Dáil Éireann - Volume 492 - 16 June, 1998
Written Answers. - Crisis Pregnancies.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
63. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps, if any, being taken to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies, particularly in view of the most recent figures showing another increase in the number of Irish women travelling to the United Kingdom for abortions; when the promised Green Paper on abortion will be published; if he has satisfied himself that access to education in relation to contraception is adequate in view of the fact that one in four babies are now born to single mothers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14131/98]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): I share the Deputy's concern at the further  increase in 1997 in the number of Irish women who had abortions in Britain.
The issue of the number of babies being born to unmarried mothers is a complex one and there are many factors involved, not all of which are related to family planning issues. It is not correct to assume that all such births are the result of unplanned pregnancy.
My Department's guidelines on family planning policy, issued in 1995, require health boards to ensure that a full range of family planning services is accessible to all persons who require them. At the same time the range of services provided to GMS patients was extended to include a wider range of contraception services. Additional annual funding of approximately £2 million was provided to the health boards in 1995 and 1996 in respect of the development of family planning services and this has been maintained in subsequent years. Since 1995 funding has also been provided to a range of voluntary agencies for the development of their pregnancy counselling services.
Following the publication in March of this year of the study “Woman and Crisis Pregnancy”, my Department requested the health boards to consider the adequacy and comprehensiveness of the family planning and pregnancy counselling services available in their areas in the light of the study's findings. The boards' responses are currently being considered by my Department, with a view to considering whether further measures are necessary.
Work on the preparation of the Green Paper on abortion is continuing and it is hoped to publish it later in the summer.
Dáil Éireann 492 Written Answers. Crisis Pregnancies.