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Press release – Abortion numbers highest ever, latest statistics show


Abortion numbers highest ever, latest statistics show

11 June 2020 – Abortion statistics released by the Department for Health and Social Care this morning show the highest number of abortions ever recorded, with 209,519 abortions happening in England and Wales in 2019.

The figures show that: 

  • In England and Wales, there was a total of 209,519 abortions in 2019, an increase of 3.4% abortions from 2018 when there were 205,295 abortions.
    • 207,384 of these abortions were for residents of England and Wales, an increase of 6,776.
  • The statistics for 2019 also show a rise in repeat abortions from 78,988 in 2018 up to 83,624 in 2019.
    • This represents 4,626 more repeat abortions than in 2018.
    • This is a 5.9% increase from 2018 when there were 78,988.
  • 126 ‘selective termination’ procedures were performed, where a twin, triplet or more were aborted in the womb.
  • There were 3,183 disability-selective abortions in 2019
    • This represents a 53% increase compared to 2009 when there were 2,085.
    • 656 babies with Down’s syndrome were aborted in 2019.
  • There were 17 abortions where the baby had cleft lip or cleft palate.
    • A cross-party group of MPs have come together to bring forward the Abortion (Cleft lip, cleft palate and club foot protection) Bill which received a First Reading on 3 June 2020.
    • The Bill would change the law to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip, cleft palate and lip, and club foot are not grounds for abortion in the UK. This would mean that abortions could not occur when the primary diagnosed condition is cleft palate, cleft lip, cleft palate and lip, and club foot. 
    • Sadly, the figures for cleft lip and palate are likely to be higher, for example a 2013 review by Eurocat showed 157 babies were aborted with cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. However, the Department of Health & Social Care (DoHSC) recorded only 14 such abortions.
  • The Department of Health also reported that the number of abortions funded by the NHS performed by private abortion providers reached a record high of 153,601. This represents 74% of abortions, up from 72% in 2018. It also represents a 255% increase since 1999 when there 43,266 performed by private providers.
    • This increase in abortions comes as private abortion providers have been accused of persuading women to have abortions. A report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) accused Marie Stopes International of paying staff bonuses for encouraging women to undergo terminations.
    • More recently, it has been revealed the CQC rates over 60% of abortion clinics as “inadequate” or “requires improvement” on safety grounds. Despite this, it seems abortion clinics haven’t been inspected since the coronavirus lockdown began over three months ago.
    • Additionally, it has been revealed CQC inspectors found six cases of women who “required urgent medical attention due to complications and were transferred from the service to another healthcare provider between January and December 2018.” Five of these cases were reported as serious incidents requiring further investigation.

In response to cleft lip and palate abortion figures, spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“These statistics show that abortion are continuing to happen for correctable conditions such as cleft lip and palate. This shows the urgent need for a law change to clarify that cleft palate, cleft lip, cleft palate and lip, and club foot are not grounds for abortion in the UK

“People are shocked and horrified when they discover that abortion is permitted up to birth after the diagnosis of cleft lip, cleft palate, and clubfoot as the primary condition, believing it goes against the very fabric of what our country stands for today.  

“As a society, we should be empowering those with disabilities, and take great pride in the positive contribution they make to our country. To do this, we have a moral obligation to quash anything that perpetuates false and negative stereotypes towards those with a disability, and that is why we support the group of cross-party MPs who have brought forward this important Bill to help end disability-discrimination in the womb. 

“Our abortion legislation is badly in need of reform to end this unjust discrimination, and we hope this Bill is successful in helping end this disability-discrimination.”

In response to the general figures, spokesperson for Right to Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“It is a national tragedy that 209,519 lives were lost to abortion in 2019. This is the highest number of abortions ever in England and Wales. Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies. 

“Polling shows large majorities of women in the UK support changes to our abortion laws that would have a positive impact on lowering the number of abortions. 70% of women want the current time limit on abortion to be lowered and 91% of women want a ban on sex-selective abortion.

“Proposals from abortion campaigners to remove legal restrictions around abortion and introduce abortion right to birth would likely see these numbers get even worse.

“We are calling on the Government to urgently bring forward sensible new restrictions and increased support for women with unplanned pregnancies. This would ensure we were working together as a society to reduce the tragic number of abortions that happen each year.

“This increase in abortions comes as private abortion clinics have been accused by the Care Quality Commission of paying staff bonuses for persuading women to undergo abortions. 

“Vulnerable women should not be seen as a revenue opportunity but sadly we know this is not the reality as abortion itself is a multi-million-pound industry. Private abortion clinics have a vested monetary interest in increasing the numbers of abortions they perform every year.”