Why Are Women Over 40 Having More Abortions Than Ever Before?

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Aug 13, 2014   |   5:52PM   |   London, England

According to the Office of National Statistics, the abortion rate among women over 35 is at an all time high in the U.K.

The Daily News reports: “In 2013, the abortion rate among over-35s reached its highest level, while the rate among teenagers reached a record low. Mothers, not under-18s, now make up the biggest proportion of those having abortions – 53 percent already have children, up 13 percent over the past decade.”

pregnantwoman36Abigail Fitzgibbon, the public policy manager for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said that the spike in the abortion rate among older women could be for a number of reasons. Contributing factors could be: fewer men are having vasectomies, older woman are less likely to use contraceptives, societal pressure to be financially secure before having children, and older women often assume that its more difficult to become pregnant than when they were younger.

However, some older women are forced by their partners or husbands to have an abortion because of money, or because they believe they are too old to raise another child.

The Daily News shares Hannah’s story, who was 40 years old when she became pregnant:

When I saw the blue line on the pregnancy test I was shocked but also a bit thrilled,’ says Hannah. Her husband didn’t feel the same. ‘“Horrified” is the only word for his reaction. He was adamant that we weren’t going to have another baby. He wasn’t “going back to that”; we “didn’t have the money”, we were “too old”. I was taken a back by the force of his feelings – it was as though it was the worst thing that could happen to us. Our other pregnancies had been unplanned but we’d embraced them. This time his reaction was completely different.

Against her wishes, Hannah had an abortion. ‘Yes, it was my body, but that didn’t mean I felt able to make the choice,’ she says. ‘We’d been married for 18 years – we’d had ups and downs – but we’re a family and if I went ahead with the pregnancy I’d be doing it on my own, without his support or his love. Maybe he’d have come round when he saw the baby and been a great dad again, but I couldn’t take the risk. My fear was that ultimately our marriage would break down under the strain.’

‘I was taken aback by the force of his feelings – it was as though pregnancy was the worst thing that could happen to us’

Five years on, Hannah remains raw. ‘I’m angry with him and myself,’ she says. ‘I feel guilty for starting a life, then ending it. Before, my husband had been my rock – he’d support us through anything. Now he has forced me to do something terrible and traumatic for no reason other than to make his life easier. It’s shameful. We don’t talk about it – it’s unmentionable, too explosive, we don’t dare go there. But it’s in my head every day. I realize that although I had the abortion to save our marriage, it could equally be the thing that destroys it.’