The number and rate of abortions in England and Wales have reached an all-time high.
Department of Health and Social Care figures have also revealed a sharp rise in unsupervised chemical abortions, where women can take abortion pills at home if the unborn child is less than ten weeks old.
‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced under temporary Covid regulations in March last year. Westminster, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments, have all recently consulted on permanently extending these emergency measures.
Government statistics – relating to residents – recorded 209,917 abortions in 2020, with 2,533 more babies being aborted than in the previous year. The rate, at 18.2 abortions per thousand women aged 15 to 44, is similarly at its highest level since records began.
Chemical abortion is now the most common method used, accounting for 85 per cent of abortions. It involves taking two tablets – mifepristone, which kills the developing baby, and misoprostol, which induces a miscarriage to expel it from the womb.
From April to December 2020, nearly half of all abortions were carried out by mothers taking two tablets at home after just a phone or video consultation with a doctor or nurse. Prior to March, such abortions were illegal.
Last year, 35 abortions were of babies with a cleft lip or palate, a treatable condition. Figures also show a 5.6 per cent increase in babies aborted with Down’s syndrome, with abortions for the condition rising from 656 in 2019, to 693 in 2020.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Communications Ciarán Kelly said: “These statistics are as appalling as they are heartbreaking. Each year they remind us how little this society has come to value the life of the unborn child.
“Every child is precious, every child lost to abortion is a tragedy.”