Early years costs influence women's decision to have an abortion, research shows

Kathy Oxtoby
Friday, July 8, 2022

A survey from campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, highlights that six in ten women who have had an abortion say that the cost of early years places influenced their decision.

Six in ten women say the cost of childcare was the main reason they chose to have an abortion, a survey by campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed has revealed.

The group surveyed 1,630 women who have had an abortion in the last five years. The survey found that 60.5 per cent of women said that the cost of childcare influenced their decision to have an abortion and 17.4 per cent said that childcare costs were the main reason they chose to have an abortion. 

The data also found that 76 per cent of black women and 70 per cent of mixed race women said that the cost had influenced their decision. And 76 per cent of single parents said that childcare costs had been a factor in their consideration to terminate their pregnancy.

Childcare costs forcing women to terminate wanted pregnancies

The survey revealed that of 28,000 women who already had a child, or children, 62 per cent said that childcare costs were either the main reason, or a factor in their decision, not to have more children. One in four stated that it was the key reason they didn’t have more children. 

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed said: ‘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.

‘We know that birth rates are higher in countries that allow women to combine childcare and careers. The UK has the most expensive childcare in the OECD as a proportion of women’s earnings, and the recent Government proposal to increase ratios will have little to no impact on costs, instead it will only serve to create a lower quality system, further deterring women from using our childcare provision.’

‘The system is a shambles’

One woman told Pregnant Then Screwed: ‘I have found it heart breaking 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 one 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.’

‘We are drowning in debt’

Another 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 cannot 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 anymore.’

Survey findings: ‘Shocking and extremely concerning’

Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: ‘It is shocking and extremely concerning that six in ten women who have had an abortion said that the cost of early years places influenced their decision. 

‘What’s more, the fact that 17.4 per cent of women said these costs were the main reason they chose to have an abortion makes clear a stark reality: that the early education and childcare system in this country is fundamentally broken. 

‘Years of underfunding coupled with rising costs has forced the closure of countless early years settings, while others have been pushed to the brink, leaving them no choice but to increase costs to make ends meet. 

‘The cost of childcare and early education should never, in any way, influence a woman’s decision over whether to have a child. The government simply must recognise the severity of the current situation before it gets even worse.  We urge the government to put a realistic and long-term plan in place that ensure the early years is properly funded so that providers are able to deliver the quality, affordable early years places that parents need.’

Pregnant Then Screwed are asking parents to attend a national protest on 29 October to demand that the Government invests in good quality, affordable childcare for all children, as well as committing to other family friendly policies. 


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