Katherine O’Brien, Head of Policy Research at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, said:
"In 2017, abortion rates increased slightly, and births fell by 2.5% to the lowest number since 2006. Combined, this data suggests that women and their partners are making different fertility decisions in a climate of significant uncertainty and, for some families, acute financial hardship.
"There is evidence that the government’s changes to benefit entitlements are influencing women’s decisions. The charity Turn2Us has reported that pregnant women are seeking information about what their entitlements would be if they were to continue with the pregnancy and bpas sees women who are making a decision to end a pregnancy due to financial hardship. The two child benefit cap, which was introduced in April 2017 and can represent a loss of up to £2,780 annually per affected child, presents economically disadvantaged women with a choice between falling into deeper poverty or having an abortion that she may otherwise not want. This is simply cruel.
"No contraceptive is 100% effective, and due to closures of family planning clinics, women of all ages are struggling to access the method that they need. The government must ensure contraceptive services are properly funded to enable women to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while also creating policies which support those who wish to have their baby."
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Notes to Editors:
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.