FSRH press statement: percentage of conceptions leading to a legal abortion hits the highest mark since 1990

Posted 4 March 2020

Date: 04 Mar 2020

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2018 annual figures on conception rates for women in England and Wales published today show that the percentage of conceptions leading to a legal abortion among women resident in England and Wales increased from 22.7% in 2017 to 24.0% in 2018, the highest percentage increase since records began in 1990.

In 2018, the proportion of conceptions leading to an abortion markedly increased in women over 25 years. The proportion of conceptions leading to an abortion in women aged 30-34 years increased from 15% to 16.2% compared to 2017. There was an increase from 28.7% to 30.3% in women over 40 years.

Dr Helen Munro, Vice President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

‘The figures released today by the ONS show that women are increasingly conceiving at a later age, and although for many this is a conscious decision, the figures do seem to reflect that for many this is not the case. The increase in percentage of conceptions leading to an abortion may indicate a growth in unplanned pregnancies, and, therefore, an unmet need for contraceptive care and services.

‘Women spend many years of their lives managing their fertility and trying to avoid unplanned pregnancies. We need a system that is easy to navigate and supports women to make the best choices for their sexual and reproductive health needs at any point of their lives, wherever they live. However, an under-funded and fragmented healthcare system means that many women are now finding it hard to access essential sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

‘Women’s sexual and reproductive health needs to be placed at the heart of a national health policy agenda. The forthcoming national Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy has the potential to address the cracks in the system. This is why we are calling on the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure the Strategy focuses on improving access to tackle the unmet healthcare need for women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare. We also call on the Department to commit to a sustainable, long-term funding solution for Public Health services.’


For further information please contact Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs Manager, at externalaffairsmanager@fsrh.org / 02037945309

Notes to editors:

  • Office for National Statistics Conceptions to Women in England and Wales 2018 data available 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.