Pro-life leaders have called the figures a 'national tragedy'
More than 200,000 UK women received an abortion in 2018, setting an all-time high rate of abortion in England and Wales.
The UK Department of Health and Social Services released a study on Wednesday which revealed that last year, 200,608 UK residents and nearly 5,000 more non-residents received an abortion in the UK.
According to the survey, abortions in the country had decreased in 2009, but have steadily increased since 2010. The previous record high was in 2008.
In the last decade, the number of abortions have increased particularly for women who are over 29 and those who already have a family. Over half of the abortions in 2018 were performed on women who have had children or had a still-born birth.
“The rates for women aged 30-34 have increased from 15.6 per 1,000 women in 2008 to 19.9 in 2018, and rates for women aged 35 and over have also increased from 6.7 per 1,000 women in 2008 to 9.2 per 1,000 women in 2018,” the study states.
However, the rate of abortions for women under the age of 18 significantly decreased in the past decade. The 2018 rate reflected a decrease by more than half in the number of teens who received abortions, compared to the rate in 2008.
According to Daily Mail, abortion experts said the trends are complicated. Clare Murphy, director of external affairs for British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said contraception distribution and family planning have both played a part in the numbers.
“Accessible contraceptive services are often focused on the needs of younger women and women over the age of 25 can in particular find themselves excluded from schemes providing free, pharmacy access to emergency contraception,” she said.
“However, it is also possible that over the longer term couples are making different decisions about family size and the number of children they can afford and feel able to properly care for.”
Following budget cuts to health services, abortion advocates have called for more funding to be provided. Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told BBC that the under-funding needs to stop.
“We are calling for an end to fractured commissioning and greater accountability to stop the under-funding and fragmentation of these services which disproportionately affects women,” she said.
However, Clare McCarthy, spokesperson for the pro-life non-profit Right to Life, decried the recent record, calling it a “national tragedy.” According to the Telegraph, the pro-life leader said the issue will probably worsen.
“Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies,” she said.
“Proposals from abortion campaigners to remove legal restrictions around abortion and introduce abortion right to birth would likely see these numbers get even worse.”