New government data show that nearly one-third of pregnancies among women aged 20 through 24 in England and Wales resulted in abortions in 2017. The finding comes from data published by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Studies (ONS), which found that 33.2% of pregnancies for women in their early-20s end in abortion. That number is up about .6 percentage points from 2016. Overall, 22.7% of conceptions in women of all ages in England and Wales resulted in an abortion, which represents an increase of about .9 percentage points from the year before and a 6.5% increase since 1997.
The data show a rise in the number of abortions for pregnant women in all age groups, except for girls ages 16 and under. But even having decreased from 2016, women 16 and under had by far the highest percentage of pregnancies leading to abortion at 60.7% in 2017. The largest year-over-year increase was among women 25 to 29 years old. The number of pregnancies in that age bracket that led to abortion increased to 20%. For women 40 and over, 28.7% of their pregnancies led to an abortion as well as 18.1% of pregnancies for women aged 35 to 39. For women between the ages of 30 to 34, 15% of their pregnancies ended in abortion.
“Compared with 20 years ago, the percentage of conceptions leading to a legal abortion has generally increased for women aged under 30 years, remained stable for women aged 30 to 34 years and decreased for women aged 35 years and over,” ONS notes. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, 197,533 abortions were performed in 2017. That is the highest level on record since 2008 and a 4% increase since 2016. The department also found that the abortion rate was highest for women aged 20 in 2017 at 29.1 per 1,000 women. The specific reasons as to why these abortions are being committed is not reported in the data.
However, it can be revealed that in 2017, 98% of abortions were carried out under Ground C (social reasons) and 3,314 unborn babies were aborted for possessing a possible disability (Ground E),” the Society for the Protection of Unborn Women noted in a statement. “Under current law, the doctor performing the abortion does not need to disclose or provide evidence to the parents as to what the possible foetal disability may be.” Along with the rise in abortions, the new data also show that there has been a “steady rise” over the last several decades in the percentage of conceptions happening outside marriage.
In 2017, 58.7% of all conceptions in England and Wales occurred outside of the confines of marriage or civil partnership. By comparison, 51.2% of pregnancies occurred outside of wedlock or civil partnership in 1998. “This trend is mirrored in the percentage of live births occurring outside marriage or civil partnership, which currently stands at 48.1%,” an ONS report explains. “The difference between the two figures is because less conceptions outside of marriage or civil partnership result in a maternity. In 2017, only 67.4% of conceptions outside marriage or civil partnership resulted in a maternity, compared with 91.4% of conceptions within.”
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