15 June 2015, The Tablet

Small reduction in abortions in England and Wales, figures show

There has been a tiny reduction in the number of abortions carried out in England and Wales, according to new government figures released last week.

They show that the total number of pregnancy terminations for 2014 was 184,571, a 0.4 per cent reduction on the figure for 2013 (185,311).

The age-standardised abortion rate was 15.9 per 1,000 resident women aged 15-44, which is 6.4 per cent lower than 10 years ago and the lowest rate for 16 years. The abortion rate was highest for women aged 22 (28 per 1,000) and the under-18 rate was 11.1 per 1,000 women.

The figures show that the majority of abortions (92 per cent) are performed at under 13 weeks. However, 1,193 abortions were carried out at 22 weeks and over, at which point foeticide is recommended by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – this means stopping the foetal heart before evacuating the uterus.

The figures for 2014 also show that 3,099 abortions (two per cent) were carried out on the grounds that the child would be born disabled, and 37 per cent of terminations were to women who had already had one or more abortions.

There were 5,521 abortions for non-residents, slightly up on the figure for the previous year (5,469), but that was the lowest for any year since the passing of the Abortion Act of 1967.


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