Ireland, a country of 5 million inhabitants, performed 6,666 voluntary abortions in 2019. This was revealed by the first statistical report from the Ministry of Health, since its abolition in November 2018, of the eighth amendment to the constitution – introduced in 1983 – which recognized “The right to life of unborn children”.
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At the time, 66% of Irish people voted in favor of legalization by referendum. Until then, the practice of abortion was punishable by fourteen years in prison.
Defenders leaped at the scale of the first assessment, far from their eyes of the slogan for an abortion “Safe, legal and rare”. Maeve O’Hanlon, spokesperson for the pro-life campaign, is not fooling.
“It is the first time in our history that thousands of innocent unborn babies have had their lives ended with the full support of Irish law”, she reported to the Catholic News Agency. The association criticizes an increase in abortions, however difficult to demonstrate, the latter having taken place by definition in clandestinity, before 2019.
With a ratio of 1.3 abortions per 1,000 inhabitants, Ireland still remains far from England, Wales (3,4) and France (3,4) in this area. Amnesty International Ireland welcomes pro-choice camp “Progress made”. “Two years ago, we started from a country that exiled women seeking abortion to a country that takes care of them at home, it is such a step forward! “, welcomed the national director of the NGO, Colm O’Gorman.
Beyond the single digit
A team of researchers from Trinity College has launched a field survey of women who have had abortion, but also of the doctors, nurses and establishments concerned, in order to find out “Contextualize statistics”. The results are due to be presented next March. They will serve as an objective basis for “Enlighten” a revision of the law planned for 2021, indicates doctor Catherine Conlon charged to direct the study.
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The report, however, only specifies that 98% of abortions were performed within the standard deadlines provided by law. After a waiting period of three days, abortion is legal on request up to twelve weeks of pregnancy. For a small proportion of abortions, this deadline was exceeded, either because the life of the fetus was in danger (100 cases), or because that of the mother was (12 cases).
Abortion divides Irish people
The capital, Dublin, logically experienced the most abortion requests, 2,493 in total. In the south, in Cork, 606 interventions took place. However, access to abortion, which is less evident in the west or the north of the country, is far from uniform across the country. Out of the 19 Irish maternity wards that do have an abortion service available, only 10 of them have actually implemented abortions.
Health personnel, in fact, have the right to invoke conscientious objection to the practice of these medical acts, which has been widely the case in certain establishments. The sign that the debate on the termination of pregnancy is still far from over in Ireland.