Repeat abortions are increasing

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More women are having multiple abortions, according to statistics for England and Wales.

In 2011, 68,105 women having an abortion had already had at least one termination - up from 64,303 in 2010.

The figures include 82 under-16s having their second abortion and two having their third.

The overall number of abortions increased marginally by 0.2% to 189,931.

The annual statistics show 34% of women having an abortion last year had had one before. It continues an increasing trend of 31% in 2001, 32% in 2005 and 34% in 2010.

Post-abortion contraception

Seventy-six women had had at least seven previous abortions.

Tracey McNeill, from the family planning organisation, Marie Stopes International, said: "We, of course, recognise that many women have multiple unwanted or unplanned pregnancies for reasons beyond their control, and it goes without saying that we believe women should have the same access to non-judgemental high quality care whether it is their first abortion or their third.

"We believe we need to radically change the way we provide post-abortion contraception to women, if we're going to reduce the number of abortions by any great number.

"We're currently conducting a much-needed piece of new research which will look at how we can reduce the number of women we see more than once for an abortion, by working closely with them to understand exactly why it is that we're seeing them two or more times for this procedure."

Michaela Aston, from the anti-abortion charity, Life, said: "We should be shocked and concerned by these latest statistics, especially given the apparent decline in overall conception rates in 2011, which means that the proportion of all pregnancies that end in abortion has risen considerably.

"This is despite contraception being more widely available than ever before.

"As a society, we are failing to cultivate respectful attitudes to life, and failing to promote positive and responsible attitudes to motherhood, family life and sexual relationships.

"It is particularly disturbing that repeat abortions rose again, with 36% of women seeking abortion having had at least one previous abortion. This is a clear indication that the original intent and spirit of the Abortion Act is being widely flouted and ignored."

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides abortions, said the figures were lower than for Sweden or the US.

Its chief executive Ann Furedi said: "Abortion is a fact of life, because contraception fails and sometimes we fail to use it properly.

"There is no 'right' number of abortions, above and beyond ensuring that every woman who needs to end an unwanted pregnancy can do so, and that obstacles are not put in the way of her accessing supportive services as quickly as possible."

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