England

Abortion rates show regional variations

Pregnancy test Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption 29 in every 1,000 women aged 15-44 had an abortion in Barking and Dagenham in 2015

Abortion rates among women in London are higher than the rest of England, new figures reveal.

Barking and Dagenham had the highest overall abortion rate, at 29 for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

Health bosses from the east London borough said they had worked hard to bring down teenage pregnancy rates.

Data from the Department of Health revealed wide regional variations. Knowsley in Merseyside had the highest rate outside London.

The Department of Health said the total number of abortions was "fairly constant" at 185,824 in 2015, a rise of 0.7% on the year before. In some areas, almost half of all cases were "repeat" abortions.

The highest rate was among 20 to 24-year-olds, with 53 abortions for every 1,000 women.

Other London boroughs with higher abortion rates were Lewisham, Waltham Forest, Croydon, Enfield, Newham and Southwark.

The lowest overall rates were Derbyshire, Bath and North East Somerset and Cambridgeshire, where the figure was 10 abortions for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

Concerns

Croydon had the highest rate of repeat abortions, with almost half of all procedures being at least the second termination performed on the patient.

Repeat abortions accounted for 49% of the 2,023 abortions performed in the borough in 2015. Devon saw the lowest rate of repeat abortions, 27% of procedures.

Rachel Flowers, director of public health at Croydon Council, said: "Overall, Croydon's number of abortions is falling. Women who require an abortion are seeking help earlier, which is better for their health."

The council said repeat abortions were more common among women and couples who had not been able "to find a method of contraception that suits them or their beliefs and attitudes; consider abortion to be a method of contraception; have mental health issues or low awareness of contraceptive options".

Since 2005, abortion rates for women aged 30 to 34 in England and Wales have gone up from 14.5 per 1,000 women to 17.1 in 2015 - an 18% rise.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: "The proportion of women having abortions who are in partnerships or married has increased markedly over the last decade, and more than half of women having abortions are already mothers."

Ms Furedi said the charity saw many women who underestimated their risk of getting pregnant, particularly as they got older.

"We need to ensure women have access to good, evidence-based information on fertility that gives them the knowledge they need to make the reproductive decisions that are right for them across their lifetimes," she added.

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: "We have had some dramatic success recently in reducing teenage pregnancy rates.

"We have seen a 19 per cent drop in last year's rate, meaning we no longer have the worst rate in London.

"Clearly there is more to be done but we believe we are on the right road in helping residents and young people to access greater opportunities for a more prosperous, happy life."

Related Topics

More on this story