A record number of women in England and Wales are choosing to abort one of their babies when pregnant with twins or triplets.
According to the latest statistics, published Tuesday, 141 women chose so-called ‘selective reduction’ abortions in 2016, a near-100 per cent increase in the space of just five years.
Of those 141 cases, 92 involved aborting one twin, 33 involved aborting one triplet, and 11 involved aborting two triplets. There were also five cases of quadruplets where at least one baby was aborted.
Women who have ‘selective reduction’ abortions are more likely to be married, over 30, and less likely to have had a previous termination, the figures show.
The Department for Health statistics suggest many of these terminations may due to IVF treatment that results in “more than one embryo being implanted in the womb”.
“In such cases, the outcome of the pregnancy may be more successful if the number of fetuses is reduced,” the government document says. “This reduction usually occurs at about 12 weeks’ gestation.”
Over all, the total number of abortions in England and Wales fell slightly, from 185,824 in 2015 to 185,596 in 2016. The abortion rate for under-16s also fell from 2.0 to 1.7 per 1,000 women, with a similar drop for under-18s (9.9 to 8.9 per 1,000).
However, abortions for disability have risen, with 706 babies with Down’s syndrome terminated in 2016, while nine were aborted due to cleft lip or palate.
Meanwhile, as the debate over abortion laws in Ireland intensifies, the number of abortions carried out on non-residents in England and Wales fell to 4,810, its lowest number since 1969.
Anne Scanlan, director of education at the charity Life, said: “The abortion rate in this country is a national tragedy. While this may be profitable for the abortion industry, each one of those abortions represents a personal crisis for a woman and the loss of her child.
“It is little wonder, that a May 2017 ComRes poll showed that women in the UK want greater restrictions on abortion. The results found that 70 per cent of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91 per cent of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.”
“While we are pleased that the report also shows a drop in the number of abortions on girls under 16,” she added, “We remain concerned that over 1500 girls under the age of consent (16) had an abortion last year. Recent polling shows 70 per cent of parents want the introduction of parental consent for girls 15 and under to have an abortion.”