Abortion numbers in England and Wales reach record high

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Latest figures released by the Department for Health and Social Care reveal that a record number of abortions took place in England and Wales in 2021.

According to statistics published on Tuesday, 214,869 abortions took place last year - up 4,009 on 2020. 

Repeat abortions rose by nearly 4% - or 3,387 - to 91,313 in 2021.

There were 88 selective terminations in which a twin, triplet or more was aborted in the womb - an increase of nearly 36%.

Disability-selective abortions were up by 9.31% at 3,370 in 2021, while late-term abortions for babies with disabilities at 24 weeks and over rose by 19.65% from 229 to 274.

In total, 859 babies with Down's syndrome were aborted in 2021, an increase of 23.95% from 693 in 2020.

The number of babies with Down's syndrome aborted at 24 weeks rose from 14 to 24. Six babies with a cleft palate were aborted at 24 weeks, twice the previous year's figure.

Right to Life UK is calling for a change to abortion laws in light of the latest figures.

Spokesperson Catherine Robinson called the numbers "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.

"Over the last couple of years, we have come together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19.

"Sadly, at the very same time as protecting one group of vulnerable people, we as a society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion."

2021 is the first full year that 'DIY' home abortions have been permitted in England and Wales. These were introduced after the start of the pandemic in 2020 so that women could access abortions during lockdowns. 

Ms Robinson continued, "Since governments permitted 'DIY' home abortions, many stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light

"Polling shows large majorities of women in the UK support changes to our abortion laws that would have a positive impact on lowering the number of abortions. Seventy per cent of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91% of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.

"We are calling on the government to urgently bring forward new protections for unborn children and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies.

"Polling shows these changes are backed by the public and this would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of lives that are lost to abortion each year."