Belfast Telegraph

Fall in number of abortions in Northern Ireland - 12 terminations in a year

The Department of Health has published the figures (Thinkstock/PA)
The Department of Health has published the figures (Thinkstock/PA)

New figures show that 12 pregnancies were terminated in NHS hospitals in Northern Ireland in 2017/18- one fewer than the previous year.

When broken down by age, the majority of terminations -eight- were carried out on woman aged 30 years and over.

Meanwhile, four were carried out on women aged between 25 and 29, and none were performed on women aged 24 and under.

All of the 12 terminations were carried out on women normally resident in Northern Ireland.

The number of terminations has dropped from 47 in 2007/2008 to 12 last year.

The statistics were published by the Department of Health.

The 1967 Abortion Act, which established legal abortion, has never applied in Northern Ireland, which has far stricter laws on terminations than in the rest of the UK.

Access to abortion in Northern Ireland is only permitted if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

Fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest are not circumstances in which abortions can be performed legally.

The latest figures do not reflect the total number of Northern Irish women who had abortions, with many travelling to the UK mainland for terminations.

Clare Bailey MLA, Green Party Leader, said: "Twenty eight women travel outside of Northern Ireland to access abortion every week, on average.

"We also know that many others use abortion pills, often bought online, to bring pregnancy to an end. 

"These women are criminalised - they risk arrest and prosecution for accessing the reproductive healthcare afforded to others across the U.K. and Ireland.

"Northern Ireland abortion laws are some of the most archaic and draconian in Europe.

"They are not compatible with international human rights standards and aren't supported by the majority of people here.

"We must decriminalise abortion and trust women to make choices around their reproductive healthcare.

"The statistics documenting 12 abortions carried out across Northern Ireland do not reflect the reality of women's accessing abortions every day."

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