Fertility awareness campaigns backfire

The unintended consequence of vigorous campaigns to remind women that their fertility declines with age may be a rise in the number of abortions among women over 40. In 2012 in the UK, women aged between 40 and 44 had 7,737 abortions. Ten years before, the comparable figure was 6,531. Experts think that some women may believe that they cannot fall pregnant after 40 because they are constantly being told that older women have trouble conceiving.

Prof Neil McClure, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Queen's University Belfast, told the London Telegraph: "Women should not rely on their increasing age as a method of contraception." He says that career-minded women used to delay motherhood until it was too late; now they are abandoning their contraceptive habits too early -- and as a result some end up aborting their unexpected children.

He said: "The message needs to be that fertility is lower in older women when compared with younger women, that fertility does decline after the age of 35 but women over the age of 35 are still fertile and need to use contraception right up to the menopause if they do not want to conceive.”

Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, observed: "Women have lost touch with the nature of human reproduction. Women need more information about their own biology. Not everything can be fixed with a trip to the chemist for the abortion pill or to the IVF clinic."

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