The majority of abortions (88%) were carried out before 110 weeks of gestation

Record Number of Abortions in England and Wales: Cost of Living Is a Determinant Factor

One out of every fifty women between 15 and 44 years of age opted for an interruption of pregnancy.

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(ZENIT News / London, 28.05.2024).- In 2022, England and Wales reached a historic record of 252,122 abortions, a figure that reflects a 17% increase in relation to the previous year. According to a number of charitable organizations, the cost of life crisis has been a determinant factor in this increase. The numbers means that one out of every fifty women between 15 and 44 years of age opted for an interruption of pregnancy. The 22-year-old women were the most prone to abort, with almost 38 terminations for every 1,000 women, almost double the national average. Heidi Stewart, Executive Directress of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), stressed that many women feel obliged to interrupt their pregnancy due to the impossibility of maintaining a child in the context of the present economic crisis.

Stewart also pointed out that the long waits in the National Health Service (NHS) to get contraceptives has led to an increase of unwanted pregnancies, leaving abortion as the only option. “No woman should be pregnant because the health service doesn’t provide her with the contraceptive she need,” said Stewart. The Department of Health and Social Care published official data, which indicates that 82% of women that aborted in 2022 were single, a constant tendency in the last decade. The highest rates of abortion were recorded in the Northeast of Engand, with 24.2 terminations for every 1,000 women, whereas the Southeast had a lower rate, with 17.6 for every 1,000 women.

The majority of abortions (88%) were carried out before 110 weeks of gestation, and 61% of these procedures were carried out at home using medications. Although the Law permits the request for an abortion up to 24 weeks, it must be authorized by doctors and be based on physical or mental health reasons or economic motives. Abortions after 24 weeks are rare and are only carried out under extreme circumstances, such as serious risk for the mother’s life or severe malformation of the foetus.

Catherine Robinson, spokeswoman of Right to Life UK, described the increase of abortions as a “national tragedy,” arguing that it reflects a failure in the protection of life of the unborn and in supporting adequately women with unplanned pregnancies. The organization advocates for new protections for foetuses and greater support for pregnant women.

Moreover, organizations that defend the rights of Down’s syndrome people, such as Don’t Screen Us Out, expressed their concern over the 760 abortions carried out after the detection of this condition. Lynn Murray, spokeswoman of the campaign and mother of a Down’s syndrome girl, lamented that abortion is presented as the immediate solution after a prenatal diagnosis of the condition.

The debate over abortion continues to be active in the United Kingdom. Conservative Caroline Ansell proposed reducing the legal limit of abortion from 24 to 22 weeks, arguing that medical advancements have increased the rates of survival of babies born at 23 weeks. By contrast, Labour’s Dame Diane Johnson proposed the decriminalization of abortion after 24 weeks to avoid women facing prison sentences, such as the case of Carla Foster, sentenced to 28 months in prison for taking abortifacient pills illegally during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Elizabeth Owens

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