This week, Ireland’s minister for health, Stephen Donnelly, announced that 8,500 abortions were performed in Ireland in 2022. Abortion became legal there in January 2019, after a May 2018 referendum in which voters repealed the pro-life Eighth Amendment from the Irish constitution.
Abortion numbers in Ireland were fairly consistent in 2019, 2020, and 2021. However, the 8,500 abortions performed in 2022 represent a substantial increase of more than 27 percent since 2019.
This is sad, but unsurprising. The legalization of abortion undermines a culture of life in numerous ways. Abortions become easier to access. Abortion becomes less stigmatized and more legitimized. The legalization of abortion creates a network of abortion doctors with a strong economic incentive to keep abortion legal. Abortion legalization often creates a more permissive sexual culture that results in more unintended pregnancies. As such, it is unsurprising that abortion numbers usually increase shortly after its legalization. Indeed, in the United States, the abortion rate rose by more than 50 percent between 1974 and 1980.
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That said, Irish pro-lifers need not despair. The United States provides an excellent example of how incremental efforts can be successful in lowering abortion rates. Even before the Dobbs decision, the U.S. abortion rate had fallen by more than 50 percent since 1980. An important reason is that a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies were being carried to term. This nicely shows the effectiveness of pro-life legislative, educational, and service efforts. Indeed, abortion opponents in Ireland and elsewhere can learn important lessons from the experience of the United States pro-lifers.
LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New
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