Official figures released by the Department of Health show that medical abortion – a non-surgical method, where women take pills to end the pregnancy – accounted for more than half (51%) of all terminations in England and Wales for the first year ever. In total 184,571 abortions were performed in 2014 across England and Wales, a slight fall on the previous year.

Genevieve Edwards, Director of Policy, Marie Stopes UK said:

“Looking at these statistics, it is heartening that not only is the total number of abortions in England and Wales gradually declining, but eight out of 10 are performed at under 10 weeks compared to just six out of 10 a decade ago.

“It is encouraging that women are increasingly able to get rapid access to abortion, with access to medical abortion playing an important role. However if we want to see a significant drop in numbers we must ensure all women can also access the full range of contraception, especially the longer acting, more reliable methodsi.

“While the pill and condoms are in ready supply at most GP surgeries if you want anything else, it can be harder to come by. With last week’s announcement of £200m of cuts to public health services, I would urge local authorities to ensure access to contraceptive services including information and education are not restricted.”

Research conducted by Marie Stopes UK last year found that more than half (57%) of women were using contraception when they became pregnant, with short-term methods like the pill or condoms the most commonly usedii instead of more reliable long acting methods, like contraceptive implants, injections and intrauterine devices. Yet despite their impressive track record only 31% of women in England and Wales are currently being prescribed a long acting methodiii compared to 45% at Marie Stopes UK.

Genevieve added: “We see many women at our clinics who were using contraception at the time they fell pregnant but condoms can break and some types of pill have to be taken at exactly the same time every day in order to be effective. One in three women will have an abortion, and these figures show clearly that women need good access to contraception and abortion services at every stage of their reproductive lifetimes.”

Anyone concerned about an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy can call Marie Stopes UK in total confidence any time day or night on 0345 300 8090.