FSRH Statement on Release of the DHSC’s Abortion Statistics, England and Wales, 2019
Date: 12 Jun 2020
Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements
New data released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) show that there were 207,384 abortions for women in England and Wales in 2019, an increase of 3,5% on last year’s figures and the highest number since the 1967 Abortion Act was introduced.
The decline in abortion rates for under-18s has stalled at 8.1 per 1,000, the same figure as recorded for 2018. Abortion remains highest in the 20 – 25 year age bracket.
It is notable that the number of older women having abortions continues to rise, with 9.7 abortions per 1,000 for women over 35 compared to 9.2 in 2018. Abortion rates amongst women aged 30-34 have risen steadily over the past decade, from 15.7 per 1000 in 2009 to 20.9 per 1000 in 2019.
Meanwhile, reproductive health inequalities persist, with those from more deprived backgrounds seemingly less able to access contraception. The abortion rate in the most deprived decile is 26.1 per 1000 women, more than double the rate in the least deprived decile of 12.0 per 1000 women.
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:
“We welcome the annual figures released by DHSC which indicate that a number of women were able to access the care they needed in 2019. However, what stands out in the latest abortion statistics are the increasing rates of abortions among women over 35.
“It is notable that the rise in abortion rates signals an unmet need for contraception across all age groups. Our members continue to report reduced access to contraception in primary care and community settings, citing fragmented commissioning systems, reduced funding and a lack of available training as key causes.
“We strongly believe that every woman should have a choice about whether or not she continues with a pregnancy. Whilst contraceptive services aimed at young people are crucial, these figures highlight the need for women over the age of 30 to have equal focus in terms of contraceptive provision.
“In these uncertain times for many women, it is more vital than ever that all women should be able to make the best choices for their sexual and reproductive health. We continue to advocate for safe, legal access to abortion care for all women irrespective of their age or background. Access to contraception and abortion is a cornerstone of women’s health, and we remain committed to working with our members and decision makers to ensure all women and girls can access care in a way that is safe, effective and free from stigma.”
For further information please contact Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org / 07379408587
Notes to editors:
- The DHSC and ONS Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2019 can be found here
- The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.