Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 72 (3) August 2022


15% of UK women coerced into abortions

A recent BBC poll found that 15% of women aged 18-44 reported they had been pressured into having an abortion they did not want - that is 15% of ALL pregnant women - not just women who have had abortions.

Distressed womanMarch 2022 saw the publication of a study commissioned by the BBC into reproductive coercion. Savanta ComRes surveyed 1,000 UK women aged 18-44, and found that half of them vocalised having experienced at least one form of the abuse. The research found that a third of women surveyed spoke of experiencing pressure, while a fifth said they had been forced to have sex without contraception. The Society for the Protection of the Unborn reported in March how common coerced abortion is. They told us in March that “a survey of 1,060 women based in the UK has found that 15% of respondents were pressured into having an abortion. SPUC has said that the findings confirm the “devastating reality of abortion for many women in the UK. Abortion has never been about ‘choice’.”

The UK survey, conducted earlier this year by Savanta ComRes, asked 1,060 women aged 18-44 a series of questions regarding “reproductive coercion”. 50% of respondents said that they had suffered at least one form of such coercion. Examples in the survey included damaging/hiding contraceptives and forced unprotected sex.

The survey revealed that coerced abortion is far more common than previous studies have shown, with a total of 158 respondents out of 1,060 reporting that they had experienced “pressure to terminate a pregnancy when you did not want to”.

In addition, 3% (33) of respondents said they had been given a substance or tablet to induce an abortion without their knowledge or consent. 5% (54 women) said they had experienced physical violence with the intent to end their pregnancy.

One woman, named Carly, speaking on BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat and File on 4 about reproductive coercion, said: “I think when you are in that situation, you don’t necessarily identify yourself as a victim, you kind of brush it off. It becomes so normalised that people don’t take it seriously.”

SPUC highlights link between coercion & DIY abortion

Last year, a ComRes poll commissioned by SPUC revealed that 84% of the Scottish public were concerned that DIY home abortion could result in women being coerced into having an unwanted abortion.

Another poll, conducted on behalf of SPUC and Christian Concern, found that 86% of GPs in Britain were concerned about the risk of women being coerced into an abortion under the Government’s DIY home abortion programme.

“This must stop”

Michael Robinson, SPUC Executive Director (Public Affairs C Legal Services), said: “7e findings of this ComRes survey are a frightening testament to the devastating reality of abortion for many women in the UK and elsewhere. It absolutely must be taken seriously.

“People across the political spectrum, whatever their views on abortion, should be horrified that 15% of women – not of women who’ve had abortions, all women – have been pressured into having an abor- tion that they didn’t want.

“More research into this horrifying trend is urgently needed. It is becoming increasingly clear that women are being taken advantage of by abusive partners and by an abortion industry that couldn’t care less about the plight of vulnerable mothers. Greed, ideology and self-interest have blinded our society to the obvious link between coercion and abortion.

“Far from helping women and holding abusers to account, the abortion industry, backed up by anti-life advocates and politicians, has further enabled the disgusting abuse that women are subjected to every day in this country.

This conspiracy of silence must be called out, right now and with full voice.”

Editorial comment
Clearly reproductive Coercion is a serious crime and its close association with abortion is of great concern. We note also the scandals of Rotherham and Sheffield etc, where doctors simply failed to identify the abuse the young people whom they saw in surgery. We commend our readers to the book “Unprotected”[3]. Data on coercive abortion are not collected. And 3% (33) of respondents said they had been given a substance or tablet to induce an abortion without their knowledge or consent. 5% (54 women) said they had experienced physical violence with the intent to end their pregnancy. Those crimes are, we understand, not recorded or reported. We must deplore such an appalling situation.


We are grateful to SPUC for the source material for this article.


  1. Reproductive coercion poll - BBC radio 4 - 8 march 2022 Sevanta ComRes
  2. Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (March 2022) 15% of UK women coerced into abortions, “devastating” survey shows.
  3. UNPROTECTED: how the normalisation of underage sex is exposing children and young people to the risk of sexual exploitation. by Norman Wells, Family Education Trust. Reviewed By Pravin Thevathasan Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 67(3) August 2017