One Out Of Five Babies Are Killed In England & Wales

One Out Of Five Babies Are Killed In England & Wales

I received this request from Steve Blendell (slightly edited for spelling):


How are you friend? Take a look at Prof Cotter’s letter – he’s a physicist. Do the stats stand up?

The referendum is in May – our side have got off to a good strong start with posters.


The referendum is whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment which gives human beings a right to life. ‘No’ voters think killing the lives inside would-be mothers should be illegal, while ‘Yes’ voters want to draw their knives.

Ignore here the conceit, shared by all democracies, that such matters can be put to a (general) vote.

Cotter’s letter to the editor:

Sir, – Posters on my street for the No campaign state that the rate of terminations in England is either one in four (25 per cent) or one in five (20 per cent), depending on which poster I look at. It is also interesting to note that these data only refer to England. The reason for this is that if you include official 2016 statistics for Scotland and Wales, the overall rate drops to 14 per cent. Now 14 per cent is a long way from 25 per cent and doesn’t look good for the No campaign. So voters need to be aware of how statistics are being manipulated to encourage a no vote. – Yours, etc,

Co Cork.

Cotter apparently believes the (if true) slightly lower number of killings in England, Wales, and Scotland justify killing multitudes more in Ireland. Which is incoherent. Either the killing is moral and allowable, or it isn’t. If it is, what’s the difference if the entire population decides to kill itself off?

Since that argument goes nowhere, let’s look at the numbers instead. Here is more or less what I told Blendell.

Here are the official statistics: Link (pdf).

They put the abortion ‘rate’ in England and Wales this way: ‘The age-standardised abortion rate was 16.0 per 1,000 resident women aged 15-44.’ That is calculated like this:

     number of abortions/number of women aged 15-44 (in thousands).

That’s one definition of ‘rate’, but not the best if I understand them correctly. The best is

     number of abortions/(number of births + number of abortions).

An equivalent way to put it is

     number of abortions/number of conceptions.

Call this the Real Abortion Rate, and contrast it to the official rate. The Real rate will be higher, and likely much higher, than the number they are touting, which includes all women, whether or not they were pregnant.

Suppose only 1 woman in that age group got pregnant and then killed her child. That’s a Real rate of 100%, but it would be a very small official rate. To find it, take that 1 and divide by all the women (in thousands) aged 15-44. It’s in the thousands of thousands (millions), anyway.

I could not find what the Real rate is for England and Wales, but according to one chart in 2013 there were about 53,900 thousand people (roughly 54 million) in England and 3,100 thousand (3.1 million) in Wales. If women aged 15-44 were, say, 20% of these totals, then the total is 11,400 thousands women aged 15-44, more or less, in 2016.

Now that same report said there were 190,406 abortions in 2016. So that would make my estimate of the official rate per 1,000 women at

190,406/11,400 = 16,

which is exactly what they got, meaning that 20% guess of number of women in that age bracket is pretty good.

But if only 1 women was pregnant and killed her child, the Real rate would be 100% but it would make the ‘official’ abortion rate 1/11,400 = 0.00008, which is mighty small! This is only used to show that the definition of ‘rate’ matters.

More than 1 woman got pregnant. Here’s the official stats for England and Wales: Link.

Extrapolating would make about 900,000 conceptions in 2016, maybe slightly higher, maybe lower. They do not account for multiple births per woman, nor are miscarriages counted. But 900,000 is in the ballpark. That would makes the Real abortion rate about

190,406/900,000 = 21%.

That 21% is NOT per 1,000 women like the 16 above is, so be very careful making comparisons. This says (roughly) 1 out of EVERY 5 ‘conceptions’ are killed. Which is huge. That varies by age group, with (as the official report says) the highest rates around 22, i.e. the most fecund years.

Therefore this is how I would do the posters:


Maybe accounting for uncertainties it’s 0.5 out of 5, or 1.5 out of 5. But 1 is a reasonable guess. I didn’t do Scotland, but you get the idea.

The numbers will all be meaningless. Statistics are (almost) useless. Those who want to kill do not care how many are killed. They just want to kill. Polls and bookies are predicting bloodlust wins, incidentally.

Image grabbed from here. Notice the hilariously inept ‘Trust us.’

