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MSI Reproductive Choices UK comment on 2021 ONS Abortion Statistics for England and Wales

Abortion  •  21 June 2022  • 3 min read

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Media statement

London, 21st June 2022 

If you are covering today’s new Abortion Statistics for England and Wales, please find the following statement and summary from leading abortion provider MSI Reproductive Choices UK.

New abortion statistics for England and Wales released today from the Department of Health and Social Care show that:

  • 214,256 abortions were reported in England and Wales in 2021, the highest since the Abortion Act was introduced. This compares with 210,860 over the same period in 2020.  
  • In 2021, 89% of abortions were carried out under 10 weeks. This compares with 88% in 2020 and 78% in 2011. 
  • The abortion rate for women aged under 18 has continued to decrease. The rate has remained stable for women aged 35 and over. The largest increase in abortion rates by age are among women aged 30-34.  
  • In 2021, 57% of women seeking an abortion were already mothers, compared with 51% in 2011.  
  • Women living in the most deprived areas of England are more than twice as likely to have abortions than women living in the least deprived areas.  
  • Early medical abortion at home is the most common procedure, with 52% of all women having abortions in 2021 taking both tablets at home. The percentage of medical abortion overall, accounted for 87% of abortions.  
  • Despite abortion being decriminalised in Northern Ireland in 2019, some 161 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England and Wales for abortions in 2021. This compares to 371 in 2020 and 1,014 in 2019.

Dr Jonathan Lord, MSI Reproductive Choices’ UK Medical Director said:

“Despite the record numbers needing an abortion in 2021, it is reassuring that women continue to access care earlier in their pregnancy. This is even more remarkable as in most NHS services access was significantly restricted by the pandemic, demonstrating how well abortion services have adapted using innovations such as telemedicine.    

“We know how successful and highly rated our telemedicine abortion-at-home care has been. It’s therefore a little concerning that the figures suggest up to 75,000 women, 40% of those having a medical abortion, might not have been offered the option of taking both sets of tablets at home. While there may be valid reasons for this in some cases, it suggests many people are not being offered the best, evidence-based care.    

“The data shows abortion is an essential choice, and with continuing problems accessing contraception coupled with the cost of living crisis, we would not be surprised to see greater demand over the coming months.”

Northern Ireland 

“Although we are proud to support those travelling from Northern Ireland, it simply is not right that the journey is needed at all. Abortion care should be fully available in Northern Ireland, including the option of telemedicine, and we join those calling on the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to commission services as soon as possible.” 

The full statistics are online here: Abortion statistics, England and Wales: 2021

For further information, please contact:

Email: press@mischoices.org

Telephone: +44 (0) 7769 166 516


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