Clare Murphy, Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, said:
"This data reflects ongoing trends towards later motherhood and smaller family sizes.
As women are choosing to start and complete their families later in life, they spend a greater proportion of their most fertile years trying to avoid pregnancy. This is seen in the decline in conception rates among all age groups under 40. Since 2013, the total fertility rate has fallen steadily to 1.65 children per woman in 2019, a 2.9% decrease from 2018. There are a variety of reasons why women are choosing to delay motherhood and have smaller families – these include financial instability, desire to progress at work, and the ever-increasing cost of raising a child. It may well be that the COVID-19 pandemic will further accelerate these trends.
Women try hard to avoid unplanned pregnancy and no method of contraception is 100% effective, nor suited to all women. All methods can have unwanted side-effects. Abortion is an important back-up so women can make the decisions that are right for them and their families, and we need to ensure access is as straightforward as possible."
The full report, Conceptions in England and Wales: 2019, is available on the ONS website here.
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BPAS is a charity which 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. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/
BPAS will be launching a not-for-profit fertility service in 2021 to provide ethical, evidence-based, person-centred care that supports patients. We intend to only charge what it costs to provide a safe, high-quality, and accessible service to patients who may be unable to access NHS-funded care.