In 2019, more women in the UK sought after abortions than in any previous year, according to a new report released by the UK Department of Health and Social Care.
The 20-page report showed statistics for England and Wales last year. Over 207,000 abortions were performed on women last year, which is the largest number recorded since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed, according to the Christian Post.
The largest increase occurred among women over the age of 35 while women under the age of 18 stayed the same. However, women aged 22 saw the highest increase with 31.6 abortions per 1,000 women. In 2018, women aged 21 had the highest rate of 30.7 per 1,000.
Minors seeking abortions have decreased.
“The decline since 2009 is particularly marked in the under 16 age group, where the rates have decreased from 4.0 per 1,000 women in 2009 to 1.4 per 1,000 women in 2019,” according to the report.
Additionally, women ages 18-19 have also sought fewer abortions with a decline from 31.6 per 1,000 to 23.8 per 1,000 women.
Abortions are legal in England, Wales, and Scotland up until 24 weeks gestation. And last fall, Northern Ireland stripped its country of its abortion laws, allowing for greater access.
Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates see the rise in abortions as concerning. According to Jonathan Lord, medical director of abortion provider Marie Stopes U.K., the uptick could be a result of poor access to contraceptives.
“Lack of investment in contraceptive services has led to poor access and unacceptable waits, particularly for the most effective long-acting methods, such as the implant and coil,” he said. “The contraceptive needs of women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, including those who already have children, have been sadly neglected.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, a pro-life group, called the numbers “appalling” and that “abortion is becoming more and more normalized. Propaganda telling women that abortion is ‘simple and safe’ coupled with easier access to abortion pills is driving up abortion numbers.”
Antonia Tully, SPUC director of campaigns, also lamented the toll on women: “Behind the figures are real women who have taken an irreversible step and who are likely to be suffering physically or emotionally.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/September15
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.