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Jonathan O’Brien gets facts confused at Abortion Committee

In last week’s meeting of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien seemed quite misinformed on certain statistics regarding abortion.   A witness, Ms Liz McDermott had stated that one in 20 Irish babies is aborted, and that Ireland’s abortion rate was far lower than in other countries with more liberal abortion regulations including Britain where one in five babies is aborted.  

It seems that Deputy O’Brien is confusing those statistics with the rates of abortion per 1,000 women. While questioning Ms McDermott, he stated:   “We had a session at which we discussed abortion rates worldwide. The highest abortion rate, according to our evidence, occurs in Sweden, where it is 18 in every 1,000. The lowest is in Switzerland, where the rate is five in every 1,000. I do not know how that tallies with the 20% figure, or one in every five.” 

In fact, it is actually quite simple to see how the two tally – they don’t. Those statistics are measuring two entirely different things.   The Sinn Féin TD has claimed to have changed his views in favour of abortion because of the evidence he heard at the Abortion Committee stating that: “I am a realist and I am going on the factual evidence presented to this committee.”

One would think that Deputy O’Brien should at least understand the evidence given before making such a decision. It is a fact, according to the British Department of Health, that 20% of babies are aborted before birth in Britain. If Committee members are confused in that regard, they might try inviting a few unbiased witnesses who have another purpose other than pushing abortion.



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