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Figures suggest surge in abortions post-repeal

If the trend continues, more than 5,000 preborn children will be dead

The Southern Taskgroup on Abortion and Reproductive Topics (Start), an organisation representing 250 abortion providers, recently estimated that they are providing between 800 and 900 abortions per month. If that figure is accurate, over the course of a year there will be between 9,600 and 10,800 abortions carried out by these GPs alone.

There are 317 GPs providing abortion. If the additional 67 doctors not represented by Start are providing abortions at the same rate, that is an additional 2,570 to 2,890 abortions a year. That adds up to between 12,170 and 13,690 abortions a year. This is not counting abortions in hospitals and those still travelling to Britain.

In 2017, 3,019 women from the Republic had an abortion in England and Wales, less than half the number who had abortions there in 2001 and a further 8 per cent decline from 2016.

Let’s add to those figures a generous estimate of a further 2,000 women taking abortion pills (as acknowledged by the main providers of illegal abortion pills, many women who order them do not take them).


There might be another 50 who had abortions in say, the Netherlands. In 2017 that would have been a total figure of 5,069 women who for various reasons such as lack of support from partners, the great difficulty of juggling lone parenthood and paid work, and the impossibility of finding decent accommodation, terminated their pregnancies.

If the above extrapolations from the Start-provided estimates are correct, the number of abortions this year at a minimum will have doubled and perhaps will even be two-and-a-half times as high.


The fee for GP abortion provision is €450. If these figures are accurate, abortion will cost the exchequer somewhere between €5.5 million and €6 million this year.

This is at a time when funding for new developments in the National Maternity Strategy has been halted. Some €4.1 million has been provided for this year and there is no more funding available.

The maternity strategy was developed in response to maternal deaths such as that of Tania McCabe and Savita Halappanavar. It was designed to make the State's maternity units safe places for women and babies.

In 2007, Tania McCabe died the day after the premature delivery of her twin sons. She died of multiorgan failure and postpartum haemorrhage due to sepsis. Recommendations were made in order to prevent such tragic and unnecessary deaths.

When the Hiqa report on Savita Halappanavar, who died from multiorgan failure and sepsis, was published in 2013, the then Hiqa director of regulation, Phelim Quinn, said that the McCabe case had "a disturbing resemblance to the case of Savita Halappanavar".

Funding for the maternity strategy that grew out of Savita Halappanavar's death has been halted

The same Hiqa report found that only five out of the 19 public maternity hospitals/units were able to provide a detailed status report on the implementation of the McCabe report recommendations.

The clear implication was that if the recommendations had been implemented, especially clear steps for the identification of sepsis, that Halappanavar’s case might have had a different outcome. And now, funding for the maternity strategy that grew out of Halappanavar’s death has been halted.

Róisín Molloy, a patient representative whose baby died due to failures in care in Portlaoise hospital, stated in April that the money that had been intended for the maternity strategy was effectively being spent on abortion services since January.

Basic maternity care

If estimates based on the Start figures are accurate, they represent an astonishing rise in abortion and in spending by an allegedly cash-strapped HSE that is failing to provide basic maternity care. Two women have died after giving birth in this past year alone. Twenty-four year-old Karen McEvoy died last Christmas Day of multiorgan failure with septicaemia, 13 years after Tania McCabe's death. There has been little or no focus on this apparent extraordinary rise in abortion.

Many people voted for repeal honestly believing what they were told

Instead, the whole framing of media reports has been that the abortion regime is too restrictive. Abortion providers who earn €450 per abortion, complain bitterly about problems about accurately dating pregnancies, about the fact that the three-day waiting period has a chilling effect, and that abortion for unborn children with life-limiting conditions is not available easily enough. In other words, abortion providers believe there is not enough access to abortion even though the figures appear already to have at least doubled.

Many people voted for repeal honestly believing what they were told: that any woman who wanted an abortion would go to the UK anyway, that repeal would lead to few or no additional abortions, that all they were doing was saving vulnerable women a painful journey. If the Start estimates are accurate, this is all categorically wrong. If the trend continues, more than 5,000 preborn children will be dead who would otherwise be alive – and this is just the first year. If you were one of the people who voted on this basis, you were fooled, and you now have to ask yourself – what have you done?