Post corrected of my innumeracy. Bonus pic.


  1. Mr. Briggs – please explain how 21%, 1 out of five, becomes 40%, or two out of five.

  2. Briggs


    Innumeracy is the result of haste. Correction made. Thanks.

  3. JH

    Call this the Real Abortion Rate, and contrast it to the official rate. The Real rate will be higher, and likely much higher, than the number they are touting, which includes all women, whether or not they were pregnant.

    So you refer to miscarriages as abortions. I am not sure why you call it the real rate.
    Is it because it is defined by you therefore it is real?

    A rate is a rate. A different denominator would give you a different interpretation. Real or not doesn’t change the correct interpretation.

    The numbers will all be meaningless. Statistics are (almost) useless. Those who want to kill do not care how many are killed. They just want to kill. Polls and bookies are predicting bloodlust wins, incidentally.

    I seriously doubt women who had abortion just “wanted to kill.” I seriously doubt those who support current abortion law “just want to kill.” Well, your speech, you choice.

    Would you like to adopt a baby or become a foster parent? Offer your help instead of condemnation.

  4. Sander van der Wal

    You are assuming that everybody is always pro or contra, no matter what the circumstances. One can also assume that people are pro, but only when this or that, or contra, except when that or this.

    For those people the numbers do matter. If every other conceived baby is aborted there will be a lot of people who will find that way too much. Abortion was supposed to be safe, and rare, instead of dangerous and common.

    One in 5 is not rare.

  5. Ken

    Let’s call this the ‘Broad Social Benefits From Immoral Abortion’ case:

    Pulling some quick & dirty “ballpark” numbers:

    Very roughly there are between 3500 & 7000+ abortions by Irish women annually. The vast majority of those occur in G. Britain. About 26/yr occur legally in Ireland as lifesaving measures for the wannabe mother (26 of 5000-ish, ballpark, or about a half-percent of abortions are arguably morally-permissible).

    Ireland’s eighth amendment giving the unborn the right to life was, when proposed originally, supported by the Catholic Church, but opposed by the authorities of the other mainstream churches. When he hear/read about “Christian values” such behaviors make one wonder what, exactly, “Christian values” are given just this dichotomy by “Christian” religious leaders.

    Once again, a few minutes of very casual “research” reveals that the concept of “Christian” & “Christian values” is so broad and consists of such radically opposed contradictory values (e.g. the right of a women to have an abortion for convenience) that the term “Christian” or “Christian values” and so forth is meaningless. But we’ve digressed.

    Figure, roughly, every five years the Irish, if prevented from having abortions, would produce roughly 30,000 unwanted babies — babies history shows are subjected somewhat consistently to emotional neglect and other abuses that nurture delinquent and criminal behavior in the teenage and adult. That’s well over half the population of Waterford, Ireland.

    Using the ~190+K/yr abortions for England & Wales — that’s about 1M unwanted children born every year … or…about every five years a population of roughly double the metro-area of Belfast Ireland is being created who are overwhelmingly disproportionately inclined to crime.

    As the authors of Freakonomics, and others, have noted, the demographic trend following Roe v Wade, and similar State-level measures yields trends consistent with abortion coinciding with substantial crime reductions. (e.g. see

    In the amoral cold-blooded assessment of the social impacts of abortion, the cost-benefit based conclusion seems very compelling: Society is better off for permitting abortions for convenience/choice.

    Or, put another way, if society — and “Christians” and their “Christian values” [whatever those might be] — are going to have society mandate women must carry unwanted children to term, the evidence also shows very compellingly that society is woefully deficient in ensuring those parents provide a suitable upbringing, or, alternative measures are made (e.g. adoption programs into nurturing families).

    It just seems to me that whatever a “Christian value” is or ought to be, advocating for saving a fetus’ life by denying abortion for convenience is only part of the mission — and the easy, almost effortless, part at that. The real work is striving to ensure those “saved” children are properly cared for such that they do not pose an inordinate risk of becoming delinquents then criminals (e.g. by making adoption services more accessible, etc.) — and next to nobody does any of this.

