Department of Health Releases Abortion Figures for 2015

Author: talkhealth

Date: May 2016

The Department of Health has released the latest abortion statistics for England and Wales during 2015. The report is based on all abortion notification forms filled in by doctors and returned to the Chief Medical Officers of England and Wales (as they are required to do by law) throughout 2015.

The report found that the total number of abortions has remained ‘fairly constant’ – a total of 185,824 is 0.7% higher than the total for 2014, but still 0.3% less than 2005. The most common age at which women had abortions in the last year was 21, with an abortion rate in this age category of 28.7 per 1,000 (meaning that 2.8% of women aged 21 in 2015 had an abortion). The abortion rates for younger groups, meanwhile, declined: between 2014 and 2015, the abortion rate for under 16s decreased from 2.5 to 2.0, while that of under 18s decreased from 11.1 to 9.9.

The report also noted a continuing trend towards ‘medical’ abortions (which are done with drugs sometimes known as the ‘abortion pill’), which accounted for 55% of all abortions last year, compared with 51% in 2014 and 24% back in 2005. Data was also collected on the numbers of repeat abortions (those carried out for women who have had more than one abortion, which made up for 38% of all abortions last year), so-called Ground E abortions (those carried out on the grounds that there is a significant risk of the child being born ‘seriously handicapped’, which accounted for around 2% of the total), and more.

Charities such as the UK-based Right to Life, meanwhile, argue that the statistics reveal the ‘injustice and brokenness of Britain’s abortion system’, since they show not only an increase in the total number of abortions, but also an increase in repeat and long-term abortions, as well as abortions for disability. They also argue that a trend present in countries like Canada and Australia is leading to decreased scrutiny of abortion statistics, which is in turn causing a rise in the numbers of ‘selective’ abortions, based on gender, disability and other factors.

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Source: Department of Health Report on abortion statistics in England and Wales for 2015, dated 17 May 2016; Press release from Right to Life dated 17 May 2016.

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Last revised: 18 May 2016

Next review: 18 May 2019

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