Abortions hit a 10-year high in England and Wales in 2017 as more older women chose to abort their unborn babies, new government statistics indicate.
The UK Department for Health and Social Care released its annual abortion report Tuesday, showing that 197,533 abortions were performed in 2017, a 4-percent increase from 2016, The Daily Mail reports.
The number represents the most abortions since 2008 when the number of abortions reached more than 200,000, according to the report.
The abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age) was 16 in 2017, down from 17.9 in 2011.
The good news is that fewer young women are having abortions, but the bad news is that older women are having more. While women in their early 20s still are the age group most likely to abort an unborn baby, the abortion rate among women over 30 increased significantly.
Here’s more from the report:
Over the last 10 years abortion rates have been increasing for women aged 30 and over – 30 to 34-year-olds had 18.5 abortions per 1,000.
This has increased from 15.1 per thousand in 2007, and is almost twice as high as the 8.3 for under-18s.
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Abortions for girls under the age of 18 are now half as common as they were in 2007, when there were 19.8 per 1,000 girls.
Katherine O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, an abortion chain, blamed the increase on financial difficulties exacerbated by a new government policy that prohibits parents from collecting child tax credits for more than two children.
“Bpas sees women who are making a decision to end a pregnancy due to financial hardship,” O’Brien said. “The two child benefit cap presents economically disadvantaged women with a choice between falling into deeper poverty or having an abortion that she may otherwise not want. This is simply cruel.”
Pro-life advocates also have voiced strong concerns that the policy could encourage more abortions. In February, three British families challenged the policy in a lawsuit. Previously, there was no limit on the number of children who could be claimed for tax credits. The two-child policy went into effect April 6, 2017 and applies to subsequent children born after that date.
The statistics released Tuesday indicate that almost all of the abortions (98 percent) were taxpayer-funded. In addition, more than 3,300 unborn babies with disabilities were aborted, possibly after they already were viable outside the womb.
England allows abortions for any reason up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, a woman may abort her unborn baby for medical reasons, including because the unborn baby has a disability like Down syndrome.