Why are repeat abortions on the rise in the UK? 'Women are seeking love in a monogamous relationship and that's not happening'


More and more women in the UK are having more than one abortion, and the rise is considerable enough that even a leading abortion provider is calling for an investigation into the reasons behind the trend.

Marie Stopes UK, who conducted 65,000 abortions last year, commissioned interviews with 430 women between the ages of 16 and 24, and found that 121 had undergone more than one abortion.

Official statistics show that while the number of abortions as a whole is going down, the number of women seeking more than one abortion is on the rise.

In 2001, 31 per cent of women seeking an abortion were not on their first. In 2005 that number rose to 32 per cent, in 2010 it was 34 per cent, and in 2011 it was 36 per cent.

According to the Marie Stopes UK survey, 57 per cent of the women claimed they had been using contraception at the time they conceived.

The data also revealed that while 86 per cent of women began using contraception again after an abortion, 67 per cent stopped using it within less than one year. Only 30 per cent of women in England and Wales are given long term reversible contraception after having an abortion.

Niall Gooch, the London Region Education Officer of the pro-life charity LIFE said to Christian Today that he felt the number of women having repeat abortions was "genuinely tragic" and that they represented "a massive failure to provide women in crisis pregnancy with adequate support and help, and a failure to help women who have had one past abortion avoid future crisis pregnancies".

Marie Stopes UK said in the BBC they believed the data pointed to "a lack of ongoing support" on issues like contraception.

Genevieve Edwards, Director of Policy at Marie Stopes UK, said in the Daily Mail: "We have got to get better at talking about contraception and abortion.

"Our research shows there is no particular demographic group who are more likely to have abortions – it can happen to any of us. But for the majority of women, it was more often the short-term methods that failed them.

"Getting this right is also good for the public purse. Fitting a coil costs about £40 and lasts ten years – that's less than 8p a week and it repays the NHS many times over in abortion or maternity costs."

But others argue that it is the availability of the contraception itself that is causing the problem, contributing to a culture of abortion as a form of contraception rather than a last resort.

Bernadette Smith, from the Northern Irish pro-life charity Precious Life, said to Christian Today: "Contraception leads to abortion and abortion leads to more abortion."

Giving her view on the increase in repeat terminations, Ms Smith said: "It's because abortion is being used as a contraceptive backup."

She argues that the rest of the UK should look at Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where abortion is outlawed, as a model for the rest of the country.

"In a less liberal society, such as Northern Ireland, we see less abortion and less teenage pregnancy. That's a situation that's all round better for women," she said.  

The general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, Paul Tully, told the BBC the problem needed to be viewed holistically, and that separating abortion from the issues that cause it would be a mistake.

Criticising the Marie Stopes UK plan, Mr Tully said: "Increasing the provision of contraception isn't going to reduce the abortion rate.

"Contraception doesn't address the social, financial and relationship reasons which are usually the drivers for women to seek abortions. We need to answer those problems, and then we'll see the abortion rate coming down."

Grace Mason, co-ordinator of the UK charity United for Life, believes a profound social change is needed before the number of repeat abortions will begin slow.

"Women are seeking more terminations because they are actually seeking to be loved and cared for in a monogamous relationship, which is not happening," she said.  

"Relationships are casual. People have 'partners' and not spouses. Laws that once protected women within marriage have been dissolved so that their marriages can end in easy divorce, if they ever married in the first place.

"If each woman had a husband who supported her in her pregnancy then there would be no need for any abortion, let alone two or three or more due to failed contraception or no contraception.

"As society says [abortion] is acceptable, then people continue to use it to hide their dysfunctional lifestyles."

Eve Farren, of the Alliance of Pro Life Students, said that to get of the root of the problem of repeat abortions, better care and support was needed.

"Abortion may seem the only option when faced with financial hardship, a broken relationship or an unfinished degree," she said.

"Abortion, however, only layers another problem on top and many young women sadly recurrently find themselves in another crisis pregnancy situation.

"In order to break the cycle and get to the root of the problem, it is necessary to provide the life-affirming care that women deserve."

The BBC spoke to one woman only identified as 'Lisa' who had undergone four terminations because she did not want four children with three or four different fathers.

"With the first one, you don't know what's going to happen. You're scared and anxious," she said.

"But once you see all the other women there, it doesn't make you feel that bad.

"And it does get easier with the more you have. I know that sounds really bad, but that is just how it is."

She explained that she now believes her actions were wrong, and that she wants to speak out so that other women might make different choices as a result.

"I thought that if I could tell my story, maybe young women would think twice about having sex without contraception, or sleeping with guys they don't really know.

"I want to tell other women that abortions aren't just something you should do. It could change your life.

"I should have been more responsible, because I've killed a life now. And it wasn't that baby's fault."

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