A common argument made by the various pro-life groups in Ireland is that Ireland is one of the safest countries in the world to have a child and therefore, the argument that abortion is needed for health reasons is false.
According to a Lancet article, the honour of the safest place in the world to have a baby is Italy and Ireland is sixth. The data from that article is collated here. A UNICEF study gave us first place in 2009. Different studies rearrange the order (another puts Greece first), however it is clear that Ireland is considered a safe place to give birth.
Given Ireland’s good record, it is difficult to argue that the current Irish legal situation with respect to abortion makes Ireland an unsafe place to have a child. However in spite of a practical ban on abortion, Ireland can be said to have an “abortion rate” since it is a matter of record that Irish women travel abroad for abortions.
In the paper, “Legal Abortion Worldwide: Incidence and Recent Trends“, Ireland’s abortion rate is inferred from instances where Irish addresses were given in foreign clinics. That article gave us a rate the same as Switzerland’s and slightly less than The Netherlands and Germany, however it is inevitable that some Irish women don’t give Irish addresses so the cited figure is likely to be lower than the truth.
Given the nature of current evidence, it is impossible to determine statistically if Irish women’s lives are threatened by a lack of access to abortion given most have the plausible option of seeking one in neighbouring countries. What is clear, is that given the fact that the practical ban in Ireland can be circumvented, the argument that abortion is not needed for health reasons needs different supporting evidence.