Marriage is the best friend of the unborn child

The single best protector against abortion appears to be marriage. A married woman is only a fifth as likely to have an abortion as a woman who is not married. This difference is stark and is worth examining.

We know that in the UK, for example, about one every five pregnancies ends in abortion, but it is interesting to consider how this figure varies hugely between married and unmarried women.

In England and Wales in 2016 there were 696,271 live births. A bit more than half of them (362,061), 52% to be precise, were registered to married couples. In the same year, 29,189 married women had an abortion. This represents 16% of the total number of abortions in England and Wales that year 185,596, a figure that has been constant for the last decade.

This also means that there was one abortion for every 12.5 births to married women, which compares with a national average of one abortion for every four births overall.

In 2016, there were 327,210 births to unmarried mothers. The number of abortions performed on unmarried women was 145,297. This accounts for more than 80% of all abortions in England and Wales. (For a more detailed analysis of the breakdown among singles see here and here )

The figure translates into one abortion for every 2.25 births to unmarried women, versus one in 12.5 for married women, a difference of more than five to one.

If we look at the official number of Irish women who have abortions each year in England and Wales, we see a very similar picture emerging. In 2016, 18.7% of Irish women who had abortions in England and Wales were married and 78.9% were single. (2.4% were separated, widowed or divorced).

It is clear that marriage is hugely protective from the point of view of the unborn child. It is why the pro-life movement must also be pro-marriage.