Abortion rise reflects
increased choices for women
Figures issued today by the Office for National Statistics,
suggest that British women in the 21st century increasingly
see abortion as a solution to unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.
Commenting on the publication of the abortion statistics
for the year 2000, BPAS, Britain’s largest provider of abortion
services, observed that the slow but steady rise in the
proportion of conceptions terminated by abortion is likely
There were 185,375 legal abortions carried out in England
and Wales in 2000, a rise of 2,125 (1.2 per cent) compared
with 1999. The abortion rate for women resident in England
and Wales in 2000 was 16.94 abortions per 1000 women aged
15-44, 0.9 per cent higher than in 1999 when the rate was
16.79 abortions per 1000 women.
Abortion rates increased for women aged under 34 and decreased
for woman aged 35 and over, in 2000. The rate increased
by 0.2 per cent for women under 20, by 2.4 per cent for
women in their twenties and by 0.4 per cent for women aged
30-34. The rate decreased by 1.4 per cent in the 35-44 age-group.
The largest increase was for women in their twenties, which
is consistent with the most recently published conception
statistics. In 1999, more than a quarter (28.5 per cent)
of pregnant women aged 20-24 had abortions compared to 22.3
per cent of women in their early twenties in 1990. Overall
in 1999, 22.6 per cent of conceptions were aborted compared
with 19.9 per cent in 1990.
This increase in the proportion of women opting to end unplanned
pregnancies is believed to be due to several factors:
- An increasing number
of women are choosing to remain childless – almost one
woman in five is now childless at 40.
- Women who do want children,
want fewer of them and want them later in life – most
women are at least 29 when they have their first child.
- Marriage is decreasing
in popularity and unmarried couples are more likely than
married couples to end an unplanned pregnancy – even if
they are living together.
- Almost 70 per cent of
women have jobs – professional women are reluctant to
take breaks that could hinder their careers and more working
class families are dependent on women’s wages.
BPAS director of communications,
Ann Furedi, said:
‘Women today want to plan their families and, when contraception
fails, they are prepared to use abortion to get back in
control of their lives. Motherhood is just one among many
options open to women and it is not surprising that younger
women want to prioritise other things. We should stop seeing
abortion as a problem and start seeing it as a legitimate
and sensible solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy.
Most of the 48,000 women who attend BPAS clinics each year
want an abortion so they can get back in control of their
lives. An unplanned pregnancy is a problem that they want
to put behind them, we can help them to do that.’