In another dark week for the pro-life movement, government statistics have revealed that 2018 saw the highest number of abortions ever performed in England and Wales in a single year.
The rise of four per cent means there were 7,000 more abortions than at the last peak in 2007. For the first time numbers crashed through the 200,000 mark with a total of 205,295 abortions carried out. The 10-year high was replicated in Scotland.
The Government does not offer explanations for these trends, but some changes stand out: notably a sharp fall in abortions among teenagers, a decline in abortions for women in their 20s, but a rise for those over 30.
Numbers of repeat abortions also went up (39 per cent were second or further abortions) and there was a surge in those for Down’s syndrome (a 42 per cent increase).
One factor that has remained constant is that more than four fifths of abortions are provided to single women.
The corollary is that stable marriage may be the greatest friend of the unborn child. Another conclusion that might be drawn is that women who are pregnant, alone or
abandoned often need help.
For nearly 50 years, Life, the counselling charity, along with other pro-life organisations, have provided such assistance. In May alone, Life supported 285 women and children through its Pregnancy Matters housing service. It also accompanied and counselled a total of 355 new clients as they struggled to reach a decision over whether to continue with a difficult pregnancy.
Practical support was given by the charity to a further 74 families desperate for support during a time when a mother was pregnant. Life estimates that it assists about 70 women each day.
“Given what the national statistics have revealed I think it is very important that women know that Life is here for them,”
said Mark Bhagwandin, a spokesman for the charity.
“Very often the narrative is that there is no choice other than abortion yet here we are providing practical alternatives for people who are considering abortion … practical support for women who are vulnerable.
“It is so important that people know that if they are in a crisis they don’t need to go on that conveyor belt – they can come to an organisation like Life because we are here to help them. There is a better way, and Life is an organisation offering that kind of support.
“If they need housing, we provide housing support. If they want to talk, we have Life care centres around the country which can help with these issues.”
Life’s officers also go into schools to speak about such matters as relationships, pregnancies and the unborn child to about 20,000 students a year.
Bhagwandin believes a more pro-life culture is beginning to emerge among the younger generations, with the latest statistics showing that the abortion rate halved among under 18s in the last 10 years.
Other studies have shown that changes in social habits might influence such figures – for example, the fact that teenagers today do not get drunk or have sexual intercourse with anything like the same frequency as in previous generations.
Conversely, social changes among older women include the flight from marriage, more failed marriages and conscious decisions, often influenced by career paths, to have children later in life or not at all.
The latest figures provide much material for reflection but what their scale surely suggests is that the UK does not need further liberalisation of the laws to allow more abortions on demand.
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