Abortion is a part of family planning

Anti-choice campaigners have long argued that if women used contraception properly, unwanted pregnancies (and therefore abortions) would be avoided. But last week, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) released new data which challenge this argument. Of the 60,592 women that bpas advisers saw in 2016, over half were using at least one form of contraception when they fell pregnant.

In fact, a quarter of the women bpas advisers saw used some of the most effective contraceptives – such as the implant, patches or the pill, which have effectiveness rates in excess of 90 per cent. The argument that abortion is only for women who fail to play it safe is simply not supported by the facts.

The stigma around abortion is lessening, and it is increasingly being accepted as a safe option for women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Last month, the Department of Health released its abortion statistics for 2016. The number of abortions carried out under 10 weeks’ gestation rose to 81 per cent – a one per cent increase on 2015, and a 13 per cent increase on the past 11 years. More women are deciding to choose when they have children, and are using the safe medical services available to make that choice.

Contrary to the claims of anti-choice groups, abortion is not a service used mainly by careless women who don’t take family planning seriously. The number of women using contraceptives and using abortion services shows that an unwanted pregnancy can happen, even when women are careful. Without access to abortion, these women would be left with unwanted pregnancies, despite having already taken the necessary steps to prevent falling pregnant. Abortion is part of many women’s family planning choices. And we should trust women to make those choices for themselves.

Emily Dinsmore is a writer and student.

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