- 19 Jun 23
"There are over 8,000 abortions happening in Ireland every year. I would like that number to be lower," Leo Varadkar said today, citing sex education and contraception as methods to achieve this.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he would like to see "fewer abortions" in Ireland, according to The Irish Times. Although he recognises the procedure as necessary, he cited increased sex education and contraception as ways to counter the figures.
An independent report on the state's abortion laws has recommended a number of legislative changes; including an end to the mandatory three-day wait to access termination medication.
Varadkar expressed remorse that the report did not "properly explore" whether there were women who attended their first appointment to get abortion medication who did not return for their second appointment after three days. The Oireachtas Committee on Health is currently examining the report by barrister Marie O’Shea.
"If and when comes back to Government [from the committee] we’ll give it consideration. And most parties will have a free vote on this," he said.
"One thing that I’m kind of sorry wasn’t explored more in the report – and it was a very good report by the way, in fairness to the author and the team they did a very good job so I don’t want to be misinterpreted as criticising them in any way."
"[But one thing] that came out during the hearings was there wasn’t really a proper exploration of the decisions made by women who didn’t go ahead with the termination. So, it is those numbers who attended for the first appointment and didn’t go back. It’s not a small number. That wasn’t really properly explored."
There is significant discourse around the reasons around how many women did not turn up for their second appointment and, also, around the reasons why.
The Irish Family Planning Association released an analysis earlier this year which showed that out of 447 clients who were eligible for early abortion care and for whom the outcome was known, 97.5 per cent went on to get an abortion after the mandatory three day wait.
"There are over 8,000 abortions happening in Ireland every year," the Taoiseach said. "I would like that number to be lower."
Varadkar stated that he was happy to have led a Government who succeeded in repealing the 8th Amendment. He added that, "we did go to the people with a particular proposition. And so, soon after that referendum, making changes to what we said we would do... I’d have to think long and hard about that."
However, when asked if this meant that the law would never change, he said "no, it doesn’t mean that."
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