    Many [most?] of these girls know or have some inkling of the regrets, even nightmares, their peer who’ve had abortions face. Anecdotal surveys indicate that many young, scared, and immature girls would — if they knew — carry a child to term and give it up to a loving family that wants the child…IF ONLY THEY KNEW THIS WAS AN OPTION!

    But advocating for, and working to have provided, such services and associated awareness campaigns is hard work (not in small part due to the opposition of abortion providers that don’t want the economic competition). This is where advocacy from so-call “Christians” can really make a difference … and, again, next to none of them do a thing.

    It’s the easy thing to set things up so a life survives thru birth.
    It’s quite another effort to help set things up so the life saved will become a life worth living.

  6. John Watkins

    Once again, Ken slanders the entire Catholic world for failing to facilitate an adoption for every single ‘unwanted’ child . Nice going, Ken. And what have YOU done to help?

  7. Pythagoras

    You wrote “No’ voters think killing the lives inside would-be mothers should be illegal, while ‘Yes’ voters want to draw their knives. ” False dichotomy here. When I was a student I was active in organising people to vote against the Eighth Amendment – on the basis that such a clause had no place in the Constitution.

    In Ireland at that time, there was a strong impression among some non-Catholics that this amendment seemed like a first step on the way to Catholic capture of the constitutional apparatus. Nobody was sharpening any knives.

  8. True Faith

    Ken, I was an unwanted, abused and neglected child. And my measured response to your statistics that “prove” unwanted children grow up to blah, blah, blah is this, Ken darling, you justify the worth of your life and show us the benefit you think you are to society. If you can.

    As for JH, re-purposing the defense of a child’s right not to be ripped from it’s mother’s womb as “condemnation” makes this reader wonder why you must stoop to such dishonesty.

    In this world where duties are ignored and “rights” are championed and allotted to the most deserving “victim” by self-declared arbiters of “justice” the cold-blooded, arrogant, hypocritical, contemptuous gall of you people who are pro-killing of the absolutely most vulnerable and innocent of us all is absolutely breath-taking.

    Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

  9. Joy

    There’s another ‘figure’ that 26% of deaths in Britain are caused by abortion, which is simply out of the ballpark wrong.

    So what this topic throws up, is not simply the matter of Abortion but the tail of political affiliation and association which has surrounded the Irish ‘trouble’, fermented it when the terrorists could have been dealt with the same way as they are now, today.

    Weighing the rights and wrongs of abortion doesn’t need numbers. It is a matter of the heart.

    Some think by making them look bigger, action will be taken. So it’s really all about population. Which is okay, a separate matter. People are frightened to speak about that. About the concern of numbers of types of humans being more important than the lesser spotted butterfly.

    Why is it that our open doors to travel healthcare (side effect of European policy) is another stick to beat the Brits with over having ‘extra high’ abortion figures? Weird.

    When the figures themselves are known, which they are not and the number of Irish and other foreign immigrants are accounted for, then something closer to the truth might be known, for those using the figures to make their story. I do know that muslims abort baby girls and that the NHS in many or all areas now don’t give the sex of a child on ultrasound.

    Here’s a thought, if it’s wrong to abort baby girls by choice and hospitals have taken action to keep the sex a secret, this displays a truth of what people really think about this.

    The concluded numbers are wrong because the actual figures are not correct. The poster won’t give the caveats though.

    The matter of whether or not termination is indicated is a clinical matter which was always informed by proper medical ethics. The wordsmiths and lawyers changed the rules.
    When giving deliberately lethal doses of morphine and removing life support is commonplace, it’s no wonder that people think that a life they’ve never seen or known is easy come easy go.

  10. JH

    True Faith,

    You mean my suggestion of offering help instead of condemnation is dishonest? Is it not a Christian way? What is the dishonesty about? I adopted two unwanted children even though I was told that one of them had a cyst in her brain.

    Whoever you are, your alias scares me.

  11. This debate isn’t about numbers: if it is immoral to abort a million babies, then aborting one is equally immoral.

    The most fundamental thing about this debate is the anti-science nature of the claim that the baby is part of the woman’s body and therefore that she can do what she wants with it. In reality, the baby’s DNA is not the same as hers and therefore not part of her body – it’s a guest she invited in by having unprotected sex.

