Slight decrease in the number of abortions carried out in Ireland last year, report shows

The report shows the vast majority of abortions were carried out in early pregnancies

A total of 6,577 abortions were carried out last year, which is a slight decrease on the first year of the service 2019, official Government figures show.

In 2020, the vast majority of terminations – 6,455 – were carried out in early pregnancies of less than 12 weeks, according to the notification report.

Of the other abortions, 20 were carried out due to a risk to life or health under the grounds, five due to a risk to life or health in an emergency situation, and 97 due to a fatal foetal anomaly.

The annual report into the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act covers the period January 1st 2020 until December 31st 2020. A total of 6,666 abortions were carried out in 2019..


The report shows that two women seeking an abortion sought a review of the medical opinion on their applications in 2020 under legislation for the terminations of pregnancy.

Following the review, one of the two applications was found to have met the requirements for a lawful termination of pregnancy, a report by the HSE shows.

The data for 2020 indicates that the months with the highest number of terminations carried out were January (707 notifications), March (655) and April (638). The month with the fewest notifications was December (319).

Notification forms also collect information on the county or place of residence of the pregnant person. Dublin was the county of residence in the case of 2,414 abortions, which the report notes was “expected” given it is a “centre of population density”.

Likewise, there were 645 notifications in Cork and 278 in Limerick. The county cited in fewest abortion notifications was Leitrim, with only 28 noting it as the county of residence.


The data showed that Northern Ireland was the place of residence in 36 cases, while 8 notifications recorded the place of residence as another location outside of Ireland.

No breakdown was provided as to whether terminations were performed in hospitals, or in the community.

The Pro-Life Campaign said the figures were a “ damning indictment of Government policy that overlooks positive alternatives to abortion”.

It said the figures were “ the opposite of what members of the Government repeatedly promised when they said abortions would be ‘rare’ if people voted for repeal.”

The Abortion Rights Campaign said the figure during a pandemic showed abortion was “very much an essential service” and indicates the success of abortion as a telemedicine service which should be retained.

“What is not captured in this report is how many people were refused abortion in Ireland, how many had to travel long distances within Ireland or beyond, and how much distress was caused by the unnecessary barriers within the current abortion law.

“Despite the legalisation of abortion, we know that many people continue to face stigma and shame when accessing abortion care in Ireland,” it said.