Lowest abortion rate in North

Abortions have risen in Northern Ireland
Abortions have risen in Northern Ireland

A total of two abortions were carried out on local expectant mothers last year, it has been revealed.

The statistics published by the Department of Health show a substantial decrease from a high of 10 abortions carried out in the Southern Board area in 2007.

The figure was also the lowest for any trust area in Northern Ireland.

In November, fears of a Dungannon ‘abortion clinic’ prompted a pro-life campaign and a public meeting organised by Precious Life.

Organisers claimed that a clinic in the town could carry out as many as 25 abortions a week, drawing mothers from south and east Tyrone and the surrounding areas of Armagh and Monaghan.

Out of the 51 pregnancies terminated, the highest number – 17 – were carried out in the South Eastern Trust.

Thirteen were carried out in the Belfast Trust, the second highest total.

A spokesman from the Department of Health said: “There is no reason to believe that the increase is anything other than normal variation that would be expected, and indeed is apparent in the annual figures provided from 2006-07.

“The 35 figure for the previous year was actually the lowest total in recent times.”

Only one of the terminations was carried out on a woman who did not normally reside in Northern Ireland.

Abortions in Northern Ireland can only be carried out where there is a threat to the life of the mother, or if continuing the pregnancy would have other serious, permanent physical or mental health effects.

The current strict circumstances in Northern Ireland for when abortions are allowed were challenged earlier this year.

Northern Ireland is not covered by the 1967 Abortion Act and every year more than 1,000 women travel from the region to clinics in England, Scotland and Wales where access to an abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks into pregnancy on grounds that include abnormalities which could lead to a child being seriously disabled.

A termination of pregnancy refers to any woman who has a live pregnancy terminated under legal and medical conditions approved for Northern Ireland.

It can also refer to ‘missed miscarriages’ where there are no signs of the abortion happening and known miscarriages.

There were a further 75 medical abortions in the past year.