On June 13 2019 the UK Department of Health and Social Care released the recorded abortion statistics for England and Wales in 2018. Below you will find some of the key findings emerging from the statistics. If you want to have a look at the statistics in full, you can find the report published by the Department here and the full data tables here.
The Big Picture
- In 2018, 205,295 abortions were recorded to have taken place. So per day, around 562 abortions were recorded.
- The statistics show 8,635,391 abortions have taken place since 1968 in England and Wales. This includes residents and non-residents of England and Wales. Excluding non-residents, 7,765,790 were recorded.
- 1,053 women travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales to obtain an abortion. This was an increase of 192 over the previous year. A clear increase has been noted since the decision of the British Government to fund women who seek to travel to obtain an abortion while failing to provide any parity of funding for women who want to continue their pregnancies. It is important to note this figure remains far below the peak figure of 1855 recorded in 1990.
- 98.2% of the abortions conducted for women who travelled were granted under Ground C of the 1967 Abortion Act, which allows for abortion when up to 24 weeks gestation “the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy was terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.” This accounts for 1034 of the 1053 abortions conducted.
- 1.8% of the abortions granted were under ground E of the 1967 Abortion Act, which allows for abortion up to term where “there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.” Two of these cases involved children found to have a cleft lip or cleft palette while five of them involved unborn children found to have Down’s Syndrome.
- 5 girls under the age of 16 travelled from Northern Ireland to England and Wales to obtain an abortion.
England and Wales
- There were 200,608 abortions recorded in England and Wales for women resident there. This is the highest figure ever recorded and an increase of 4% since 2017.
- 98% of abortions conducted were funded by public money.
- 1,267 abortions were obtained by girls in under the age of 16 while 34,380 were obtained by women aged over 35.
- 3,269 abortions recorded were due to the risk that the child would be born ‘seriously handicapped’ representing 2% of the total number of abortions.
- 618 unborn children with Down’s Syndrome were aborted.
- 15 unborn children with a cleft lip and cleft palette were aborted.
- 3,313 abortions took place between 20 to 23 weeks gestation while 289 abortions took place after 24 weeks gestation.
- 78,988 abortions were performed on women who had previously had an abortion. This equates to 39% of the total number.
- 1,886 abortions were obtained by women who have had 4 or more previous abortions. 61 women had obtained 8 or more abortions.
- 3,132 abortions were recorded for women resident in other European Countries. 2,879 of these women were resident in the Republic of Ireland.