Dáil Éireann - Volume 522 - 28 June, 2000
Written Answers. - Crisis Pregnancies.
Ms O'Sullivan Ms O'Sullivan
 63. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the latest figures available to his Department on the number of Irish women who had abortions in the United Kingdom; the proportion of the live birth rate this represents; if, in view of the continuing increase in the number of Irish women seeking abortions abroad, he will outline the steps, if any, he is taking to reduce the level of crisis pregnancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18545/00]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The Office for National Statistics, London, has indicated to my Department that 6,214 women who gave Irish addresses had abortions in England and Wales in 1999. This figure is equivalent to 11.6% of the 53,354 births registered in Ireland in the same period. These figures are provisional in all cases.
When the Green Paper on Abortion was published in September 1999, the Government indicated that it had decided to prepare a programme of measures which it is hoped will address many of the issues which have been identified as contributing to the number of Irish women who have abortions in Britain each year. Additional funding of £1 million in 1999 and a further £1.6 million in 2000 has been provided to the health boards for the continued development of family planning and pregnancy counselling services, including measures aimed at addressing the issue of unwanted pregnancy. Health boards are undertaking a range of initiatives in this area.
The type of issues on which boards are being asked to concentrate when developing policy include the provision of services which are accessible to young people and which meet their need in relation to issues such as confidentiality and hours of operation. Educational and promotional activities should focus on such issues as the need for responsible sexual behaviour of young people at risk, increased awareness of pregnancy counselling services and the cultivation of more responsible attitudes to alcohol, with particular regard to alcohol and sexual activity.
Where pregnancy counselling services are supported, boards have been asked to ensure that these are available on a drop-in basis, without any waiting period, and that a choice of service provider is available. Steps to increase women's awareness of post-abortion counselling and of the need for medical check-ups are also being considered. Such check-ups also provide an opportunity for women to obtain advice on appropriate contraception for the future and, thereby, reduce the incidence of further unwanted pregnancies.
In addition to measures which are being developed by health boards, my Department is at present planning a public awareness campaign which will begin later this year and which will aim to encourage sexually active young people to be responsible in their attitudes to relationships and to inform and educate them about the issues involved.
Dáil Éireann 522 Written Answers. Crisis Pregnancies.