Abortion Levels Hit Record
High in England and Wales
Doctors performed a record number of
abortions in England and Wales in 2003, with almost two percent
of women aged 15 to 44 choosing to end a pregnancy, according
to health ministry figures published in the British press.
There were 181,600 abortions last
year, a rise of 3.2 percent. This compared to 175,900 the previous
year, when the number of voluntary pregnancy terminations had
been down by 0.5 percent.
Last year, there were 17.5 abortions
for every 1,000 women in the 15-44 age bracket, an all-time record,
the figures showed.
Women in the 20-24 age bracket
chose to have abortions more frequently than any other age group,
at a rate of 31 per 1,000, but in every age bracket the number
of pregnancy terminations rose.
There were 37,043 abortions performed
on girls in the 15-19 age group, 51,124 on women aged 20 to 24,
and 36,018 on women aged 25 to 29.
"The figures are disappointing.
However, no contraception method is 100 percent effective and
there will always be women seeking an abortion as they are legally
entitled to do," the health ministry said.
Meanwhile the percentage of abortions
carried out for medical reasons increased from 14 to 17, while
58 percent of all abortions took place within 10 weeks of conception,
and 29 percent between 10 and 12 weeks.
"It is good news that more abortions
are taking place under 10 weeks and that there are higher rates
of medical abortion," said Anne Weyman, head of the British family
However, she said the figures showed
a "desperate need for investment in National Health Service contraceptive
"Access to good-quality, widely
available services is essential in preventing unplanned pregnancies,"
"Providing individuals with access
to the full range of contraceptive methods should not be regarded
as a luxury service when it is each person's right to be able
to control their own fertility and safeguard their sexual health,"
More than 9,000 women from Ireland
and Northern Ireland had abortions in Britain in 2003. Almost
7,000 Irish women underwent the procedure, double the figure in
In both Ireland and Northern Ireland,
the operation remains illegal under an 1861 British law, barring
circumstances where there is a real and substantial risk to the
life of the mother, including suicide.
In July the architect of Britain's
1967 abortion law called for a change in legislation to prevent
abortions beyond about three months from conception, due to medical
advances enabling premature babies to be kept alive from 22 weeks.
Britain changed the 1967 law in
1990, reducing from 28 weeks to 24 weeks the limit on abortion
at the mother's request. Abortions can still be carried out up
to nine months if the embryo is severely disabled or if the woman's
health is endangered.
Reference Source 102
August 30, 2004