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Alarm as abortion rates surge

Friday March 6th, 2020

Nearly one in four pregnancies now ends in abortion, according to figures published yesterday.

Experts said the increasing number of abortions suggested that sexual health services are failing, allowing large numbers of unplanned pregnancies.

In 2018 some 24% of conceptions ended in abortion, a 1.3 percentage point increase in one year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health said this was the steepest increase since data was first collected in 1990.

Its analysis suggests a "marked increase" in abortions among women over the age of 25. The percentage of abortions among women over the age of 40 increased from 28.7 to 30.3.

According to the figures, 48.4% of conceptions to women under the age of 20 led to abortion – as did 35% of those to women aged between 20 and 24.

In total there were 200,608 abortions recorded in 2018.

Faculty vice-president Dr Helen Munro said: "The figures released today by the ONS show that women are increasingly conceiving at a later age, and although for many this is a conscious decision, the figures do seem to reflect that for many this is not the case. The increase in percentage of conceptions leading to an abortion may indicate a growth in unplanned pregnancies, and, therefore, an unmet need for contraceptive care and services.

"‘Women spend many years of their lives managing their fertility and trying to avoid unplanned pregnancies. We need a system that is easy to navigate and supports women to make the best choices for their sexual and reproductive health needs at any point of their lives, wherever they live. However, an under-funded and fragmented healthcare system means that many women are now finding it hard to access essential sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

"Women’s sexual and reproductive health needs to be placed at the heart of a national health policy agenda."

The anti-abortion group Right to Life described the figures as a "national tragedy."

Spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: "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."

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | NHS | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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