Credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

NOLAN: 3 day waiting period may have meant 1,000 fewer abortions

Figures obtained by Independent TD, Carol Nolan, suggest that almost a thousand women changed their mind and did not proceed with abortion because the three day waiting period gave an opportunity for reflection.

Deputy Nolan had submitted a Parliamentary Question (PQ) to the Minister for Health in July asking for the number of first initial consultations for termination of pregnancy services that were provided by general practitioners, family planning clinics and women’s health clinics in 2019.

In response the Department of Health said that 7,536 initial consultations for termination of pregnancy were provided by general practitioners, family planning clinics and women’s health clinics in 2019.

This, contrasted with the number of abortions that took place, reported at 6,666, suggested that some 870 women changed their mind after the initial consulation during the 3 day waiting period mandated in the legislation.

“At the very least, the information in the PQ Reply that has been provided to me suggests that almost a thousand children may be alive today because of the 3-Day Waiting period,” Deputy Nolan said.

“We know that there were 6,666 abortions in this state in 2019. But we now also know that there were 7, 536 initial consultations. This strongly suggests that a sizeable percentage of women who explored the option of abortion decided not to return to their abortion provider, but instead chose the life affirming option of going ahead with their pregnancy.”

She added that the government needed to put more information regarding abortion into the public domain.

“This is this kind of data that the government should be putting into the public domain to give a more rounded picture of abortion provision in this state. It should not take persistent questioning from TD’s like myself to get this information out there.,” she said.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the data showed the importance of giving women time for reflection – and that it was deplorable that abortion supporters consistently opposed the 3-day waiting period.

“The moment the referendum was over, all pretence of making abortion rare was dropped. Instead we’ve had campaigners and politicians shouting that the 3-day waiting period should be scrapped. Clearly, they seem to think that more abortions is a good thing, a view that is not shared by the majority of people or even a majority of those who voted Yes in the referendum. Women should not be rushed into abortion, clearly a time to reflect and increasing supports for women will help to save both mother and child,” she said.

“I am in complete agreement with Carol Nolan TD, this information should be provided for in the annual abortion statistics – why is the Minister not providing transparency around this issue?” she said.

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