There has been a drop of almost 70% in the number of women accessing crisis pregnancy counselling in Ireland over the last 10 years.
In 2004, more than 9,000 women attended the crisis pregnancy counselling services. In 2015, that number had dropped to less than 3,000.
As a result of these findings, the HSE is carrying out a full review of the national service, which is due for publication in January.
One of the options being looked at is telephone counselling, as opposed to face-to-face sessions.
Some reasons given by the HSE include a destigmatisation of pregnancy outside of marriage and the growth of the internet, allowing people to freely access information on abortion.
These figures were released yesterday at the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme conference.
Helen Deely, head of the programme, suggested some reasons for the sharp drop in women accessing the service.
“While we don’t have any definite information, the reason for this is probably a change in society, because women can now get support from their family, friends, and partners if they’re experiencing a crisis pregnancy and, also, it isn’t a taboo anymore in society to have a pregnancy outside of marriage and people are much better supported,” she said.
“The other thing that we know is the advances in technology have allowed for women to access information online so, if women want to get information around travelling abroad for an abortion, they can get all the details and contact information on the website and therefore don’t have to attend a crisis pregnancy counselling service,” she added.
However, Ms Deely said that there is still a place for a counsellor when it comes to a crisis pregnancy.
“Our key message to women would be, though, that attending a crisis pregnancy counsellor gives the woman time and space to consider all her options,” she said.
“She will be supported in her decision and she’ll be allowed explore what’s the best thing for her to do at that point of time in her life.”
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