Abortion rate reaches its highest in 10 years

(Photo: Aditya Romansa)

Pro-life groups have called the rise in abortions in England and Wales "tragic" as new figures released on Thursday revealed that numbers have reached a 10-year high. 

In England and Wales, a total of 205,295 abortions were carried out in 2018, an increase of 7,762 abortions from 2017.  A decade ago in 2008, there were 195,296 abortions. 

Over the last 10 years abortion rates were shown to have decreased year on year for women aged under 18, while increasing for women over 35. 

The abortion rate for women over 35 stood at 9.2 per 1,000 resident women in 2018, an increase from 6.7 per 1,000 women in 2008. 

Most of the abortions were funded by the NHS and nine in 10 were carried out under 13 weeks, the Government figures show. 

CARE chief executive Nola Leach welcomed the fall in teenage abortions but expressed concern at the overall increase in women seeking an abortion. 

"It is tragic that the number of abortions in England and Wales continues to rise and is now at a 10 year high," she said. 

"While the continued drop in teenage abortions is very welcome, it is still the case that every abortion is a tragedy.

"The fact that the abortion rate for women 35 or over has increased again since last year 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.

"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 alternative out there."

Spokesperson for Right to Life, Clare McCarthy said the numbers were a "national tragedy". 

"Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies," she said. 

Ms McCarthy said the figures would only increase if the UK's abortion laws are further relaxed, as some have been campaigning for.

"We are calling on the Government to urgently bring forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year," she said. 

"This increase in abortions comes as private abortion clinics have been accused by the Care Quality Commission of paying staff bonuses for persuading women to undergo abortions.

"Vulnerable women should not be seen as a revenue opportunity but sadly we know this is not the reality as abortion itself is a multi-million pound industry. Private abortion clinics have a vested monetary interest in increasing the numbers of abortions they perform every year."