FSRH press statement: release of DHSC’s Abortion Statistics, England and Wales, 2017

Posted 11 June 2018

Date: 11 Jun 2018

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

Statistics published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last week show that abortion rates have increased by 2.3% since 2016, reaching levels last seen in 2011.

Although we recognise abortion care as a necessary and vital part of reproductive health, we are concerned that the increase in abortion rates may indicate unmet need for contraception. Our members report both reduced access to contraception in General Practice and cuts to sexual health services. Of particular concern is for those aged 30 and over; with abortions among the 30-34 age groups having increased from 15.1 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 18.2 in 2017, while rates for women aged 35 and over have increased from 6.9 per 1,000 women in 2007 to 8.5 per 1,000 women in 2017. We welcome services aimed at younger women which are crucial but not at the expense of services for those over 25.

With these statistics in mind, FSRH underlines that access to contraceptive provision and information must be regarded as an essential feature of abortion care for all age groups, and not just “young women”. Of equal importance is that women are able to access safe and legal abortion care as soon as possible, should they require it.

 Dr Asha Kasliwal, FSRH President said:

“The figures released today are concerning for a number of reasons. Not only is there an indication of a likely unmet need for contraception, but women particularly of ‘older’ ages continue to be disproportionately affected.

As FSRH has previously evidenced, continued cuts to public health funding substantially undermine women’s rights to contraception, timely abortion care, and information. Recently, the BBC reported how of the 151 councils that responded to a BBC Freedom of Information request, 72 planned to cut sexual-health funding in 2018-19 compared with 2017-18.

Moreover, FSRH is concerned about the increased percentage of abortions carried out at later gestation, which we know holds some small but not insignificant increased risk compared to earlier abortion. We therefore maintain our request for health and social care leaders to ensure accessible abortion care and accurate information for women of all ages and backgrounds, with well-structured and integrated healthcare pathways around contraception.”


Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, 27 Sussex Place, London NW1 4RG. Charity No. 1019969.

Notes to editors:

  • 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.
  • Department of Health Report on abortion statistics in England and Wales for 2017 available here.

For further information please contact:
Harry Walker
Head of External Affairs & Standards
Email: externalaffairshead@fsrh.org
Telephone: 020 3751 8077