Many of these college-goers have an abortion because they are not aware of other options, USI welfare officer Maureen Woods said. The number could be much higher, she said, but these women often make a panic decision.
Many of them think they have no other option than abortion because they don’t find out what else they can do,” she said.
She said there are plenty of choices such as adoption, but colleges should provide more crèches to help students see that they can have a baby and still continue their education. Half of the 6,700 abortions sought by Irish women in Britain in 2001 were to women aged under 24, while the same proportion of the 18,000 births outside marriage that year were to women in the same age group.
The Crisis Pregnancy Agency has launched the Positive Options campaign to provide details of help services for women worried about being pregnant. The agency has set up a website and leaflets and posters will be distributed around third level colleges, in conjunction with USI.
“Over a third of women do not contact any doctor or agency in Ireland for counselling and information before they go to Britain,” said CPA chairperson Olive Braiden.
She said the campaign aims to remove the barriers to contact such as cost, waiting lists, refusal of information and different perceptions of counselling agencies.
The website and leaflets give information and contact details for organisations such as Cherish, CURA, Dublin Well Woman Centre, the Irish Family Planning Association, Life and Pact.
For more information visit: www.positiveoptions.ie or text the word ‘options’ to 50444 for a full list of contact numbers.