MORE than a quarter of all pregnancies led to an abortion in Barnsley - the highest figure in the last decade.

The Office for National Statistics said the data provides understanding of how lockdowns and pandemic restrictions affected behaviour.

Figures from the ONS shows there were 3,406 conceptions in Barnsley in 2021, the latest data available.

It was up from 3,278 the year before.

The rate climbed from 74.3 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2020 to 76.9 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2021.

Across England and Wales, there were nearly 825,000 pregnancies in 2021 - up from 818,000 the year before.

It was the first increase in the number of conceptions in the last six years.

Of the conceptions in Barnsley in 2021, 26.6 per cent led to an abortion - the highest level in the past decade.

Overall, 26.5 per cent of conceptions in England and Wales led to an abortion.

A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said the pandemic, and the government’s response to it, had a clear impact on women’s pregnancy choices.

They said: “Faced with economic challenges and job insecurity, women and their partners had to make sometimes tough decisions around continuing or ending a pregnancy.

“Unfortunately, financial struggles and a lack of government support, including the two-child limit on financial assistance, continue to force women to choose between ending an otherwise wanted pregnancy or plunging their families in to great hardship.”

They added there is no ‘right number of abortions’ and added there is more the government can do to ensure women make the right decision for themselves when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

The figures also show there were 91 conceptions among women aged under 18 in Barnsley - a rate of 23.3 conceptions per 1,000 for the age group.

Sian Bradford, ONS child health senior research officer, said the data reveals a higher conception rate among women who were not married or in a civil partnership for the first time since records began.

“Despite a higher percentage of abortions, women who were not married or in a civil partnership, still have a higher number of conceptions leading to maternity,” she added.

“Further work will be needed to establish whether this marks a change in trend.”