Fewer pregnant women over the age of 40 are choosing abortion
27th February 2013

pregnantPregnancy and abortion figures have been released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) that show interesting trends regarding which age groups are typically seeking to terminate their pregnancy, contraceptive rates and much more.

According to the ONS report published yesterday, abortion rates in women over 40 are starting to decline as it seems fewer women in this age group consider pregnancy as a ‘mistake’ and many want to start a family. On the other hand, abortion rates are increasing in younger women probably due to the fact this age group are typically seeking higher education and to get their careers moving along.

It is records of conceptions in 2011 in England and Wales that show a large majority of women who conceive over the age of 40 are not choosing to abort, with conception rates in the over 40s actually increasing 3.7% in a year – doubling in the past two decades.

However, statistics show that for among women aged 25 to 39, the abortion rate has gone up by nearly 4% between 2010 and 2011 and for those in their 30s and married it has been on the increase for two consecutive years.

Back in 1990 there were a total of 12,032 women over 40 years of age who fell pregnant. Eleven years later the figure stood at 28,747. In 2011 around a quarter of those women chose an abortion, a decade prior and the proportion was nearly 35%, whilst 20 years ago it was almost 42%.

The ONS report stated: “Reasons for an increased number of women aged 40 and over conceiving  include increased participation in higher education; delayed marriage and partnership formation; the desire to establish a career, get on the housing ladder and ensure financial stability before starting  a family.”, adding there was ‘a shift in aspirations of young women towards education’.

Women seem to embrace motherhood between the ages of 30 and 34 as merely 12.8% of pregnant women decided to go for abortions in 2011.  

Other figures show there appears to be more women under the age of 30 who now choose to delay getting married and many women decide they cannot afford to raise a child.  Approximately 27.7% of women in the age group 20 to 24 years ended their pregnancies in abortion.  Almost half of girls aged under 18 had an abortion, whereas around six out of ten pregnancies in girls aged under 16 end with an abortion.

In fact, according to the ONS report, pregnancy rates in girls under 18 dropped to its lowest level since 1969 when equivalent records were first started. The number of pregnancies in the under 18s has come down by 10% over a year, now totalling 31,000 across England and Wales – suggesting more use of contraception. In addition, pregnancies among the under 16s also decreased by 10% to under 6,000.

Reflecting on the figures, a spokeswoman for the abortion provider BPAS said: “Women take motherhood extremely seriously and are increasingly waiting until they feel emotionally and financially secure enough to have a child. Contraception is never 100 per cent effective and at BPAS we frequently see women in long-term relationships trying to avoid pregnancy in their more fertile twenties and early thirties, which can result in unplanned pregnancy.”