- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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The number of abortions in England and Wales fell slightly to 190,800, latest figures show, with nine taking place due to a cleft lip and palate.
Statistics show that the numbers are down by 172 from last year although the number of terminations among older women (aged 35 or over) rose as did repeat abortions.
One per cent of all abortions were carried out because of a risk that the child would be born handicapped with 22 per cent of these terminated due to Down’s syndrome. Abortions due to disability can take place right up until the time of birth.
In recent years the Department of Health has not published the reasons for abortions on the grounds of disability.
The figures also show that there were 5, 469 abortions to non-residents, the lowest number since 1969. The majority of these were from Ireland, where abortion is only permitted if it takes place if there is a risk to the life of the mother, including suicide.
The rate of abortions among younger women also fell, by 0.4 per cent for under 16-s and almost one per cent for under-18s.