Abortions have hit record levels due to growing demand among older women. File picture: Pexels
Abortions have hit record levels due to growing demand among older women.

There were 200608 pregnancy terminations in England and Wales last year - the first time the number has topped 200000 since abortion was legalised in 1967.

The 4% rise on the previous year comes despite a dramatic decline in the number of teenagers and women in their twenties seeking terminations.

Experts said the record high was a result of older women and mothers being more likely to have abortions.

The Department of Health figures showed nearly 40000 women aged between 30 and 34 had an abortion last year, a 45% rise since 2008. And more than a third of all abortions in England and Wales were performed on over-30s.

Clare Murphy, of abortion clinic operator British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “It is also possible that over the longer term, couples are making different decisions about family size and the number of children they can afford.”

The previous record level of abortion was in 2007 - when teenage pregnancy rates were high - with the number reaching 198 499 terminations. The new record means that around one in five pregnancies is now terminated.

Last year, 17.5 in every 1 000 women aged between 15 and 44 had an abortion, the figures show. But among the under-18s, the rate was 8.1 in 1,000 - half the number in 2008.

Among women over 35, the abortion rate is now 9.2 for every 1 000 women - meaning women approaching middle age are now more likely to undergo an abortion than teenagers. 

Daily Mail