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RCOG response to latest abortion statistics in England and Wales

News 13 June 2019

The Department of Health and Social Care published statistics today which show the number of abortions carried out in England and Wales is at its highest level.

There were 200,608 abortions in 2018, an increase of 4% on the previous year.

Overall, abortion rates have increased in the last decade for all women over the age of 25. Less than half (48%) of abortions were to women who had already had one or more previous births.

The data also showed there were 1,267 abortions to girls aged under 16 (0.6% of the total) in 2018. The abortion rate among under-18s has been falling for a decade.

The number of women from Northern Ireland travelling to England and Wales to have abortions rose by 192 in the past year. Statistics showed 1,053 women travelled in 2018.

Professor Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“The increase in the number of abortions in England and Wales in 2018 demonstrates the unmet need for contraception and the urgent need to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for women of all ages.

“Women must have access to effective contraception and sexual health services to enable them to take control of their health and fertility by preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

“Continued funding cuts to local public health budgets have significantly affected sexual health services. This is why we are calling for an end to fractured commissioning and greater accountability to stop the under-funding and fragmentation of these services which disproportionately affects women.

“Meanwhile, it is very encouraging to see a continuing decrease in the abortion rate for young women under the age of 25, particularly among teenage girls. However, regional variation remains and more must be done to ensure all girls are being supported.

“The rise in the number of women travelling from Northern Ireland to England for abortion care further demonstrates the pressing need to legislate for safe abortion services in Northern Ireland.

“We continue to call on the Government and work with other organisations to ensure that women and girls – regardless of where they live – have access to safe, legal and compassionate abortion care services.”

Ends

Note to Editors

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7045 6773 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

Abortion statistics for England and Wales: 2018.

The RCOG supports abortion provision in Northern Ireland.

The RCOG, FSRH and RCGP call for single, joint commissioning of sexual and reproductive health care services to end funding cuts and fragmentation.

The RCOG Abortion Taskforce, established by President Professor Lesley Regan, aims to ensure women have access to safe, sustainable, high-quality abortion care services.