6,666 abortions carried out in Ireland under new legislation last year

A total of 6,666 abortions were carried out in Ireland last year, according to official figures

It is the first full year figures have been available, following a 66% vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment in a 2018 referendum. Abortion services in Ireland commenced on 1 January 2019.

Official figures from the UK Department of Health and Social Care, show an additional 375 abortions took place in England and Wales last year where a Republic of Ireland address was provided. Meanwhile, 67 of the abortions that took place in Ireland in 2019 were for women from Northern Ireland, taking the number of abortions for Irish resident women in Ireland to 6,599. 

The total number of abortions, in 2019, for Irish resident women that were performed in Ireland, England and Wales was 6,974.

Before new abortion legislation was introduced to Ireland, in 2018, the number of abortions that took place in England and Wales for women who are Irish residents was 2,879. A further 32 abortions were reported to have taken place in Ireland under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, taking the total number of abortions for Ireland residents to 2,911.

It means that the total number of abortions that have taken place for Irish resident women in England, Wales and Ireland recorded in official statistics has increased from 2,911 to 6,794 since the legislation was introduced to Ireland – this represents an additional 3,883 abortions, an increase of 133%.

Between tomorrow and Saturday (31 June – 4 July) tens of thousands of people are expected to stream Ireland’s Rally for Life events, which has the theme United for Life.

A spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“It is a tragedy for Ireland that 6,666 lives were lost to abortion in 2019. Every one of these abortions represents a failure to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies. 

“Abortion campaigners claimed before the referendum that introducing abortion to Ireland would make no difference to abortion numbers. These official figures show how untrue this claim was with a very large increase in the number of abortions taking place for women who are Irish residents.”

Irish coalition plan to ban pro-life support outside abortion clinics

A proposed five-year plan for Ireland will establish “exclusion zones” around all medical facilities where abortions take place or are facilitated, including hospitals and GP clinics.

These “exclusion zones” will criminalise free speech and ban individuals from offering emotional and practical support to women in crisis and unexpected pregnancies.

The proposed 126-page Programme for Government was agreed upon this week by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Green party leaders and will now pass to internal ratification by party members.

If approved, the five-year plan will see the three parties enter into a coalition government in Dublin with the intention of setting up the criminalised free speech zones.

Leo Varadkar, who will be part of that coalition and take turns in leading it, has previously indicated that criminalised free speech zones could be unconstitutional.

In April last year, Leo Varadkar told parliamentarians in the Dáil: “We are running into real difficulties around restricting peaceful protest and restricting free speech.” 

He conceded that in placing a ban on peaceful protest, “we do enter a difficult space in a democracy when you decide that certain opinions can’t be held, certain types of protests can’t happen. In a democracy, if you’re going to restrict free speech and if you’re going to restrict the right to protest, you need to be on very solid ground.”

Last September, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told the Minister for Health that there was no evidence to suggest that there is threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed towards persons utilising abortion services. 

“I re-confirm my views expressed at our recent meeting that protests to date at such centres have not contravened the law and are peaceful”, he said.

In addition to “exclusion zones” the Programme for Government notes that a review of the abortion legislation is due in 2021.

While it does not give details of what changes the Government plan on making, during coalition negotiations the Green party asked for the removal of the three-day waiting period before a woman obtains an abortion.

Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign told Laois Nationalist: “It is a regressive move for Fianna Fáil and the Green Party negotiating teams to have joined Fine Gael in supporting the introduction of censorship zones which amount to such an obvious breach of civil liberties. These exclusion zones which deny peaceful protest and free speech exist in no other part of Europe.

“In recent correspondence to the Minister for Health, the Garda Commissioner described the introduction of such zones as unwarranted. If introduced, they would selectively single out one group of people in society, namely members of the pro-life movement. Those who have been pushing for exclusion zones know full well that pro-life supporters are respectful and dignified when engaging in street outreach, and are there to offer positive support to women.”

