Number of abortions in Wales reach all-time high

Number of abortions in Wales reach all-time high

The number of abortions in Wales has reached an all-time high, with 10,594 recorded in 2021, up from 9,834 in 2020.

The latest data for England and Wales revealed that there were 214,256 abortions for women in 2021, the highest number since the Abortion Act was introduced.

The reasons behind the increase are complex, but improved data collection is believed to be a contributing factor.

However, experts have warned that while access to abortions has improved, there has been a decline in women’s access to contraception as the NHS struggles to cope with pressures.

According to national statistics, abortion rates were highest among women aged 22.

The largest increase in abortion rates by age was among women aged 30 to 34 over the last decade.

Abortion rates have declined for those under the age of 18, accounting for 4% in Wales. 82% of abortions were for women whose marital status was given as single, while 49% were for women whose status was given as single with a partner.

Regarding ethnicity, 78% of women having abortions reported their ethnicity as White, 9% as Asian, 7% as Black, 5% as Mixed, and 1% as Other.

In Wales, women living in the most deprived areas are almost twice as likely to have abortions than women living in the least deprived areas.

The pandemic has led to the temporary introduction of allowing medical abortions at home.

Medical abortions at home are now routinely used for women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant, meaning that women no longer have to go to a hospital twice to take the pills.

This has been a game changer in terms of access and breaking down barriers to the service.

However, the NHS crisis is having an impact on women’s health. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) says it’s concerned about how this is affecting access to contraception.

Dr Helen Munro, Vice-President for Clinical Quality at the FSRH, explains that GPs and nurse practitioners need to have additional training to fit these devices, however, this training is often paid for by themselves and has to be done during their own time.

Practically, investing more money into primary care sexual health would save the NHS in the long run, as for every pound that is spent on contraception, the health system saves between £9 and £48 by preventing unplanned pregnancies.

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