Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2016

Selective Terminations

Pregnancies following fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may result in more than one embryo being implanted in the womb. In such cases, the outcome of the pregnancy may be more successful if the number of fetuses is reduced. This reduction usually occurs at about 12 weeks’ gestation.

In 2016, there were 141 abortions which involved selective terminations, an increase since 2015 (119 cases). In 92 cases, two fetuses were reduced to one fetus. In 33 cases, three fetuses were reduced to two fetuses and in 11 cases three fetuses were reduced to one fetus. Over three quarters (78%) of the selective terminations were performed under ground E.

The number of selective terminations has increased from 72 in 2011 to 141 in 2016. However, the breakdown into the various categories remains roughly the same, see the table below.

*Represents the original number of fetuses prior to any selective reduction. Numbers are not broken down further for these two groups due to disclosure control.
Year Total 2 reduced to 1 3 reduced to 2 3 reduced to 1 4* 5+*
2011 72 37 18 9 7 7
2012 82 38 28 11 5 0
2013 125 74 28 10 10 3
2014 132 80 35 14 3 0
2015 119 63 35 14 6 1
2016 141 92 33 11 5 0

Abortions that are selective abortions are more likely to be for women who are married (39% of women who have a selective reduction are married compared to 16% for all women who had an abortion), aged 30 and over (80%, compared to 35% of all women who had an abortion) and are less likely to have had a previous abortion: less than 12% of cases reported a previous abortion compared to 38% for all women.

Click the button below to see the full summary report (PDF) from the abortion notification forms returned to the Chief Medical Officers of England and Wales.

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