New polling shows majority of the public now oppose the government’s two-child limit policy
- Polling released today by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, shows more than two-thirds of adults in the UK believe the government should scrap or suspend the two child-limit – including the majority of Conservative supporters.
- Over a third (36%) of adults polled believe the policy should be scrapped altogether and just under a third (32%) said it should be scrapped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The two-child limit, which was introduced in 2017, severely restricts financial support for low-income families with three or more children. This additional support is worth nearly £2,900 per child, per year.
- Research published by BPAS in December 2021 found that the two-child limit was a significant factor in some women’s decisions to end a pregnancy during the pandemic.
- Ahead of the four-year anniversary of the introduction of the two-child limit, BPAS is calling on the government to scrap the “harmful and cruel” policy as a matter of urgency.
Polling released today by the charity the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, BPAS, shows that the majority of the UK public believe that the 2-child limit should be suspended during the pandemic or scrapped entirely.
The two-child limit severely restricts the amount of financial support for low-income families with three or more children by removing welfare support for third or subsequent born children. This additional support is worth nearly £2,900 per child, per year.
Research published by BPAS in December 2020 found that the two-child limit was a significant factor in some women’s decisions to end a pregnancy. BPAS undertook research with 240 women who had ended a pregnancy during the pandemic and who already had two or more children. Among those women who were aware of and likely to be affected by the two-child child limit, more than half (57%) said it was a factor in their decision to have an abortion. Women told BPAS that financial pressures, sudden loss of employment, and economic uncertainty, combined with the two-child limit policy, left them feeling “forced” to end wanted pregnancies.
New polling commissioned by BPAS and conducted by Censuswide shows that, when made aware of this research, 69% of adults think the government should scrap the two-child limit or suspend it during the pandemic – including a majority of Conservative voters.
The poll of more than 2000 UK adults found:
- Over 3 in 5 (61%) UK adults agree that the two-child limit should be suspended during COVID-19 so that all children are supported through the pandemic.
- Over 3 in 5 (61%) agree no woman should feel forced into an abortion because of the two-child limit policy.
- Given that research has shown that a significant proportion of women were impacted by the two-child limit in their decision to get an abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic, 69% think the government should scrap the two child-limit.
- Over a third (36%) think it should be scrapped altogether and just under a third (32%) think it should be scrapped during COVID-19.
- Among Conservative voters, 25% said they believe the policy should be scrapped altogether, and 29% support suspending the policy during the pandemic.
Katherine O’Brien, Associate Director of Communications and Campaigns at BPAS, said:
“At BPAS, we have always opposed the two-child limit because it is rooted in the incorrect belief that unplanned pregnancies can be avoided. No method of contraception is 100% reliable, and indeed the majority of women presenting at BPAS for abortion care were using a method of contraception when they fell pregnant. During the pandemic, it has become very difficult for women to access contraception and in particular long-acting methods with a higher efficacy, such as the coil or contraceptive implant, which require face-to-face consultations and for a fitting performed by a healthcare professional.
The pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances in which previous justifications for the two-child limit cannot be said to still stand – and the public agree. We recognise that, now more than ever, even the most carefully planned families can find themselves plunged into financial difficulties due to sudden unemployment, and that women can struggle to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancy. As we approach the four-year anniversary of the introduction of this policy, during an unprecedented and unforeseeable financial crisis, we urge the government to scrap the two-child limit as a matter of urgency.”
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BPAS commissioned Censuswide to poll 2013 UK residents aged 16-100 between 19th February 2021 - 22nd February 2021. Full poll findings are available from BPAS.
Between 12th October and 9th November 2020, BPAS collected 240 survey responses from women with two or more existing children who had ended a pregnancy since March 2020. Women were invited to take part in the survey via email from BPAS.
BPAS is a charity which sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. 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.
BPAS intends to launch a not-for-profit fertility service in Spring 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.