Credit: Colin Park via Geograph CC BY-SA 2.0

JIM STACK: The Irish Times’s bad reporting on our abortion regime

The Irish Times’s bad reporting on our abortion regime overlooks harm to women, the efficacy of the 3-day waiting period, and the horror of late-term abortions

The Irish Times (with the honourable exception of columnist Breda O’Brien) seems determined to find no fault with our new abortion regime, other than perhaps that it does not go far enough. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, what they mean by this is that, if it were not for things like the 3-day waiting period, and the 12-week gestational limit, and some hospitals refusing to co-operate, even more babies could be aborted here.

It will not be couched in such stark terms, of course, but dressed up as concern that delivery of the “service” is being impeded and that some women are being deprived in consequence – but more abortions is the inevitable consequence of what they are seeking.

Their latest effort in this propaganda campaign (for that is what it is) is a recent report by Shauna Bowers on the IFPA 2019 Annual Report. The heading on this Irish Times report reads: “Over 90% of women who accessed early abortion service did not require hospital visit”. Note the emphasis. The new regime is a success because less than 10% of the women who availed themselves of it ended up in hospital. 

The actual figure is 8%, which (extrapolated to all 6542 early abortions here in 2019, not just the abortions in the IFPA Report) would mean that well over 500 women here, who took abortion pills, ended up in hospital in 2019. Moreover, it says in the IFPA Report that 4.5% of the women required “additional care” in hospitals – and that is about 300 women. If a GP-led vaccination programme, say, ended up with that many hospitalisations, it would be portrayed in the media as a national scandal, but according to the IFPA and the Irish Times, this number is to be regarded as a success when it refers to abortions.

Most of those 300 women (the 4.5% who required “additional care” in hospitals), we are told, were for “incomplete abortions”. The IFPA Report does not give further details about these, and the Irish Times does not even comment on this lack of detail. 

How many life-threatening maternal cases were there among the 4.5%? Did any mothers suffer long-term harm? Did any die? We do not know. We the readers, that is – the IFPA presumably knows full well what happened to its patients, but have chosen not to enlighten us. The Irish Times seems happy with this state of affairs.

Another item of information refers to women who did not proceed with the termination. According to IFPA, 22 of their sample of 177 women, about 1 in 8 women, did not return to them after the first visit. That figure is very much in line with information obtained from the HSE in a parliamentary question from Carol Nolan TD, which indicated that nearly 900 women in 2019 did not proceed with the abortion. To most of us, that would be seen as a vindication of the efficacy of the 3-day waiting period.

But neither the IFPA, nor the Irish Times, mention the 3-day period in their reports. Neither did the Irish Times report the parliamentary question from Carol Nolan, nor the answer received, which conveyed that nearly 900 women in 2019 changed their minds about abortion. On the contrary, in a previous report, the Irish Times actually featured contributions which argued for removal of the 3-day waiting period.

One final point. A recent study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which gives horrific details of late-term abortions in our maternity hospitals under our new abortion regime, received no news coverage at all in the Irish Times. In fairness, this study was featured by columnist Breda O’Brien, but it was entirely ignored by their news reporters and other columnists, some of whom have written extensively about abortion in the past. Is this because, unlike the IFPA report, the Irish Times could not manage to present the findings of the BJOG study in a positive light? According to this research, our 2018 abortion legislation sanctioned operations so grotesque that those performing them were traumatised to the point of vomiting.

The research also said that if babies were born alive after abortion, doctors were left “begging” for help. How often does this happen, and what was the outcome for those babies? The reporting mandated by Simon Harris on the abortion regime is so scant and insufficient that we simply don’t know. In recent months, attempts by Carol Nolan and other TDs to seek further information on negative outcomes for women have been met with a series of stonewalling responses. All such attempts, and the stonewalling responses of the Health Minister, were ignored by the Irish Times.

Most voters – even those who voted yes, would say that these late-term abortions should simply never be permitted.  But the Irish Times does not want to say this, so instead they say nothing at all. Not even in their Letters column, as far as I can tell.



Jim Stack MSc PhD is a retired Mathematician/Statistician, and is writing here in a personal capacity. Most of his research output is listed on

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