Abortions in England, Wales hit 10-year high: UK gov't report

An image of an unborn child. | Reuters

England and Wales experienced the highest rate of abortions in a decade in 2018, according to recently released findings by the U.K.’s Department of Health & Social Care.

In a report titled “Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2018” that was released last week, the government found that there were approximately 205,000 abortions performed in England and Wales last year, with 200,000 of them being for residents of the two countries.

The statistic represented an abortion rate of 17.4 per 1,000 women and girls aged 15-44, making it the highest number of abortions since 2007, which had a rate of 17.9 abortions per 1,000 women and girls.

The report also found that 39% of women who had an abortion in 2018 had had at least one previous abortion, which was part of a steady increase since 2008, when 33% of women undergoing abortions had already had one or more previous abortions. 

Data for the report was drawn from abortion notification forms, also known as HSA4 forms, that were submitted by clinics and hospitals to the Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health & Social Care.

Other findings for 2018 included 81% of abortions being performed on single women, abortions performed 24 weeks or later into a pregnancy represented 0.1% of the reported procedures, and a decline in the number of women younger than 18 seeking abortions.

“The decline is particularly marked in the under-16 age group where the rates are less than a third of what they were in 2008,” according to the report.

“The abortion rate in the 16-17 age group has more than halved from a peak of 22.2 per 1,000 women in 2008, to 10.0 per 1,000 women in 2018.”

The U.K.-based organization Christian Action Research and Education expressed sorrow over the report, with CARE Chief Executive Nola Leach saying it “is tragic that the number of abortions in England and Wales continues to rise and is now at a 10-year high.”

“While the continued drop in teenage abortions is very welcome, it is still the case that every abortion is a tragedy,” said Leach in a statement released last Friday.

“It’s time we ended the culture where abortion is seen as the only option. Women need to be supported and informed about the wide variety of alternatives out there.”

Leach also said she believed that the numbers showing that the average age of women undergoing an abortion is increasing “raises big questions about the pressures of modern life.”

“The instability of cohabitation and the intense pressure for couples to maintain two incomes are taking a heavy price,” she added.   

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