Statistics of illegal abortions in Ireland


I was discussing abortion with my brother a little bit. He is pro-choice. He claims that making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions - that women will just get illegal abortions that are unsafe. I would like statistics from an unbiased source that shows the number of illegal abortions in Ireland prior to the legalization of abortion there. Also, other countries were abortion is illegal would be okay too (I think Poland and Brazil).



If an act, like abortion is illedal, we cannot have reliable statistics. it’s impossible because a reliable statistic of abortion will be the count of legal abortions thanks to the mandate declaration of practicioners .

And illegal don’t mean that all illegal abortions are unsafe. For the Ireland case, crossing the Channel for aborted is faciliated by organisation such as Marie Stopes.

Some pro-choice argue that before and after the legalization the numbers of abortions stay the same in one country, and illegal just became legal.

Personnally, I don’t believe it. Legalization encouraged some women who won’t aborted if it wasn’t legal.
And the same is true for any act.


Ireland has lower abortion rates than any other country in Europe with more liberal abortion laws, even if we estimate generously the number of abortions performed illegally through abortifacient pills: 5.7 abortions per 1,000 women in Ireland aged 19-44.
In England and Wales the 2015 rate is 16.0, in Sweden is 20.9. In Ireland we have one aborted baby for every 12 newborns, while in the Netherlands one every six newborns, in the UK and France it is one abortion for every four newborns and in Sweden one for every three newborns.

In Ireland the abortion rate is 5.7 per 1000 women aged 19 -44. In England it is 16 and Sweden it is 20. World wide figures show that legalisation and decriminalisation of abortion is followed by wholesale escalation of the procedure.


It makes common sense that a country that have laws allowing abortion more abortions will happen. The blood is on the hands of those politicians that vote for abortion, they are the cause of many pre natal deaths.


This is a common pro-abort argument: that the same number of abortions happen anyway, even if not legal. There is no evidence to support it.


People shouldn’t be committing crimes in the first place.


From :

Between 1980 and 2017, based on the UK Department of Health statistics, at least 171,795 women and girls who accessed UK abortion services provided Irish addresses.

I can’t find any statistics on how many attempt an illegal abortion at home, and how many die due to complications of illegal abortions in Ireland. Does anyone else have these?

A case that made international headlines was that of

She was miscarrying and wanted to have wanted to then have an abortion (unsure if they meant an actual abortion with a fetal heartbeat or if she was miscarrying, a dilation and curettage which would have removed the dead fetus). It was denied. She was 17 weeks, and Trigger Warning:


gestational sac had protruded into her vagina, almost to the opening.

She developed sepsis due to the misscarriage, which ultimately led to her cardiac arrest and dying. The sepsis was being treated.

A lot of the political back and forward, as far as I can discern on this case, was due to the lack of clarity around when medical staff can do x, y, and z.

With any laws, it is important that medical staff understand them and that they can be actually applied within the setting that they need to work in.

Even if Ireland where to stay an abortion free country, these cases illustrate the problems with bad legislation. Bad legislation doesn’t help the pro-life camp when things go wrong.


I thought they booked into clinics medical clinics or hospitals?
Anyway tell your brother that not so long ago Black people were seen as subhuman and their lives didn’t matter much. Jews and Catholics lives didn’t matter much to the Nazis etc etc
All Pagan cultures kill babies, thats a fact and Ireland has returned to paganism
If your brother voted to allow the killing of the unborn he is in a state of mortal sin and needs to get to confession quick and renounce his madness.


Ireland is very close to the United Kingdom not just geography but also socially. Lots of Irish people have family in England. For years young woman have been coming to England to have abortions. The flight time from Dublin to London Stansted is just over 1 hr and then there is a Marie Stopes clinic about 40 mins from the airport.

I used to live close to a Marie Stopes clinic and one night on the way home I was having a conversation with a taxi driver. The taxi driver said that a lot of his business involved collecting young women with mum/friend/sister or boyfriend taking them to the clinic and bring them back to the airport later in the day.

There are lots of flights between Ireland and the UK everyday and the low cost airlines have made travel inexpensive. I am really not sure that legalising abortions in the Republic of Ireland will do a lot to increase the numbers of abortions.

Sadly I am sure it won’t decrease the numbers.


Sorry, but this story is old!

Even, with no abortion law there will be means to treat the case of Savita Halappanavar. Law permited to save the life of a mother.

More, a legislation had taken place since this case, a Law for the Protection of life During Pergancy in 2013 (including the risk of death by suicide!), with remains until the new law takes place. Under this more explicit legislation, 20 cases of legal abortions happens every year.

So, no, a new law will not “rule” this type of life-threatening case. Legislation already do it.



I think you have made a mistake: the destiny of your post is @Nicholas, not me. :wink:


I’m happy to hear that the legislation has adapted and put in place since that case. It isn’t an old case, it is quite relevant. That means something bad happened, and we have tried to prevent it in the future from happening again, that’s a huge positive for the pro-life movement.

It makes it clearer that relevant legislation needs to look at the clinical setting, and ensure it can be applied clearly.

So with these 20 cases, are we looking at cases that are generally similar to Savita’s? Where the fetus is in the process of miscarrying?

Thank you for the additional information. :tulip:


Yes, you are right. Savita not an old case, I just said that as an exageration because since a new legislation passed.

The exact numbers of legal abortions, according to wikipedia are of 26 in 2014 and 26 in 2015.
No, all cases aren’t like Savita Halappanavar, because the law allowed abortion for maternal risk of death (and that’s means that all foetus aren’t in the process of a miscarrige), but also risk of maternal suicide.
According to Irish departement of Health, the stats for 2015 are :

And note, to do all it is necesssary to save a mother was not illegal even before this law, even if the condition needed for abortion was perhaps unclear.

I am not an Irish, so I have access to second hand information.
Perhaps @AdamP88, as an Irish and pro-life militant, have better information.


Just to provide info on sepsis in other countries: is stats from the UK is more general

Really seems like Ireland’s abortion laws had nothing to do with Savita’s death.



As far as I know all the figures for “Irish” abortions are estimates.
Presumably, we will begin to record figures now that it’s going to be legal to kill babies up to the third trimester.

We do have some figures since 2013 when abortion was legalised in limited conditions.


That doesn’t matter.

The fact is that unborn children are both innocent and alive, and that deliberately ending an innocent human’s life is an act of murder. Nothing else changes that fact: not the person being conceived by rape, not the person having a disability, not the person being inconvenient for others.

It may sound cold-hearted, and it probably is, but I find it hard to feel sympathy for a willing murderer who suffers bodily harm for want of a “safe and legal” place to commit murder. Because that’s what abortion is: it’s murder.

When Irish Nationalists sang “God Save Ireland”, they probably never imagined that God would need to save Irish people from their own parents.


Like, if a baby is being miscarried and thus is dead, do you need to wait until the miscarriage is over to do anything? Or can you do a D&C if the baby is already dead?

As far as I can tell, that’s what the laws in Ireland made unclear and resulted in the death of a woman due to sepsis, because she was miscarrying.

It’s really hard to discern topics like this over the internet. They have many shades and colourings, just like human life in all it’s forms has.


In Savita’s case my understanding is that the baby still had a heartbeat. Had the baby already been dead a D&C could have been done. Making it legal to do a D&C on a dead baby would not have required a change to the constitution.


Thanks for clarifying that. Like I said, it’s sometimes hard to discern all this via internet sources.



When talking about abortion, I’m referring to when a living baby gets killed in the womb.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit