UK Abortions Hit Record High

NEWS ANALYSIS: Britain’s culture of death unveiled in latest government statistics.

(photo: Main photo, Pexels; chapel photo, courtesy of 40 Days for Life)

The latest revised abortion statistics released by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health show that in 2017 the numbers of U.K. abortions hit a 10-year high.

Needless to say, there is something tragic about the release of these latest abortion figures and their year-on-year ascent coming just before the Christian festival that marks the birth of the Savior and coinciding with the feast of the Holy Innocents. The figures make for depressing reading, as government statistics show that there were 197,533 abortions in 2017; that’s 2,845 more than was originally reported by the government earlier this year.

Abortion remains “big business” in the U.K. The Department of Health also reported that the number of abortions performed by private abortion providers, but funded by taxpayers through the state-run National Health Service, reached a record high of 134,768; that’s a 270% increase in the last 20 years. This figure represents 70% of all U.K. abortions, a rise from 68% in 2016.


Unnecessary Evil

Reacting to these latest figures, Britain’s foremost pro-life Parliamentarian, Lord David Alton, told the Register: “The private abortion industry has a vested financial and ideological interest in increasing the number of unborn lives they end. This alone should have ended the government's relationship with the private abortion industry. Instead, these revised statistics show that the government has given millions to these abortion providers to end the lives of a record number of babies in the womb.” 

Women seeking abortions were chiefly aged between 20 and 24 years old, but the figures show that in the past years the demand from this age group has been decreasing, while at the same time it has risen among women aged over 30 years old.

Fiorella Nash, British pro-life author of the recently published The Abolition of Woman (Ignatius Press), told the Register: “What is most alarming about these statistics is that it proves beyond doubt what pro-life campaigners have always warned: that abortion is not the ‘necessary evil’ it is sold as by the industry, an unfortunate last resort for teenage crisis pregnancies and so-called hard cases. The biggest increase in abortion we are seeing is among women in their 30s, mature women who are perfectly capable of dealing with a nine-month pregnancy and either supporting the child themselves or giving the baby the chance to be loved by adoptive parents.”


Murder, Inc.

The figures also show increases in abortions performed in the U.K.’s five largest abortion clinics, all operated by private abortion providers, again rising from 33,064 in 2016 to 34,697 in 2017.

The greatest number of abortions were performed at the Marie Stopes International (MSI) facility in Brixton, London (the U.K. counterpart to Planned Parenthood in the U.S.), where there were 7,841 abortions in 2017. Another MSI London abortion center in Ealing was the second busiest, with 7,558; this represented an increase from 6,484 in 2016. This abortion facility came to national prominence earlier this year. In April 2018, the London Borough of Ealing became the first U.K. local council to enforce what is termed a “Public Spaces Protection Order” (PSPO) for the area around the Ealing abortion facility. The stated purpose of this sanction was “to protect women from distress and intimidation” on their way into the abortion center. 

Clare McCullough, director of the pro-life charity Good Counsel Network, which is directly involved in challenging the PSPO, told the Register: “We regret that the Ealing ‘buffer zone’ means that we are only able to help one-eighth of the women we used to be able to reach there.” McCullough added: “People who think this is progress don’t understand that some women are not freely choosing abortion. So this [PSPO] means even more women will end up being coerced into abortions.”

This so-called “buffer zone” is a local ordinance and not only prohibits peaceful protest outside the facility but also any prayer near it. There is an irony to this. The Ealing abortion center has a curious feature. Attached to its wall, unmistakable, is a plaque to St. Michael the Archangel. Its presence tells of a different period in the history of the building in question: It was once an Anglo-Catholic convent. For years, a group of devout Christian women prayed in its chapel, in what was a place of healing for troubled souls; later, it was to become a maternity home. In short, the building’s past use was the very antithesis of what is now taking place there.

Another abortion facility at Richmond, London, performed 5,877 abortions in 2017. That facility also has a curious past. At one time, its building was a convent run by a Catholic order of nuns, the Daughters of the Immaculate. In the 1960s, students from nearby St. Mary’s College at Strawberry Hill would come to this building to lodge under the care of the nuns while they studied to be teachers. Within this Catholic hostel, there was, of course, a chapel where Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration took place. Today, a darker, evil sacrifice takes place.


Richmond, London: Former chapel now an abortion facility


Life for Sale

Worryingly, this increase in U.K. abortions comes as private abortion providers have been accused of persuading women to have abortions. A report from the U.K. government’s Care Quality Commission published last year accused Marie Stopes International of paying staff bonuses for encouraging women to undergo “terminations.” 

At all 70 MSI facilities, government inspectors found evidence of a policy that saw staff use high-pressure sales tactics; for example, calling women who had decided against having an abortion to offer them new appointments. The report also stated that those who might persuade an unsure pregnant woman to think again about having an abortion — for example, parents, boyfriends or friends — were “seen as an inconvenience” by MSI staff and that “their presence was strongly discouraged.”

Reacting to the latest abortion figures, Clare McCarthy, representative for Right to Life UK, said: “This increase in abortions comes as these private abortion clinics have been accused by the Care Quality Commission of paying staff bonuses for persuading women to undergo abortions, a policy in place at all 70 Marie Stopes clinics across the U.K.” McCarthy added that vulnerable women should not be seen as a “revenue opportunity,” even if the reality is that abortion in the U.K. is a multimillion-dollar industry.


Bad Business

A 2017 U.K. government report found evidence of nearly 400 botched abortions at MSI facilities nationwide over a two-month period. In March 2017, an undercover reporter for the Daily Mail found doctors at MSI facilities approving thousands of abortions without meeting women and with some consultation discussions lasting just 22 seconds.

Speaking to the Register, Robert Colquhoun, international director for 40 Days for Life, said: “[With] nearly 400 botched abortions carried out in two months at Marie Stopes centers, and 2,600 serious incidents reported in 2015, rather than trying to make abortion easier, the government should be looking at ways to help reduce the high numbers of abortions.”

The abortion statistics for 2017 also show a rise in repeat abortions, from 73,582 in 2016 up to 74,204 in 2017. In 2017, 38% of all U.K. abortions were repeat abortions.

Another equally worrying trend is what is known as “selective termination.” This is where one or more twins are aborted in the womb. In 2017, 111 twins or triplets were aborted in this way. The revised figures also revealed that the number of abortions for unborn children with Down syndrome have increased by 50% over the last 10 years. Nash, commenting on this aspect of the latest figures, told the Register: “More disturbing still is this steady increase in eugenic abortion. We feel so pleased with ourselves as a society for providing accessibility ramps for wheelchair-users whilst doing everything possible to deny disabled babies the right to life. History will judge us very harshly for our hypocrisy.”


Christmas Dissonance

At a time of year, even in secular Britain, when pictures of the Madonna and Child can be found everywhere, recent figures show that the average Sunday attendance at Anglican services is at approximately 760,000. At Christmas the figures recorded for those attending an Anglican church service surge to 2.6 million. Christmas is hailed as the only festival most people in Britain, regardless of religious affiliation or none, celebrate in one form or another.

Recently in England there were complaints from some when graphic abortion images were delivered to homes with the message that one could not celebrate Christmas and support abortion. Whether such tactics change hearts and minds is open to debate; however, they reveal something of the hypocrisy at the heart of a society that “loves” Christmas but callously disregards or simply ignores the thousands of pregnant mothers and their unborn children who become victims of abortion in today’s Britain.

Lord Alton told the Register that the current U.K. government’s priorities had to change: “It’s time for the government to end its relationship with the abortion industry and divert the millions it is giving to these big private abortion providers to providing real practical and emotional support to women facing an unplanned pregnancy.”

Register correspodent K.V. Turley writes from London.

Aaron Baer, President of Center for Christan Virtue, listens to speakers at a pro-life canvasing meeting at Columbus Christian Center in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 4.

Pro-Life Political Setbacks and a Look at Christians in the Middle East (Nov. 11)

The pro-life movement experienced a few setbacks this week in three states’ elections, including in Ohio, where voters decisively approved a ballot referendum that expands abortion access and adds a new right to abortion to the state constitution. We talk to EWTN’s Prudence Robertson about Nov. 7 election results, the latest GOP debate and the formidable challenges the pro-life movement faces ahead. Then we turn to a very different kind of crisis — the one faced by Christians in the Middle East. We talk to Lebanese journalist Elias Turk from EWTN News’ Arabic language news agency ACI Mena about the impact of the Israel-Hamas war on the Christian community in the region.

In Advent, we await the coming of Jesus at Christmastime.

What Is Advent Anyway?

EXPLAINER: Advent is a season in the Church’s life intended to renew the experience of waiting and longing for the Messiah.