More abortions were performed in the United Kingdom in 2019 than in any previous year since the procedure was legalized in 1967, according to a new report.
The U.K. Department of Health and Social Care released its annual update on abortion procedure statistics for England and Wales last Thursday.
According to the report, there were 207,384 abortions performed on women living in England and Wales in 2019, the largest number since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.
Compared to 2018, the rate of abortions has increased for women over the age of 35 while remaining basically the same for women under the age of 18.
The age which saw the highest abortion rate in 2019 was 22, with a reported 31.6 per 1,000 women. This is a slight increase from 2018, in which those aged 21 had the highest abortion rate, with 30.7 per 1,000.
Minors seeking abortions have declined over the past several years, according to the report, even though the numbers remained about the same from 2018 to 2019.
“The decline since 2009 is particularly marked in the under 16 age group, where the rates have decreased from 4.0 per 1,000 women in 2009 to 1.4 per 1,000 women in 2019,” explained the report.
“The abortion rate for 18-19 year olds has also declined from 31.6 per 1,000 women to 23.8 per 1,000 women in the same period.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a British pro-life group, released a statement declaring the latest statistics “a national tragedy.”
“This appalling figure shows us that abortion is becoming more and more normalised. Propaganda telling women that abortion is ‘simple and safe’ coupled with easier access to abortion pills is driving up abortion numbers,” stated Antonia Tully, SPUC director of campaigns.
“But behind the figures are real women who have taken an irreversible step and who are likely to be suffering physically or emotionally.”
Jonathan Lord, medical director of Marie Stopes U.K., a major British abortion provider, argued that the uptick in abortions might be due to a lack of good access to contraceptives.
“The contraceptive needs of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, including those who already have children, have been sadly neglected,” stated Lord, as reported by The Guardian.
“Lack of investment in contraceptive services has led to poor access and unacceptable waits, particularly for the most effective long-acting methods, such as the implant and coil.”
In England, Wales, and Scotland, elective abortions are legal for up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, with later abortions permitted provided they fall under certain circumstances.
Last October, Northern Ireland had its law prohibiting abortions save when medically necessary overturned, allowing for broader access to the procedure.