    So the basic pro-argument is that invited guests can be killed; umm, my mother in law sometimes stays with us…

  12. Kalif


    I’d like to point out a few things, if I may:

    1. One glance at the history of epidemiology reveals that until not long ago a simple act of childbirth was a very dangerous affair for both baby and the mother. It was no. 1 cause of mortality for women and babies.
    2. Once born children have a very high chance of dying by the age 5 or 6 (even today) from various infections/viruses, etc.
    3. Nobody does abortion for sport. It is done because an accidental, UNWANTED, pregnancy happened. If those mothers could go back in time just a little bit, they would have prevented the pregnancy. Therefore, mother has and should have the power to decide, nobody else. You think it’s murder, keep it. You think you never wanted it, abort it.
    4. Abortion is invasive (any medical procedure is), but better than the alternative. I am not talking about the cost to a society, but to the unwanted child.
    5. Abortion is not a new fad. Throughout history there were many examples where mothers had to choose the lesser of two evils and abortion is one of those. For example, Jewish mothers would throw their children in the river/lake rather than fall in the hands of crusaders in medieval Europe. And what’s with all those Irish Catholic cemeteries where unanimous babies were buried?
    6. @Joy: “… I do know that muslims abort baby girls and that the NHS in many or all areas now don’t give the sex of a child on ultrasound…”

    Yet, 1 in 4 people on this planet are Muslims. How did they get to that point by killing all the girls (sarc.)? There must be some areas that have weird stuff like that (along with ritual killing of girls accused of infidelity and such), but that is rare and much more common in non-Muslim world.

    China is notorious for that. My former landlady, who grew up in China witnessed it as a common practice in some very rural areas. Usually it is because they couldn’t afford to feed babies, but more because sons were preferred and girls were considered next to worthless. She herself, would have to wait to be fed after all male siblings finished eating, and only if there was extra food left. I’m not talking about ancient China here. She’s just a few years older than me.

    Africans are known for their abortion methods where a woman jumps from a tree branch high up and lands on her bottom, aborting in the process (or some such thing). Jehova’s witnesses won’t receive blood transfusion, etc. The point is that those extreme examples are rare. There are over a billion of Chinese, despite a one-child policy. Africans are fine too, regarding the numbers.
    We proliferate way more than our cousins, monkey primates.

  13. Plantagenet

    On the day that the Catholic Church, and other Christian denominations, and other religious traditions announce a comprehensive plan that will map out a system of care for all the children of those who ( for whatever reason) cannot care for their children, but nevertheless do not opt for abortion, and even if it works, you can bet that those who use the lack of care as a reason for their opposition, will immediately revert to the arguement that it is really not about care, but rights.

    Nevertheless those who do advocate for strict abortion control when confronted by the “Who will pay for them, who will care for them” arguement must stand up and say “We will”. Then do it. Only then will the opposition find they are standing on quicksand.

  14. Milton Hathaway

    Seems simple enough.

    1) Do you believe that an abortion kills a human being?

    2) If your answer to that question is yes, then: do you want to live in a country where it is legal for one human being to kill another for personal reasons?

    All the rest is just irrelevant noise, at least to my ears.

  15. “Who shall pay for this child?” The parents. They made a decision, they accept the consequences. This is the entire purpose of marital fidelity, and chastity before marriage.

    Is killing an infant murder, or is it not? No euphemisms, no beating around the bush. Abortion is the murder of an infant. Is that moral, or immoral? Choose.

  16. Joy

    The idea, as you well know, is to produce a large and unstable number of males in a given population of fighting age,, who are of a different religious and ethnic group.

    This affects the social fabric of a nation and of course all those muslims will want to “find a wife!’ By hook or by crook, Just as old MacDonald does.
    This is no secret. Nor is the selective aborting of baby girls in England as a matter of policy by certain muslims, who knows what proportion of that population.

    The argument you make about blood transfusions is not applicable here. Have you ever had one? I have, more than once, as a. Matter of emergency, last time in August last year. Lots of people are confused or pretending to be, about them, you’re not going to be lonely there. Lots of men and women know nothing about women’s health but they don’t let it get in the way of story telling. “If it bleeds it leads”. And all that.

    You could be of assistance though if you would lead some of the hounds to those who want to fight about this and can’t find any women who’ve had abortions to punish. .

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