Over 2,100 Abortions in a Year: Record Increase Highlights Tensions in Northern Ireland’s Abortion Policy

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health released new statistics on Monday revealing a significant rise in abortion figures.

During the period from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, there were 2,168 abortions recorded, marking a distressing record for the region. This number is up by 413 cases, or 23.53%, from the previous year.

There is also a notable increase in late-term abortions, specifically those conducted after 20 weeks. The data shows 24 such procedures, a rise from 19 in the previous year, highlighting a growth of 26.32%.

Additionally, there were 40 abortions where the gestational age was not documented, suggesting that the actual number of late-term abortions could be higher.

The report also points to a sharp 68.75% rise in abortions due to ‘non-fatal disabilities’ under the 2020 Northern Ireland Abortion Regulations. Under these regulations, conditions like Down’s syndrome, cleft lip, and club foot could lead to an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

Among minors, the figures are similarly concerning, showing an 11.11% increase in abortions among individuals under 18. This number has grown from 54 the previous year to 60, marking a substantial 30.43% increase since 2021.

Geographically, the Belfast Trust led in the number of procedures with 667 abortions, up by 101 from the year before. Similarly, the Western Trust saw a staggering 171.43% increase in abortions, demonstrating a significant regional disparity.

The increase in abortion numbers comes after a controversial decision by MPs in Westminster in July 2019, which imposed a new abortion regime on Northern Ireland without the support of local MPs.

This change has led to a significant increase in abortions compared to the figures recorded before the regime was in place.

In contrast, before these changes, Northern Ireland was considered a stronghold of pro-life sentiment, attributed with saving an estimated 100,000 lives under its former laws.

As Northern Ireland approaches a general election, these figures fuel ongoing debates and campaigning, including the ‘Both Lives Pledge’ aimed at enhancing protections for unborn children and addressing pregnancy discrimination. This campaign has already seen significant political engagement, with over 200 MP candidates signing the pledge.

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