The number of abortions in England and Wales has hit an 11-year low, continuing a downward trend that has been going since 2007. There has, however, been a rise in the number of women who have had more than one termination, with nearly two-fifths of abortions being repeat cases.
Figures released by the Department for Health show that there were 184,571 abortions in England and Wales in 2014, the lowest number for 11 years. The figure continues a trend in declining numbers since 2007, when a record 198,499 terminations were recorded.
The last time the figure was lower was in 2003, when 181,582 legal abortions were performed.
Despite the general decline, nearly two out of every five abortions performed in England and Wales last year were to women who had already had at least one previous termination.
In total, 37 per cent of women who had an abortion in 2014 were repeat cases, a figure that has risen five per cent over the past decade.
Of girls aged under 25, 27 per cent who had an abortion had already had at least one other.
However, the figures do show a decline in the number of under-age girls having terminations. A total of 2,399 girls aged 15 or under had an abortion in 2014, down from 3,967 in 2013. Of these, 698 were aged 14 or younger and of those 100 were no older than 13. Fifty-seven of these terminations were repeat cases.
Despite the total decline in the number of abortions, certain types of terminations are increasing in popularity which will cause concern for pro-life campaigners.
Advances in fertility treatment have also led to a rise in the number of “selective terminations”, which usually occur in IVF treatment where multiple embryos implant in the womb. In such cases, the mother may choose to abortion one, but not all, of the fetuses.
2014 saw 132 of these terminations, a record number, with 80 cases involving reducing the number of fetuses from two to one, 35 cases reducing the number from three to two, and 14 cases reducing the number from three to one.
The Daily Mail also reported at the weekend that the number of women choosing to abort their babies due to disabilities had shot up by 34 per cent in just three years. The rise was blamed on new blood tests that make it much easier to detect conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.
Jane Fisher from the group Antenatal Results and Choices, said: “Non-invasive prenatal testing has undoubtedly made a difference to the abortion figures.
“Women tell us every day they are accessing the new blood tests privately, and this is likely to have led to a higher detection of chromosomal abnormalities and contributed to the rise in the number of terminations for these indications.”