Ms Mulroy said: “The absence of meaningful supports and the lack of any reference to alternatives to abortion within the draft Programme for Government is also profoundly disappointing. The Programme for Government was an opportunity for this potential new administration to demonstrate even a remote interest in offering women genuine and meaningful alternatives to abortion. Instead they chose to completely bypass this opportunity and to focus their attention instead on sticking to a policy of exclusion and the silencing of pro-life voices that has already been assessed as completely unnecessary and legally redundant.

“As well as opposing the introduction of censorship zones, we will continue to work for proper supports for women facing an unplanned pregnancy and draw the public’s attention to the refusal of many within the main political parties to commit to helping those who are conflicted about having an abortion and would benefit hugely if adequate supports were in place.”

Legal challenge

The use of criminalised free speech zones around abortion clinics is going to be be challenged at the European Court of Human Rights by a mother who kept her daughter after receiving pro-life help the zones seek to criminalise.

Alina Dulgheriu launched the legal challenge because she wants other potential mothers to receive the same practical and emotional support she was offered – support which led to her keeping her daughter, Sarah.

The Be Here for Me website tells just some of the many stories of women who have been helped by people outside abortion clinics.

Alina Dulgheriu, who has brought legal action against Ealing Council said:

“My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am going to appeal this decision to ensure that women do not have this vital support option removed.

“I will continue to stand up for the women whose voices have been sidelined throughout this process and for women who need life-saving support today but cannot get it. 

“Ealing Council could have taken action in a way that would have protected women and safeguarded the essential help offered at the gate. Instead, they criminalised charity and attempted to remove dedicated and caring individuals from public space without justification.

“It is very clear that many are opposed to Ealing’s ban on peaceful and charitable activity, and like me, they want to see support available to vulnerable women where it is most needed. 

“I cannot imagine a society where a simple offer of help to a woman who might want to keep her child is seen as a criminal offence. I refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child.”

Elizabeth Howard, Be Here For Me spokesperson said: 

Eight years ago, Alina Dulgheriu found herself jobless, homeless and alone after an unplanned pregnancy. She’d been fired from her job as a live-in nanny and abandoned by her boyfriend. 

“She went to Marie Stopes to get advice on her options, but all they could offer her was an abortion. She didn’t want that but didn’t know where to turn.

“Her life was changed when she met a pro-life volunteer at the gates of the abortion centre who told her that she did have options, that there was help available, and that she could keep her baby if she wanted.

“She accepted the offer of help and her daughter Sarah was born. She is now seven years old, a beautiful, lively and beloved child.

“Ealing Council has banned pro-lifers from helping women like Alina. Alina has challenged their decision in court, but three times the courts have ignored her story.

“In five years of the pro-life vigil’s work in Ealing, more than 500 women accepted an offer of help and chose to keep their baby rather than have an abortion. These women have tried again and again to have their voices heard, but they are ignored.”

Pro-life Senator Rónán Mullen re-elected to Ireland Senate with highest vote ever

Pro-life Senator Rónán Mullen has been successfully re-elected to the Seanad, the upper house of Ireland’s legislature, after topping the National University of Ireland (NUI) panel.

Rónán secured his fourth consecutive election receiving a record number of 9,642 first preference votes from a total of 38,118 – the largest ever turnout.

It is over twice the number of votes compared with the first time he ran in 2007 when he secured 4,661 votes. He retained his seats in 2011 after topping the poll with 6,459 first preference votes, doing the same again in 2016 with 9,016 first preference votes.

Rónán – a fearless defender of the unborn – said the signing into law of Ireland’s abortion legislation as a “tragic reversal of Ireland’s history of defending the most vulnerable”.

Lamenting the imposition of an extreme abortion law in Northern Ireland he described the regime as “an act of extreme moral and legislative violence” and “another dark, dark chapter in our history.”

Rónán’s victory comes after Ireland’s general election last month saw all fifteen pro-life politicians, who had voted against legalising abortion in 2018, re-elected to the lower house of Ireland’s parliament (Dáil Éireann).

In contrast, many of the country’s strident pro-abortion politicians lost their seats.

After the result was declared, Rónán said: “These are tough times for everybody. While it is good to have something to celebrate, I am mindful of the current health crisis we are all experiencing. Like everyone else, I am concerned for the safety and wellbeing of family and friends. I commend those who took time to vote in these days, and especially those who supported my campaign.

