Abortion travel numbers to UK fall


The numbers of women travelling to Britain each year for abortions has decreased from more than 6,500 in 2001 to just under 4,500 last year, according to the Crisis Pregnancy Agency.

However the number of women 35 years and older facing crisis pregnancy has increased in the past 18 months, the agency says.

In its final report the research and funding body said that since it was established in 2001 the number of women going to the UK each year for abortions had dropped from 6,673 in 2001 to 4,422 last year.

The number of births to teenagers has dropped to 2,087 in 2001 from 2,223 last year.

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency was amalgamated in January into the HSE and becomes the Crisis Pregnancy Programme.

Speaking at the publication of the final annual report Minister for Health Mary Harney said she did not anticipate in the foreseeable future another abortion referendum, "whether it was the current Government or any possible alternative government".

She also said the agency should continue to produce an annual report and retain its influence. "I don't want to see any diminution of the responsibility of the agency to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies in Ireland and to assist those experiencing crisis pregnancy."

Chairwoman of the agency Katharine Bulbulia had expressed concern that it "would disappear into the HSE and lose visibility" but she was "really heartened" by the Minister's comments. "She did not want it to lose visibility, she actually instanced how it might retain it by producing its own annual report."

Director the agency Caroline Spillane said its research had shown that 28 per cent of women who have been pregnant have experienced a crisis pregnancy, while 23 per cent of men whose partners have been pregnant have experienced a crisis pregnancy.

The agency's report says that its counselling services have increased and that free support is available at more than 50 centres in the State.