An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that over 8,000 abortions were carried out in Ireland last year, apparently confirming figures given by Minister Stephen Donnelly on RTE earlier this month. Life Institute said that the numbers represented a “drastic rise” of 25% on the previous year, and that any serious review of the abortion law should be focused on reducing those “devastating numbers”.
The Social Democrats leader, Holly Cairns, had asked an Taoiseach when he would act on the recommendations of the Abortion review which has sought radical changes to the law, including scrapping the 3-day wait before abortion – a move pro-life groups say would drive up abortions rates even further.
In response, Mr Varadkar said that, “the Government considered the report earlier today. The Minister for Health, Deputy Donnelly, will publish it tomorrow and people will have a chance to read it then. He has referred it to the Joint Committee on Health for its advice and deliberations. It will be up to the committee to decide how long it takes to do that. Obviously, it is an all-party committee.”
He then said that more than 8,000 abortions were performed in Ireland in 2022. This seems to confirm the number given by Donnelly, and is a very significant increase in the number of abortions.
“There are 400 GP practices that provide abortion services in Ireland. That is not a small number. More than 8,000 abortions were performed in Ireland last year, which is not a small number either,” the Fine Gael leader said.
The Life Institute said that the figures represented a “drastic rise” in the abortion rate, and “catastrophic loss of life in one year”. Spokeswoman Megan Ní Scealláin said that the government needed to take measures to “stop aborting our future”.
“Less than 3,000 abortions were carried out for women travelling from Ireland in 2018, with perhaps another 1,000 receiving abortion pills, and now we are seeing a deeply shocking, catastrophic rise in the number of babies being killed. 8,500 lives ended in one year, its profoundly disturbing and indicative of the government’s failure to offer real options to women,” she said.
“The abortion review should be looking at measures to reduce the number of abortions, not increase them,” she said. “Most people, including many reluctant Yes voters don’t want an increase in the abortion rate – but the government is rushing to please the extremists instead of heeding their own promise to voters that abortion would be ‘rare’.”
“8,500 babies killed by abortion is more than the population of Kilkenny,” she said. “One in 8 babies is now being aborted, missing from our schools, from our families, our communities. Everyone of those 8,500 abortions ended the life of a living, growing child. It’s a tragic, heartbreaking outcome.”
An Taoiseach told the Dáil that the government was seeking to encourage GPs in certain areas to provide abortions, and was also targeting hospitals.
“There are 19 hospitals in Ireland that provide obstetric and gynaecological services. Only 11 provide surgical terminations. That is not good enough. I agree with the Deputy about that. A programme is being put in place to ensure that, by the end of this year if not early next year, all 19 will provide the service,” he said.
Holly Cairns called for a expansion of abortion provision. Ms Cairns previously tweeted she would get an abortion for every minute of reporting given to the papal conclave. The Social Democrats TD made the remarks in 2013 when a new pope was being chosen to lead the Catholic Church.
“For every minute of air time taken up on the papal conclave I’m gonna get an abortion”, she told her followers.