Over 2,600 women in Ireland did not proceed with an abortion after an initial abortion appointment and a mandatory three-day waiting period in 2022.
In response to a parliamentary question from Carol Nolan TD regarding the total number of women who had had an initial abortion consultation in 2022, the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland revealed a total of 10,779 women had received an initial abortion consultation.
Figures released by the Department of Health in Ireland earlier this year, show there were 8,156 abortions in Ireland in 2022. This indicates that 2,623 women did not go on to have an abortion.
When abortion was made legal in Ireland in 2019, it included a three-day waiting period between an initial consultation with a doctor and the carrying out of an abortion.
“Highly irresponsible to scrap the life-saving three-day reflection period”
A number of pro-life campaigners in Ireland have hailed this as an indication of the success of the mandatory three-day waiting period following an initial abortion consultation. Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:
“It’s reasonable to infer that the vast majority of these… cases were of women who changed their minds during the three day wait period. Most presumably decided to keep their baby. The 2022 figure complements similar figures from previous years, and offers a strong endorsement to the effectiveness of the three-day waiting period. This provision in the law gives women in the stressful situation of an unplanned pregnancy a vital window of time to reflect”.
“It would be highly irresponsible to scrap the life-saving three-day reflection period considering the mounting evidence of its effectiveness as a small but significant safeguard which mitigates against the life-ending decision which many women come to deeply regret”.
Commenting on the figures, Deputy Carol Nolan said
“With each passing year, the clear and unequivocal need to retain the 3 day reflection period is more firmly established. Only an approach rooted in a reckless and imprudent disregard for human life and the well being of women could argue for its abolition”.
Despite the apparent success of the three-day waiting period, the republican party, Sinn Féin, has pledged to remove it if the party gets into power.
3,951 women did not return for a second abortion consultation between 2019 and 2021
A review of Ireland’s abortion law, commissioned by the Department of Health and released earlier this year, recommended the scrapping of the three-day waiting period before an abortion can happen despite the fact that thousands of women had their babies instead of an abortion after the three-day waiting period.
The Pro-Life Campaign in Ireland has been highly critical of the report, which failed to use official government figures that show that between 2019 and 2021, of those who had an initial abortion consultation, 3,951 women did not return for a second consultation.
Instead, the review refers to a small study by a pro-abortion doctors’ group in Ireland, START.
Commenting on this discrepancy, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said “This major flaw in the report undermines the credibility of its recommendation to remove the three-day waiting period and further casts a shadow over the entire report’s trustworthiness.”
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said “The evidence shows that thousands of women chose to proceed with having their baby rather than going ahead with an abortion following the three-day waiting period. This gives women a time of reflection, along with time to get support from pregnancy support services or family. The three-day waiting period should stay.”