37% of asylum seekers pregnant

MORE than one-in-three asylum seekers who attended a medical screening service last year was pregnant, figures from the Northern Area Health Board reveal.

The Balsesken clinic in Finglas provides health screening to asylum seekers on arrival before they are allocated accommodation, or if necessary, put in contact with maternity services.

Pregnant women made up 37% of the total attendances of both men and women to the clinic in 2003, figures obtained by the Irish Medical Times show. A spokesperson for the Northern Area Health Board, which covers Dublin city and county north of the River Liffey, stressed that these figures only relate to one medical screening centre.

“These figures prove that the minister for justice is trying to fool the Irish people into believing there is justification for taking away citizen rights on the basis there are too many non-national babies being born here,” said GP and No vote campaigner Dr Juliet Bressan.

Ray Dooley, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said the statistics reflect the dramatic reduction in the number of pregnant asylum seekers.

The Department of Justice said it was an “absolute abuse of statistics” to say these figures were not significant.

“It is a fact that 58% of women who arrive here of child-bearing age are pregnant.” If you take out the number of men screened at these centres you’ll find the number of women screened compared to the number found to be pregnant would be quite high,” a spokesperson said. Of the top five non-EU nationalities giving birth, only one, the Filipinos, are among the top five nationalities provided with work permits or student visas.

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