Numbers are the highest since the 1967 abortion law came into effect.
The startling increase in the number of abortions in England and Wales over the past year is “a national tragedy,” said a leading pro-life group in the U.K.
The Department for Health and Social Care reported Thursday that 209,519 unborn children were aborted in England and Wales in 2019 — the highest number since the Abortion Act came into force in April 1968.
“We are looking at a national tragedy here,” said Antonia Tully, Director of Campaigns for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. “This appalling figure shows us that abortion is becoming more and more normalized. Propaganda telling women that abortion is ‘simple and safe’ coupled with easier access to abortion pills is driving up abortion numbers.”
Numbers have been on the rise since 2016. Between 2012 and 2016 the annual number of abortions was around 185,000, the Guardian reported.
The report said the abortion rate in 2019 was highest for women aged 22 — at 31.6 per 1,000 women. London had the highest rate, at 21.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, compared to a national average of 18 per 1,000. White women are by far the group having abortions, at 77%. Most having abortions — 81% — were single.
“The proportion of women undergoing the procedure for whom it was at least their second abortion rose to 40%, compared with 34% in 2009,” the Guardian said.. “Among those aged 30 and over, almost half (49%) had had at least one previous termination.”
Abortion numbers rose sharply among women aged 30 and over, the newspaper said: Among women aged 30 to 34 it rose to 20.9 per 1,000 last year, compared with 15.7 in 2009, the biggest jump of any age group. Among those over 35 it rose to 9.7 per 1,000, from 6.6 a decade earlier.
The only bright spot in the report seemed to be about teenagers, as fewer are having abortions. Continuing a 10-year downward trend, the rate for under-18 women is now 8.1 per 1,000, and among under-16s it has dropped to 1.4 per 1,000, compared with 4 in 2009.
Under the Abortion Act of 1967, a pregnancy may be lawfully terminated by a registered medical practitioner if two medical practitioners are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that the abortion is justified under one or more specific grounds. Almost all abortions in 2019 — 98% — were performed under “Ground C,” which states that “the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.” In almost all cases of these 2019 abortions, mental health was the reason.
The Society for Protection of Unborn Children’s Tully emphasized that behind the figures are “real women who have taken an irreversible step and who are likely to be suffering physically or emotionally.
“Women deserve the truth about the harm that abortion can do to them,” Tully said. “Agencies such as ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline) can help heal the wounds of abortion in both women and men. Nothing can bring back a dead baby.”