Six in 10 women who have had an abortion say the cost of childcare in the UK put them off, according to a new study.
A report, by the campaign group Pregnant Then Fucked, found that nearly one in five women said childcare costs were the main reason they decided to end a pregnancy.
The researchers surveyed 1,630 women who had abortions in the last five years and found that the situation was much more dire for black women. Three in four black women said child care costs were behind their decision to have an abortion, while the same proportion of single parents said the same.
It comes after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that the UK had one of the most expensive childcare systems in the world.
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant then Screwed, said: “Childcare costs are pushing families into poverty and forcing women to terminate wanted pregnancies.
“This is a crisis and the government response has been wholly inadequate. The UK birthrate has hit an all-time low, no births means no future workers, posing huge challenges for our future economy.”
The activist pointed out that the data shows that birth rates are higher in nations that allow women to juggle childcare with their work.
One woman told investigators it was “heartbreaking” for her to go through an abortion mainly because she couldn’t afford childcare costs.
“If I had gone ahead with my pregnancy with a much wanted child, I would have had to quit my job to take care of it. This would have meant that we had to sell our house as a salary would not cover the bills,” he added.
“This would have been detrimental to my only son. The system is a mess and it is very annoying. It’s horrible that my husband and I are professionals, but we can’t afford a second child because the first few years of his life require child care.”
Another woman who works as a nursing student said the cost-of-living crisis, coupled with her struggle to pay for child care, forced her to go back on antidepressants.
She is a full-time student while her partner works 45 hours a week, she added, saying she is not eligible for childcare support this academic year.
The nursing student said: “Next academic year we will get £227 for the whole academic year to cover five days a week of childcare at £54 a day.
“We don’t get universal credit, free hours or tax-free child care because I’m a student classified as non-working. We can’t afford childcare so I’ve missed hours at internships or college and this is negatively affecting my chances of qualifying.
“We are drowning in debt, struggling to feed our son and unable to pay for basics like gas, food, utilities. Before starting this degree, the cost was feasible. With inflation and the cost of living on the rise, we are grinding to a halt.”
She said they’ve already had to say goodbye to their house deposit, as well as shelling out £20,000 of savings on essentials and childcare, as they haven’t been able to make ends meet on their earnings.
It comes after the government was heavily criticized for new plans announced earlier in the week to increase the affordability and provision of childcare.
A new consultation will explore increasing the number of children each staff member can care for in the early years, with suggestions to revise the staff-to-child ratio from 1:4 to 1:5 for two-year-olds.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “Given the scale of the challenges facing the early years at the moment, it is beyond frustrating that the government is wasting time consulting on loosening the ratios.
“Instead of just admitting that if we want to have affordable, quality and sustainable early care and education in this country, we need to invest substantially more in the sector than we are doing right now.”
Leitch said her organization, which represents nurseries, preschools and registered childminders, among others, found that the government’s plans to reduce radios “will not only fail to reduce the cost of early childhood places, but in Any environment that does not adopt the new rates will reduce quality and worsen the already catastrophic recruitment and retention crisis the industry is already experiencing.”
While Ms Brearley argued that the government’s plans on ratios “will have little or no impact on costs, instead they will only serve to create a lower quality system, further dissuading women from using our provision.” of child care”.
The study by her charity also found that of 28,000 women who already had a child, or children, just over six in 10 said childcare costs were the main reason or a key part of their decision to not have more children. A quarter of those surveyed said it was the predominant factor why they chose not to have more children.
The researchers surveyed more than 28,000 parents about the repercussions of child care costs during the summer holidays. Some 1,630 of these women had decided to terminate a pregnancy in the last half decade, these women being already mothers of at least one child. The study was self-selected.
While an earlier study by Pregnant Then Screwed found that almost a fifth of parents have been forced to quit their jobs due to the exorbitant cost of childcare in the UK, and the researchers say it’s predominantly women those that bear this load.