The Pro Life Campaign pre-empted last weekend’s March for Choice in Dublin by highlighting research suggesting that over 100,000 Irish people owe their lives to Ireland’s constitutional protections for the unborn.
In advance of the September 24 march, which some participants claimed was attended by over 20,000 people, a group of young pro-life advocates gathered on Dublin’s Grafton Street holding helium balloons drawing attention to the figure.
The actuarial report, ‘The 8th Amendment: Ireland’s Life-Saving Provision’, was published earlier this month, comparing Irish abortion rates to those in a range of other countries in order to estimate how many lives have been saved because of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
“It is obviously impossible to arrive a precise figure [of lives saved] as there are many variables involved,” the report says, continuing, “but this analysis indicates the number of abortions that would have occurred in Ireland if Ireland had had the same abortion rates as a sample of other countries.”
Although the amendment was introduced following a 1983 referendum in which it was backed by 67% of voters, the report considers figures only from 1994 on.
The Pro Life Campaign presumes that had the amendment not been introduced, Ireland would have seen legalised abortion by that point.
Actuary Brendan Lynch indicates in the report that whereas 108,000 abortions are known to have taken place for Irish women between 1994 and 2014, the number that would have taken place if Ireland had the same abortion rates as other jurisdictions would have been much higher.
If Ireland had had the same abortion rate as our near neighbours in England and Wales, there would have been approximately 304,000 Irish abortions over that period, suggesting that the amendment may have played a part in saving almost 200,000 Irish lives.
The analysis also considered abortion rates in culturally Catholic Spain and Belgium, and also compared Ireland’s abortion rate between 2007 and 2014 with that of Portugal, where abortion was introduced in 2007.
Mr Lynch found that there would have been 229,000 Irish abortions between 1994 and 2014 if Ireland had had the same abortion rate as Spain, and 183,000 if Ireland had had the same rate as Belgium. 34,000 Irish abortions are known to have taken place between 2007 and 2014, and Mr Lynch estimated that 92,000 would have taken place over that period if Ireland had had the same abortion rates as Portugal.