06 November 2019
DHSC has released data on abortion notifications in England and Wales for 2018, noting a substantial rise over the previous year.
Abortion rates for those under 18 have declined over the last ten years. For women aged 25-29 the rate of abortion per 1,000 women was 25.3 in 2018. This is an increase from 23.9 in 2008. The rates for women aged 30-34 have increased from 15.6 per 1,000 women in 2008 to 19.9 in 2018, and rates for women aged 35 and over have increased from 6.7 per 1,000 women in 2008 to 9.2 per 1,000 in 2018.
In 2018, 39% of women undergoing abortions had had one or more previous abortions.
With regards to women’s health, the green paper emphasises the important role of local authorities, acknowledging that there have been good examples of ‘creative and energetic’ commissioning. It maintains the important role of local authorities and steers them towards a more joined-up way of working with the NHS, as based on existing best practices from across the country. Here, ICSs are showcased as a good opportunity for improving integration and serving as a natural way forward for commissioning in sexual and reproductive health.
The reasons for the variation are unclear but may in part be due to the prioritisation of younger age groups for contraceptive campaigns. There is clear room for improvement for older age groups, who can also benefit specifically from LARC as part of their family planning.
The Government has committed to maintaining access to safe abortions and will be working with Public Health England (PHE) on enhanced access to contraception, which is likely to be part of the PHE reproductive health action plan, due to be published in Q1 2020.
For more information on the data, please see Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2018