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New abortion figures a tragedy

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Christian Concern and other pro-life groups have expressed dismay as new statistics were released today, demonstrating a rise in abortions in England and Wales.

The Department of Health statistics show that 185,824 abortions were carried out in England and Wales, a 0.7% increase from 2014. Whilst the percentage of abortions for women under 30 decreased slightly, it has risen for women over 30.

The breakdown of the statistics also revealed that there has been a rise in repeat abortions and abortions on the basis of disability.

Rise in both repeat and Down's syndrome abortions

Last year's abortion figures showed that almost 40% were carried out on women who had already had one or more abortions. For women aged 30-34 and over, this number rose to almost half. 50 women had had as many as 8 abortions in their lifetime.

Equally concerning is the 3.7% increase of babies aborted on the grounds of disability. Some were aborted for conditions such as spina bifida and even for a cleft palate.

Most notably, 689 babies were aborted on the grounds of a Down's syndrome diagnosis – a 4% rise from 2014. Sadly, around 9 in 10 women who are told their child will have Down's syndrome choose to abort.

The figures add to previously raised concerns about new pre-natal testing, known as NIPT, which is expected to lead to a further 92 babies a year aborted on the grounds of Down's syndrome.

The proposals to introduce NIPT have provoked an outcry from campaign groups such as Don't Screen Us Out, joined by Christian Concern and a number of other Christian and pro-life groups.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, commented: "It is tragic to see the value of life increasingly disregarded, as shown by this rise in abortion figures.

Increased concern over new RCM policy

The new figures come only days after it emerged that the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has surreptitiously backed a campaign, spearheaded by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, to completely decriminalise abortion.

A spokeswoman for LIFE charity, Clara Watson, said today in a press statement:

“S(1)(1)(d) of the Abortion Act allows for abortions up to birth if the baby has a disability. We've seen the outcry over the last few days about the Royal College of Midwives advocating abortion up to birth, we don't think people realise that a woman in the UK can have an abortion up until the day of delivery if her baby has even the slightest disability, such as a cleft lip.

Today's statistics show that the Abortion Act is not being implemented properly. If abortion were to be introduced up until birth in all cases, as mooted by the Royal College of Midwives and abortion provider BPAS, we fear that the national abortion numbers may increase even more drastically".

NI 'must continue to defend' pro-life laws

The findings also show that one woman died after complications surrounding her abortion.

In a press statement from Northern Irish group Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth commended Northern Ireland's continued protection of the unborn child, in light of the statistics from England and Wales.

"The reported 294 cases of 'complications' and the disturbing revelation that one woman lost her life after an abortion in England and Wales in 2015 substantiates Byron Calhoun's, John Thorp's and Patrick Carroll's findings in 2012 that maternal health in England and Wales, with its higher rates of all morbidities and mortality associated with legalised abortion, continues to lag behind maternal health in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," she said.

"Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, our pro-life laws protect both mother and child. The Northern Ireland Assembly must continue to defend and uphold our pro-life laws."

If you or somebody you know is facing a crisis pregnancy, pregnancy loss or have recently had an abortion, LIFE charity seeks to offer practical and emotional support. Find out more.

Related Links: 
Statistics and commentary on abortions carried out in England and Wales in 2015 (GOV UK) 
The Royal College of Midwives supports abortion up to birth 
Abortion rates 'fairly constant' (BBC)