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BPAS comment on ONS conception rates

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04 April 2023

ONS data shows conception rate is at lowest level in 10 years

  • ONS data shows that in 2021, the overall numbers of conceptions increased, but the rate of conceptions per 1,000 women of reproductive age is at its lowest level in 10 years.
  • There were 616,300 births in 2020. This rose to 627,400 births in 2021, but this figure is still significantly below the number of births 10 years ago – in 2011, the number of births was 727,700. The number of births in 2021 was also well below the number of births in 2019, pre-pandemic, which was 642,900.
  • In 2021, 26.5% of conceptions lead to abortion, more than one in four, whereas just ten years ago in 2011 it was 20.8, one in five.
  • “The 2021 figures show a slight baby-bounce from the previous year after lock-down restrictions were gradually eased, but the trend continues towards fewer births in this country, and a greater proportion of conceptions ending in abortion.”


Commenting on the figures, Katherine O’Brien, spokesperson for BPAS, said:

“The increase in the number of births in 2021 most likely reflects the impact of the easing of lockdowns. We know that financial precarity and uncertainty are barriers for individuals and couples who want to have a baby, therefore it makes sense that when life returned to normal, family plans that had been put on hold were once again resumed.

“While we have seen a slight baby-bounce in 2021, trend continues towards fewer births in this country, and a greater proportion of conceptions ending in abortion.

“The proportion of conceptions leading to abortion are at a record high. The pandemic, and the policies adopted by the government in response, had a clear impact on women’s pregnancy choices. Faced with economic challenges and job insecurity, women and their partners had to make sometimes tough decisions around continuing or ending a pregnancy. Unfortunately, financial struggles and a lack of government support, including the two-child limit on financial assistance, continue to force women to choose between ending an otherwise wanted pregnancy or plunging their families in to great hardship.  While there is no right number of abortions, we know that there is much more the government can do to ensure that women are able to make the decisions that are right for them when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.”



For further information, please contact Katherine O’Brien, BPAS Associate Director of Campaigns and Communications, on katherine.o’brien@bpas.org or 07881 265276.

About BPAS

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, is a charity that sees over 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception at clinics across Great Britain.

BPAS exists to further women’s reproductive choices. We believe all women should have the right to make their own decisions in and around pregnancy, from the contraception they use to avoid pregnancy right the way through to how they decide to feed their newborn baby, with access to evidence-based information to underpin their choices and high-quality services and support to exercise them. 

BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, CRRC. Through rigorous multidisciplinary research and impactful communication, the CRRC aims to inform policy, practice, and public discourse. You can find out more here.