cannot be viewed as a barrier to ‘service provision’ but should be respected as a strong desire to care for both women and their unborn children as patients worthy of dignity and respect,” Both Lives Matter said.
The group added that it was “concerning” that there is presently no legal framework in place which would “ensure full and accurate reporting on all terminations of pregnancies carried out in Northern Ireland.”
“There is no legal requirement to record why women are having abortions, in order to understand and respond to those needs at a policy level and offer alternatives. This structural failure is failing women and must be addressed,” they said.
A commemorative demonstration held in Belfast at the end of October had quoted a figure of 4,136 abortions — as pro-life advocates gathered to remember the unborn children and women behind the statistics, vowing to continue to campaign despite the recent introduction of abortion exclusion zones in the province.
That figure had not been updated to take into account the abortions carried out in the last 12 months. It had been provided to TUV leader Jim Alister last October, indicating that 4,136 abortions had taken place from March 2020 up to September 22nd last year.
Both Lives Matter, meanwhile, said that there had been almost 2,000 abortions per year since the law change.
Prior to abortion on demand being legalised, between 2010 and 2019 an average of 919 women per year travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales for abortions.
This article was first published on Gript and is printed here with permission
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