A recent survey discovered that 6 in 10 women said that the lack of childcare support influenced their decision to have an abortion, whereas approximately 1 in 5 women reported it to be the main reason.
The main focus of the survey, which was conducted over the summer in 2022, was looking at the effects of childcare costs in the UK. Of the 28,000 women who took part, 1,630 of them reported to have had an abortion. 60.5% of women reported that the lack of childcare support from the government had influenced their decision to have an abortion, whereas 17.9% reported that it was the main reason.
The survey was conducted by UK based organisation, Pregnant then Screwed (PTS), whose focus is on providing information and support to pregnant women and mothers, particularly when it comes to their rights as a mother and worker. Although it is unclear where they stand on abortion, leader and founder of the organisation, Joeli Brearley provided comment on the statistics in a press release, calling the situation a “crisis”.
“Childcare costs are pushing families into poverty and forcing women to terminate wanted pregnancies. This is a crisis and the Government’s response has been wholly inadequate. The UK birth rate has hit a record low, a lack of births means a lack of future workers, which poses enormous challenges for our future economy” she said.
She further criticised politicians on their calls to make abortion illegal, but have done very little to ensure the government provides support to these women when it comes to childcare.
“The MPs who have recently shown their disdain for women who terminate a pregnancy are doing little to fix the systems which force them to make this decision.”
In the same press release, comments are provided from women who underwent an abortion due to fears over childcare costs.
“I have found it heartbreaking that I have had to have an abortion primarily because we could not afford the cost of childcare. If I had continued my pregnancy of a much wanted child I would have had to quit my job to care for them, this would have meant we had to sell our home as one salary would not cover the bills. this would have been detrimental to my 1 child. The system is a shambles and it is so upsetting. It is horrendous that myself and my husband are both professionals yet we cannot afford a second child due to the first years of their life requiring child care,” one woman said.
“I’m a student nurse. Studying full time hours and my partner works 45 hours a week. Our household income is not great but I don’t qualify for any childcare help this academic year. Next academic year we get £227 for the whole academic year to cover five days a week of childcare at £54 a day. We get no universal credit, no free hours or tax free childcare because I’m a student so classed as not working! We can not afford childcare so I have missed hours on placement or at university and this is negatively affecting my chances of qualifying. We are drowning in debt, struggling to feed our son and are unable to afford basics such as petrol, food, utilities. Before I started this degree the cost was doable. With inflation and the cost of living soaring we are crippling. I’ve had to go back on antidepressants because I just can’t cope any more. We are being pushed into poverty. But Boris and his pals won’t pay student nurses or help with childcare unless you’re super poor. We’ve already lost our house deposit, £20000 of savings gone on basics and childcare because we simply could not survive on our incomes. This government need to get their act together and help!” said another woman.
These statistics should give cause for concern, particularly as the birth rates in the UK have been declining over time. In 2021, the UK birth rates were lower than the death rates; this is the second time this occurred since the 1890s.
The survey by PTS also discovered that amongst the 28,000 women they surveyed who had at least one child, 62% reported that childcare costs was either the main reason or a key factor in their decision to not have more children.
Birth rates have been declining across the globe, which has increased fears over the potential consequences in the future. This has led to a number of countries to implement pro-family policies to encourage people to have more children. One of the latest being Hungary exempting mothers under 30 from income tax.
Despite concerns of the declining birth rates, it is claimed that childcare costs in the UK are the second highest in the world. In October 2022, parents across the UK took to the streets in the “March of the Mummies” protest organised by PTS, to protest the expensive childcare costs. One mother says that she has to pay £1,500 in childcare costs for 3 days a week for her two children.
Whilst the figures from the survey prove to be shocking, it also brings to light the importance of ensuring that women have real support during pregnancies and beyond. Although the government fail to provide the necessary support to women and their families, there are organisation in the UK, such as the Good Counsel Network and Life Charity UK, that make themselves available to providing this kind of support to women so that they do not feel they need to have an abortion in order to survive.
Likewise, similar support organisations are available in Ireland, such as Gianna Care and Every Life Counts, and Stanton Healthcare in Northern Ireland. No one should be made to feel they have to have abortion.
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