Sir, – Niall Behan (Letters, July 24th) insists that laws restricting access to abortion have no impact on the abortion rate.
This claim is often made by those who want to see access to abortion in Ireland, but it is not supported by the evidence.
A 2014 study carried out by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute noted that, among other factors, abortion restrictions and clinic closures have a significant effect in keeping the abortion rate down. In the two years following the enactment of a law that led to 20 abortion clinics closing in the state of Texas, the number of abortions in Texas dropped by more than 12,000.
As with all aspects of abortion, this figure is not simply a statistic but represents 12,000 babies who are alive and 12,000 women who were not put at the risk of harm from the abortion procedure.
The experience of Texas is mirrored in many other areas of life where it is taken as obvious that laws change behaviours and attitudes. Today, it is bizarre to think about smoking in pubs or driving after drinking. This change has come about not just because of what the law says but because the law has had an educative effect on our attitudes, profoundly changing them so that we no longer consider drink-driving to be acceptable.
In the same way, the Eighth Amendment has profoundly changed the way we feel about mothers and their babies.
Other countries that have allowed abortion have seen it become normalised as a response to an unplanned pregnancy and once something becomes normalised, it happens more often.
This is why, for example, the abortion rate in the UK stands at one in every five pregnancies, or 300 per cent more than the Irish rate.
The number of abortions in Ireland has been steadily decreasing over the past 14 years. If we want to see this trend continue, then we should oppose any attempt to introduce a law that would normalise the ending of a baby’s life as a response to an unplanned pregnancy. – Yours, etc,
Pro Life Campaign,