Data on termination of pregnancies


Sir , – Breda O’Brien refers to an “astonishing rise in abortions” in her recent article “Figures suggest surge in abortions post-repeal” (Opinion & Analysis, May 18th).

Nobody was sure about the heretofore unmet need for termination of pregnancies for Irish women on Irish soil. It is uncharted territory. Our Irish women in need of abortion care were shamefully relegated to the shadows in their own country. Best guesstimates in pre-referendum Ireland are just that – crude estimates. We have no valid Irish data. We have had UK figures but it has always been impossible to know the numbers who were buying pills online or travelling elsewhere to mainland Europe or beyond to seek care. It is anachronous to attack actual numbers before they are defined; the Southern Taskgroup on Abortion and Reproductive Topics (Start) doctors’ figures are still only being counted.

As providers we are morally and ethically compelled to meet our Irish women in crisis. They are our sisters, wives, girlfriends, and mothers. Their lives are complex and it is only with meeting them and compassionately responding to their care needs that we can as a country collate the data and begin to tackle our real numbers head-on. We in Start are lobbying for better sexuality and contraception education in schools and free high-quality contraception access as part of a comprehensive package of sexual and reproductive healthcare. We have a functioning community early medical abortion service which has drawn from the best of international evidence base, not the worst of international convention. It is nearly six months old and already receiving widespread recognition in the medical world for how it has been structured. It has been said that Ireland has become a world leader in something it has only just started doing. The service has dovetailed into general practice, where it belongs, with the obstetricians taking the lead after 10 weeks.

It is nonsensical to claim to be privy to figures not yet counted. Kindly allow Start to continue its work in educating and supporting its members. The highlighting of the poor resourcing of Irish women’s healthcare is welcomed but needs to be inclusive of women requiring compassionate, safe, legal abortion. – Yours, etc,


On behalf of Start,


Co Tipperary.