Record number of abortions recorded in England and Wales in 2020

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A record number of abortions took place in England and Wales in 2020, according to new statistics.

The figures, released June 10, showed that there were 210,860 abortions last year, the highest number since the Abortion Act 1967 was introduced.

A pro-life group said that the figure -- an increase of 1,341 from the previous peak in 2019 -- marked “a devastating surge” in abortions after the government allowed women in England to complete medical abortions at home in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Robinson of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) said: “This year’s figures show a devastating surge in abortion numbers. The statistics reveal a catastrophic loss of unborn life arising from the government’s dangerous policy on abortion.”

The statistics, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, indicated that 3,083 abortions took place in 2020 on grounds of disability.

The charity Right to Life UK said that 693 of these abortions were due to Down syndrome, an increase from 656 in 2019.

It added that there were also 35 abortions on the basis of cleft lip or cleft palate in 2020. Both conditions can be corrected by surgery.

The charity also said that 65 “selective termination” procedures took place, where doctors abort an unborn child carried by a mother expecting multiple babies.

Right to Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: “It is a national tragedy that 210,860 lives were lost to abortion in England and Wales last year. Every one of these abortions represents a failure of our society to protect the lives of babies in the womb and a failure to offer full support to women with unplanned pregnancies.”

“Last year we came together as a nation and made great sacrifices to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19. Sadly, at the very same time as protecting one group of vulnerable people, we as a society have also ended thousands of young vulnerable lives through abortion.”

The government has held a consultation over whether to make the new rules on at-home medical abortions permanent.

Bishop John Sherrington, lead bishop for life issues of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, called earlier this month for the temporary measure to be rescinded.

He said: “Last year, the Catholic Church responded to the Department of Health and Social Care’s open consultation on whether the temporary policy to permit ‘at-home’ abortions should become permanent.”

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