A total of 6,577 abortions were carried out in Ireland last year, a number which marks a slight decrease from 2019, according to newly released figures from the Department of Health.
2019 was the first year women could legally access the service in the Republic, making last year’s figures only the second yearly review of how many abortions take place in Ireland in a year, and in which county they are performed.
According to figures, 709 terminations took place in January – the most of any month in 2020, while December was the month with the least amount of terminations, at 327.
As for reasons for the terminations, the figures from the Department of Health reveals that 20 terminations took place due to a risk to life or health, five due to a risk to life or health in an emergency, 97 due to a condition likely to lead to the death of the foetus and 6,455 were listed as due to early pregnancy.
Speaking to Newstalk earlier this week, Abortion Rights Campaign spokesperson Helen Stonehouse says the figures show the services available are successful.
“Despite the pandemic, 6,577 people had an abortion in Ireland during 2020, a similar number to the prior year, showing that abortion is very much an essential service.
“It also indicates the success of providing abortion as a telemedicine service during the past year, which clearly should be retained going forward.
“What is not captured in this report is how many people were refused an abortion in Ireland, how many had to travel long distances within Ireland or beyond, and how much distress was caused by the unnecessary barriers within the current abortion law.”
Stonehouse says that despite the legalisation of abortion, many people continue to face stigma and shame when accessing abortion care in Ireland, and she says she is aware that many women continue to be forced to travel to the UK or elsewhere if they miss the 12-week cut-off.