Recent figures from the United Kingdom’s Department of Health show that in 2016, 3,265 women from Ireland traveled to the UK to access abortion services that are criminalised in their own country. Collectively, these women have spent over €4,500,000. The cost of an abortion for an Irish woman* is extortionate. What is even more harrowing, is that not every person who needs an abortion can afford the procedure. This makes the 8th amendment not only a pressing social issue, but a socio-economic issue. But why is an abortion for an Irish woman so expensive? Let me break it down for you.
The realisation of pregnancy will occur at different times for different women, depending on a variety of factors; their contraception, the woman’s menstrual cycle, etc. On average, women will discover that they are pregnant five to six weeks after conception, when their period is absent.
Every woman is different. Every situation is different. In this instance, for arguments sake, the pregnancy is unwanted by the woman. The woman is six weeks pregnant. After a few days to a week of deciding what to do, she reaches the conclusion that an abortion is the best choice for her.
Assuming she has a job, she must book time of work to travel abroad to access a termination. Let’s say the next available date to book off work is in three weeks time. She will be 10 weeks pregnant. 1/3 Irish abortions are carried out at ten weeks, due to the difficulty of accessing the service. Therefore, the woman must undergo a surgical abortion. However, in countries where abortion is available on request, and women do not have to exert themselves to make travel arrangements, a medical abortion is used. (A non-surgical abortion which can be carried out up to 9 weeks. This is when the large majority of abortions take place.)
The woman must book an appointment with an abortion clinic in the UK, that aligns with the time she has managed to take off work. Many UK abortion clinics are sympathetic to Irish women who access their services as they often accommodate Irish women.
The cost of an abortion
Next, the woman must search for flights. From today’s date, a flight in 3 weeks time to Liverpool (with a budget airline) costs €275.98.
Once the flights are booked, the next expense is the accommodation. A quick look on trivago.com shows that hotels in Liverpool are all over €100. So lets estimate a close €140.
Transport from the woman’s home to the airport will vary depending on the location. Let’s average it at €40 return and assume this woman, like so many of those who travel, does not have the accessibility of Dublin bus.
Transport from the airport to the hotel to check in will cost on average £20 in a taxi, if you’re lucky. (That converts to €23.) Then a taxi from the hotel to the clinic, then the clinic back to the hotel, then the hotel back to the airport the next day. Let’s say that costs a total of €60.
Here is a run down of the price for the actual procedure. It is €100 for the consultation and €750 for the treatment itself. This is will cost a grand total of €850. (Please note, this is the price for the 11-14 week surgical procedure. For the 9 week and under medical procedure, it will cost a total of €600.)
The person in this situation also has to eat during these 48 hours and purchase other necessities like water and sanitary towels. This in total would cost approximately €35.
This brings the total expense to €1,400. These figures are an estimate and can vary depending on a number of factors, including the trimester in which an abortion is needed. Many people who are pregnant and have every intention on carrying their child to term, may find themselves in a position where they think an abortion is the right option if they are unfortunately told that their child has a fatal fetal abnormality. In cases such as these, the price of an abortion procedure dramatically increases as the pregnancy is further along. Furthermore, the total price will increase if the woman has a partner/friend or family member accompanying her.
A class issue
Many people who decide to travel abroad do not have €1,400 to spare. Many women will find themselves under financial strain and might have no other option than to take out a credit union loan to afford the cost of travel, the abortion procedure, and the cost of accommodation. This however, should not give way to an attitude of “oh well at least they can afford to travel” because no one should have to travel abroad to access the fundamental right of bodily autonomy. Nevertheless, working class women are imprisoned within their own country due to this archaic law. These women usually cannot afford to travel and therefore must go to the extreme and obtain illegal abortion pills from safe, doctor led websites. Ireland’s strict laws are discriminatory and backwards. No one should have to risk a 14 year prison sentence by obtaining the illegal, yet incredibly safe pills, and no one should be put under financial strain for a procedure that is free, safe and legal in many other countries around the world.
Women can’t wait, repeal the 8th.