Abortion numbers hit a record high last year at 210,000 in England and Wales

Abortions in England and Wales were highest last year since the 1967 Abortion Act was introduced.

Of the 209,519 abortions in both countries in 2019, 207,384 were intended for women residing there, the Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday.

Both the total number and number of women living in England and Wales have risen to their highest level since the law was introduced more than five decades ago.

Most of the 2,135 women who came to England and Wales for abortions came from Northern Ireland (47.5 percent) and the Republic of Ireland (17.6 percent).

Abortions in England and Wales were the highest since the abortion law was introduced last year at 209,519, the Ministry of Health said (archive picture).

While the age-standardized rate rose only slightly from 17.4 per 1,000 in 2018 to 18 per 1,000, the rate of last year is the highest to date of 17.9 in 2007.

Statistics show that the rates have increased for all age groups from 25 years of age, but the largest among women aged 30 to 34 years.

Rates in this age group rose from 15.7 per 1,000 in 2009 to 20.9 per 1,000 last year, as the data released on Thursday by the department showed.

Almost three quarters (74 percent) of abortions occurred in the independent sector, but 99 percent were funded by the NHS.

The abortion rate last year was highest in women aged 22 years, compared to 21 in the previous year.

While abortion rates for people under the age of 18 have dropped in the past 10 years, last year's rate of 8.1 per 1,000 remained at the 2018 level.

The government is relaxing the abortion law so that women can take termination pills at home while the coronavirus is blocked


Abortion laws have been relaxed so that women can take pills at home to stop pregnancy.

The measures taken to prevent women from going to a hospital or clinic take two years or until the coronavirus epidemic ends.

Women can take the pills up to the 10th week of pregnancy. You must consult a doctor by phone or video chat to receive a prescription with the pills in the mail.

Medical abortions require two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol.

Prior to the announcement, abortions in England could only be carried out in a hospital, by a specialist provider or by an approved clinic and had to be approved by two doctors to confirm that they did not violate the provisions of the 1967 Abortion Act.

Activists had warned that 44,000 women in England and Wales would need to see a doctor in the next 13 weeks to access early medical abortions – and such trips would seriously affect the government's strategy of social distancing.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said last night: “Public security and continued access to key services are a priority in this difficult time.

“We are updating our guidelines so that women who need an abortion up to ten weeks and do not have access to a clinic can use abortion pills at home. This is only temporary and must be done after a telephone or electronic consultation with a doctor. "

More than half (55 percent) of women who had abortions last year had at least one pregnancy that resulted in still or stillbirth, compared to 49 percent in 2009.

The British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) believes that economic uncertainty and the shift to smaller family sizes could be key factors in the increased abortion rate.

The charity called for better contraception services to meet the needs of older women, especially access to emergency contraception and after the birth of a child.

Clare Murphy, director of foreign affairs at BPAS, said: “The reasons for this increase will be complex, but women and their partners will make decisions based on the circumstances in which they are – and financially – given an unplanned pregnancy Instability or uncertainty can often play a key role in these decisions.

"The majority of women who have an abortion already have at least one child, and over the years we have noticed a shift towards smaller families, which also goes along with the later age when women start their families in the first place."

She said that while contraception alone "will never prevent the need for an abortion," more can be done to improve access to quality services, especially if women have recently given birth.

Kerry Abel, Chairman of Abortion Rights, said: “The context for these numbers is a climate of sustained austerity measures, cuts in public services – including contraception and reproductive health; the two-child limit for child benefit and general economic uncertainty introduced in 2017. "

She added that the charity has had individual reports since the start of the coronavirus pandemic "from people who have trouble renewing contraception," and added that "the government's confusion about changes in abortion measures at home is not helpful".

Marie Stopes UK medical director Jonathan Lord said the numbers "underscore the crucial need for women of all ages to have access to comprehensive contraception and abortion services from the time they become sexually active through to the menopause."

He said a lack of investment in contraceptive services has resulted in "poor access and unacceptable waiting times" for women, and added that important services are properly funded.

Right to Life UK's Catherine Robinson said the total number of abortions last year was "a national tragedy".

She said, "We are asking the government to provide urgent, sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies.

The latest statistics show that of the 209,519 abortions in England and Wales in 2019, 207,384 were for women resident there (archive picture)

The latest statistics show that of the 209,519 abortions in England and Wales in 2019, 207,384 were for women resident there (archive picture)

"This would ensure that we as a society work together to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen every year."

Life Group advocacy director Liz Parsons said she was "shocked but unfortunately not surprised" when she saw the surge.

She added: “In a unique time in our history, when we focus all our energy on saving lives, we must never forget that abortion leads to the loss of a life and almost 210,000 unborn babies lost their lives due to abortion last year to have.

"With our society increasing life with one hand and taking it away with the other, it is high time we reassessed our priorities and put more energy into offering life-affirming positive alternatives."

Home birth under the ambulance is prohibited

Some London hospitals have banned women from giving birth at home as it is considered unsafe during the coronavirus epidemic.

The hospitals have suspended home births on the grounds that emergency services cannot take them to maternity wards if they develop complications.

Affected hospitals include Imperial College Hospitals in west London, Homerton, Royal London and Newham Hospitals in east London, and King & # 39; s College Hospital in south London.

Some London hospitals have banned women from giving birth at home, as this is classified as unsafe during the coronavirus epidemic (archive picture).

Some London hospitals have banned women from giving birth at home, as this is classified as unsafe during the coronavirus epidemic (archive picture).

Suspensions are likely to be extended to other areas in the UK as the virus spreads and emergency services become increasingly overwhelmed.

Approximately 2 percent of women are born in England.

In other cases, some hospitals, including St. George & # 39; s in Tooting, southwest London, have told women that partners cannot come to scans, postnatal, or prenatal appointments to limit the spread of the virus.

Partners can be present while working in St. George’s, in accordance with the guidelines issued last Thursday.

Gill Walton, managing director of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The current crisis has made difficult decisions. We know this will be worrying for some women, but their safety and that of their babies is always our primary concern. & # 39;

The college also warned that some midwife-led units designed to provide a more relaxed environment than a hospital maternity ward have been closed and converted to coronavirus assessment areas or wards.

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