Covid-19: UK abortions up 4.1% compared to same period last year

Covid-19: UK abortions up 4.1% compared to same period last year

The number of abortions carried out in England and Wales has increased by 4.1 per cent since the start of the 'coronavirus pandemic' when compared with the same period last year.

New figures have shown that between January and June this year there were 109,836 abortions carried out, compared with 105,540 over the first six months of 2019.

The first month of lockdown saw the sharpest rise in abortions, with 20,546 carried out when compared with 16,006 in April last year - an increase of more than 4,500.

The statistics, which were published by the Department of Health and Social Care on Thursday, showed that 86 per cent of terminations were carried out at less than ten weeks in the first six months of 2020. 

This compares with 81 per cent from January to June the previous year.

And almost 50 per cent of all abortions in the first half of this year were conducted before seven weeks gestation, up from around 40 per cent in 2019.

Medical abortions, where the woman is given two oral medications to end the pregnancy, accounted for 82 per cent of the total between January and June 2020.

This figure had jumped up by ten per cent when compared to the same period last year.

The number of medical abortions that were conducted before ten weeks gestation remained similar to the first six months of 2019, with the figure standing at 96 per cent this year.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, women were required to attend a clinic for the first phase of a medical abortion. 

But on March 30, the Government introduced temporary legislation to allow the first medicine to be administered at home and in the homes of medical practitioners. 

Between April and June of this year, there were 23,061 medical abortions where both medicines were taken at home, accounting for 43% of medical abortions over the period.

At-home medical abortion accounted for 33% of procedures between April and the end of May, increasing to 51% of medical terminations in June.

Prior to the temporary legislation, abortions in England could only be carried out in a hospital, by a specialist provider or by a licensed clinic and needed to be approved by two doctors to certify that it did not breach the terms of the Abortion Act 1967.