Credit: Aziz Karimov /

Abortions in Britain hit all-time high of almost 210,000 in 2020

The number of abortions being carried out on women in England and Waled continues to increase, with 209,917 abortions performed in 2020 – the highest number on record, according to new figures from the Department of Health. 

Pro-life groups said that their warnings that making ‘at-home’ or ‘DIY’ abortions more easily available during the Covid lockdown would increase numbers had proven to be correct.

42% of women undergoing abortions in that year had one or more previous abortions. This proportion has increased steadily from 34% in 2010. In addition, the numbers show that the percentage of women aged 30 or over who had one or more previous abortions has increased from 44% in 2010 to 50% in 2020.

Women living in the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to have abortions than women living in the least deprived areas, the report stated. 81% of abortions in 2020 were for women whose marital status was given as single, a proportion that has remained roughly constant for the last 10 years. However, 51% of abortions were for women whose marital status was given as single with a partner. This proportion has remained similar in recent years.

Right to Life UK said that the information included in the report showed that:

  • 3,083 disability-selective abortions were performed in 2020.
  • The number of babies with Down’s syndrome who were aborted increased by almost 6% in the year.
  • Abortions where the baby has cleft lip or cleft palate more than doubled since 2019 – but they noted that this figure is likely to be underreported. “Sadly, the figures for cleft lip and palate are likely to be higher, for example a 2013 review by Eurocat showed 157 babies were aborted with cleft lip and palate in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. However, the Department of Health & Social Care (DoHSC) recorded only 14 such abortions,” they noted.
  • 65 babies were aborted because they were one of twins.

The vast majority (99.9%) of abortions were carried out under ground C – and were reported as being performed because of a risk to the woman’s mental health.

A small number of abortions were carried out on Irish women on grounds of disability. Contrary to claims that Irish women continue to travel to the UK for very serious conditions, most disability abortions on Irish residents were carried out because the baby had Down Syndrome. One baby was also aborted because of a cleft lip.

Right to Life UK said a number of significant problems have arisen since ‘DIY’ home abortions were introduced.

“According to a leaked “urgent email” sent by a regional chief midwife at NHS England and NHS Improvement on the “escalating risks” of ‘DIY’ home abortions, several women attended Emergency Departments for incidents uincluding significant pain and bleeding, ruptured ectopics, and resuscitation for major haemorrhage. The email leak also revealed police opened a murder investigation into the death of a baby who they believe was born alive despite her mother taking ‘DIY’ home abortion pills,” they said.

“A nationwide undercover investigation found evidence of abortion providers putting women at significant risk by not carrying out basic checks before sending them ‘DIY’ home abortion pills.”

Spokesperson for the group, Catherine Robinson said: “It is a national tragedy that 210,860 lives were lost to abortion in England and Wales last year”.

“Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies”.

“Last year we came together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19. Sadly, at the very same time as protecting one group of vulnerable people, we as a society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion”.

“This significant rise in abortions coincides with the temporary measures allowing ‘DIY’ home abortions in the UK. Since governments permitted ‘DIY’ home abortions, many stories of illegal late-term abortions and safety abuses have come to light”.

“We are calling on the UK and Welsh Governments to end these ‘DIY’ home abortion schemes immediately”.


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