Nearly 200,000 abortions were performed in England and Wales in 2017, according to the Ministry of Health, which publishes these figures annually. This is the highest rate in 10 years, up 4% compared to 2016. Experts say more women may be having abortions because they can’t afford to keep their babies, in part because of a cap on child benefit, creating a situation which is “simply cruel”.
Of these 197,533 abortions, 98% were funded by the NHS. Nearly 5,000 abortions were given to women not residing in England or Wales, primarily women from Ireland and Northern Ireland. Nine out of ten abortions were performed before the 13th week of pregnancy. More than 3000 abortions were performed because the unborn child was likely to be “severely disabled”.
At the same time, the number of births fell by 2.5%, the lowest number since 2006.
Philippa Taylor of the Christian Medical Fellowship, an organisation of more than 4,000 British doctors, said: “These figures are alarming. Nearly 200,000 abortions a year means that nearly one in every five of all pregnancies in the UK ends with a termination. (…) Women need to realise that abortion is not risk free, there can be serious medical complications and psychological issues. (…) Little is known about the long term consequences to a woman’s health. Instead of trying to make abortion easier, by removing medical safeguards, the Government should look at how to reduce this epidemic.