THE were more abortions recorded in Oxfordshire in 2022, new figures show – as the number hit a record high across England and Wales.

Abortion provider MSI Reproductive Choices said it believes cost-of-living pressures and a lack of access to contraception through stretched NHS services are both "playing a bigger role" in decisions to have an abortion.

The latest Department of Health and Social Care figures show there were 2,396 abortions for residents of Oxfordshire in 2022 – up from 1,928 the year before.

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Of the abortions in 2022, 74 were for under-18-year-olds.

There were a total of 251,377 abortions for women resident in England and Wales in 2022.

This was the highest number since the Abortion Act was introduced almost 60 years ago and a rise of 17 per cent on the 2021 figure, the department said.

MSI said its own numbers show a rise of 27 per cent in people turning to its clinics for abortion care in 2023, and a further 22 per cent increase in the first quarter of this year.

Dr Sarah Salkeld, the charity's UK associate clinical director, said: "With so many women around the country experiencing inadequate access to contraception, it’s no surprise that abortion figures are rising.

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"Greater demand and finite resources for GPs and sexual health clinics are leaving women at risk of unintended pregnancy at a time when families are struggling to make ends meet."

She added: "These pressures disproportionately impact those on the lowest incomes, meaning those hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis are often more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy in the first place."

Regional figures show a significant gap in the rate of abortions for the most and least deprived residents of the South East.

There was a rate of 31.8 abortions per 1,000 women considered the most deprived, compared to 15.2 per 1,000 for the least deprived.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service said findings from their survey of over 1,300 women this month suggested financial factors had either mainly or partly impacted the decision to end a pregnancy for 57 per cent of respondents.

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Additionally, 36 per cent said they had been unable to get the contraception they wanted or had faced delays, leading to unwanted pregnancies and subsequent abortions.

Heidi Stewart, Bpas chief executive, said they had heard 'heartbreaking' stories from women under financial pressure.

She said: "The cost-of-living crisis has placed immense strain on women and families, with too many having to choose between financial stability and having a baby."