Only one in seven Irish women who have abortions are married

Only one in seven Irish women who have abortions in the UK are married according to the latest figures which confirms once again that being married hugely decreases the odds of a pregnancy being unwanted.

The new figures also show that the number of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortions declined by more than 7 percent last year. This is the twelfth consecutive year that the Irish abortion rate has decreased.

In contrast abortions performed on British women declined by just 0.8 percent year on year.

In a statement welcoming the continuing reduction in the number of Irish women travelling to Britain for abortion, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said:

Every abortion is an immense human tragedy but the huge drop in numbers travelling to Britain for abortion over the past 12 years is a positive development.

In 2013, 3,679 Irish women travelled to England and Wales for abortions, down from 3,982 in 2012, a 7.6% decrease. 2013's abortion rate represents a 44.8% decline since the high of 6,673 Irish abortions in 2001.

Of the women who had abortions, 1,214 were single, 1,672 were unmarried but with a partner, 538 were married and 76 were separated, widowed or divorced. In other words, only 14.6% of women having abortions were married.

The abortion rate for British-resident women did not see a similar decline, decreasing by only 0.8 per cent compared to last year. Among women aged 25 to 29, the rate actually increased, from 22.1 per 1000 women to 22.6.

Commenting on the figures, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK's largest abortion provider, suggested the increase in the 25-29 age bracket may 'reflect the ongoing trend towards women postponing motherhood until they feel in the position to become a parent'. BPAS Chief Executive Ann Furedi said: ‘There is no right or wrong number of abortions, simply that any woman who needs an abortion is able to obtain one.

The Irish Times reports that the 185,000 abortions performed on British women is now at its lowest level on a percentage basis – bearing in mind the increase in population – since 1997, but that it is still double the rate of 7.8 per 1,000 British-resident women that occurred in 1970, according to the statistics released by the Department of Health.

Cora Sherlock said that “while it is difficult to draw firm conclusions, a recent report from the HSE/Crisis Pregnancy Programme showed an increase in the number of women expressing abortion regret. In that study, 44 per cent of women expressed varying degrees of regret about their abortions up from 33 per cent in a similar HSE study in 2003. The outright refusal of groups like the IFPA to acknowledge the evidence of abortion regret does a huge disservice to women.”