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England, Wales hit record high in 2015 abortion rate

A picture taken on July 5, 2014 shows a priest attending an anti-abortion rally at Custom House Square in Belfast City center in Northern Ireland. (AFP)

Official figures in England and Wales show that the number of abortions carried out in 2015 was the highest in five years as the number of pregnancy terminations among women in their 30s and 40s is on the rise.

According to an annual statistics report released by the UK Department of Health on Tuesday, 185,824 abortions were carried out on women and girls in England and Wales last year, that was 1,253 (0.7%) more than the 184,571 performed in 2014, and the largest number since the 189,931 carried out in 2011.

“Since 2005 the rates for women aged 30 to 34 have gone up from 14.5 per 1,000 women in 2005 to 17.1 in 2015, and rates for women aged 35 or over have gone up from 6.8 per 1,000 women in 2005 to 7.8 in 2015,” the report said.

It also added that almost four in 10 terminations are now carried out on women that have undergone the procedure before.

The figures further indicate that 833 women traveled from Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where abortion is still illegal, to England or Wales to have a termination in 2015.

The report has been met with a backlash from the UK anti-abortion groups, which have voiced discontent over the issue.

Meanwhile, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service confirmed the report saying, “The last decade has seen a considerable rise in the proportion of women having terminations who are either in a relationship or married,” adding that, “Last year 70% of women ending a pregnancy were either married or had a partner – a big rise from 48% in 2005.”

Among teenage girls, 1,853 under the age of 16 had an abortion last year, including 509 who were under 15 and 79 who were under 14, it added.

English experts say a majority of abortions in the country are now carried out medically using a pill, and that has increased the numbers being carried out before 10 weeks.

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