New figures released in response to a parliamentary question from an Independent TD suggest that almost 20% of women who attended GPs and clinics seeking an abortion subsequently changed their mind and did not go ahead with the procedure.
Independent TD Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health for information regarding “the number of initial consultations for the termination of pregnancy services that were provided by general practitioners, family planning clinics and women’s health clinics in 2020”.
The HSE responded: “In 2020, there were 8,057 initial consultations for Termination of Pregnancy services. These figures are provided based on claim data, which has been received by the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) from Community GPs.”
Contrasting that information with data from the Department of Health which revealed that 6,577 abortions were carried out in 2020, Deputy Nolan said that it seemed more than 1400 women had changed their mind and did not go ahead with an abortion.
That amounted to 18.4% – or almost one in 5 women – who did not proceed with an abortion after the initial consultation.
“My primary concern here is to ensure that women and babies are protected and supported. Unfortunately, all we are getting from the current Minister, is what we got from the previous Minister for Health, and that is a kind of cold-shoulder attitude toward those who seek to place the emphasis on the need to reduce abortions rather than promote them. That is not acceptable, and I will continue to fight against it. We can and must do better for women and their babies,” Deputy Nolan said.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that it was now clear that the 3 day reflection period was preventing an even higher number of abortions.
“In 2019, again thanks to information only gleaned because Carol Nolan asked the right questions, more than 800 women changed their mind after the first abortion consultation,” she said. “Now we know that some 1400 women changed their mind during the 3-day waiting period in 2020. Clearly, without the reflection period the already shockingly high abortion rate would be even higher. No reasonable person wants that – or wants more abortions to take place. Attempts by abortion advocates to scrap the 3 day waiting period should be strongly resisted”.