A minimum of three Galway women travel to England or Wales for an abortion every week, according to official figures from the UK Department of Health.
The data, released under Freedom of Information shows that in the years 2012 and 2013, 271 women with addresses in Galway made the journey to England and Wales for a termination, which works out at an average of just under three women per week. Figures for 2014 will not become available until the summer.
However it is apparent even moreGalway-based women had abortions across the water in those two years, as more than 1,700 women from Ireland who had a termination in the UK in 2012 and 2013 did not state their address at all.
In total, more than 7,500 women with Irish addresses had an abortion in the UK in those two years. Unsurprisingly, as it is the most populated county, the largest number of Irish women travelling for abortions were from Dublin - 2,439 in total within the two years. The fewest numbers of women travelled from the smaller counties like Mayo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, and Carlow.
A risk to mental or physical health was the reason given by 97 per cent of Irish women who presented at UK clinics for the procedure in 2013. This is classified as ground C, which officially states that “the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.’’
One hundred and thirteen abortions were carried out on Irish women in 2013 on the grounds that the child may be born with a serious mental or physical abnormality as to be seriously handicapped. No abortion was carried out in either year on the grounds of saving the life of the pregnant woman.
A breakdown of the 133 of women who presented for a termination giving Galway addresses in 2013 shows that the majority of them were aged between 20 and 34. Fourteen women from Galway who travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2013 were aged 40 or over.
An idea that it is teenagers who make up the majority of travellers is not borne out in these statistics which show seven women under 20 had abortions.
The 2013 figures also indicate that 85 per cent of the abortions which were carried out on Galway women, took place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Four terminations were carried out after the 20 week stage. Out of the Galway based women who travelled for the procedure in 2013, the majority had never had a termination before while 17 women had one or more abortions previously.