NEW FIGURES RELEASED by the charity Pregnant Then Screwedthe  show that six in 10 women who have had an abortion say childcare costs influenced their decision. The research also found that 76 per cent of Black women and 76 per cent of single parents said childcare costs caused their decision.

Pregnant Then Screwed surveyed 1,630 women who have had an abortion in the last five years. The survey found that 60.5 per cent say that the cost of childcare influenced their decision to have an abortion and 17.4 per cent of women said that childcare costs were the main reason they chose to have an abortion.

The survey also revealed that of 28,000 women who already had a child, or children, 62 per cent said that childcare costs were either the main reason, or a factor in their decision, not to have more children. One in four stated that it was the key reason they did not have more children.

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’s response has been wholly inadequate.

“The UK birth rate has hit a record low, a lack of births means a lack of future workers, which poses enormous challenges for our future economy. We know that birth rates are higher in countries that allow women to combine childcare and careers.

“The UK has the most expensive childcare in the OECD as a proportion of women’s earnings, and the recent Government proposal to increase ratios will have little to no impact on costs, instead it will only serve to create a lower quality system, further deterring women from using our childcare provision. The MPs who have recently shown their disdain for women who terminate a pregnancy are doing little to fix the systems which force them to make this decision. ’’

One woman told the charity: “I have found it heartbreaking that I have had to have an abortion primarily because we could not afford the cost of childcare. If I had continued my pregnancy of a much wanted child I would have had to quit my job to care for them, this would have meant we had to sell our home as one salary would not cover the bills. this would have been detrimental to my one child. The system is a shambles and it is so upsetting. It is horrendous that myself and my husband are both professionals yet we cannot afford a second child due to the first years of their life requiring child care.”

Another woman said: “I’m a student nurse. Studying full time hours and my partner works 45 hours a week. Our household income is not great but I don’t qualify for any childcare help this academic year. Next academic year we get £227 for the whole academic year to cover five days a week of childcare at £54 a day. We get no universal credit, no free hours or tax free childcare because I’m a student so classed as not working!

“We can not afford childcare so I have missed hours on placement or at university and this is negatively affecting my chances of qualifying. We are drowning in debt, struggling to feed our son and are unable to afford basics such as petrol, food, utilities. Before I started this degree the cost was doable. With inflation and the cost of living soaring we are crippling. I’ve had to go back on antidepressants because I just can’t cope any more. We are being pushed into poverty. But Boris and his pals won’t pay student nurses or help with childcare unless you’re super poor. We’ve already lost our house deposit,£20000 of savings gone on basics and childcare because we simply could not survive on our incomes. This government need to get their act together and help!”

Responding to the figures, Claire Reindorp, CEO of Young Women’s Trust, said: “It’s a total injustice that the extortionate costs of childcare are having such a profound impact on women’s lives – and particularly so for Black women and single parents.

“This story resonates with our own research with young women: more than three in five told us that they’re forced to put off having children until they can afford it. With young women earning on average a fifth less than young men to start with, they’re being hit so much harder by the cost of living crisis. And this isn’t only hurting them right now: it is clearly also limiting their choices about the kinds of lives they want to live.

“We can’t let our young women’s futures fall victim to the economic and political turbulence we’re all living through. The new government must prioritise investing in childcare, alongside a renewed focus on measures from the abandoned Employment Bill to improve women’s rights in the workplace. We need to make sure women have the economic freedom to make true choices for themselves about whether and when to have children.”

On 4 July the Conservative government revealed plans to consult on childcare, suggesting that increasing the number of children each childcare worker is responsible for could save parents £40 a week in childcare costs. This claim has since been dismissed as “incorrect” by the Early Years Alliance. The calculation is based on the assumption that all providers would operate at full capacity with each worker looking after the maximum number of children. However, according to a survey of 9,000 early years settings by the Early Years Alliance, only five per cent of nurseries and pre-schools would operate this way if the government’s proposal went ahead. Only two per cent of providers said that any cost savings would be passed on to parents.

Pregnant Then Screwed is a charity that seeks to protect, support and promote the rights of pregnant women and mothers.

* More information the UK Government childcare consultation here.

* Sources: Pregnant Then Screwed and Young Women’s Trust