Doctors for life statement on the report of Abortion issued by the Department of Health. July 2020

Doctors for Life are not surprised by the annual report on abortion 2019 issued by the Department of Health. Prior to the dismantling of the 8th Amendment Doctors for Life stated that once introduced into our country the rate of abortion among Irish women would increase and that the vast majority of abortion would not be carried for “hard cases” but on social grounds. This is exactly what happened. The rate of abortion among Irish women increased by 145% since abortion was legalised. Of the 6666 innocent babies who lost their lives due to abortion in 2019, 98.2% were before 12 weeks with no medical grounds required.   

One hundred abortions were conducted in 2019 on grounds of a “condition likely to lead to the death of the foetus” and 24 were conducted on grounds of “risk to life or health of the mother.” The report gives no medical details of these conditions used to justify the deliberate ending of the life of the unborn baby. We are not told if other options such as early delivery with neonatal support could have saved the life of the child or if perinatal palliative care was considered.

There is insufficient information on the gestational age of the babies who had their lives ended. How many of these children were over 18 weeks gestation and therefore capable of perceiving pain? Did any of these children receive pain relief before the procedure that was intended to end their lives? What methods of abortion were used? Were there any adverse physical or psychological outcomes for the women? If so, what was the rate and nature of the maternal complications? 

The scant statistics in the report are inadequate and do not provide sufficient information to allow for development of appropriate policy to assist women in crisis pregnancy. When this abortion legislation is due for review in 2021, Doctors for life will campaign for amendments to ensure more detailed reporting of abortion statistics in Ireland in line with all other European countries. 

Doctors for life will continue to advocate for the right of all our patients born and unborn to be given a chance at life.  

Dr Deirdre Gleeson, Chairperson 

On behalf of Doctors for Life Ireland 

July 2020