The number of abortions in England and Wales has risen by eight per cent over the past decade, according to sobering new statistics.
The figures from the Department of Health also reveal that the number of babies aborted because of a disability had leapt by nearly ten per cent in just one year.
Last year 189,574 abortions were carried out on women residing in England and Wales. In 2000 175,542 terminations were recorded – more than 14,000 less.
Over 40 per cent of last year’s abortions involved women taking abortion-inducing drugs early in their pregnancy, a sharp rise from 12 per cent in 2000.
The figures also reveal that over 16,000 abortions were performed on girls under the age of 18.
Michaela Aston, from the campaign group LIFE, said: “We are concerned that women are being rushed into abortion, as more and more women are having abortions earlier in pregnancy.
“It is vital that women are given time to think through their options, especially since data from other countries suggests that the introduction of ‘cooling off’ periods before abortion can play an important role in reducing abortion rates, as women and their partners or families have more time to look at all their choices.”
Ann Furedi of BPAS, formerly the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “Abortion is not a problem in itself. For many women abortion is a back-up to their contraception.
“It is a rational and ethical solution to the problem of a pregnancy that they cannot continue with.”
A spokesman for the Deaprtment of Health insisted that abortions should never be “seen as a form of contraception”.
Earlier this year BPAS, formerly the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, lost a controversial battle in the High Court which would have allowed women to have abortions at home.