In June of this year the abortion statistics for England, Scotland and Wales were released. This blogpost will summarise some of the key statistics for 2017.
England and Wales
The statistics below are taken from the official statistics published by the Department of Health in England. You can read them in full here.
• There were 194,688 abortions including non-residents in England and Wales, or 189,859 abortions for women resident in England and Wales. This is an increase of 2.3% since 2016.
• 16.5 per 1,000 resident women had an abortion.
• 98% of abortions (185,448) were performed under ground C. This ground allows for abortion before 24 weeks gestation on the grounds that ‘the continuation 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’.
• 3,158 abortions were carried out under ground E – due to the risk that the child would be born seriously handicapped. This represents 2% of the total number of abortions. 245 of these abortions took place beyond 24 weeks gestation.
• Of those women who had an abortion, 73,582 (39%) had one or more previous abortion(s). This is an increase of 7% since 2007. This included 1648 women who had 4 or more previous abortions.
• 1300 girls resident in England and Wales aged under the age of 16 had an abortion in 2017.
• On 29 June 2017, the Government announced that it would fund, via the Government Equalities Office (GEO), abortions for women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland. The Central Booking System went live on 8 March 2018. There has been an increase in the number of women from Northern Ireland having an abortion in England and Wales since the announcement. The volume in quarter 3 and quarter 4 of 2017 increased by 46% and 62% respectively from the same quarters in 2016.
The statistics below are taken from the official statistics published by the Information Services Division Scotland. You can find them in full here.
• The number of abortions in Scotland was 12,212, or 11.8 per 1,000 women, a five-year high. 12,196 of these abortions were with Scottish residents, with 16 for non-Scottish residents/unknown.
• 98.3% of abortions in Scotland (12,005) were conducted under ground C.
• 1.6% of abortions in Scotland (193) were granted under ground E– due to the risk the child would be born seriously handicapped.
• 106 girls under the age of 16 had abortions in 2017.
• 3869 women had one or more previous abortions. This equates to 31.7% of the total.
In reading these statistics, it can be easy to let them wash over you. We have become used to these figures each year as they come out. They have become normal, expected. It is worth bearing in mind what is being talked about here. Each number here refers to real human lives- both unborn lives lost and real women having abortions. It is hard to read them and not conclude something is going deeply wrong. The old slogan of some who supported widespread access to abortion was for it to be “safe, legal and rare.” It is patently obvious it isn’t rare.
It is important to say that there is nothing inevitable about the number of abortions which take place in Great Britain. These figures are the consequence of individual, societal and political choices. A different world is possible. The tide of history can flow in a different direction. We should not be fatalistic about what is happening but instead play our part in shaping a life-affirming world. It may take generations, even centuries to build.
Huge pressure is building on Northern Ireland to fall in to line with the culture of Great Britain. The Republic of Ireland has sadly chosen to go down a similar path. We at Both Lives Matter will give all we have to upholding a different path- a life-affirming, beautiful vision. We can choose not to go this way.