“I look forward to playing my part in developing good laws for the country at a time of tremendous challenge. I will continue to speak up and act in defence of human dignity in every way I can.”

All pro-life politicians reelected in Ireland while high-profile pro-abortion TDs lose their seats

All fifteen politicians who voted against legalising abortion in the Republic of Ireland, in 2018, have kept their seats in the country’s general election. 

In contrast, many of the country’s strident pro-abortion members of Ireland’s lower house, Dáil Éireann, lost their seats.

Pro-life candidates overcame redrawn constituency maps and, according to Gript, targeted abuse on social media to defy the predictions of pollsters, who forecast their seats would be in trouble over their views. 

On Monday, it was confirmed that all fifteen had been reelected as Teachta Dála (TDs) with six candidates topping the polls for their constituencies.

Ahead of the election, Sinn Féin poured huge resources into an attempt to oust two pro-life candidates who resigned after the party adopted a pro-abortion stance, 2018 – after the two were reelected in 2016.

Carol Nolan and Peadar Tóibín resigned from the party after initially being suspended for voting against legislation that saw the introduction of abortion, up to 12 weeks, to the Republic of Ireland.

At the time of her resignation Carol said: “I do not want to have any hand, act or part in bringing about the end to the life of an unborn child, the most vulnerable in our society… Every life is precious and every child deserves the chance to live.”

Announcing his own resignation, Peadar said he had been sidelined and blocked from “fully representing” his constituents over his pro-life views.

Despite Sinn Féin’s best attempts to unseat Carol and Peadar, both have been reelected again and have subsequently announced they will not help their previous party form a new Government.

Meanwhile, a number of outspoken pro-abortion TDs, from across the political spectrum, have lost their seats. 

Deputy Kate O’Connell lost her Dublin Bay South seat after jeering pro-life TDs when amendments to the Abortion Bill were rejected, saying “We won, ye lost. Ye must be hurting”

O’Connell has also claimed that the existence of abortion survivors were “fairytales,” prompting Melissa Ohden, who survived a saline abortion in 1977, to make a personal video for Kate asking her to apologise. She did not. 

The former Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, who abandoned her pro-life stance to become a leading government campaigner for repeal, lost her Meath East seat after describing the pro-life position as “born out of ignorance”.

The former Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who voted for the abortion bill in 2018, lost her seat to pro-life TD Cormac Devlin.

Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers Fianna who claimed that abortion regret was a “makey-uppy thing” lost her seat in Mayo.

Fianna Fáil also lost Timmy Dooley in Clare. Dooley supported repeal of the 8th and voted against giving pain relief to babies in late-term abortion, despite new evidence showing babies may experience pain as early as 13 weeks.

The Socialist Party’s Ruth Coppinger, who is strongly opposed to help being offered outside abortion clinics and led an “abortion pill bus” around the country in 2015 and 2017, lost her Leinster House seat.

The results of the election has been a boost to pro-life campaigners in the country. A spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign, Denise Kelly welcomed the news as “truly uplifting”

She told the Iona Institute: “Some had their chances of re-election completely written off by the media, others had to overcome huge opposition within their parties because of their pro-life stance – all of them deserve our heartiest congratulations for standing up for life and prevailing.

“It is important to mention that other candidates were also elected who are solidly pro-life. Together, they have shown the leadership of the main political parties that the electorate appreciate people who stick to their principles and don’t waver under pressure”.

The results in Ireland mirror those seen in the UK, where Right To Life UK’s analysis revealed that, following the December 2019 election, the number of pro-life MPs has increased while the pro-abortion lobby has lost a large number of MPs.

The fifteen reelected pro-life TDs are:

  • Mary Butler
  • Seán Canney
  • Michael Collins
  • Michael Fitzmaurice
  • Peter Fitzpatrick
  • Noel Grealish
  • Danny Healy-Rae
  • Michael Healy-Rae
  • Michael Lowry
  • Marc Mac Sharry
  • Mattie McGrath
  • John McGuinness
  • Carol Nolan
  • Eamon O’Cuiv
  • Peadar Tóibín