Around one in five females who became pregnant as a result of rape last year chose to have an abortion, new figures from the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI) indicate.
According to the RCNI, of the 2,036 female survivors of sexual violence who attended rape crisis centres last year, 90 became pregnant as a result of rape. Of these, 17 chose to have abortions.
However, according to RCNI executive director, Fiona Neary, these figures only represent ‘one part of the picture, as not all rape survivors seek or can access support'.
The figures show that 60 of the girls and women who were pregnant as a result of rape went on to have the child. Of these, 12 had the child fostered or adopted. Meanwhile, 11 had miscarriages or stillbirths.
The figures also show that two females became pregnant more than once as a result of rape and had different outcomes in each pregnancy.
Ms Neary noted that in the current abortion debate, there has been some talk about cases where women become pregnant as a result of rape. She said that it is important that this discussion ‘is informed by the best available facts and a compassionate understanding of the realities facing these girls and women in Ireland'.
"When drawing on the example of rape survivors, an assumption can sometimes be made that the decisions are somehow simplified, feelings are straightforward and that moral and ethical complexities are largely nullified by the fact of conception through rape. This is not the rape crisis experience," Ms Neary explanined.
She said that the reality for many women and teenagers is that pregnancy as a result of rape is a complex issue and can cause additional trauma.
"These demand our greatest compassion. The RCNI would urge commentators to remember this when they reach for the example of rape victims in the abortion debate," she added.