10% of female suicides used to be of pregnant women until UK abortion became accessible


The anti-choice movements have been repeating over and over the message in recent months that 'abortion is never a treatment for suicidality' This is frequently coupled with citing the realtively low current rate of suicide among pregnant women.  But like other myths of the anti-choice movement it has emerged that until abortion became accessible to Irish women, through travelling to the UK, 10% of suicides of women in Ireland were of pregnant women, a figure far in excess of the general population.

These shocking figures were revealed by Dr Anthony McCarthy, the psychiatrist at National Maternity Hospital Holles Street.  He was reacting to the rumored plans to force suicidal women to go in front of a panel of up to 6 doctors before being able to obtain an abortion in Ireland.  The intention of such a plan could only be to make sure than women in such circumstances continue to  make the often difficult trip to the UK rather than being able to obtain an abortion in an Irish hospital.  In an interview with the Irish Times Dr McCarthy described that plan as "an abomination" under which "Women would face a “double whammy” of being judged because of having an unwanted pregnancy and through the stigma of mental illness".

The Irish Times said that Dr McCarty had explained that "Before abortion was introduced in England in 1950, 10 per cent of women in Ireland who died by suicide were found to be pregnant, he said. While it was impossible to say why these women killed themselves, that figure now was much lower."

The anti-choice movement are trying to ensure that the 21 years late X-case legislation will be as restrictive as possible.  While it's useful to expose the lies they are using in trying to do this we must also be clear that the X-Case legislation can not be enough. Abortion must be accessible to any woman who requests one, as part of a free health service that is open to all.

Words: @Andrew Flood


You stand corrected by Dr.

You stand corrected by Dr. Dermot Walsh, Consultant Psychiatrist and eminent researcher who states in letter to Irish times 07/ 05/2013 that there is no evidence base for the claim that prior to 1950 10% of irishwomen who died by suicide were pregnant. Dr. Walsh also confirms what any honest psychiatrist will tell you; predicting who will progess from suicidal ideation to completed suicide is highly unreliable.

Female suicide

Just because 10% of females who committed suicide were pregnant doesn't mean that it was the pregnancy that made them suicidal.
That's totally false logic, they could very well have been suicidal before they got pregnant.
In the Uk last year 676 women committed suicide between the ages of 15 and 49, that would equate to 49 suicides in Ireland pro rata.
Based on the stats you mention that means at a max 5 women who are pregnant might attempt suicide each year and possibly only 1 or 2 actually because they are pregnant.
Hard cases make bad laws; surely it's within the means of the HSE to handle 1 or 2 potentially suicidal women a year without fundamentally changing our abortion laws.