IRELAND, May 26, 2011 ( – The recent abortion figures released by the British Department of Health show a continuing reduction in the number of Irish women traveling to Britain for abortions.

The abortion statistics for England and Wales for 2010, released on May 24, show that 4,402 women from the Republic of Ireland traveled to Britain for abortions, down slightly from 4,422 for the previous year. This is the ninth consecutive year that Irish abortions have declined, after more than a decade of upward trends. It marks a 34% decline since the high of 6,673 Irish abortions in 2001.

Dr. Ruth Cullen of Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign told LifeSiteNews that she welcomes the continued downward trend.

“It is an extremely encouraging trend and should be welcomed by everyone on both sides of the abortion debate,” she said. “For years, abortion advocates claimed that an upward trend in abortions was inevitable. These claims have now proven to be false.”

“It has been suggested that the reduction in abortions may be as a result of more Irish women traveling to countries other than England for abortions,” Dr. Cullen observed. “This is purely anecdotal as there is no statistical evidence to back up these claims. In fact, the official figures for countries like Holland have shown a drop in recent years of abortions on foreign nationals.”

The statistics also show that the number of women from Northern Ireland having abortions in Britain in 2010 fell by 22 from 2009 figures.

According to Bernadette Smyth, director of Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, abortions by women from Northern Ireland have dropped by 30% from 1997.

“Even one abortion is one too many but we welcome that fact that 22 fewer Northern Ireland babies have been killed by abortion in England,” Mrs. Smyth said in a press release.

“Tragically, the number of babies killed by abortions in England and Wales has risen again, by 447. But these latest statistics show that the pro-life battle is being won in Ireland – north and south,” Bernadette Smyth concluded. “They give us more encouragement to continue our work to keep abortion illegal in Ireland and protect unborn children and vulnerable women. This further reduction in the number of abortions gives us another reason to celebrate the ‘All-Ireland Rally for Life’ which will be held in Dublin on 2nd July.”

Ireland’s abortion rate is now 4.4 per 1,000 female residents aged 15-44.

Meanwhile in England, where the abortion rate is 17.5, the statistics reveal a continuing increase in abortions, with the number of abortions in England and Wales having risen by eight percent over the past decade.

The British Department of Health abortion statistics for England and Wales for 2010 are available here.