Official abortion figure is ‘tip of the iceberg’ says TUV

TUV leader Jim Allister has pointed out that the latest Department of Health figures for abortions in NI hospitals last year - 63 - are only a tiny proportion of the 2,400 that actually took place in NI in that period.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 7:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 7:25 pm
Pro-life campaigners staged a legal challenge at the High Court in Belfast regarding Northern Ireland's new abortion laws in October. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.
Pro-life campaigners staged a legal challenge at the High Court in Belfast regarding Northern Ireland's new abortion laws in October. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.

Abortion was controversially decriminalised in NI in 2019 by MPs with new laws enacted in March 2020. Since last year there has been deadlock at Stormont over the Secretary of State’s demands that full provision of abortion services are developed in health trusts across NI; some women are reportedly still travelling to GB for abortions.

Yesterday the Department of Health (DoH) issued a bulletin yesterday with the number of medical abortions carried out in Health and Social Care Hospitals in NI in2020/21, which is 63. However, this number only relates to abortions carried out on hospital inpatients and day cases and is not representative of all abortions notified to the Chief Medical Officer in 2020/21, the DoH said. It is understood routine bulletin predates the Westminster law changes.

But TUV leader Jim Allister said the data “only shows the tip of the iceberg” in NI.

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While there have been 63 abortions in health service hospitals in 2020/2021, he said, in November of last year the DoH confirmed to him that there had been 2,394 abortions in NI since March 2020.

“Transparency from the Department when it comes to the issue of abortion has been sadly lacking,” he said. “I am still waiting for a breakdown of abortions carried out in each Health Trust - information I requested in a written question at the end of November and which should have been provided within 10 days. Every little life lost under the current abortion regulations it is one too many, but it is important that people know the total figure since our laws changed as of November was 2,394, far greater than the figure being reported.”

Dawn McAvoy of pro-life group Both Lives Matter added: “Without an understanding as to why a woman terminates rather than continues her pregnancy, how and at what stage of pregnancy a termination is performed, and whether there are any negative physical or psychological impacts from the termination, we cannot as a society provide women and families with the range of life affirming and enabling care and support services they deserve, particularly in circumstances of an unplanned or pregnancy crisis.”

Comment was also invited from Alliance for Choice, Amnesty International and other pro-choice campaigners.

Mark Lambe of Abolish Abortion NI said the DoH figure of 63 abortions only represents those carried out in hosptials “that have required a surgical intervention”.

He said that the vast majority of abortions in NI are “pill based” early abortions that women perform at home using drugs provided by the health service in early stages of pregnancy.

“Previously these children were murdered in England but now they are murdered here. Nobody is trained here on the use of feticide. This is the practice of injecting the child in the heart or head to induce a heart attack. Labour is then induced.”