DUBLIN, June 19, 2013 ( – Researchers at West Virginia University-Charleston and the University of North Carolina have found that “abortion-averse” Ireland has a better record on maternal health than near neighbor Britain, which has de facto abortion on demand.

Since 1968, maternal mortality has declined much more steeply in Ireland than in Great Britain, the study found. Both Irish jurisdictions were also ahead of Britain on stillbirth and live birth rates.

“Legal elective abortion is associated with higher rates of maternal mortality rates, stillbirth rates, and preterm birth. Cerebral palsy rates in Northern Ireland, at a prevalence rate for birth years 1981-2007 of 2.3 per 1,000 live births …are low,” the study said. 


Maternal mortality in the UK is double that of Ireland: 6 per 100,000 in England and Wales compared to 3 in the Republic. 

“Both Irish jurisdictions show more favorable data than the British,” said the study. 

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The Republic of Ireland has a stillbirth rate in 2010 of 3.8 per 1,000 live births compared 5.1 per 1,000 live births in Great Britain; and a preterm (less than 37 weeks) birth rate in 2010 of 42.7 per 1,000 live births compared with 48 per 1,000 in England and Wales and 72 per 1,000 in Scotland. 

The study was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons by Dr. Byron C. Calhoun, Dr. John M. Thorp and Patrick Carroll, M.A., of Britain's Pension and Population Research Institute (PAPRI). It found that one-third of English women are likely to “experience an abortion,” compared with less than one-tenth of Irish women. 

The authors calculated total abortion rates (TARs) for 2011 of 0.13 for the Irish Republic, and 0.09 for Northern Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, compared with 0.52 for England and Wales, 0.36 for Scotland, and 0.6 for Sweden. 

They also noted the numbers of nulliparous abortions in Ireland – abortions before the woman has ever carried a pregnancy to term – which have a greater impact on the mother’s health, are also lower in Ireland than in Britain. “In both Irish jurisdictions the nulliparous abortion rate is less than half the English rate in the 1980s.” 

In both Irish jurisdictions, they found a relationship between the decline in marriage rates and the increase of parous abortions – those of second or later children – saying that increases in recent years “can be linked to the growth in single parenting”. 

“This reflects the continuing Irish tendencies toward late marriage, late childbearing, and higher Irish birth rates.” 

The higher abortion rate in Britain was put down to the greater numbers of married couples in Ireland compared to Britain, saying a “high proportion” of married couples “corresponds to the especially low rate of nulliparous abortions”. 

“The very low Northern Irish rate for nulliparous abortions can be linked to the higher proportion of women married in the age group 25-29.” 

As well, “Single parents choose in Northern Ireland to have additional children when their contemporaries in Great Britain tend more often to have abortions. And in [the Republic of] Ireland expecting couples often choose to marry while their British contemporaries are more prone to have abortions.” 

They note that while the law allows Irish women to travel to Britain for abortions, the rate in Ireland continues to be low, particularly compared to Britain’s more than 200,000 abortions per year. 

In Britain, the 1967 Abortion Act allowed abortions to be carried out on mental health grounds – and, according to British statistics, some 98% of all abortions are now carried out on those grounds. 

Meanwhile, Ireland stands ready to implement a similar abortion regime to Britain’s. The coalition government is expected to call a vote any day on the proposed abortion bill, titled “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act,” that will allow abortion up to the point of birth for mothers who threaten suicide. After months of controversy, the largest public demonstrations in Ireland’s history and a near-rebellion in his party, Edna Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), is pressing ahead with a whipped vote. 

The committee examining the bill was repeatedly told by medical experts that abortion cannot be considered a legitimate treatment for suicidal ideation. Recently, the British peer who ushered in that country’s 1967 Abortion Act commented that he regretted having allowed abortion into the country on “mental health” grounds, similar to those being proposed for Ireland. 

Lord David Steele admitted, “I never envisioned there would be so many abortions” and “… it would be a mistake to try and legislate for abortion in categories.” 

Recent statistics have shown that about 600 abortions are committed every day in Britain.